How to Adjust Bicycle Brakes in Two Ways

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Bicycle brakes are an indispensable component of the bicycle’s functioning, as they not only facilitate proper operation but also contribute to the safety of the rider.

Regular adjustment of the brakes is crucial, especially in cases where degradation in braking effectiveness is noted. Fortunately, the process of brake adjustment is not only straightforward but also quick.

how to adjust bicycle brakes
how to adjust bicycle brakes

In essence, the importance of bicycle brakes cannot be overstated. Regular checks and adjustment of the brake system are critical in ensuring optimal brake performance, which is crucial to the safety of the rider and other road users.

How Do Bicycle Brakes Work?

Today, it is common for bicycles to be fitted with V-brakes, consisting of a metal elbow that aligns the cable horizontally.

This brake system comprises two calipers, each with two pads, which move towards the rim when the brake lever is activated.

The braking mechanism is achieved through the friction between the pads and the rim, enabling the bicycle to slow down or stop. However, due to the frequent friction, the pads can wear out over time, causing a decrease in the bike’s braking power.

how do bicycle brakes work
how do bicycle brakes work

Therefore, it is crucial to inspect and adjust your bike’s brakes regularly, especially if you sense a deterioration in its braking performance.

Neglecting the brake pads’ wear can lead to a lengthening of the brake cables, resulting in further complications. To avoid such issues, keep your bike’s brakes well-maintained and replace worn-out pads promptly.

How Do You Know if Your Bicycle Brakes Are Incorrectly Adjusted?

In order to ensure the proper functioning of your bicycle’s brakes, it is important to perform regular checks for any signs of damage or wear.

When examining the brake pads, it is important to ensure that the small line drawings are present, as the absence of these lines indicates that the pads are worn and in need of replacement.

Additionally, the pads should be positioned close to the rim, without actually touching it. When activating the brake lever, both pads should make contact with the rim at the same time and be aligned perfectly with it.

Any deviation from this standard indicates that your brakes require adjustment. Performing these checks and making necessary adjustments will help ensure the safety and reliability of your bicycle’s braking system.

Methods to Adjust Your Brakes

methods to adjust your brakes
How to Adjust Bicycle Brakes

The braking system of your bike consists of two main components, namely the brake pads and the cables. Adjusting the brakes on your bicycle can be done in two ways.

1. Adjust Your Brake Pads

To properly adjust your bicycle brakes, it is important to follow a few simple steps.

Firstly, it is crucial to ensure that the brake pads are in good condition, as outlined in the previous section.

Next, check the position of the pads when the brake lever is squeezed. The pads should touch the rim at the same time and in the middle.

To adjust the position of the pads, use an Allen key to loosen the bolts, being careful not to loosen them too much.

Then, adjust the position of the pads as necessary, raising or lowering them until they are in the correct position.

Finally, securely tighten the pad bolts by turning the Allen key clockwise. To ensure the pads are in the correct position, squeeze the brake lever and verify that they are touching the rim in the middle.

2. Tighten Your Brake Cables

To ensure the proper functioning of your bicycle brakes, it is important to regularly check the tension of the cables.

To perform this check, start by applying the brake levers and verifying that they are 4 centimeters from the handlebars of your bike. If the levers are touching the grips, this indicates that the cables are too loose.

In this case, you can loosen the tension screw located at the point where the cable joins the brake lever. Contrary to expectations, loosening the screw allows for the cable to be tightened.

Squeeze the brake levers again to verify if the cable is now tight. If not, avoid tightening the screw, as the cable may need to be adjusted at the bracket.

To adjust the cable on the caliper, unscrew the connecting bolt anti-clockwise using an Allen key, without unscrewing it completely.

This will allow you to pull the cable tight, and the brakes should now grip the front wheel rims.

Retighten the bolt by turning it clockwise with the Allen key. Finally, ensure that you tighten your tension screw securely.

Upon completing these steps, test your brakes by squeezing the lever. The distance between the lever and the grips should be 4 centimeters, indicating that your cable is set properly.

3. Change Your Brake Pads

In the case of a bicycle equipped with disc brakes, deteriorated braking performance may indicate that the brake pads require replacement.

To begin, remove the wheels and press the safety pin using flat pliers. Proceed to remove the old pads and take the opportunity to clean the brake discs with a cloth.

Then, install the two new pads onto the pad spring. Securely close the pad retention clip with the pliers and reinstall the wheel.

If there is any rubbing between the brake disc and the pads, the two screws at the rear of the brake should be loosened, followed by squeezing the brake lever and retightening the screws.

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A little material

a little material
a little material

As demonstrated earlier, adjusting your bike brakes requires only a few specific tools such as an Allen key. However, it is always useful to have a selection of bike repair tools at your disposal for more complex repairs. These tools will become essential in maintaining and repairing your bike.

1. The ultra-complete RAP II – 24 – Lezyne multi-tool

This tool is a highly comprehensive and lightweight solution that comprises a wide range of essential keys and screwdrivers to efficiently maintain your bike. It is a portable option that you can easily carry with you wherever you go.

2. The cyclist’s multi-tool – Topeak

With its 9 professional-quality tools, this tool is perfect for everyday cycling.

3. The Hex Combo – Topeak multi-tool

This multi-purpose tool is specifically designed to facilitate the adjustment of your bike brakes with its wide range of Allen keys. The color-coded system incorporated in this tool is particularly helpful in quickly identifying the appropriate size needed for each task.


In conclusion, maintaining proper brake function is critical for both the safety and performance of your bike. By following the steps outlined above, you can easily adjust your brakes and ensure that they are functioning optimally.

It is important to note that regular checks and maintenance are essential to prevent any unexpected issues while riding. We recommend checking your brakes approximately once a month to ensure they are in good working condition.

By taking the time to care for your brakes, you can ride with confidence and enjoy the full benefits of your bike.