How to Fix Most Bicycle Brake Problems in 8 Easy Steps

What happens when you are running at full speed only to realize your brakes are not responding? It's definitely more fun to speed up your bike more than slow down, but what happens when your brakes are not responding?

Truth is, the challenges that come with using a bicycle are neve quite anticipated and can cause a rainy storm in your sunny day.

However all these challenges can come to an end if you can learn all the techniques on how to fix bicycle brake problems.

Whether your brakes are squealing when engaging, rubbing when untouched, or not slowing you down fast enough, it is worth taking a full stop to troubleshoot the matter.

How Do Bike Brakes Work?

In order to understand and tackle the common issues bicycle brakes have and how to fix them, let's first start with how these brakes work. The common types of braking systems used by bicycle brakes but v brakes, coaster, disc, and cantilever are amongst the most common of them.

V-brakes have two levers attached to the brake handle by a cable that helps engage the front and rear brakes. When you pull the lever, it applies tension which pulls the cables and activates the brake, causing an aquieze in the rain which allows your bike.

Brake Pad Fail Problem and Fixes

Step 1

If you are stepping on the brake lever and discover it's not responding. It's not effectively contracting the rim surface of the tire. It means there's extra slack in your braking system. 

This is usually caused by various factors, like when replacing the tire or tube or when assembling the bike after purchase.

At the rear of the brake cable, there is a small disc-shaped piece that fits into the brake lever. This is what connects the lever to the cable.

On occasion of replacing or fixing the tire as well as during coupling, the cable may become  totally loose from the cable and makes it difficult for the brake to respond.

Check if the lever is connected properly to the cable. If it's not, pull the brake cable if it is, then there may be another cause of the problem.

Step 2

Another cause of brake tension lag occurs when the brake noodle is properly situated in the brake channel. This problem causes the brake cable to have an extra slack, and makes it difficult for the brake pad to engage when the lever is pulled.

To fix this problem, ensure the tip of the brake noodle is placed tightly on the channel of the brake arm.

To do this, push the brake noodle down into the channel, then squeeze the brake arm.

Step 3

Rubbing breaks is the third most common brake challenge. It happens when your brakes are rubbing the rims when you don't want them to. It slows down movement and causes the brake pad to wear off fast and damage your rim.

To fix the problem, check to ensure all components are well installed.

Step 4 

Something as little as a wobbling wheel can pose a major challenge to your bike. Misalignment causes your wheel to wobble. If the wheel is misaligned, the quick release and ensure the axle is placed in the drop out, then re-tighten the quick release.

After that, spin the wheel and check for any wobbling or side-to-side movement of the rim. If the wobbling persists, the wheel may be “out of true” and requires a professional to get the wheel trued.

Step 5

When the Brake Squeaks- There are numerous reasons why your brake may squeak. It also varies depending on the type of braking system your bicycle operates.

If your brake squeal, check if the brake is clean. Since brakes naturally wear off from use, it gets easily clogged with dirts, grits, and debris. You need to remove these materials to avoid slowing the wheel rotation which occurs when the rim meets. Aside from the brake, also check the surface of the rim for clogs and clean wipe them off.

Step 6

If the squeaks still persist, you should check if the brake is misaligned. Brake misalignment occurs when the pads and the wheel rims are not meeting accurately.

If this happens, carefully loosen the mounting bolts and adjust the brake pad to ensure they make a solid connection with the rims.

Step 7

You can also toe in the brake pads. You do this by altering the pads in a way that their front section meets the rim first. It will not just reduce squeaky bikes but give you a gradual braking system.

Step 8

Check the brake pad condition. If you haven't already checked for wear and tear, you should inspect them. Maybe it's time for you to change them. Replacing your brake might be the last resort to stop squeaky sounds.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs:)

1. What causes bicycle brakes to fail?

There are lots of reasons why your bicycle may fail. The most common of them is when the wheel is misaligned and not accurately contacting the brake pad or when it's contacting it less.

2. What are V brakes?

V brakes are also known as Cantilever brakes. They are the most common bicycle brakes. They were used for commuter, off-road, and mountain bikes.

3. Which brake is best for bikes?

Both disc and rim brakes are best for bikes. However, disc brakes are arguably the most regarded as they are reinvented after the rim brakes and have a consistent and responsive performance in all weather conditions.

4. How do I bleed my brakes?

To bleed your brake, open the bleeder valve using a brake bleeder wrench. Then, use the vacuum pump to remove the old brake fluid. When removing brake fluid, ensure to check the master cylinder regularly to ensure it doesn't bleed dry. Or you can bleed your brakes with ABS.

5. How to adjust your brake cables

To tighten your brake, pull the brake lever to determine how loose or tight you want it. Then loosen or tighten the barrel adjuster accordingly. Loosen the bolt on the brake caliper and adjust it by pulling the or releasing the brake cable through the caliper. Tighten the caliper bolt back up and check your brake pads.

Wrap Up!

Proper maintenance is key to enjoying your cycling life. So, ensure to carry routine checks on your bicycle.

More often than not, when your brake pad is sticking or delaying, it's usually an indication that you need a new break.

Rahat Hossain