How To Make Bmx Brakes Work Better?- Secret Revel

Are you tired of your BMX brakes not working as well as they should? Do they feel sluggish or unresponsive when you need them most? Worry no more. With a few simple adjustments, you can improve your brakes and keep you safe on the streets or at the skatepark.

But first, it’s important to understand how BMX brakes work. Unlike traditional bike brakes, BMX brakes are typically designed to use only one hand. The brake cable runs from the brake lever to the brake caliper, squeezing the brake pads onto the wheel’s rim to slow it down. With this knowledge, we can adjust to yield better braking performance.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps to improve your BMX brakes, from adjusting cable tension to upgrading brake pads and everything in between. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to stop on a dime and stay safe while riding your BMX.

How To Make Bmx Brakes Work Better?

To make BMX brakes work better and improve their performance, you can follow these steps:

  1. Clean the Brake System: Begin by cleaning the brake system thoroughly. Remove dirt, debris, or grime from the brake pads, rim surface, and brake components. Use a mild soap and water solution or a specific bike brake cleaner. Clean brakes provide better grip and increased braking power.
  2. Adjust Brake Pad Alignment: Ensure the brake pads align correctly with the rim surface. They may not make full contact if misaligned, reducing braking efficiency. Loosen the pad bolts, squeeze the brake lever to position the pads against the rim, and adjust them to make even contact with the rim surface. Tighten the pad bolts securely.
  3. Check Brake Pad Wear: Inspect the brake pads for wear. If they are worn down and have a thin profile, it’s advisable to replace them. Worn brake pads have reduced stopping power. Choose high-quality brake pads designed for BMX bikes for optimal performance.
  4. Adjust Brake Cable Tension: Proper cable tension is crucial for responsive braking. Check the tension of the brake cable by squeezing the brake lever. The cable may be too loose if the lever feels spongy or has excessive play. Use the barrel adjuster on the brake lever or cable housing to fine-tune the tension. Ensure the cable is not overly tight, causing the pads to rub against the rim when the lever is disengaged.
  5. Improve Pad-To-Rim Contact: If the brake pads have become hardened or glazed, they may have reduced friction against the rim. To improve their performance, gently roughen the pad surfaces with sandpaper or replace them with new ones. This enhances the grip and braking power.
  6. Upgrade Brake Components: If you’re still unsatisfied with the braking performance after following the previous steps, consider upgrading certain brake components. Upgrading to higher-quality brake pads, a more responsive brake lever or a stiffer brake cable can significantly enhance braking power and control.

Remember, if you are unsure about adjusting or upgrading your BMX brakes, it’s always recommended to seek assistance from a professional bike mechanic. They can provide expert guidance and ensure your brakes’ safety and optimal performance.

How Do I Repair My BMX Brakes?

It is essential to maintain the brakes of your BMX bike if you want it to perform optimally. The first step in repairing your BMX brakes is to ensure the brake levers are free from dirt and dust. This can be done simply by wiping off any visible dirt with a dry cloth and possibly a light lubricant.

You must also check that the brake levers are properly positioned on the handlebars, as they often slip due to vibrations or incorrect installation. If that is not the case, ensure they are firmly fixed onto the handlebars and reattached correctly.

Inspect and adjust any worn-out parts of the brakes, such as the brake cables or pads, if necessary. Depending on how advanced your BMX bicycle installation is, certain adjustments may not be easily accessible by just looking at them or without special tools.

If this is the case, bring your bike to a professional repair shop or ask for help from somebody experienced in rebuilding bicycles. They can advise on correctly setting up and adjusting your BMX bicycle components like its brakes.

How Do I Make My BMX Brakes Tighter?

To make your BMX brakes tighter and improve their responsiveness, follow these steps:

  1. Check Brake Cable Tension: Start by inspecting the tension of the brake cable. Locate the barrel adjuster on the brake lever or cable housing. Turn the barrel adjuster clockwise to tighten the cable or counterclockwise to loosen it. Adjust the tension until you achieve the desired tightness. The brake lever should engage the pads against the rim with a firm and responsive feel.
  2. Adjust Brake Pad Alignment: Proper alignment of the brake pads is essential for optimal braking performance. Loosen the pad bolts holding the brake pads in place. Squeeze the brake lever to position the pads against the rim. While holding the brake lever, adjust the position of each pad individually, ensuring they make even contact with the rim surface. Tighten the pad bolts securely.
  3. Check Pad Clearance: Ensure enough clearance between the brake pads and the rim when the brake lever is disengaged. If the pads are too close to the rim, they may rub against it, causing friction and reducing performance. Adjust the pad clearance by loosening the pad bolts slightly and repositioning the pads as needed. Retighten the pad bolts securely.
  4. Consider Pad Upgrades: If you have followed the previous steps and still feel that the brakes are not tight enough or lack sufficient stopping power, you might consider upgrading your brake pads. High-quality brake pads designed specifically for BMX bikes can provide better grip and improved braking performance.
  5. Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with adjusting your BMX brakes, it’s always advisable to seek assistance from a professional bike mechanic. They have the expertise to fine-tune the brakes, ensuring optimal tightness and performance while prioritizing safety.

Remember to regularly inspect and maintain your BMX brakes to keep them in good working condition. If you experience any issues or notice significant changes in the brake performance, it’s important to address them promptly to ensure your safety while riding.

Is It Illegal Not To Have Brakes On A BMX?

Using bicycles on public highways requires owners to comply with Spanish laws and regulations. The General Vehicle Regulations, approved by Royal Decree 2822/1998, clearly stipulated in Article 22 that all cycles and bicycles must have an adequate braking system for both the front and rear wheels.

This applies to vehicles used for personal transportation or any other purpose that involves moving within the confines of public roads. As such, it is illegal not to have brakes on a BMX when navigating a public road.

The law may not be applicable when BMX bicycles are used for sports practice or competitions in enclosed areas. Suppose certain safety measures are followed and equipment is used appropriately.

In that case, it is reasonable to exempt these activities from requiring brakes, considering they do not involve movement on the highways and abide by applicable rules.

Nevertheless, even though the need for brakes may be waived under such circumstances, it is always advisable to equip your bike with them before engaging in any competitive exercise using it.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. How Do I Know If My BMX Brakes Must Be Tightened?

You may need to tighten your BMX brakes if you notice that the brake lever feels loose or has excessive play, the brake pads do not engage the rim firmly, or if you experience a lack of stopping power. These signs indicate that the brake cable tension and pad alignment may need adjustment.

2. Can I Tighten My BMX Brakes, or do I Need Professional Help?

In many cases, you can tighten your BMX brakes yourself. Basic adjustments such as tightening the brake cable tension and aligning the brake pads can be made with simple tools and some know-how. However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s always recommended to consult a professional bike mechanic for assistance.

3. How Do I Adjust The Brake Cable Tension To Make My Brakes Tighter?

Locate the barrel adjuster on the brake lever or cable housing to adjust the brake cable tension. Turn the barrel adjuster clockwise to tighten the cable or counterclockwise to loosen it. When engaged, make incremental adjustments until you achieve the desired tightness in the brake lever.

4. What Should I Do If Adjusting The Cable Tension Doesn’t Make My Brakes Tight Enough?

If adjusting the cable tension doesn’t provide the desired level of tightness, you can also check the alignment of the brake pads. Ensure they are making even contact with the rim surface.

If necessary, loosen the pad bolts, position the pads correctly, and tighten the bolts securely. Upgrading to higher-quality brake pads can also improve tightness and braking performance.

5. How Often Should I Check And Tighten My BMX Brakes?

It’s good practice to check the tightness of your BMX brakes regularly. As a general guideline, inspect and adjust your brakes every few months or whenever you notice a decrease in their tightness or stopping power. Regular maintenance ensures that your brakes remain responsive and safe to use.


Using a BMX bicycle on public roads requires brakes. Although not required for sports practice, it is highly recommended to equip your bike with them before engaging in any competitive exercise. In addition, regularly checking and adjusting the brake cable tension and pad alignment can help ensure your brakes remain responsive and safe.

John D. Archer

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.