How To Adjust Road Bike Brakes

Riding a bike is one of the most common activity all across the world. Every child learns how to do this. Road bikes are probably some of the popular bikes that exist, and you can see them pretty much everywhere. 

It's not only good when it comes to fun, but you can also use this as a form of exercise. The fun ends however when it comes to sticky, squeaky brakes. Once the brakes start malfunctioning, you have cause for worry. Stiff breaks might lead to accidents, and it is better to fix them while it is still early.

I am here to show you how you can easily adjust your road brakes at home. It is not a hard thing to do, and you can do it all on your own. However, when the repairs don't seem to work, you might need to go to a professional. This is so that you ensure that you don't harm yourself or others when riding your road bike.

There are many types of brakes, but in this review, we will be focusing on three types; caliper, cantilever and disc brakes. These will be simple do-it-yourself instructions that never go wrong.

How To Adjust Road Bike Brakes

How To Adjust The Brakes On A Road Bike

A) Disc brakes:

Before you start adjusting the disc brakes, make sure you've seated the wheel correctly.

If The Rotor Is Rubbing:

When you can feel that the bike's rotor is rubbing, you first need to loosen the bolts that are used to mount the disc brake. Proceed to tighten the bolts while at the same time squeezing the lever. This will make sure that the rotor is centered.

If you can still feel the rotor rubbing, you might need to use a rotor truing fork to true it. To do this, stand or flip your bike to get the rotor spinning. Look for a gap between the pads to see if the rotor is not trued.

Find the part that requires truing and then rotate it to the opposite side of the caliper. If the rotor is rubbing in more than one spot you might need to take it to a professional for better results.

If The Pads Need To Be Replaced:

You can also decide to replace the brake pads when you see that they are worn. To identify whether the pads need replacing, look close to the rotor and see whether you can see the pads. If you can't see the pad or if you see the pistons sticking out, it is time to replace the pads. If you want to replace the pads at home, all you need to do is press a pin to remove the pads.

You then replace them with new pads and press the pistons back. You can also choose to bleed the brakes when you feel like the brake lever is too soft. Use the back of a wide screwdriver to ensure that the pads won't start rubbing.

When The Brakes Need Bleeding:

If you feel like your brakes are super tight, or the pistons are stuck it is then time to bleed your brakes. This is better to be done by a professional because the brake fluid can be messy and you might let air bubbles in. Do yourself a favor and let professionals handle this messy job.

B) Caliper Brakes:

Use The Barrel Adjuster:

You can easily adjust these brakes by using the barrel adjuster located near each lever. Tightening the cable might be required if the brakes are too soft for the barrel adjuster to work. Tightening or loosening the brakes will solve almost all your brake problems.

Check The Bolt:

You might feel as if the brake is moving when you are riding your bike. This might be caused by the fact that the bolt isn't tight enough. The bolt needs to be tightly connected to the frame for it to work properly.

If The Brakes Are Too Loose:

If you feel like your brakes are too loose, try using the barrel adjuster to tighten them. If that still doesn't work, tighten the cable. To do this, use the Allen key to loosen the nut and bolt at the end of the cable. Pull some of the cables through and retighten it to get tighter brakes.
Check for truing if your brakes are still rubbing. But as we said before, it is better to take your road bike to a professional to true it.

C) Cantilever Brakes:

Cantilever brakes are a bit old school, but you can still find them on some road bikes. These work by using two brake pads that are controlled by wires. These wires pull up when you apply pressure to the lever. These might be some of the hardest brakes to adjust on your own, but you can still do it. You need to set them up correctly so that you avoid jamming of the brakes. 

Make sure that the wires that control the left and right brakes are of the same length. Also, ensure that the pads are sitting in the right place on both brakes. Since the brakes are a bit old, they might fray as the time passes. Consider replacing them when this happens.

It might be necessary to take the bike to a professional when you want to set the brakes up for the first time. You can continue adjusting them on your own from then on.


Adjusting bike brakes is one of the simplest things to do. Most of the steps are simple, and you can do them on your own. Always consider tightening the brakes or replacing the brake pads when you see that they are worn out. When you see that your brakes need bleeding, take them to a professional to get the best work done.

Ensure you go to a professional when you are not sure of what to do so that you don't ruin your bike. I hope these tips help you to adjust your road bike brakes and enjoy cycling.

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