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How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

An idyllic bike ride can quickly be ruined by squeaky bike brakes. Here’s a checklist of common squeaky brake culprits and how to fix them.


  • Step 1: Clean the pads Clean the brake pads and rims with a clean rag dampened with an oil-free cleaner, such as rubbing alcohol, to remove debris. You may need to remove the wheel for access.
  • TIP: Bike brakes may be cantilever, side-pull, or disk. Determine which type of brakes you have to learn how to best maintain them.
  • Step 2: Check alignment Check the alignment of your brake pads. The brake pads should make contact only with the rim, not the tire, and the pads should not be able to slip under the rim.
  • Step 3: Adjust the brakes Adjust the brakes with a toe-in. Loosen the pads with an Allen or socket wrench and use a piece of cardboard to create a half-millimeter gap at the back of the pad. This angles the front of the brake pad to ensure that it hits the rim first.
  • TIP: Bike brake pads may be cartridge pads that easily slip out, or bolt-on pads that require loosening a bolt, spacers, and washers.
  • Step 4: Remove the old pads Consider replacing the pads if nothing seems to eliminate the squeaking. Buy the appropriate cantilever, pull, or disk brake pad.
  • Step 5: Install new brake pads Remove the bolt or pin holding the old pad in place and install the new pads. Align the new pads with the rim with a toe-in.
  • FACT: The first two-wheeled, working bicycle was developed by a German inventor in 1817.

You Will Need

  • Clean rags
  • An oil-free cleaner
  • An Allen or socket wrench
  • A piece of cardboard
  • New Pads

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