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How to Adjust a Squeaky Bicycle Brake

Learn how to adjust a squeaky brake from Silk Road Cycles' Brendon Nicholas in this Howcast bicycle repair and maintenance video, part one of two.


Alright, so we're going to talk about adjusting brakes. These are V-brakes. These are pretty common on hybrid bikes, city bikes or mountain bikes. The concept of adjusting them is pretty much the same as all the other brakes, just some minor changes. A lot of people have a lot of problems with their brakes squeaking and that's a very easy adjustment to fix. Basically what it means is your brakes are pretty worn, so you want to replace the pads. You can see on the actual pads that there's a wear line on most of them. So if it's past the wear line, or if it's wearing incorrectly you want to replace them. This is a quick release right here.

You're going to push these two levers together, push down on this piece here and it opens them up. So you can see the pads and see how they're worn, and you may just need to replace them. They're pretty inexpensive. They go anywhere from four to fifteen dollars a pair, so it's definitely worth replacing them. It's a big safety issue. So to correct the squeaking, if they are new brakes, you'll need to toe in the brakes. Brakes aren't meant to hit completely flat on a bicycle rim and that's what creates the squealing. So the squeaking noise comes from when the brakes hit completely flat, so toeing in, just imagine your toes going in.

So basically, this is very dramatic, but when the brakes hits, the one side hits and goes down, and eventually hits the whole thing, they flex. You can kind of hear the squeaking on this, because the brake pads are completely flat. So what you're going to do is take your five mm Allen and unscrew the brake. You can see how it kind of shifts all over the place, it goes up and down, side to side, it basically pivots on these washers. So you're going to toe in the brake. It doesn't have to be really drastic, it doesn't have to be like that, but just enough to get rid of the squeaking and so that it brakes properly. Make sure it's hitting the rim really nice, so it's nice and level to the rim.

Also make sure it's not too low or too high. If it's too high, it's going to hit the tire and could potentially blow up a tire from all the friction and heat. If it's too low, it's just not going to brake on the surface properly and you're not going to be able to stop quickly enough.

So let me just bolt these pads, and then we'll see if it makes any noise. So now it's nice and quiet, no more squeaking. It's also going to brake a little better. But you can see how, if I spin the wheel slowly, it stops. The reason for that is it could be either too tight, or it could be mis-adjusted.

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