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How to Adjust Your Bike Brakes: A Simple Guide for Beginners

Bike Brakes

Are you trying to learn how to adjust your bike brakes? You’re in the right place!
In this article, we’ll take you through the basics of bike brakes and provide simple steps that even a complete beginner can follow to adjust them.

We’ll cover the different types of brakes, how to adjust cable tension, how to adjust the brake pads, how to test the brakes, and how to make final adjustments.

So let’s get started!


Learning how to adjust your bike brakes is an important step to ensure safety and optimize performance. This simple guide for beginners will walk you through the steps to adjust your bike brakes. With the right information, you can quickly make adjustments to ensure your brakes are performing optimally. All of the tools and supplies you will need can be easily found around the house, so there is no need to buy anything special.

Steps to Adjusting Bike Brakes

1. Starting with the brakes in the off position, rotate the adjustment barrel clockwise until the pads are as close to the rim as possible without touching it.

2. Squeeze the brake lever and inspect the rim to make sure it’s not rubbing the pads.

3. If both pads are hitting the rim, turn the barrel counterclockwise until the pads are the appropriate distance away from the rim.

4. Test both the front and rear brakes separately. Pull the brake lever and make sure the pad touches the rim and the lever feels firm. Add tension to the brakes if needed.

5. To add tension, turn the knob on the barrel clockwise. Make sure the pads are still a safe distance away from the rim, and re-test the brakes.

6. Re-test both brakes regularly to ensure they are functioning properly and your bike is safe to ride.

Step 1: Check Your Brake Type

There are several brake types used for bicycles, including rim brakes and disc brakes. Rim brakes use two brake pads that press against the sides of the bike’s wheel rims to reduce speed or stop. Disc brakes are made up of a rotor attached to the wheel’s hub and two calipers that attach to the frame or fork of the bike. To adjust your brakes, you need to know what type of brake you have. If you are unsure, consult a professional.

Step 2: Adjust Cable Tension

Adjusting the tension of the bike’s cable is the next step in learning how to adjust bike brakes. Loosen the brake cable by unscrewing the bolt at the brake lever. Pull the cable tight and fasten the nut to hold it in place. You may need pliers to ensure the nut is tight enough. Once the cable is in place, adjust the position of the brake arms. This can be done by bending them or by using a small spring attachment built into the arms. Make sure the arms are straight and in the same line, with the brake pads close to the wheel rim. Finally, check that the cable has the correct tension and that the brakes are fully functional.

Step 3: Adjust the Brake Pads

The third step in adjusting your bike brakes is to appropriately adjust the brake pads. This is a simple process but is critical to ensure that you have the desired level of braking. To adjust the brake pads, begin by loosening the nuts that hold the brake cable to the brake lever and then adjusting the nuts so that the brake pads are about 0.5-1mm from the rim of the wheel. Once you have the brake pads positioned correctly, hold the brake lever so that it does not move and tighten the nuts until the brake pads are securely held in place. Make sure to tighten the nuts evenly so that the brakes are evenly engaged. Be sure to thoroughly test the brakes before riding your bike.

Step 4: Test the Brakes

Now that you have adjusted your brakes, it is time to give them a test. Take your bike for a ride, paying special attention to how your brakes perform. Be sure to check that you have full control of the bike and that your brakes stop your bike as quickly and smoothly as possible. If something doesn’t feel right, you may need to make further adjustments until it does. Once you are sure that the brakes are functioning properly, enjoy the ride!

Step 5: Make Final Adjustments

Once the cable tension and pad alignment have been adjusted, it is time to make any final adjustments needed. Check that the brake arms are parallel, the pads are centered, and the cable is tight. Make sure the pads don’t rub against the wheel rim and that your brakes are operating smoothly.

Once you are satisfied with the adjustments, take your bike for a test ride to make sure everything is working correctly. If something still doesn’t feel right, retrace your steps and make sure each adjustment was made properly.

Finally, double check that all the components are securely fastened and the brake calipers are properly adjusted. Congratulations, you have adjusted your bike brakes!


Adjusting your bike brakes is an important task that any beginner cyclist should know how to do. The process is relatively simple and should only take a few minutes of your time. By following these simple steps, you can give yourself the confidence and the peace of mind knowing that your brakes are set up correctly and are able to be used safely. Don’t forget to double-check your work and test them before you go for a ride!


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