When you’re riding your road bike, and you pull the brake levers, what happens? Well, if you apply the rear brake, first, you should slow down, and applying the front brake should bring you to a full stop. However, if your brakes aren’t working properly, you’ll squeeze the levers all the way to the handlebar, and you’ll barely get any stopping power. Worse yet, while you do it, you might also hear a terrible, loud squealing noise. What can you do when you don’t know how to fix road bike brakes? Just follow these steps, and you’ll have your brakes fixed in no time.
How to Fix Road Bike Brakes – Locate the Pinch Bolt
The pinch bolt holds tension on the brake cable. It should be on the brake itself, not on the brake lever. Depending on how old your bike is and what kind of head the bolt has, you’ll most likely need either a five-millimeter hex wrench or a ten-millimeter box-end or open-end wrench to loosen the pinch bolt. Loosening this will take all tension off of the cable and allow the brake to open up to its widest point.
Roll Out the Barrel Adjuster
On road brakes, your barrel adjuster will be located at the cable stop on the brake. This takes up or lets out tension on the cable when the pinch bolt is tight. If it’s not already loosened, go ahead and loosen it until about half of its threads are showing.
Take Up Tension in the Cable and Tighten the Pinch Bolt
Now, with a cable puller or with your hands, pull the brake cable tight and pull the brake closed so that the pads lightly touch the rim. Then, while holding tension on everything, tighten the pinch bolt onto the brake cable with enough torque that it’s not going to slide through under heavy braking.
Once you’ve done that, you can just tighten the barrel adjuster back down. That will release some tension from the cable and let the brake out a little bit. Try squeezing the brake lever now. Feels better, right? If it’s not quite right, you can continue playing with the tension on the cable using the barrel adjuster and/or by adjusting where you clamp the pinch bolt down on the cable.
For Squeaky Brakes
Finally, if the brake pads are squeaking, you most likely have an alignment issue, but you may also have an issue with worn out pads. Take a look at your pads. If they’re still good and not excessively worn down, just roll the barrel adjuster out until the pads are lightly touching the rim. Then make sure that they are perfectly symmetrical and that the front end of the pad is toed in and touches the rim just a hair before the back of the pad. You can slip a business card in between the back of the pad and the rim while you tighten the bolt holding the brake pad in place. If your pads are worn out, just replace them and use the same technique to line them up.
That’s it! Now you should have everything you need to know to fix your brakes. Good luck!