Brake Troubleshooting

By Bicycle Trails Council of Marin.

Are your brakes dragging? If so, here are the probable causes:
  1. Calipers not centered
    • Check: Space between pad and rim should be equal on both sides
    • Solution: Center calipers
  2. Wheel not true
    • Check: Spin wheel & check for wobble
    • Solution: True or replace wheel
  3. Brakes adjusted too tightly
    • Check: Clearance between rim & pad
    • Solution: Shorten cable housing
Are your brakes noisy? Here're the reasons why:
  1. Improperly aligned pads
    • Check: Front of pads should be touching rim first
    • Solution: Toe in pad(s)
  2. Old, hard or glazed pads
    • Check: Pads should not be rock hard
    • Solution: Replace
  3. Dirty rim contact area
    • Check: Visual check of rim
    • Solution: Clean rim & replace pads
Are you experiencing brake fade? Here's what's up:
  1. Worn pads
    • Check: Check 'em out
    • Solution: Replace 'em
  2. Oil/grease on rim
    • Check: Check it out
    • Solution: Clean rim/pads with solvent
Does your brake lever go to the bar? Read on:
  1. Pads worn out
    • Check: Check 'em out
    • Solution: Replace 'em
  2. Broken or pulled out brake cable
    • Check: Check cables and clamps
    • Solution: Adjust length or replace
Do your brakes bind? Here's why:
  1. Levers, cables or calipers pivots rusted or bound up
    • Check: Check levers for binding, check cable housings for damage
    • Solution: Lubricate, repair or replace
Do your brakes chatter? Here's the problem:
  1. A dented or warped rim
    • Check: Check rim
    • Solution: Replace
  2. Loose or broken brake pivots
    • Check: Inspect
    • Solution: Go to bike shop

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