Few aspects of maintenance have a greater bearing on your safety. These hints and tips should help you to stop faster.
Taking Care of your Brakes
Always ensure that the calliper mounting bolt is long
enough. The recessed Allen nut that secures the brake
calliper should have at least 8 mm of thread engaged
with the calliper mounting bolt. The recessed nut can be
obtained in various lengths as required.
Most brakes have a quick release system of some
description. Undoing it will provide greater tyre clearance
when removing the wheel. It can also be used
as an emergency ‘get me home’ solution if you get a
badly buckled wheel whilst out on a ride. With a calliper
mounted quick release, such as Shimano or SRAM, you
will have very poor brake performance when the quick
release is undone. Campagnolo’s brake lever mounted
quick release makes it difficult to grab the lever but still
provides reasonable stopping performance. Only ride
with the quick release undone if you absolutely have to
and test them first to see how much braking power has
Never attempt to cut cables with pliers or tin
snips—you will wind up with a ragged finish and curse
it when you jab your fingers on the frayed ends. Only use
proper bicycle cable cutters. They are designed for the
task and will last for many years.
Brakes rely on smooth cables to transmit your braking
effort through from the lever to the calliper. Good
quality cables have a teflon liner (in the centre of the
photo) that sits between the steel inner wire and the metal
part of the outer casing. When replacing old cables, you
should renew both the inner and outer cable. The friction
reducing liner on the outer cable wears with age and
should be replaced periodically to ensure good brake
Oil or lightweight grease can help to lower the friction
in your brake cables. Some bikes have ‘slotted cable
guides’ which make this task much easier. Undo the
quick release and hold your brake pads in so they contact
the rim. This will slacken your cable tension and allow
you to slide the cable out through the slot in the frame
mounted guide. You can then slide the cable back and
lube it as required.
have been set and adjusted. Excessive lengths of inner
wire can contact your wheel if they are not cut down.
Crimp a cable end onto the inner wire to prevent it from
fraying and give your bike a tidy finish.
Heavy braking wears both pad material and the rim
surface. The residual mix of alloy and rubber dust can
form a glaze on the braking surface of your rims. This can
effect your brake performance. Occasional cleaning with
a solvent (methylated spirits) and some light emery paper
can rejuvenate the braking surface of your rims. Likewise
a gentle scrub of the rubber brake pad with sandpaper can
clean the glaze off. This does not apply to carbon. You
should not attack your carbon fibre rims with emery paper
These are designed to allow pad wear material and
moisture to escape the rim contact area whilst braking.
These grooves should also be used to gauge pad wear
(unless the pad has some other form of wear marker). It
is time to replace your pads when the friction material is
worn to the base of these grooves.