How to Install Road Bicycle Brakes

By Matthew Ferguson

Bicycle brakes allow the cyclist to help control and slow the bicycle. A typical road bike uses two separate brakes, one over the front and one over the rear tire. Each brake is linked to a control lever on the handlebar via a cable. Road bike brakes feature a caliper design, whereby two arms come together simultaneously to grip the wheel and slow the bicycle. Although each brake has a separate cable, installation is identical for both front and rear road bike brakes.

Brake Installation

Locate the threaded mounting protruding from the back of the brake. The bolt extends outward from the brake and allows the brake to be mounted onto the bicycle frame.

Use bicycle grease to lightly lubricate the threads at the end of the mounting bolt.

Locate the mounting hole in the bicycle frame into which the mounting bolt will be inserted. The front and rear wheels are attached to the front and rear fork, respectively. Each fork has a pre-drilled hole just above the wheel for the express purpose of mounting a brake.

Insert the mounting bolt as far as it will go into the mounting hole. Hold the brake in place with one hand for now.

Insert the threaded nut that will secure the mounting bolt to the frame through the backside of the mounting hole.

Fit a 5 mm Allen wrench into the nut. While continuing to hold the brake with one hand, use the 5 mm Allen wrench to tighten the nut onto the mounting bolt. Tighten fully.

Brake Cable Installation

Squeeze the brake lever to reveal to reveal a hole at the top of the lever. The brake cable will pass through this hole.

Insert the brake cable into the hole. Pull it through until the cylindrical fitting at the other end of the cable catches inside the gear lever.

Route the cable to the mounted brake, following the designated path along the bicycle. The designated path features cable guides attached to the bicycle frame for proper routing.

Pass the cable through the adjusting barrel at the top of the brake. The barrel is located at the highest point on the brake and physically resembles a small 'barrel'. Directly below the barrel is a bolt designed to anchor the cable to the brake.

Pass the cable underneath the head of the bolt. If necessary, use a 5 mm Allen wrench to loosen the bolt, giving the cable enough room to pass beneath it.

Use the 5 mm Allen wrench to slightly tighten the bolt onto the cable.

Hold each side of the brake against the sides of the wheel while pulling the cable taut. Use the 5 mm Allen key to fully tighten the bolt onto the cable.

Use the adjusting barrel to adjust the gap between the brake pads and sides of the wheel. Turning the barrel clockwise increases the gap. A larger gap results in 'softer' braking. Adjust to personal preference.


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