4 tips for looking after your brakes

Improve your braking with a few simple workshop fixes

George Halls Cycle Centre Mechanic Neil Holman explains a few ways to boost your braking.

1. Open and cut case

Servicing your bike’s original brake cables may mean lubing or even replacing them. Check the cable’s outer casing for any splits before fitting the new inner wires.

To lube the inner cable remove the alloy cable end and undo the pinch bolt to release the inner cable. Pull the brake lever and use an elastic band to hold it to the handlebar. Pull the inner cable back through the outer casing and lube any exposed parts before you push it back.

2. Check the caliper moves

While the inner cable is detached, using your two thumbs, push the brake caliper closed against the rim and make sure it releases freely.

Salt from the roads can corrode alloy calipers, so if you ride without mudguards you need to keep the calipers lubed. While they aren’t under any tension place a few drops on all the moving pivots, ensuring that they release easily.

3. Come back to pads

While the caliper is still free check the state of the brake pads — ideally by removing the wheels — and clean them with a rag. Look for wear or any alloy swarf that has shed from the rims and embedded in the rubber. Pick it out or replace the pads.

Once checked, lubed and refitted, pull on the lever. Aim to set the brake pads to bite the rim at approximately one-third of the overall lever pull.

4. Remember the rims

Clean the braking surface on your rims with an old cloth. If the surface has a rough spot on it, use wire wool or fine wet and dry paper to rub it out. Most rim manufacturers put wear indicators in the rim — either a line or drill holes — so it is always worth looking for these and seeing how much depth is left.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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