How to set up rim brakes in six simple steps

Here are a few tips for getting your rim brakes set up right

If you haven’t been drawn to discs, Sebastian Nittke, team mechanic with the Canyon//SRAM UCI Women’s WorldTour pro team, has some simple steps to setting up your rim brakes.

1. On the wonk

Check alignment
Check alignment

Brake pads (or the cartridges that hold them) can come out of alignment, so check they are aligned with the centre of the rim and, unlike this one, follow the curve of it.

2. Loosen brake cartridge

Loosen the brake cartridge
Loosen the brake cartridge

Turn the Allen key bolt anti-clockwise to loosen the brake cartridge/pad in the caliper just enough so that you can adjust it up and down and level it.

3. Line up

Line the brake pad up with the rim
Line the brake pad up with the rim

Adjust the cartridge so that the brake pad lines up with the rim, then retighten the bolt. Hold the cartridge while retightening the bolt as the pressure can cause it to move. If it does go out of line, start again.

4. Check centring

Check the spacing by standing behind the bike
Check the spacing by standing behind the bike

To do this, stand behind your bike and check that the brake caliper is centred. You are looking out for even spacing between the pad and rim on each side, unlike here.

5. Bridge works

Adjust the fixing bolt
Adjust the fixing bolt

Adjust the fixing bolt where the brake caliper attaches to the frame’s brake bridge (or fork at the front) with a spanner until you can see that the wheel is centred between both pads.

6. Tighten cable

Tighten the brake cable
Tighten the brake cable

If the pads are further than a few millimetres from the rims when the caliper is centred, tighten the brake cable to move them closer. If necessary, release the cable from its retaining bolt, pull, and retighten.

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