How to Adjust Bike Brakes | Bike Maintenance

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Learn how to adjust bike brakes and keep your brakes working smoothly and safely from expert Jesse McDonough in this Howcast video.

Hi my name is Jesse McDonough and I’m here at Spokesman Cycles in New York City right by Union Square. I’m a bicycle tour guide in New York and formerly a bike messenger and I’m here to tell you a bit about the bike. Let’s talk about brake adjustments. There’s a number of different reasons why your brakes can need to be adjusted. The brakes themselves can be rubbing on the rim; they might not be tight enough. But we’ll start with just tightening the brakes themselves. So first you see this brake, it’s in pretty good shape. You really want two finger lengths between the handlebar and the break where you squeeze, so here you got plenty of room, but on this side the break itself goes almost all the way to the handlebar, way more then two finger-lengths. So here clearly is not tight enough. We’re going to try to start with a minor tightening with the barrel adjusters. So here the barrel adjusters just twist and as you pull them out of the break handle itself this will tighten the break. In this case it’s probably tightening it a bit more but not necessarily enough, you still have less then two finger-lengths. So now that opening the barrel adjuster did not tighten your brakes enough what we’re going to have to do is open up the break so that you can tighten your brake cable here. So you’re going to take an Allen wrench and all you got to do is unscrew this just a bit so you pull the break cable tight here so that the break pads are resting along the rims, so you can hear them rubbing along the rims here and at that point you want to tighten the cable to exactly where is should be and if you notice I left the barrel adjuster opened so that way now the rim is just barely rubbing along the brake pads but as you tighten the barrel adjuster as the brake cable is already tight again it should open up just perfectly so that your brakes are the exact tension you want them but at the same time aren’t going to be rubbing on the wheel, so we tighten the barrel adjuster here and see how that worked. Perfect. Got two finger-lengths and a nice tight brake.