How to Change Bicycle Brakes

Written by matthew ferguson
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How to Change Bicycle Brakes
Change Bicycle Brakes (cdgale21 image by Paco Ayala from

Bicycle brakes provide stopping power. They also help control a bike by moderating speed, allowing a cyclist to safely maneuver through obstacles and turns. So long as they're maintained regularly, there's usually little need to have to replace your brakes. On the other hand, a variety of brake upgrades and brands are always available, and with better performance in mind, a cyclist may choose to swap out his existing brakes for a newer, more advanced set.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 5 mm Allen key
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Bicycle grease
  • Cable end-crimp

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  1. 1

    Use a 5 mm Allen key to loosen the brake cable anchor bolt. This bolt "anchors" the cable to the body of the brake.

  2. 2

    Cut the metal crimp from the end of the brake cable using wire cutters. This crimp is a small cap that keeps the cable end from fraying. You will need to remove it so that the cable can clear the brake.

  3. 3

    Pull the cable free of the brake.

  4. 4

    Use the Allen key to loosen the nut that secures the brake pivot bolt to the bike. This nut is located on the backside of the brake. When removing the front brake, you may need to turn the wheel slightly in order to access the bolt head.

  5. 5

    Remove the brake from the bike. Repeat all steps for both brakes (if replacing both).


  1. 1

    Grease the pivot bolt on the new brake and insert the pivot bolt through the hole left by the old brake.

  2. 2

    Thread the nut onto the end of the pivot bolt, and while holding the body of the brake steady, tighten the nut using the Allen key.

  3. 3

    Pull the end of the brake cable taut, using needle-nose pliers, and tighten the brake cable anchor bolt onto the cable.

  4. 4

    Fit a new cable end crimp onto the end of the cable and mash the crimp in place using needle-nose pliers.

  5. 5

    Adjust the brake cable tension by turning the adjusting barrel. This barrel is located where the brake cable first enters the body of the brake. Threading the barrel all the way down (toward the brake) lessens tension on the cable, in turn making for "softer" braking. Turning the barrel in the opposite direction increases cable tension, causing "harsher" braking.

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