How to Assemble a Bike Brake

Written by matthew ferguson
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How to Assemble a Bike Brake
A rear bicycle brake and wheel. (cdgale21 image by Paco Ayala from

The average bicycle is outfitted with two brakes--one brake for each wheel. By slowing the bicycle on command, brakes help allow the cyclist safely manoeuvre around road obstacles and come to a full stop when necessary. For each brake to operate optimally, the brake will first need to be assembled properly onto the bike. All steps can be used to install either brake.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bicycle work stand (optional)
  • 5mm Allen key
  • Bicycle grease
  • Brake cable
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Cable cutters
  • Cable crimp-end

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  1. 1

    Place the bike into a bicycle work stand or lean it against a secure, mar-proof surface. When tightening the brake, you'll be applying forces that could cause the bike to tip over if it's not stable.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the nut from the mounting bolt at the back of the brake, and set the bolt aside. Lightly coat the threads of the mounting bolt with bicycle grease.

  3. 3

    Pass the mounting bolt through the designated hole in the frame. For front brakes, this hole is located at the head of the fork, just above the wheel. For back brakes, the hole is located on the seat stay, also just above the wheel.

  4. 4

    Pass the mounting bolt through the hole. Holding the brake in place, insert the nut through the back side of the hole. If assembling the front brake, you may need to turn the fork slightly in order to access this side of the hole.

  5. 5

    Attach a 5mm Allen key to the nut, and while holding the brake steady with your other hand, begin turning the bolt clockwise. Continue to turn until the nut is fully seated.

  1. 1

    Squeeze the brake lever (on the handlebar) to expose the small hole inside. The left-side brake arm controls the front brake, while the right-side arm controls the back. Pass the brake cable through the hole, until it fully emerges from the cable housing and the cable head catches in place against the lever.

  2. 2

    Locate the pinch bolt on the side of the brake. While pulling the end of the cable taut with needle-nosed pliers, use a 5mm Allen key to tighten the bolt onto the cable, securing the cable to the brake.

  3. 3

    Locate the cable adjuster barrel, where the cable first enters the brake. Turn this barrel counter-clockwise (away from the brake) to increasingly tighten the cable. This will cause the brake pads (on the sides of the brake) to move closer to the braking surface of the wheel. Adjust until there is a gap of 3 to 4mm between each pad and the wheel's braking surface.

  4. 4

    Use cable cutters, and cut the end of the cable so that only 1 inch of cable remains past the pinch colt. Slide a cable end-crimp onto the tip, and mash it onto the cable using needle-nosed pliers. This will prevent the end of the cable from fraying.

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