How to Adjust Shimano Bicycle Hand Brakes

Written by patrick hutchison
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How to Adjust Shimano Bicycle Hand Brakes
Adjust your Shimano brakes so they work when you need them most. (bicycle image by Chepko Danil from

Shimano manufactures bicycle components for all types of biking, and used by several bicycle manufacturers. Shimano brakes are available as caliper or cantilever brakes which connect to hand levers which control them. You must adjust Shimano brakes to offer the proper tension and to allow the shoes to seat properly on the rim.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Allen wrenches set

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  1. 1

    Center the brake assembly by loosening the bolt that attaches the brake assembly to the fork of your bike using an Allen wrench. Adjust the assembly and then tighten the bolt.

  2. 2

    Adjust the brake shoe height by loosing the bolt that goes through the brake pad using an Allen wrench. Center the brake on over the rim so that it does not contact the tire, only the rim. Tighten the brake shoe after adjustment with your Allen wrench.

  3. 3

    Adjust the brake arms where the brake cable attaches. Most Shimano brakes have an Allen screw or a Phillips screw that tightens around the brake cable anchor point. Loosen this screw or bolt and adjust the brake cable so that the brake arms are equidistant from the rim of the bike. Tighten the brake arm screw or bolt after you have made the adjustment.

  4. 4

    Look where your brake cable attaches to your hand brake lever. Some Shimano brakes have a threaded collar where the brake cable attaches to the lever. Adjust this threaded collar to increase or decrease the brake cable tension.

Tips and warnings

  • Install new brake shoes when adjusting your Shimano hand brakes. Adjustments made based on worn shoes often make your Shimano brakes less accurate.
  • Make sure you tighten down all brake cable anchor points, brake assembly bolts, and brake shoes. Shimano hand brake cables involve high tensions to work. If your brakes are loose you may lose braking ability.

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