Bikes with disc brakes will eventually make some amount of rubbing noise. Thankfully, you can do something about them if you experience unusual brake noise.
How to adjust
All cyclists should know how to adjust their bike brakes, and this post will show you exactly how to do that.
What You Will Need
The tools you need for adjusting noisy or rubbing brakes for your bike model may not be the exact ones on this list.
While all mechanical disc brakes on
- Wrench (18 mm)
- Allen wrench (5 mm)
- Torque wrench with a 5-mm Allen bit
- Torque wrench with a long socket head or an 18-mm socket head (depending on your bike model)
- Flat side cutters
- A sheet of paper
For 2019 or earlier models of RadWagon, RadCity, and RadCity Step-Thru, you will need a rear brake inner pad adjustment tool. You can get this directly from
If you plan to work on your bike upside down, you should support the handlebar grips with wooden blocks. The blocks will also protect the display.
Now let’s get into the steps for how to adjust
All the moving parts on your bike can be overwhelming and even intimidating. But don’t worry about them because you only need to adjust two points at most. These are the barrel adjuster and the caliper.
The barrel adjuster is the small metal cuff located at the brake lever.
The caliper is the claw-like device located in the center of the wheel.
I’ll break down the entire brake adjustment procedure into different simple procedures, depending on the specific brake issue with your bike.
Step 1: Get Your Bike Ready and Determine the Misalignment
First things first, you want to prepare your bike for maintenance if you observe a braking noise or problem.
To do this:
- Turn off your bike and remove the battery.
- Press down the power or mode button for a few seconds. This will discharge the remaining power.
The quickest way to determine if your brakes are out of whack is by pulling on the brake levers. This will tell you if your brakes are too tight or too loose.
Both brakes should make full contact with the rim’s surface or else you need to figure out which brake requires adjustment.
To do this:
- Pull the brake levers.
- Notice the amount of contact between the brake and the rim of your wheel.
- Does one side squeeze loosely?
- Does one side not squeeze at all?
- Does one side overlap the rim?
By observing this, you should be able to figure out where the misalignment is coming from.
Here’s something you should remember when you pull the brake levers. The right lever controls the rear brake while the left lever controls the front brake.
Step 2: Adjust the Barrel Adjuster
Ideally, the brake lever should squeeze easily up to about 1 to 1.5 inches before becoming stiff. If this is not the case, your levers are too tight and you need to loosen them.
On the other hand, your brakes are too loose if the levers touch or almost touch the handlebars when you pull them. In that case, you need to tighten them.
To adjust the barrel adjuster:
- Loosen the lockring.
- Twist the barrel adjuster toward the brake lever to tighten it.
- Twist the barrel adjuster away from the lever to loosen it.
Here’s a quick video demonstration.
In some cases, adjusting noisy or rubbing brakes is simply a matter of tightening or loosening the barrel adjuster. This step is especially useful if you’re out on a ride and need a quick way to address braking issues temporarily.
If this step does not solve the problem, you need to follow the rest of the instructions on how to adjust
Step 3: Adjust the Brake Cable Tension
The cable on the brake caliper may be too tight or too loose if you’re still having braking issues after adjusting the barrel adjuster.
To adjust the cable tension:
- Locate the brake caliper and loosen the lockring on the barrel adjuster.
- Loosen the cable pinch bolt using a 5 mm Allen wrench. The goal is to allow the cable to move freely without removing the bolt completely.
- Pull the brake cable downward as you push the caliper arm up. You want to make sure the cable is stretched tight.
- Now, tighten the cable pinch bolt.
- Spin the wheel to make sure it spins freely.
Step 4: Check the Wheel Position
If the brake is tight just right but the noise persists, the wheel may not be centered in the fork dropouts.
To check and adjust the position of the front wheel:
- Start by opening the quick-release lever.
- Turn the thumbnut counterclockwise. This will make more room for the fork dropouts.
- Make sure the wheel axle is centered and in line with the fork dropouts as you lower the bike onto the axle.
- Turn the thumbnut clockwise while leaving the quick-release lever open. Do this until the lever can stay parallel to the ground without you holding it.
- Now, apply sufficient pressure to close the quick release.
To check and adjust the position of the rear wheel:
- Flip your bike upside down, making sure the handlebar grips rest on wooden blocks.
- Loosen the axle nuts on both sides of the wheel using an 18 mm wrench. You don’t want to completely remove the nuts as that will increase re-assembly time.
- Adjust the wheel, making sure the axle is level and the wheel is centered in the dropouts.
- Tighten the axle nuts using the 18 mm wrench.
Step 5: Check the Brake Rotor
Next, you want to make sure the brake rotor is in optimum condition. Brake noise can occur if the rotor rubs against the brake pads as the wheel spins.
To check the condition of the brake rotor:
- Flip your bike upside down to check the rear rotor or prop it on its kickstand to check the front rotor. You want your bike to be in a position that will give you a better view of the rotor.
- With the bike in the proper position, spin the wheel. It should spin freely if there is no contact between the rotor and brake pads.
- Take a sheet of paper and hold it behind the brake caliper. This will allow you to see if the rotor wobbles or not as the wheel spins. You may need to get a replacement if the rotor does not spin straight or you suspect it is damaged.
- Use the brake lever if you need to stop the wheel from spinning.
Pro tip: Never touch the brake rotor to avoid injury. This is especially true when the wheel is in motion. Touching the rotor can also cause your bike to squeak and reduce your brake performance.
Step 6: Test the Brakes
Finally, after adjusting your bike’s brakes it is time to put all of that hard work to the test. Hopefully, it will be worth the effort.
To do this:
- Go ahead and reinstall the battery. Make sure to follow the instructions to correctly install the battery.
- Test the brakes by riding the bike in your backyard or somewhere safe without traffic.
Let me end this post with this quick caution: do not ride your bike without fully testing it in a safe place, even if you’re sure you followed every instruction to the latter.
Testing doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, so do not let the excitement of riding your
Remember that brakes are critical to your safety while riding your bike. It is best to have a more experienced person to work on your bike if you are unsure about performing the above steps successfully.
There you have it – how to adjust
I like “connecting” with my bike, and being able to fix a brake rubbing noise is one of the ways I do this. I encourage you to try it, too!
Besides, adjusting noisy or rubbing brakes yourself can save you some money since you don’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.
I’ll like to hear your thoughts or questions in the comments. And remember to share this post if you liked it.