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How to Tighten and Loosen Bike Brakes? (Adjustment Guide)

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to tighten and loosen bike brakes

Bicycle brakes are designed to make your riding experience efficient. They are powerful and reliable to use. But you need to regularly maintain them to ensure they deliver top performance and stopping power. Brakes can either be tight or loose, and this directly affects bike’s efficiency.

When your brake is too tight or the bike brakes not gripping, it can slow you down because the bike brake pads’ too close to rim and can rub against your bicycle wheel. On the other hand, when it is too loose, there is not enough stopping power. So, it is necessary to adjust the bicycle brakes accordingly.

How to tighten and loosen bike brakes? Check this guide to assist you through this maintenance dilemma:

Ways to Tighten and Loosen Bike Brakes


Things to prepare:

The only thing you need for this process is an Allen wrench. The tool will help you tighten or loosen the brake. It is an important instrument when you want to fix brakes on bike. For safety, you can also wear a protective eyewear and gloves.

Tightening bicycle brakes

Step 1: Loosen the barrel adjuster

The first step you need to do when you want to tighten bicycle brakes is to locate the barrel adjuster. You will find it between the intersection of the lever and the brake cable.

Once you locate it, you need to turn the barrel adjuster clockwise in a slow manner. Turning it counter clockwise will help you loosen the barrel adjsuter and tighten the brake cable.

Normally, a poorly adjusted brake can be fixed by simply loosening the barrel adjsuter. But if this does not work, there are a few measures you need to take like tighten bike disc brakes or adjust the bike calipers.

Step 2: Adjusting the caliper of the brakes


If the first step did not work, you have to adjust the caliper of the brakes. The bike caliper is the portion of the brake where the brake pads are attached. It is important to check them out to see any ongoing issue.

You have to locate the bolt that attaches the brake cable to the caliper in order to adjust it. Once you find the bolt and the caliper, you have to turn the bolt in a counter-clockwise direction to loosen it. This will help tighten the bike brake.

Step 3: Pull the brake cable

You are now ready to proceed to pulling the brake cable in an outward direction. After pulling it, make sure that you hold the cable tightly in one place.

You will notice that the front brake pads are already tightening on the rim. This is because the cable gets tighter after it is pulled out. Ensure that the brake pads are tight with little resistance.

You should not overdo it. An extremely tightened brake cable will not easily turn out when you use your bicycle brake, and this can lead to damage or future problems.

Step 4: Tighten the caliper bolt once again

Tighten the bolt again in a counter clockwise direction. You have to do it three times until the bolt can no longer be turned. It means that you have successfully tightened the caliper bolt. An Allen wrench can be put into good use when you tighten the caliper once again.

Step 5: Re-tighten the barrel adjuster


To check that you successfully tightened the brake, rotate the barrel adjusters again. Remember, you loosen it and rotate it counter-clockwise to tighten the brake.

Rotating it again will help lose the brake pads clamped on the bicycle front tire. After this step, your brake system is all set and you tighten brakes on road bike.

Loosening bicycle brakes


Step 1: Loosen the bike levers

Loosening bicycle brakes means you want your equipment to roll and move forward. It is simple and easy to loosen bicycle brakes and adjust hand brakes on a bike through the bike levers.

You have to locate the bike brake adjustment screw on the bicycle lever and check the tension of the brake cable. Here you can check the distance of the brake pads to the rim

You just need to pull the bicycle lever towards you, then push it away. With this movement, the brake pad of the brake system will go away from the bike disc.

Step 2: Push down on the pedals with your feet

You need to supplement it with the movement of your feet on the pedals. It is essential that you push down on the pedals using your feet. This will help the bike move forward while the bike brakes are being loosened.

Step 3: Slowly release the pedals so that the bike begins to roll

After pushing down, gradually release the pedals, and observe that the equipment is beginning to roll. By this time, you have loosened the bike brakes and adjust hand brakes on a bike, and you are free to move your bicycle toward your destination.

What Tool Do You Need to Tighten Bike Brakes?


TIghtening your bicycle brakes is easy if you have the proper tool. For this process, you only need an Allen wrench to help you tighten or loosen brakes on bike conveniently. As a supplement, you can use gloves and eye protector to keep you safe while executing the process.

How Do I Make My Bike Brakes More Responsive?

The responsiveness of your bike brakes depends on how you fast you want to stop pedaling. You have to carefully observe the reaction of your bicycle brake once you pull the bike lever.

If it is too slow for your needs, you have to adjust the brake system slowly until you reach the right speed that you desire. If it is too fast, you have to adjust bike brakes rubbing. It means that the brake rubs to your wheel which can abruptly stop the bicycle.


Bike brakes have direct effect on the efficiency of your ride. You should never leave your brake unchecked especially when you are taking a long distance road.

Regardless of how well your brake performs, you must perform regularly routine and maintenance check to attain optimum performance. This guide about how to tighten and loosen bike brakes will help you get through the entire process.

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