How To Adjust Sidepull Brakes on a Road Bike


Misaligned brake pads can cause a decrease of braking power, or even a blowout! With 5 minutes of your time, you can ensure that you have the ability to stop when you're supposed to. Here's the deal:

BE ADVISED: The brake pads need to line up with the rim perfectly. If adjusted too low, there will part of the pad missing the rim, doing nothing for your stopping power. If adjusted too high, the brake pad could possibly cut into the tire. 

Aligning the pads:

  • Loosen up the brake shoe using a hex wrench, allowing it to move around. 
  • You can set the brake pads to fit the rim by simultaneously squeezing the brake lever. Set the brakes as perfect as possible with the curvature of the rim.


Misaligned brake pads can form a shelf from not contacting the rim 100%

Misaligned brake pads can form a shelf if they don't completely contact the rim.

  • When the pads are where you want them to be, tighten up the brake shoe with your hex wrench. Repeat the process for the brake pads on the other side of the rim.

Other things to consider:

  • Make sure the brake cable is at the right tension. A hex wrench will loosen the cable clamp on the brake assembly. With one hand, close the brake assembly on the rim while pulling any slack out of the cable with the other. Now tighten the cable clamp to connect the properly adjusted brake cable.

  • On the assembly is a spring tension centering screw which can adjust the pad-to-rim distance to the setting you desire.
  • The caliper can be rotated to ensure that both brake pads contact the rim simultaneously by loosening the mounting bolt.

After every adjustment, always double-check that the brake pads are smoothly on the rim. Like Uncle Phil used to say, "5 minutes checking your brakes is better than 5 weeks in a cast."