How To Install Caliper Brakes On Bike

Keeping the best care of your bike is hard, but sometimes you also have to make hard decisions about modifications. Thinking of changing brake types, have you taken a keen interest in caliper brakes? We have got you covered! In this guide, we will be sharing how to install and adjust caliper brakes. This guide has been carefully compiled so you don't have to do the hard research yourself!
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From time to time, you have to make certain modifications to your bike, some components you take out and some you add. One of the main things that you have to look out for is the braking system in your bike. Bicycle brakes play a very important part in the overall performance of your bike, that is why you need to keep on adjusting them from time to time.

Brake Pads and Brake Cords are the vital components that you have to keep an eye on, they are part of the braking device, so keep good care of them. Sometimes, people make the mistake of installing too small or too big brake pads, which just does not work well, and they are also dangerous.

You should also know how to adjust cable tension as too loose brake cables can pose a big problem to braking. In this guide, we will discuss everything there is to Caliper Brakes!

What Are Caliper Brakes?

This guide will be focusing on Caliper Brakes, but before we do that, we need to discuss WHAT CALIPER BRAKES ARE!

Speaking plainly, caliper brakes are mechanical braking systems with a single bolt, they can be installed on either the front or rear of a bike, the choice is fully yours here. The brake arms are stretched above the tire downwards, they just need to be long enough to support the tire, just make sure that the caliper brakes are like mentioned.

Their installation process would be a bit complicated for newcomers, especially when it comes to the barrel adjuster and brake bridge.

Fine-tuning and installing them is also very easy and with our guide, you will be able to install them seamlessly. Rear brakes are going to be different than the front brakes, but installing them isn’t that much difficult.

Caliper Brakes

The Different Types of Caliper Brakes

There are mainly three different types of Caliper Brakes that you will come across. All of them have their own different features that work in a unique manner.

  • Single-Pivot Side Pulls
  • Dual-Pivot Side Pulls
  • Center Pulls

Single-Pivot Side Pulls

These are also known as single-pivot brakes, in this braking structure, brake arms are connected with the cable housing with an inside wire. Single-pivot brakes are good and efficient, but they don’t shift the brake shoes that much. They fit onto a stitched surface, although centering them can be difficult sometimes. Disk brakes use the calipers for friction, which is created when pads are squeezed against a disc.

Dual-Pivot Side Pulls

Next is the Dual-Pivot Side Pulls, the inner cord and brake arm are connected to each other via a brake wire. Both the brake arms act differently here, one brake arm mainly revolves around the center bold while the other faces the wire while pivoting around the axle, this is an asymmetrical system. The brake arm rotates as per the whole nature of the brake, and that is explained simply in the dual-pivot side pulls.

This type of braking system is extremely reliable, and also puts you at an advantage when you use it. The brake arms are connected via a cam, that is why they can move in equal quantities, there is certainly no restriction with their movements.

Center Pulls

Center pulls are complex, but they do have their own set of advantages. Both the brake arms in this system revolve around a pivot. This type of braking structure was very famous around the 1960s and 1970s, even now they are favored for long-distance rides.

The Center Pull system also uses a traverse cable, very similar to the structure of a U-Brake.

Tools Needed For Installation

The tools needed for caliper brake installation are not that complex, and there are a variety of tools out there too. No matter, we have researched for you, so that no precious time is wasted. May it be brake levers or brake calipers, with these tools, you will be able to install any kind of caliper brakes.

  • Gloves (For Protection)
  • Brake Pads, Rotors
  • Brake Caliper Piston Tool
  • Lug Nut Wrench
  • Service Jack and Jack Stand 
  • Brake Bleeder Wrench 
  • Allen Wrench Set
  • Screwdriver

Getting these tools is also very easy, you can find them at any local bike shop.

Installing Caliper Brakes-Explained in Steps

As you might have heard and experienced yourself, caliper brakes are amazing and also very resourceful. You will find them installed most commonly on mountain bikes and hybrid bikes, they bring out the best in them. What makes them more popular is a question that we often get, let’s answer it!

The brakes on the rear wheel and front wheel are going to be different. Most of the job is done by the rear brake in fact! 

Caliper Brakes are more durable, reliable and can provide amazing performance without any sort of consequences. You can use them for all sorts of terrain, they don’t overheat the tires and are actually extend the life cycle of a bike. This is how you install them!

Start By Flipping Your Bike!

The first thing that we need to do is flip the bike, make sure that the wheels are lifted off the bike. Using a frame for this process is very crucial, it makes sure that the bike is stationary while you make all the installations. Getting a bike stand is strongly recommended here!

Check The Brake’s Caliper Style

Now you need to identify the type of caliper style your bike has, pay close attention to the middle of the wheel. Most probably they will be mechanical, although if you are not able to figure out what kind of caliper style the brake has, then you can always take the bike to a professional mechanic.

Adjust The Wheel In The Drop Hose

Here, we will now make sure that the drop-down hose is mounted on the wheel, and the wheel is attached to the motor. The wheel needs to be fixed, even if it isn’t then it can be turned clockwise to make sure that it is fixed. If you have an old-school bike then you will need an Allen wrench to tighten the wheel into the drop hose.

Clean The Rotor and Adjust The Brakes

Here, our goal is to adjust the brakes onto the rotor but also not to get hurt while cleaning the blades. Our recommendation would be to put the disc on two flat sides so you don’t actually touch them while adjusting. The braking surface also needs to be cleaned so pay attention to that!

Fix and Maintain The Brake Rub

The brakes need to be tight when you are done installing them but sometimes they may also be loose. A sign of brakes being loose is if they rub with each other. If this indeed happens, then you will need to find the hex bolts and bind them. Brakes need to be tight but not too tight, loose enough that they don’t rub with each other. Sometimes it happens that the caliper brakes are tight are only on one wheel, which is easily fixed.

Re-Center The Caliper Into The Rotor 

Once you have loosened the hex bolts, you need to pull the brake lever (the one that matches with the wheel you are working on, don’t go pulling the other brake lever!).

Doing this will re-center the caliper into the rotor, this happens sometimes when adjusting the brakes. 

Compressing The Bolts Carefully

While making sure that the brake heel is down, you will need to insert the Allen wrench into a hex bolt. Now turn it halfway clock-wise so that the rotor caliper is tightened, now do the same for the other hex bolt. Having a buddy here makes things easier, as they can hold the brake levers while you work. 

Turn The Caliper Leg Screw

You will find that there are some models of mechanical caliper brakes that have a set of screws that make sure that the adjustment dial is tight. You have to turn them anti-clockwise two or three times. Most of the time there will not even be a set of screws, so this part can be skipped entirely. 

Altering The Adjustment Dial

In the last step, we will be turning the adjustment dial. This plastic dial is on the caliper’s bottom and it needs to be one inch wide. In order to bring the brake pad closer, you have to turn the dial in a clockwise position, when that is done, turn it away from the rotor by rotating it anti-clockwise.

There you have it, you have just installed caliper brakes on your bike!

Installing and Adjusting Caliper Brakes


If you want maximum safety while riding your bike, then installing caliper brakes is going to be the best way to do that. There is this misconception that the whole installation process is hard, but with enough guidance it becomes easy. We outlined the different types of caliper brakes, the tools needed for the installation process. 

The steps have been written simply so that everyone gets the whole concept. We hope that after going through the guide, you can easily install caliper brakes. You can reach out in the comments if there are further queries!

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Luke Ameen

Luke Ameen

For many years, I've journeyed the world as an ardent cyclist, feeling the pulse of the road beneath two wheels. Even though competitive mountain trails might not be my battleground now, my zeal for cycling remains undiminished, pushing me to chase new escapades every chance I get.

My heart beats for everything related to cycling. Over the years, I've immersed myself in extensive research and hands-on tests of cycling equipment and enhancements, aiming to guide fellow cyclists in amplifying their riding experience. My mission is clear: deliver trustworthy insights and reliable guidance that readers can lean on. My vision is to kindle the same fervor for cycling in others, whether they're seasoned veterans or just embarking on this journey. Rest assured, I'm here to equip you with the freshest updates, advice, and perspectives to enrich every ride.


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