How To Tighten Bike Brakes In 5 Easy Steps

Brake cables can become loose overtime and when they do, here's how you can fix them!

Brakes are an important component of your bicycle because they give you the needed control on your ride. Over time, these brakes can become loose. It can be because of water exposure, overheating, wear and tear, or even exposure to mud!

Now the good news is that when this happens, you don’t have to replace your whole braking system. You can tighten your brakes by following some simple steps. A worn-down brake pad or a loose brake cable can cause you to lose control over your braking system. So you should adjust your brakes and tighten them whenever needed.

Let me show you in easy-to-follow steps how you can do that. Ready?

How To Tighten Your Bike’s Brakes

We will be focusing on two parts:

  • Brake Pads
  • Brake Cables

But first, let’s check if you have the required tools!

  • Allen Wrench 
  • Pliers 
  • Tire Levers (Optional if you want to remove the wheel to have better access to the brakes)
Fixing Bicycle Brakes
Fixing Bicycle Brakes

All set? Let’s get started then

Step 1. Start by Loosening The Barrel Adjuster

We will start with the barrel adjuster. You will find it between the intersection of the brake cable and the lever. Now,  slowly turn the barrel adjuster clockwise to loosen it. Once you do that, the brake cable automatically tightens.

Don’t let brake issues ruin your ride. Check out our guide to common bicycle brake problems and how to fix them

Mostly, this will fix your problem. Check the state of your brake cable by pressing the lever. See how much it comes close to the handlebar. If there is still a problem, here is what you will need to do: 

Step 2. Adjust The Caliper Part of The Brakes Now

Check the state of the caliper. It is that part of the brake where the pads are attached. There should be a bolt that holds the brake cable to the caliper, find it. You will need an Allen wrench for the next step. Turn the bolt counter-clockwise to loosen it. 

Does your bike brake squeak? Silence it with our step-by-step guide to fixing noisy brakes

Be careful not to overdo it, you don’t want to unscrew the bolt. Just rotate it two or three times!

Read our guide to discover how to install front brakes on your bike and ride with confidence

Step 3. The Next Step is to Pull The Brake Cable

In the next step, you will have to pull the brake cable outwards! Pull the cable and hold it tightly in one place. See, the front brake pads are tightening on the rim. This is because the cable is also getting tighter. But we don’t have to overdo it. We only have to make sure that the pads are tight until there is some resistance when we turn the tire!

Keep on experimenting until you find the right level of tightness

Bicycle Brake Cable
Bicycle Brake Cable

Step 4. Tighten The Caliper Bolt Again 

Are you following my steps? If yes, then your brake cable should be tightened by now! All there is left to do is tighten the caliper’s bolt again. Turn the bolt clockwise. Do it three times until you can’t turn it anymore. This shows that the bolt is all set. Remember, I said clockwise!

Keep your bike in top shape with our guide to basic bike maintenance.

Step 5. Tighten The Barrel Adjuster Again

We are almost done. Just turn the barrel adjuster clockwise. This will tighten them. Look at the brake pads. Are they slightly loosed? This means that your brake cable is all set.

Press the lever to test the brake cables. 

Read also


What Tool Do You Need To Tighten Bike Brakes?

The only tool that you would be needing is an Allen wrench, you will need it to adjust the brake’s components.

Why Are My Brakes Too Loose?

The most common reason for that brakes being loose is wear and tear.

How Do I Make My Bike Brakes More Responsive?

There are several techniques that you can use to make your bike brakes more responsive, you can try resetting the barrel adjuster, or adjusting the brake arm springs.


Maintaining your bicycle brakes will save you money and time in the long run. Not to forget it is important to enjoy a safe ride. You’ll know your brake cable is loose by looking at your lever. If it can be pulled to your handlebar without much resistance, you’ve got some work to do. Normally, you should be able to squeeze it with your two fingers. Also, check your brake pads. If they are worn out, they might cause your cable to become loose too!

So don’t skimp out on timely maintenance! Let me know if there is anything else you need help with in the comment sections below! 

Should you have any questions or require further clarification on the topic, please feel free to connect with our expert author Luke Ameen by leaving a comment below. We value your engagement and are here to assist you.

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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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