If your bicycle brakes are sticking when you use them, it’s important to address the issue promptly for safety reasons. Sticking brakes can lead to reduced stopping power and control. Here’s how you can troubleshoot and free sticking brakes:
Materials You’ll Need:
- Allen keys
- Sandpaper or emery cloth
- Bike-specific brake cleaner or isopropyl alcohol
- Rag or cloth
- Inspect Brake Cables:
Check the brake cables for any signs of fraying, kinks, or rust. Damaged cables can cause the brakes to stick. If you notice any issues with the cables, they may need to be replaced.
- Check Brake Pads and Rotors (Disc Brakes):
For disc brakes, check if the brake pads are aligned properly and not rubbing against the rotors when you’re not applying the brakes. Make sure the rotors are true (not bent) and not contaminated with oil or debris.
- Inspect Brake Calipers:
Examine the brake calipers (the part that holds the brake pads) for any misalignment, dirt, or debris that might be causing them to stick. Use a cloth to clean the calipers if necessary.
- Check Brake Lever and Housing:
Make sure the brake lever is returning to its original position after you release it. Check the housing for the brake cables as well; if they’re pinched or damaged, they might be causing the brakes to stick.
- Lubricate Pivot Points:
Brake caliper pivot points can become stiff over time. Apply a small amount of bike-specific lubricant to the pivot points, being careful not to get any on the brake pads or rotors.
- Check for Contaminants:
If you have rim brakes, inspect the brake pads and rim surfaces for any debris, dirt, or residue that might be causing the sticking. Clean the brake pads and rim surfaces with sandpaper or emery cloth.
- Inspect Cable Housing:
If you have cable-operated brakes, check the cable housing for any kinks, bends, or compression. Replace the housing if needed.
- Adjust Brake Tension:
If the brakes are still sticking after checking the above steps, you might need to adjust the brake tension. For rim brakes, use the barrel adjuster on the brake lever to fine-tune the cable tension. For disc brakes, follow the specific adjustment procedure for your brake model.
- Clean the Brake System:
If you’re comfortable doing so, remove the brake calipers and pads and clean them using bike-specific brake cleaner or isopropyl alcohol. Ensure that no cleaning agents come into contact with the pads or rotors.
- Seek Professional Help:
If you’ve tried these steps and the brakes are still sticking, or if you’re unsure about any part of the process, it’s recommended to take your bike to a professional bike shop, such as Minstrel Cycles, for a thorough inspection and repair.
Remember that your brakes are a critical safety component, so it’s essential to address sticking brake issues promptly to ensure your safety while riding.