How to Adjust Your Road Bike Brakes

Brake rub is an unavoidable aspect of cycling that we all go through at some point whether you’re a seasoned or novice cyclist.

This often happens as a result of maladjusted, tight, or squeaky brakes. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it.

Read on to find out how to adjust road bike brakes whether you’re on the road or at home.

How to Adjust Brakes on a Road Bike

Regardless of the brakes that your bike operates on, the tension is determined by hydraulic acid and the brake cable.

Hydraulic disc brakes are typically difficult to adjust because they’re rigid. The best you can do is bleed them out, and this is no small feat. You’ll do well to leave this type of fix to the professionals and avoid attempting it on your own.

But, if your bike operates on cable-actuated disc brakes or rim brakes then you can easily adjust your brakes at home. Keep reading and learn how to adjust hydraulic disc brakes on a road bike.

The Little Things

City step-through bikes, hybrid bikes, and mountain bikes all have one thing in common; the presence of screw-like adjusters that are located on the brake cable levers right where the lever connects to the brake cable housing.

The brake adjuster of a road bike is similar to the brake-in that is located where the brake is connected to the cable housing.

These are known as barrel adjusters and they’re designed to enable you to bring the cable tension up, a process that makes it easier to bring brake arms next to the bike rim. Or in the case of disc brakes, it brings the bicycle brake pads closer to the rotor.

If you’re experiencing loose brakes that require you to squeeze your levers to the point where you reach the handlebar in order to stop the bike, then you’ll need to engage the barrel adjusters more than a few times to loosen things up.

This helps to tighten the brakes by way of the brake cables. Once your brakes are nice and tight, you can then check to see if your wheels are turning properly, if not then you should make room by loosening the barrel adjusters.

The Big Things

You don’t need any tools in order to make these basic adjustments and you may even apply them while riding your bike, granted you’re experienced enough to do so. However, it’s recommended to apply these fixes when the bike is stationary.

If your barrel adjuster has been turned completely then you might need to use a 10mm box-end wrench or 5mm hex wrench to turn things around. Of course, the type of wrench you need will depend on the brakes that you have on your bike.

Using your preferred torque wrench, get the pinch bolt loosened from the brake cable. Then, roll the barrel adjuster but only about halfway through. Make sure the cable is tough and put pressure on the brake at the part where it meets the rim. Simultaneously pinch the bolt down before you roll the barrel adjuster to finish the job.

If this doesn’t work then you should increase or decrease the distance at which you roll the barrel adjuster and the amount of pressure placed on the cable. All it takes is a bit of observation and time to properly adjust your brakes, and that’s how to adjust disc brakes on a road bike!


Learning about how to adjust road bike brakes or any other bike upgrade is one of those essential skills that you should acquire when you become a bike owner, especially if you plan on cycling on a regular basis.

It can be a real lifesaver when you find yourself with wobbly brakes while riding through the forest or even around the block in your neighborhood.

Either way, you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to learn how to adjust brakes on a road bike under 500 and we hope this guide has been helpful at equipping you with the information you need.

As you can see, it’s neither difficult nor complicated to complete this process and you can do it while your bike is moving or wait until it’s stationery. It’s as simple as that.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not out cycling through the best routes, reviewing the latest gear, and sharing tips on everything biking.

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