How to Install Bicycle Brakes

Two bike riders close-up view of hands and handlebar of one
Confirm that the bicycle brakes will properly engage before beginning a ride. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

While there are a variety of bicycle brakes to choose from, two of the simplest types to install on a road bicycle are the cantilever and linear-pull brake systems. Both are mechanical systems, meaning that the user operates the device by using a lever that pulls a wire attached to the brake assembly. These two systems mount on a central pivot point on the bicycle's front fork. Linear-pull brakes are often used on bicycles with suspension, while cantilever brakes are not.

Lever Installation

Step 1

Remove the grip from the right handlebar. Slide the brake lever onto the right handlebar, with the lever pointed outward.

Step 2

Tighten the screw on the lever's mounting bracket until the lever is secure. Replace the grip on the right handlebar.

Step 3

Pull the brake lever, then slide the brake cable through the slot in the lever. Feed the end of the cable into the cable adjustment barrel.

Cantilever Brakes

Step 1

Bolt the brake assembly onto the front fork of the bicycle. Position the brake shoes next to the rim of the front wheel. Loosen the nut attached to the cable anchor bolt, located on the side of the brake assembly.

Step 2

Locate the wire at the end of the brake cable. Feed the wire through the cable adjustment barrel, then slide the end of the wire through the hole in the cable anchor bolt. Tug on the wire to remove excess slack from the brake cable, then tighten the cable anchor bolt.

Step 3

Pull the brake lever to test the brakes. Confirm that the brake shoes will make contact with the wheel rim only when the lever is engaged; if necessary, loosen the cable anchor bolt and adjust the tension of the cable.

Linear-Pull Brakes

Step 1

Bolt the brake assembly onto the front fork of the bicycle. Push the brake pads against the front rim, then insert the end of the brake cable into the carrier on the brake assembly.

Step 2

Locate the wire at the end of the brake cable. Loosen the cable anchor bolt. Feed the wire through the bolt, then partially tighten the bolt. Pull the brake lever and confirm that the brake pads will make contact with the wheel rim.

Step 3

Pull the wire tight through the cable anchor bolt while holding down the brake lever. Tighten the bolt, then release the lever. Pull and release the brake lever repeatedly to stretch the brake cable. Loosen the cable anchor bolt and pull the wire tight as before, then tighten the bolt again.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Wrench

  • Pliers

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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