How To Adjust Bike Brakes Rubbing: All The Crucial Steps

The role of a bike brake is to regulate the speed of a bike or stop it from moving by stopping the wheel from turning. There are many types of bike brakes but the main ones are disk brakes, calipers, cantilevers, and V-brakes.

Rubbing brakes should never be ignored because they will slow you down in addition to destroying other components of the wheel like the rotor and both pads.So, what causes brake rubs? Because knowing the cause of the problem is a step towards fixing the issue.

How To Adjust Bike Brakes Rubbing

Common Causes of Brakes Rubbing

Non-Aligned Brake Pads

If brake pads are not well aligned with the rim, frame (caliper brakes) or rotor(for disk brakes) they will start rubbing. The problem could be that one pad is too close to the rim, rotor or frame or actually rubbing them. The issue can be fixed by centering the brake.

another post of us: How To Fix A Bike Pedal

Dirty Components

When commuting a bicycle gets exposed to a lot of salt(depending on where you live), ice, mud, and sand and small stones. Grit inside a brake system can cause the brake to get out of alignment. The insides require to be cleaned occasionally, maybe three times a year. When your brakes are rubbing, clean the components to remove any dirt.

Broken, Bentor Worn Out Components

If one of the components that make up the braking system is broken, bent or wearing out, then it may be responsible for the rubbing of the brakes.

Worn Out Brake Pads

The brake pads could be worn out completely or worn out in some parts. When this happens, the brakes make a grinding noise that can be very irritating. It is as a result of the metal parts in the braking system rubbing on the bicycle parts instead of being cushioned by brake pads. It is important to fix this issue before it damages the other bicycle components.

If the brake pads are completely worn out, then they need to be replaced. Brake pads are quite pocket-friendly and replacing them will not break the bank.If, on the other hand, they are not completely worn out, you can still do a little maintenance works and extend their lifespan a little.

How to fix Rubbing Brakes of Different Braking Systems

The way to adjust bike brakes rubbing depends largely on the type of braking system the bike has. The components are different in each braking system. The braking system also determines what kind of brake pad setup the bicycle has.

So, the first thing you need to do is to determine what kind of braking system your bicycle has. We will discuss the four main types of brakes in the market and how to troubleshoot when a bicycle has rubbing brakes.

Disk Brakes

Disk brakes are not a rim brake, they are designed to clamp a fixed rotor. There are two types of disk brakes namely mechanical and hydraulic systems.

Causes and How to Fix Brakes Rubbing

For disk brakes, rubbing occurs when there is an incorrectly aligned brake caliper or the wheel is positioned incorrectly. If the problem is not corrected in good time, it can spoil the wheel.

Hydraulic Systems

First, check for worn out pads and then ensure that the wheel is not misaligned. After that inspect the rotor and pad and see if there are any gaps causing the rubbing. It could also be a bent rotor which causes a misalignment, in which case you need to replace the rotor or get it repaired.

It can also be accumulated dirt on both pistons causing them to be sticky. The bearing also needs to be functioning well, check for any issues there too. Lastly, check the mounting of the rotor by checking the bolts or lockring.

Mechanical Systems

The components of a mechanical disk system include mounting bolts, adjusters, pads, pinch bolt, mounting holes, barrel adjuster, brake lever, lever arm,  and cable and housing.

First ensure that all the components in the brake system are well aligned, securely fixed and tightened well. Also, check adjacent components that work with the braking system components.Then ensure that the wheel is seated well which works to position the rotor in the caliper.

In addition, inspect if the rotor needs to be repaired or replaced, this is especially if it has a lot of lateral movements.

Caliper Brakes

Caliper is a simple rim brake system that clamps down the metal rim of a bicycle. It is commonly used on road bikes and youth bikes.

Causes and How to Fix it

A calipers break system consists of the rim, brake caliper, brake lever, and brake cable and housing. To troubleshoot, first, ensure that the wheel is well aligned to all its attached components. Next, check the alignment of the brake to the rim. Inspect the brake pads too.

Then ensure that the brake caliper, brake cable, and housing are not bent or worn out. Above all, ensure that it is not dirt and mud clogging the braking system.

Cantilever brakes

Cantilever brakes are used mostly on cyclocross racing on off-road terrain. The brakes are more powerful than caliper brakes. Cantilever brakes are mounted on the frames that extend to the side of the bicycle. A cantilever brake system consists of a rim, brake lever, brake cable and housing, and brake caliper.

Causes and How to Fix it

Cantilever brakes work by applying pressure using the brake pad to the rim of the wheel, which slows down the bicycle.

If there is rubbing, it could be a problem with the brake pads, wheel, rim, or cantilever brake itself. First, ensure that the wheel is well aligned before checking each component of the cantilever brake beginning with the condition of the brake pads.


Sometimes they are referred to as direct-pull or linear-pull. They are very powerful and good for off-road bikes and mountain bikes. They are rim brakes.

Causes and How to Fix it

First,check the rim pad for wearing or tear. Then inspect the components of the V-brakes for dirt and mud and have them cleaned if need be.Then go ahead and inspect the wheel alignment and check the condition of the rim too. Lastly, check the components of the v-brakes for slight bents or signs that they are wearing out.


Rubbing brakes can be a sign of a bigger issue especially if the problem is the wheel or worn out or torn rims or rotor. It is important to do routine check-ups on your bike brakes because they can pose a safety risk if they stop working and you are on busy public roads.

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