How To Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes | The Fast Way

If you have greased your bike brake cables and bearings, but they squeak there is another common problem you can check. A simple adjustment to the brakes will fix this if it’s not too bad. For an easy step-by-step guide on how to do this, read on!

The Problem

The brakes are making a squeaking noise while you ride, or when they are applied. Especially when applying them slowly.

This is generally due to two reasons; either your brake pads need replacing (and the metal part of the caliper that squeezes the pad against the rim of your wheel needs cleaning), or you need to adjust your brakes so that they are closer together (in relation to the rim of your wheel).

Identify the source of Squeaky Brakes

Many different things can cause the brakes on your bike to squeal, so it is important to troubleshoot the problem thoroughly before attempting any repairs.

The first thing you should always do before attempting to fix any problem is to eliminate all other possible factors. A squeaky front brake might be the result of a loose rotor or pad, excessive wear on the pads and rotors, corrosion between the pads and rotors, worn-out cables and housing, or air in the hydraulic fluid.

Squeaky Bike Brakes

Back Brakes

The source of your squeaking could also come from back brakes that are dragging underneath your seat as you ride.

To prevent this from happening it’s important to have a bicycle mechanic adjust both the front and back brakes so that they are just shy of rubbing against either side of your tire.

This step will typically require the professional installation of a new cable system if you do not already have a secondary rear caliper brake installed under your seat on your bike.

Brake Pads

A squeaking front brake might be due to worn-out brake pads, which can usually be fixed with simple adjustments.

Usually, you will need to replace the inner and outer brake pads of your wheel to fix this problem. You may want to consider taking your bicycle to a professional for this type of repair unless it is something that you have done before yourself.

If you are simply getting rid of the old brake pads on your pad holders, then dust them off before reattaching them back onto the holder with some light sanding between surfaces if they are excessively cracked or worn out.

Always remember when using sandpaper on these types of materials not to use anything too coarse, as it could damage the metal on the stopper stoppers themselves.

If you need a bit more help identifying squeaky bicycle brakes, consider these:

Two Tips: 

1) The most common cause of a squeaky front brake is due to excess movement between your caliper and rotor which can be fixed by simply readjusting this connection point.

These connections may feel loose even though they shouldn’t be wiggling around if you pick up your bike from either end and shake it.

To fix this, use an Allen key or wrench to adjust the bolts on the backside of each caliper arm so that there is no longer any free play at all in each connection point. This will require several turns with the wrench per caliper arm for them to tighten up enough.

Make sure that you do not over-tighten the connection points to where they will be unable to move at all, as this could cause problems for brake pads in the future if the rotor is stationary and does not spin freely between either side of each pad.

2) Making sure that there isn’t any air inside your hydraulic brake fluid will also help ensure that you are not dealing with this common cause of squeaky bicycle brakes.

Air bubbles inside your hydraulic brake lines would be the most likely reason for these types of noises, but if there is dirt or corrosion inside your brake line then it could also produce a similar sound that might even sound like air bubbles popping when you brake.

The best way to fix this problem is by flushing out your brake line system with fresh fluid, which you can do yourself if you have the proper tools available to you, or bring it into a shop that specializes in hydraulic brakes so that they can flush out your entire system.

How To Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

Method 1: Replacing brake pads

Taking off your wheels is usually the simplest way to replace the brake pads.

Sometimes you may be able to fit new brake blocks without doing this, but it depends on what type of brakes you have fitted.

On most bikes, taking out the wheel is fairly straightforward, simply pull back the rubber cover at the top of each side of your wheel (holding it with a cloth so it doesn’t snap), undo two screws for each side, and slide each half of the wheel out.

Then all you need to do is take out old pads and put in new ones!

Method 2: Adjusting the brakes

This option is simple and cheap, but does require a screwdriver.

First, look at each side of your brake caliper. You should be able to see a small Allen key bolt there holding the two arms together. Undo these bolts a little bit at a time until your brakes stop squeaking, then tighten them back up again.

If you do this you will need to recheck them every few months as they gradually loosen again as you ride! Before doing this procedure it’s important that your wheel rotates freely with no catching or resistance from the brakes as you turn the wheel one way and then the other after undoing those bolts.

Method 3: Adjusting the cable

Sometimes if your brakes are hurting your hands as you ride, or pulling to one side when you brake, it’s possible that your cables need adjusting.

First of all, take the rubber cover off at the top of each wheel as you did for replacing brake blocks and undo the screws there.

Then slide each half of the wheel out and undo the bolt holding each arm (of which there should be two) together. If this is not very tight then do it up a little bit.

Once done, push on one brake pad until it brushes against your rim and pull on each end of that brake wire (one after another) until they feel nice and taut, but not so tight that you can’t pull them out again with a little bit of force.

Method 4: Lubricating the brake cable

If none of these methods work then take your bike to your nearest cycle shop and ask for some lubricant spray to soak the brake cable with.

This will allow it to glide up and down more easily and perhaps even stop your brakes from squeaking as well as simply applying them (by how much depends on the type of lubricant).

Method 5: Changing your brake blocks

If the above fails, you may have to change your brake blocks.

This can be a little bit more expensive, but not too bad if you catch it in time. If the rubber is completely worn down from when it was new, or if they have been worn badly from being well used then this will almost certainly be necessary.

There are a few different types of brakes out there though so just buying some replacement pads isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need to find what type yours are and get the right kind of brake block for them.

Method 6: Getting your bike serviced

At last, if all else fails (or before trying any of these other methods) take your bike somewhere local (use Yelp to find one near you) and get it serviced.

This usually costs around $50-$100, but they will adjust everything properly so that your brakes are actually in good working order.

If you have been putting off servicing for months or years then this is likely to be the reason your brakes won’t stop squeaking anyway!

Last Updated on February 28, 2022