How to Repair Bike Brakes

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How to Repair Bike Brakes

While it is rare for many bicycles to have problems anywhere other than the tyres, the brakes do sometimes suffer problems. While issues vary depending on the type of brakes and the type of bike, most users can easily repair or replace the brakes on their own. With plenty of supplies and replacement parts available on eBay, it is relatively easy for buyers to find deals and then do the work for a fraction of the cost of a professional repair. Because most bikes have exchangeable parts, most brake repairs require very few tools. Learning about how to repair bike brakes can give beginners a starting point for performing the repairs themselves.

Checking the Type of Bike Brakes

There are more than 16 different types of bicycle brakes, so it is important to check to see which is on the bike before repairing it. Typically, repairing bike brakes means either adjusting the brakes or replacing them. The common types of actuation mechanisms are manual, hydraulic, shifting, and lever brakes. Bike owners can determine the actuation method by looking at how the brakes work.

Brake Type


Rim brakes

Handlebar actuators and brake shoes squeeze the wheel to a stop

Rod brakes

Rod going down from handlebar levers

Calliper brakes

Upside down U-shaped brake with cable actuation


Upside down U-shaped brake with cross pivot


Individual brakes on each side of the wheel


Large circle or U-shaped brake with side pull

Also available as a mini-V brake

Disc brakes

Brakes on the rotor disc of the wheel

Each type of braking system is common on different types of bicycles. For example, disc brakes are very common on children's bikes and cantilever brakes are common on road bikes. After deciding which type of brake is on the bike, bike owners can decide how to go about adjusting or replacing their brakes.

Adjusting Bike Brakes

Adjusting brakes is cost effective, but it does not always work. Most brakes are easily adjustable with a few tools such as lubricant, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers. It is important to check to ensure that all of the brake parts are functioning correctly, that the screws are all tight, and most importantly, that the brake shoes or pads are correctly set away from the wheel. For most types of breaks, this means about 1 to 2 centimetres apart, or 1 to 2 centimetres away from the rubber of the wheel on either side. This prevents rubbing and friction when the wheel is in motion, and ensures that the brake closes enough to stop the bike when actuated.

Replacing Bike Brakes

If adjusting the brakes does not work, then they probably require replacing. Brake shoes and rotors are the most common brake parts to wear out. Bike owners can also choose to replace or upgrade the entire brake system, as some brakes do get old and become faulty over time. In either case, it is important to follow the part manufacturer's instructions, as installation and replacement methods are different depending on the part's make and model.

Deciding if Bike Brake Pads Need Replacement

Because brake pads are the most common thing to wear out in any brake system, bike owners can assume, after a quick inspection of their braking system, that the brake pads are at fault. If nothing else is obviously wrong with the brakes, then the pads are probably wearing down. Owners can use a screwdriver to remove the pads and inspect them for wear.

Buying Replacement Brake Pads

Buyers should ensure they get replacement brake pads or shoes that match the type of brake on the bicycle. Some brakes require very specific shoes, so it is important to check the size of the original brake to compare to the replacements before buying. However, most brake pads and shoes are available for the type of brake, although the weight does sometimes vary. A good idea is checking the model number on the back of the brake shoe and purchase the same model.

How to Buy Bike Brakes on eBay

Cyclists in need of bicycle brakes or brake shoes can look on eBay to find hundreds of options and models at a range of prices. eBay's sellers offer great deals on bicycle parts, allowing buyers to save money. Finding bike brake replacements is easy. Locate the eBay search bar and type the name of the product you want. Before buying any bike replacement part, read the entire product description to make sure you get the right type of brake shoe, because there are so many options available. Repairing bicycle brakes is mostly a matter of checking the type, adjusting, and possibly replacing the brake or the shoes.

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