How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

Squeaky brakes are annoying! Listening to their horrible sound as you cycle is a burden. When all that you want is to relax and enjoy the scenery, when you hear the brakes squeal and squeak, the entire experience is instantly ruined!

More than being annoying, bike squeaks are indicative of wear. This means that your brakes are no longer performing as they should, and hence, it might warrant a replacement. Most of the time, it isn’t dangerous. However, when the issue worsens and the problem peaks, it can start a more serious problem.

The good news is that to repair bike brakes once they squeak, you do not necessarily need to visit a mechanic. In most instances, the solution is simple, and you can fix it yourself with the right knowledge and basic tools. If you want to learn how to fix squeaky brakes on a bicycle, we got you covered. Read this quick guide and learn from the insights we’ll be sharing. This is one DIY task that you can complete with a bit of time, effort, and patience.

Why Do Bike Brakes Squeak?

Before we give you a rundown of how you can stop squeaking bike brakes, one of the most important is that you understand the reason for the noise. Take note of when it happens, and from here, it is easier to determine why it happens. So, if you are wondering why do my bike brakes squeak, here are some possible culprits.

Misalignment

One of the most common reasons is the rim and the brake pads are not properly aligned. This can be because of the wrong installation. Especially if you have installed it on your own, there is a high likelihood that you have committed a mistake, resulting in unwanted noise.

Contamination

Your bike takes a beating! It accumulates dirt and dust as it is used. In more challenging terrains, mud and debris are more serious issues. If you are often riding in gnarly and wet terrains, chances are, the contaminants in the braking system of the bike will cause the noise.

Worn Out Components

The longer you use your bike, the more prone it is to problems, and that includes bike brake noise. The pads may have worn out, and hence, a thin layer of rust is forming. Aside from replacing the brake pads, keeping them clean is a good preventive solution.

How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

To fix squeaky bike brakes, below are some of the things that you can do. Most of these solutions can be completed within minutes and without professional assistance. You don’t need to pay a mechanic to bring back your bike to its peak performance and get rid of the sound that you find annoying. The specific steps will vary depending on the issue or the culprit.

Check the Attachment

We have earlier mentioned that a common reason for bike brakes screeching is that some of the components are not properly installed. Hence, the simplest solution is to check the assembly, making sure that the components are in the right places.

First, inspect the wheel. See to it that it is properly positioned on the front fork or rear frame. If it isn’t, then it might rub against the brake pads, and this can be the main reason for the noise.

See if the Wheel is True

Truing a wheel is one of the simplest maintenance tasks that every bike owner should learn. When the wheel is true, it does not wobble. To check, you just have to put the bike on the stand and wiggle the wheel. If it moves more than what is necessary, then it could be the problem. The wobble can cause the components to rub inconsistently.

Fix the Position of the Brakes

Regardless if you have a disc or rim brake in your bike, when the position is off-center, you will hear a squeak. In this case, a quick fix is to adjust the position of the brakes. Both sides should contact the rotor at the same time. If one side does it first, then this means that they are off-center and needs to be fixed to get rid of bike brakes squeaking.

How to Fix Squeaky Bike Disc Brakes

The solutions offered above are more general. The specific steps will depend on the type of bike that you have. In case your bike comes with a disc brake, below is a quick rundown of the things that you need to do.

1.      Disassemble the Bike

The first thing that you will need to do is to remove the wheel. In most bikes, the disc brake is located in the hub, so you will need to take the wheel out to gain access. If your bike has a quick-release handle, turn it inward and lift the wheel. While doing this, do not engage the brakes. Otherwise, there will be an inward movement of the brake pad, making it tricky to put the wheel back.

After removing the wheel, take out the brake pads. A cotter pin or screw usually attaches the pad to the calipers. Consult the manual of the bike or look for online videos on how to do this step as it can vary depending on the model of the bike.

2.      Check the Condition of the Pads

Now that you have removed the brake pads, check how they look and look for indications of wear. If it is less than 1mm, then this is an obvious sign that it needs a replacement.

3.      Clean the Brake Assembly

If the parts have not yet worn out, then cleaning will do the trick. Grease is one of the most common reasons for bicycle brake squeal. Use rubbing alcohol to get rid of the dirt and debris. Do not use water as it can make the parts prone to rusting. As a part of routine cleaning, sanding also helps. Keep sanding light. Otherwise, the pads will become thinner.

4.      Reassemble the Bike

Once you are done with everything, it’s time to put the pieces together. Make sure that they are re-installed the same way they look before you started cleaning.

5.      Bed-in the Brakes

If you replaced the rotor or pad, then you need to complete a procedure called bed-in. This is basically like breaking-in the pad to ensure peak performance. Look for an open area. Ride the bike at a moderate speed, then gradually engage the brakes as you go slower. Before the bike stops completely, let go of the brakes. Do this about 20 times. See to it that you are no longer hearing brake noise.

How to Fix Squeaky Bike Rim Brakes

Like in disc brakes, rim brakes can be damaged because of contamination. Using too much lubricant or picking oil from daily use are some of the things that can damage the rim brakes and eventually result in noise. Here’s how you can address this problem.

1.      Wipe the Rim

The best thing about dealing with rim brakes is that you do not need to assemble the bike, making the process easier and quicker. Use a clean cloth to wipe the rims. Try to remove as much dirt as possible.

2.      Clean Using Alcohol

Once you have removed visible dirt, it is now time that you work on the tougher debris. To do this, you will need rubbing alcohol. Acetone is equally effective. It will work as a solvent to dissolve grease that you cannot remove using a cloth alone.

3.      Pick Grit or Debris

A closer inspection of the rim brake assembly will reveal that there are stuck grit or debris, including hardened mud, dry leaves, or other objects. Use a sharp object, such as a stick or file, to get rid of whatever is stuck.

4.      Check the Brake Pads

In some instances, a simple cleaning will not suffice. When the brake pad is heavily damaged, it warrants a replacement. It should be at least 3.2mm. When it is thinner, the tire and the clamp can make a noise when the brake is engaged.

5.      Test the Brakes

To complete the process, see if the brakes are now working without a noise. Start by applying light force on the brake. At this point, only the front part of the brake pad should touch the rim. Next, apply full force. This time, the entire pad should touch the rim. If there is still noise, chances are, you did not clean the parts properly or you need new brake pads in case you have not yet replaced the old one.

Conclusion

Knowing how to fix squeaky brakes on a bike is one of the most basic skills every cyclist should know. Whether you are a casual or professional rider, you will be annoyed even with the slightest noise. This can affect your concentration and the performance of the bike can suffer. From worn-out components to having stuck debris, you must understand the reason for squeaky bike brakes. Once you know the culprit, it is only then that you can proceed and fix squeaky brakes.