Why do my bicycle brakes Squeal and make lots of noise? How to fix squeaky brakes
Why Do Bike Brakes Squeak?
The quick answer is make sure the brake shoes are hitting the rim or router flush. Make sure the rim or router is clean. You can clean them with rubbing alcohol. Ensure that your brakes have sufficient “meat” on the brake pads themselves. If needed, replace the brake shoe or brake pads and clean the rotor with Squeal Out. In reality it can get a little more complicated, so let’s get into it.
Live 4 Bikes has been in business for approximately 13 years and has fixed and sold thousands of bike now. I personally work on bikes so much that I have dreams about working on bikes. It took me a few years to feel comfortable enough understand most of the bikes mechanics. It also took lots of hours of hands on work after watching lots of YouTube videos to get to where I am today. If you want to learn how to be a bike mechanic, I suggest you, read or watch “how to videos” and then really work on some actual bikes.
If you are looking for a quick solution, we will examine it thoroughly now. Let’s start with what I mean; ensure that the brake shoes are properly aligned and hitting the rim. It is very common that when a brake shoe hit the rim at an angle or in other words, when it hits one side before the other that the brake squeaks. If your bike is a little older and has been sitting around for years, it is possible that the brake pads are old and hard and it’s best to replace them.
If you have a bike that has V-brakes, in most cases the brake shoe will a 5mm Allen hex key bolt, along with two moon washers in between the V-brake caliper that will allow you to swivel the shoe. What you will need to do is, loosen the bolt and move the brake shoes so that it hits the rim wall flush. You will need to position yourself to a point where you can clearly see this movement. In most bike shops bikes are placed on a bike stand in order to be moved and position where this can be done easily. If you are at home trying to do this, you may need to put the bike upside down so you can see the brake caliper better. Make sure to adjust the pads to hit the sidewall of the rim flush and make sure pads are clean and not old and hard. Also, make sure that the rim is clean.
U-brakes usually come on BMX bikes and its a very similar problem and solutions. Make sure they are hitting flush, clean and are not old and hards. Center Pull : Center pull are the same thing. Hitting flush, clean and not old and hard.
Drum brakes are typically rarely used and can be very hard to adjust and work on. For these types of brakes, I would suggest going to the bike shop right away. You are always welcome to try cleaning them first.
First thing to do is the same, clean, adjust to hit flush and check pads. Sometimes when you have exerted all options the best thing to do is to replace the pads. Pads can get contaminated and impossible to clean especially on disc brake types. If you were to get any mineral oil on them its best to just replace the pads because disc brake can be dirty and must be clean. The best liquid to use is rubbing alcohol for cleaning the brake caliper, brake pads and rotors. This sometimes will take care of the squeaking. If the noise is still there after cleaning, the next step would be to use a product called Squeal Out and it is only to be used on bicycles. This product is a type of paste that contains some kind of cleaning and abrasive properties that work wonders on squeaky brakes. We are not sure how it works but it works great! Making sure the brake pads are hitting the rotor flush is also important.
Speaking of the rotor, they too can be bent and hit in some places and yes, it they can be adjusted to make sure it spins true. Disc brakes are the most particular kinds of brakes to adjust because they usually are inclosed in the brake caliper and are harder to see where they are hitting. Plus the amount of space that the rotor has in between the two brake pads is 1mm to 2mm per side and any little off set can make the brake squeal.
Using car products of your bicycles such as brake degreasers or cleaners is not recommend.
Car products can be a little harsh and can make things worse. There might be some products that might be ok to use but as a rule of thumb I would say stay away from them.
If you are tying to add a brake to a coaster brake wheel or a wheel that is colored or painted, the only way to get rid of the squeal is to remove the paint with sandpaper. Brake pads work best against a clean metal aluminum side wall and if there is something in the way such as paint, squeaking is inevitable.
Braking is a vital function of riding a bike and if for any reason your are having trouble its best to visit your local bike shop professional and get them adjusted there. It is cheaper to pay a bike shop for an adjustment than it is to pay a hospital bill. Although brakes seam easy enough, sometimes it takes a professional to do the job correctly and do it a lot faster. This also can be a great opportunity to get a full tune-up on your bike. It is usually cheaper to get a full tune-up than it is to get individual work done to your bike. The final tip is to watch videos on the subject. I am a visual learner and videos would be way more intuitive for me to learn.
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