How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

Biking is such an enjoyable activity.  Not only will it keep your body vigorous, but it likewise lets you commune with nature.  Whether you use your bicycle when going to work or just for leisure, one thing’s for sure – you don’t like encountering problems with your bike. And one of which is having squeaky bike brakes.  

Causes of Squeaky Brakes

Squeaky brakes happen because of several reasons, and every biker should take it upon themselves to know what these reasons are.  It’s cool to know how to ride a bike, but it’s cooler if you know how to fix it every time something goes wrong.  

So, if you are one of those who still doesn’t know what causes a bike to squeak, you better check them out below:

1. Your bike is probably new.  If your bike is new, the brakes usually take time to fit in perfectly.  You may hear it squeaking for some time, but will soon fade naturally.

2. Your bike brake is not properly set up.  Poor set up causes vibration that will, sooner or later, make your bike squeal. 

3. Your disc brake pads have been contaminated.  Contamination occurs when the lubricant or grease that’s covering the rim gets to the brake pads accidentally.  If this happens, there’ll be less traction, which leads to a squeaky disc brake.  

Ways on How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes

Bike brakes have 2 types: disc brake and rim brake.  These brakes have similar purposes but have different ways to fix them.  Bike shops can help you fix your problem and avail of their services for a minimal fee. But if you’re lucky enough, you can walk away without spending even a single cent.

To fix squeaky brakes, you do not need the help of an expert or even a bike specialist because you can actually do it on your own.  It’s that easy! 

Things Needed:

  • Clean cloth
  • Degreaser 
  • Allen keys

Rim Brakes

Dirty Disc Brakes 

When biking, it’s normal to use the brakes often, but as a result, the blocks will naturally begin to get exhausted after every biking adventure.  When the brakes start to deteriorate, the rubber and the metal deposits usually mingle with the debris and dirt from the road.  

As time passes, dirt accumulates on the brake blocks.  Dirt on the disc brake needs to be cleaned regularly because it will not only make your brake squeal but will also diminish the efficiency of your braking system.   

In order for this problem to be resolved, simply follow these steps:

1. Take off the wheels of your bike and look for dirt that has built up on the brake blocks.  Make use of a brush or a piece of clean cloth to wipe as much dirt as you can.  

2. Put a sufficient amount of oil-free cleaner on a cloth, then wipe it onto the brake blocks as well as on the sides of the bike rims.   

3. Apply also some degreaser if you feel that the dirt is somewhat greasy.  Grease may be in the form of lubricant or oil.  

4. Once you’re done cleaning the brake blocks and rims, put back your wheels and check whether you’ve successfully eliminated the squeaking sound.  

Misalignment of Brakes

If you suspect that your brakes are misaligned, here’s what you need to do:

1. Examine if your brake pad is properly aligned and positioned at the center of the rim.  If you don’t see any problem with it, go to the next step.

2. If your brake pad is not properly centered, allow the brake pad to come loose.  Take note: do not remove, just loosen it.  

3. Reposition your brake pad correctly.  

4. Make sure the left side of the brake pad touches the wheel of your bike first before tightening the nut back. 

You might also want to check the horizontal alignment of your brake pads. Here’s how:

1. Let the brake pads come loose.  Again, there’s no need to completely remove it.

2. Tilt the brake pads slightly closer to the rear of the bicycle.  The part of the brake pads close to the rear part of the bike should now slightly touch the rim first.  And this should also now prevent your bike from making any brake noise.  

Disc Brakes

Glazed Disc Rotors

When your disc rotors are said to be glazed, it means that their surfaces have been polished due to the long haul.  This problem occurs when you suddenly hit the brakes of your bike and produce a screeching sound.  You can easily replace your disc rotors, but you still have a chance to fix them. 

To fix your brake pads, here’s what you need to do.  

1. Get hold of 150 and 100-grade sandpaper and lay it flat on a floor or table.  

2. Rub the brake pads against sandpaper until you’re able to remove the glaze and restore their roughness.

As for the disc rotors, follow these steps:

1. You first need to clean the disc rotors using a clean cloth and a brake cleaner.  

2. After which, rub them against the sandpaper in different directions because your main goal is to break its glazed texture.

Dirty Disc Brakes

The rotors and the disc brake pads have a lesser distance from each other as compared to rim brakes.  This setup is a lot better because dirt cannot penetrate easily. 

However, in the long run, the brake pads will deteriorate and release debris, which the caliper might catch and lead to squeaking brakes.       

You don’t have to take off the wheels of your bike to perform the process.  In most cases, a long plier is only needed just so as to reach the brake pads.  

1. Take out the disc rotor and the brake pads.

2. Clean them with a brake-cleaning fluid or alcohol.

3. Place the pads back into position.  Do not touch the surface of the pads to prevent contamination. 

Contaminated Brake Pads

If you’ve cleaned the rotors and there still is a squeaking sound, it’s probably because your brake pads have been contaminated by oil, lubricant, or anything greasy.  The pads’ materials are absorbent and this is a very expected scenario.  If cleaning them won’t work, then the best thing to do is to replace them. 

Summary

There are several reasons that make bikes squeal.  If you have squealing brakes, you are probably riding a new bike.  Other reasons simply point to bike maintenance.  You won’t need an expert to fix squeaky bike brakes for you can easily do it yourself provided that you have the proper knowledge.  

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By Paul P.

Paul Panha is an avid cyclist and sports performance enthusiast. Regularly on the road testing (and buying) new bikes. Paul is a co-owner of GetBike.fit and is the head resident author here.