Cycling: How To Test Your Brakes


Cycling: How To Test Your Brakes

From a safety standpoint, your brakes might be the single most important component of your bike.

(Apart from the smart decision-making of the cyclist, of course).

Your brakes allow you to control your speed effectively and pause a halt to the action during times of uncertainty or in case of an emergency.

Plus, they allow you to add differing levels of control to your ride, depending on the situation and your speed, helping you feel safe and secure during your cycling sessions.

That’s why, of all the parts on your bike, they should arguably be protected the most.

This, of course, means monitoring, checking, and cleaning them on a regular basis.

And replacing them when and if the time is right.

So how can we effectively check and test our bike brakes? Let’s take a look…

Cleaning bike brakes

At first glance, there should be no leftover dirt or scum on your bike brakes.

Not only can this speed up the degradation process, causing things like rust, but it can also severely affect the competency of your brakes in performing their function.

Before and after each ride, make sure your brakes are as clean as humanly possible, wiping them down and drying them with a cloth to remove any excess dirt.

Doing this regularly will prevent the need for a deep clean later, as it does not need to be an overly harsh cleaning process. Soap and water will do just fine for now.

Checking and testing bike brakes

Brake Levers

Your brake levers - what you use to control your breaks - should be responsive, springy, and offer a good amount of resistance.

If your brake lever can easily be pulled back to touch your handlebars, they need tightening. 

The adjuster next to the lever can often solve this problem, but not always.

For more serious adjustments, you may need to tighten the brakes at the brake caliper, found just above the wheel. You will need the correct sized spanner, or similar tool, to tighten this correctly.

Loosen the bolt, pull the cable through to the appropriate tightness, and re-tighten the bolt to secure the cable in place.

And it’s always a good idea to check the condition of the cable, while you’re there.

Brake pads

Your brake pads, which directly apply brake pressure to your tyres, should touch either side of your tyre simultaneously with the correct amount of force.

If they don’t they’re out of sync and need to be corrected. To do this, tighten the brake pads using a screwdriver on either side, until applying equal pressure to your levers forces the pads to touch at the same time with the same strength.

You can also adjust the brake pad height from the same position, with an allen key or similar tool.

Thankfully, all of the above can be done under pretty much any circumstances, even when you’re out on a ride!

So if you run into a little brake trouble in your next cycling session, you know what to look out for.


We can’t wait to let you test your brakes on some of the best cycling holidays in Europe money can buy!

To take a look at the current cycling holidays on offer at Freewheel, click here or call 0161 703 8161 today.