Brakes Rubbing – Why And How To Fix It


The brakes will regulate the speed of your bike and stop the wheel from turning. When brakes experience problems, such as rubbing, its performance can be compromised, making your ride unsafe. As soon as signs of brake pads rubbing become evident, act immediately. Otherwise, it can damage other components and produce an annoying squeaky noise. 

If you want to know how to fix brakes rubbing, read on! We got you covered in this short guide. We’ll talk about the reasons why the brakes rub, and more importantly, how to address the problem. From mountain bikes to road bikes, brakes are crucial components, so do not ignore problems like rubbing. 

Why Are Your Brakes Rubbing? 

Before we give you a rundown of the steps on how to address rubbing brakes, let’s quickly look at the reasons why you are experiencing this problem in the first place.

Old Brake Pads 

Over time, brake pads become thinner and will wear out. This will result in a metal-on-metal collision with the rotor. In turn, it can speed up the damage of the other components of your bike. This can also be annoying since it will create noise. 

Dirty Components 

From mud to dust, your bike can be dirty with regular use. It will not only affect aesthetics but also performance. One thing that can happen is that there will be grit in the braking system, making the brakes rub. Cleaning a bike regularly is crucial in preventing this issue. 

Non-Aligned Brake Pads 

The wrong position of the brake pads can also be the culprit to rubbing brakes. If your brakes are not aligned to the rim, there is a chance that they will rub and create noise. When one of the brake pads is too near the rim, this can result in rubbing. 

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Fix Brakes Rubbing 

Brake pads rubbing can be annoying because of the noise that it can create, as well as the negative performance effects. To address this problem, this section will talk about the steps that even beginners can follow. You do not need to be an expert in bikes to fix rubbing brakes. 

Different types of bikes have different braking systems, such as disc, cantilever, and V-brakes. While they are different in terms of design and function, dealing with rubbing brakes will more or less be the same procedure. 

Before you start, find a spacious and well-ventilated area where you can work. It will also be good to have a bicycle repair stand so that you can easily look at the components of the bike. 

1. Check the Brake Pads 

The first thing that you need to do is to check the brake pads as they are the most likely culprit. These pads are clamped to the front and back of the mountain bike tires. If the brake pads are worn out, they will be thin, and the edges will be smooth. This will compromise the stopping power of the bike and will cause a collision that can result in the rubbing of the brakes.  

Test the brake pads by squeezing the brake lever. The brake pads should be hitting the center of the rim. If it is too low or if they come in contact with the spokes, there is a problem. The next thing to do is to loosen the brake pads, realign, and tighten. See if the brakes are still rubbing. In some cases, you will need to replace the brake pads if they have already worn. 

2. Adjust the Brake Cables 

When the brakes start rubbing, it can also be because of the brake cables. Conduct a tightness test to evaluate the efficiency of the brake cables. All that you will need to do is to pull the brake lever. If there is a gap of about 1.5-inch from the handlebar, then there is no problem. If it touches the handlebar, then this means that the cables are too loose. 

Tighten the brake cables to solve the problem with rubbing brakes. If minor adjustments are needed, then you can do it through the brake caliper. These are the bolts that attach the brakes to the fork. Turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise to make the brake cable tighter.  

3. Clean the Caliper Pistons 

As earlier mentioned, dirty components can be blamed if you are experiencing brake pads rubbing. This will include the calipers. When dirt or debris is stuck, it will not retract, causing the brakes to rub. 

Start by removing the wheels and the brake pads when cleaning the caliper pistons. Pull the brake lever to have easier access to the piston while making sure that you do not over-do it. Use an old toothbrush and caliper cleaner. Make sure to not press too hard. Once you are done, dry the area by rubbing a clean cloth. 

4. Adjust the Wheel 

In some instances, the problem is not with the brakes but with the wheels. Adjusting road bike wheels can be a quick fix if you are experiencing brakes rubbing. When they are not properly aligned, they can put unnecessary force on the brakes, making them rub. 

Flip the bike to access the wheel. See to it that the wheel is properly aligned and that it is not at an angle. Any problem with the position of the wheel can also affect the speed of the bike and its overall performance. 

5. Bleed the Brakes 

Bleeding Shimano brakes is another solution that can address the rubbing problem. However, this may not always be one thing that you can do by yourself. It is best to let the pros handle the job. This is only for bikes with hydraulic brake systems. 

When brakes feel too mushy or tight, the piston can be stuck, and hence, bleeding is necessary. Preventing air bubbles from forming can be quite tricky in bleeding, which is why this job is best left to those with knowledge and experience. This is like your car’s oil change, so it should be done only by experts. 



Q: How do I stop my brakes from rubbing?


To stop your brakes from rubbing, adjust the brake cables, making sure that they are not loose. You will also need to center the position of the rotor. A proper wheel alignment will also help. If you have hydraulic brakes, bleeding is another effective solution.

Q: Is it normal for disc brakes to rub?


Yes, it is normal for disc brakes to rub. This is caused by alignment problems. Even the slightest rub can produce a squeaky noise, which most people will find annoying. When not addressed quickly, this problem can speed up the wear of other components, affect the speed of the bike, and even compromise the safety of the rider.

Q: How do you fix rubbing V brakes?


To fix rubbing V brakes, the first thing to do is to release the skewer, seeing to it that the tire is at the center. If the issues persist, then you will need to adjust the brakes. Tighten the screw that connects the bike on one side and loosen the screw on the other side.

Globo Surf Overview 

Having brakes rubbing is a common problem that confronts many bike owners. Luckily, you do not need to pay a pro to do the job. You can do it yourself using basic tools and following easy steps. From replacing the brake pads to adjusting the brake cables, consider the things mentioned above to optimize the performance of your bike’s brakes.

More Bike Reviews:

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!