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How to stop rim brakes from squeaking

Who among us hasn't suffered from squeaky brakes? Banish it forever with our step-by-step guide

Cyclist magazine
13 Apr 2020

If you’ve recently cleaned your rear cassette and applied liberal amounts of lube then you may find that excess grease has found its way onto the rims of your rear wheel. The first you’ll know of it is when you go out for a nice relaxing ride only to discover your rear brake making a right old racket.

When the rim is contaminated with grease, lube or a similar agent, it can coat the brake pads, too, reducing their traction and contributing to that horrible shrieking noise.

Cleaning them is a quick and easy procedure that will soon get you rolling in peace again.

How to stop rim brakes from squeaking

Time taken: 20 minutes
Money saved: No squeaky brakes? Priceless!
You will need: 4mm and 3mm Allen keys, degreaser, cloth

Step 1 - Release the brakes

To get going, you’ll first need to undo your brakes’ quick-release mechanism by flipping the small cam lever upwards. This will open the brakes up, making it easy for you to pull the wheel out of the calliper.

Step 2 - Bring in the Allen key

Once that’s done, grab your 4mm Allen key and use it to loosen your brake pads from the brake calliper. Do this on both sides until you can remove them from the calliper completely.

Step 3 - Clean your brake pads

Applying some degreaser to your cloth, clean your brake pads of any grease and grime that may be coating them. Be thorough, because if you miss even a tiny amount you’ll have to do this job all over again – when you could be riding!

Step 4 - Now the wheel

As you did with the brake pads, apply degreaser to a clean cloth and run your finger around the wheel, being sure to scrub any grease off. Again, do it thoroughly as even the smallest amount may contaminate the brake pads.

Step 5 - Put your pads back on

After you’ve cleaned both pads and the wheel rim thoroughly, re-fit the brake pads using your 4mm Allen key. Make sure you fit them the right way round – they should be marked L and R and may have a directional arrow as well.

Step 6 - Finishing up

After tightening the brake’s quick-release lever, make sure the calliper’s brake arms are secure to the brake body by using your 3mm Allen key to tighten the two bolts on either side. Et voilà, no more squeaky brakes!