Biking can be an extremely enjoyable as well as a healthy sport. However, squealing and squeaking bike brakes are absolute nightmares. Imagine biking through a quiet area, allowing the soothing breeze to calm your spirits and give you peaceful vibes. And then imagine all the peace being shattered due to the screeching noise of the squeaky brakes of your brake. Annoying, is it not?
Squeaky brakes of bikes can disturb or irritate you throughout your journey and you might find it a challenge to get rid of the unwanted sound. You may wonder why all the squeakiness is coming from your bike and how you can rid of it.
To help you figure the source and how to fix squeaky bike brakes, we have come up with this guide.
Why Do the Bike Brakes Squeak?
Though this is bothersome, squeaky bike brakes are pretty common. Besides the fact that the sound is irritating, the squeaky bike brakes also harm the performance of the bikes.
The squealing sound of the bike brakes arises due to the different combinations of the brake pad and the surface of the braking. All the conditions together play a role in whether or not your bike brakes are producing noise.
The squeakiness of the bike brakes can also arise from the existence of grease or some oily material on the brake pad, wheel rim, or the bike’s rotor. It can also arise from the contact between the surfaces of braking being not well-aligned. You may also have to invest in a new brake pad to bring out the best performance of the bike.
As indicated, contamination can be a huge factor in producing this kind of squeaky sound. The other cause is vibration caused by the insufficient setup of the brakes.
How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes?
Now that we have identified the main causes of the squeaking sounds in the bike brakes, it will be fairly easy to fix the noise as well.
Improper Alignment of Bike Brake Surfaces or Brake Pads
As mentioned before, the incorrect alignment of the brake pads with the rim of the bike can lead to the irritating noise coming out of your bike brakes. How does this misalignment occur?
Well, when you do not install this brake pad properly into your bike, it can start to wear and tear down unevenly, resulting in an annoying squeaky sound.
But, do not worry! We are here with a fix.
The fix is pretty simple. You will only need an Allen key. We have jotted down some steps to make it easier.
- Look carefully and check how much brake pad is remaining.
- Analyze the remaining pad to see if it is fully working or worn almost, all the way to the bottom on either side. You will need new pads if that is the case. However, you will be glad to know, they are pretty affordable.
- With a new pad or one which is still good enough, place them to ‘toe them in’. This means that the front can be a little closer to the rim while the rear stays a little further away. You can try to do this using a coin on the rearward side, just between the rim and the pad.
- When doing step 3, you need to ensure that the pad is in direct contact with the rim and is not touching the tire. You should also assure that it is not falling below the braking surface.
- Try to tighten the bolt. At this time, the pad will make an effort to rotate and hence you need to hold it together in the right position using your other hand.
- Do this for both sides.
- Test the brakes.
If you still do not like the level of noise, you will have to toe them a little more.
Contamination from Oil or Grease and Debris
There are two kinds of brakes – rim brakes and disc brakes. And the problem of contamination can arise with both. This is mostly a result of oil residue or grease as discussed in the previous section. This will eventually result in the annoying sound of the bike brakes.
But, once again, the problem is fixable. You simply need to get some alcohol and rub it in. We have jotted down some steps to make it easier.
- Slightly make the cloth wet or damp with some alcohol.
- Wipe the surface of the braking on the rim or the rotor of the bike with this cloth. Do this quite intensely.
- To check if you are doing it right, look for black residues on the cloth, coming off the rim of the rotor. Those are exactly the contaminations you want to get rid of.
- When you are satisfied, stop and test it out.
- Repeat the steps if the noise persists.
We also have published a detailed blog post about how to clean bike brakes.
Sometimes the brake pads can also get contaminated with oil or debris. This is most common for bikes that are ridden in wet or knotted areas, where the rim or the rotor can get quite some debris from. This debris soon makes its way to the brake pad.
However, this is not an unfixable issue. We have jotted down some steps to make it easier.
Start with taking the wheel out of the frame to get access to the brake pads more easily. Get yourself coarse sandpaper and remove the top layer.
You will start to see some bits of metals besides the other debris stuck on them. You must try to get all of these to only have smooth rubber.
Usually, you do not have to remove too much of it, but in cases where it is needed, and you are not left with enough pad; it is advisable to just replace the pad already. Otherwise, if the pad wears out all the way, the rim can be completely damaged.
This is usually not an issue with the disc brake pads as they come from a harder material. This also means you need to use something else instead of sandpaper to make it work. Our suggestion goes back to using some alcohol to scrab the debris off the pad.
You will first have to take the disc brake pads out using calipers. This does require an additional effort and you may simply want to avoid this, and just replace the pads.
Water and Heat
These two elements, water, and heat can also cause the bike brakes to start making some noise which can soon turn into squeaky disturbances. The problem of squeaking brakes of the bike, as a consequence of contact with water, can arise when you start riding through some puddle or a stream.
This is not that big an issue and you do not have to worry too much about it. The problem dies out over time as you keep using the bike brakes.
However, there is also the problem of the heat that comes from the continuous braking for longer durations. This is most common when your bike journey involves going downhill. It can be a persistent problem and simply riding through may not tone down the squeakiness of the brakes.
When the brakes of your bike get overheated, the bike’s rotor will begin to discolor. This calls for the replacement of the rotor. However, if this problem does not go away, it simply means you need to invest in a bigger brake rotor.
When you opt for the bigger rotors, they will help to tone down the heat that is produced when you hit the brake. The larger ones will do this more effectively as well as increase the power at which you hit the brake. This automatically means you will produce way less noise.
Before wrapping up our guide on how to fix squeaky bike brakes, we have got some tips to fix your squeaking bike brakes.
Deal with the problem while it is at the early stage. Do not wait for the time when the noise becomes intolerable. If it starts producing some noise today, start examining the source. The sooner you know the problem, the faster you can fix it and the less effort you have to put in to do so.
Be patient during the fixing. Rushing can damage the bike components or worsen the problem.
Now that you are aware of the most important hacks to fix the annoying squeaking sounds produced by your bike brakes, please ensure that you first examine the bike brakes to find out the source of the problem and then go on to following the steps to fix it.
If you apply the fixing method of water and heat to the contamination issue of your bike brakes, you are most likely to not get rid of the sound easily. We hope our guide on how to fix squeaky bike brakes was helpful to you!