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.
- What Causes Squeaky Brakes?
- How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes?
What Causes Squeaky Brakes?
Though annoying, squeaking bike brakes are very frequent. Aside from being annoying, noisy bicycle brakes are also detrimental to the bike’s performance.
The screeching noise of the bike brakes is produced by various pairings of the brake pad along with the braking surface.
Dirt Contamination (Rim & Disc Brakes)
With brake usage, the blocks sustain wear and tear, leaving behind metal and rubber residue. This mixed with other dirt and debris from the road can accumulate at the blocks. As a result, the braking surface become dirty and causes poor braking, squeaking, and greater rim wear.
To repair this problem, remove the wheels and check for dirt in the brake blocks. Use a brush or clean cloth to take off the dirt. Then, go in with a non-oil based cleaning product or degreaser and clean cloth and clean the rims and brake blocks.
In case you don’t have a designated cleaning product, you can use distilled vinegar too.
Grease or Oil Contamination (Rim & Disc Brakes)
There are two kinds of brakes- rim brakes and disc brakes. And the problem of oil and grease contamination can arise with both. 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.
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.
But the problem is fixable. You simply need to get some alcohol and rub it in.
Brake Blocks Not Toed (Rim Brakes)
Brakes produce an annoying squeak if the rim flat comes in contact with the brake pads, especially in linear pull. This is why you have to toe the pads, meaning configuring the system in a way so once the brake is applied, the pad’s front touches the rim first.
New Brakes Not Bedded In (Disc Brakes)
All brake rotors and pads need to be “bedded-in” to improve braking performance. Breaking in, bedding in, and burnishing are terms used to describe conditioning brand new disc brake rotors and pads. Though the process differs between manufacturers, there is a common series of brake applications (manual) involved over a specific distance.
If you forget to bed in the brakes, it can result in uneven film buildup on the rotors and eventually cause that nasty, unwanted jittering.
Glazed Rotors (Disc Brakes)
For bikes that have a lot of miles in when the squeaking begins, the culprit may be glazed brakes, which is a fancy term for surface of the brake pads and rotors becoming smooth and glossy. Not only is the braking performance greatly reduced, but it can also start the noise.
Fixing this will call for roughening the surfaces again. Get a little sandpaper, ideally 100 to 150 grade, and rub it on the pads keeping them face-down. Continue till the top layer comes off and the pad should emerge a metallic brown shade.
Moving on to the rotors, clean them with alcohol fluid or brake cleaner and a clean cloth. Next, lightly buff with the sandpaper – first in circular motions and then side to side.
Caliper Not Aligned (Disc Brakes)
Another reason behind the sound can be misaligned calipers. To inspect this, invert the bike and spin its wheels while keeping an eye on the rotors in the caliper. Does the rotor stay perfectly straight during the entire spin, plus a gap on either side of the pad? If no, take off the wheel and refasten it.
The sound still persisting? Remove the caliper bolts a bit and adjust the caliper to bring it in a straight position. In this state, secure the bolts and recheck the rotor.
How to Fix Squeaky Bike Brakes?
Squeaky bike brakes aren’t that big of an issue. Let’s address the roots of the problem in this section and discuss how you can remedy the irritating noise.
Clean Your Brake Pads
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. 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.
Clean Brake Rotors
Remove the caliper and pads to check the rotors for grooves, warps, and cracks. If the component has sustained damage, replace it. Continue if the rotor doesn’t require replacement.
Use soap and water or brake cleaner to remove any and dirt and muck off the rotors before wiping it down with a clean towel. A metal wire brush can be used to clean the caliper too.
Realign Brake Pads
If your new brakes are squeaking, the solution can be as simple as lubricating the touch points. For this, take off the brake pads and apply brake lubricant to the contact points. This includes the back of the brake pad as well as any touch points within the caliper carrier.
Bed In Brake Pads
Firstly, the squeaking is very normal with new bikes or new rotors/pads. It takes a little time for the pads to properly work, a process that needs “bedding in.” As you start using the bike more often, the noise will eradicate itself.
However, to speed up the process, feel free to bed in the brakes. Cycle up to 10 to 15 mph and stop with one brake. Repeat 10 times per brake.
Replace The Brake Pads
Generally, not many metal bits have to be removed to clean the pad, but in the off chance that’s the requirement and there isn’t enough pad left, we suggest replacing the part. Otherwise, the rim will be damaged beyond repair if the pad decays completely.
This problem doesn’t usually plague disc brake pads since they are made from a stronger material. Moreover, this suggests that you have to use something other than sandpaper for this. We recommend using a little alcohol to scrub off the debris.
Replace The Brake Discs
It’s best to replace the brake discs and brake pads at the same time. They need to be changed for sure if the discs are badly scored or unevenly worn. Braking force is a combination of brake disc and brake pad power. If even one of the two is not working optimally, you cannot achieve actual braking performance.
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!
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