How to Repair the Brakes on a 20-Inch Freestyle Bike

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The brakes on your 20-inch BMX freestyle bike are an important part of tricking and riding your bike. They make manuals and stopping the bike much easier and more intuitive, as well as making stalls easier to hold on the top of a ramp. Because the brakes are such an integral part of riding, they will eventually wear out and need repair. Learn how to repair and adjust the brakes on your freestyle bike at home and save time and money over taking your bike to the local shop.

Things You'll Need

  • 5mm hex wrench
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • 10mm wrench
  • Set your bike on its handlebars and seat so you can spin both wheels freely. This will help you to observe the action of the brakes, and be certain what you're doing is correct and effective.

  • Follow the cable from the front (left) brake lever to the cable stop bolt of the front brake. Loosen this cable stop bolt using a 5mm hex wrench to release the cable. The brake will open completely because of the spring mechanism inside. Don't worry, this is completely normal.

  • Follow the cable from the rear (right) brake lever to the cable stop bolt underneath the top tube of the frame. Loosen this cable stop bolt using a 10mm wrench to release the cable. The rear brake will open.

  • Close the front brake caliper by hand. Ideally, you should hold the brake so that both brake pads are about 5 mm away from the rim of the wheel. This will make certain that the brake pads clamp the wheel with enough force to stop it quickly. Pull the front brake cable taut underneath the front brake cable stop using a pair of needle-nose pliers, then tighten the front brake cable stop with a 5mm hex wrench to secure the cable in place. Spin the front wheel and grab the front brake lever to make sure it is working properly.

  • Close the rear brake caliper by hand in the same way as the front. Rather than pull the cable through the cable stop bolt as you did previously, slide the cable stop bolt up the rear brake cable until both cables are taut. Hold the cables in place with one hand and tighten the rear brake cable stop with a 5mm hex wrench. Pull the rear brake lever to ensure that the brake is working properly.

  • Flip the bike onto its wheels and take it out for a test ride. Test both brakes and make sure they stop the bike quickly when firm pressure is applied. If you still experience problems, take the bike to your local bike shop to have it inspected by a certified mechanic, as there may be larger issues at hand than a simple brake repair can fix.

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References

  • The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair; 2009; Park Tool
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