The almighty barrel adjuster, so simple, yet so useful for small adjustments!
Next time you are out on a bike ride, squeeze your brake level. When you’ve pulled the lever about 1/4 of the way, the brakes should be engaged. At a half way, they should be fully engaged.
If you’re not finding that’s the case, then you can make small adjustments using the barrel adjuster.
You’ll find the barrel adjuster either on your handlebars, coming out of your brake levers or on the brake arms themselves.
At the start, when your brake pads are new, the barrel adjuster should be fully screwed in to position. However, as your pads wear out, you can twist to move the adjuster out, this will bring the brakes closer to your wheel rims.
Give it a try, and see the difference.
This is a great way of getting better performance out of your brakes, without having to get your hands greasy or get any allen keys out.
There will come a point of course, when your brake pads are too worn out to use. You can see in the picture below, the pad at the top is completely worn out and the pad at the bottom is new. If you keep riding with worn out pads, you’ll damage your wheel rims and hear a scraping sound.
This is a fairly common repair and depending on how often you ride and the brake system you use, you may have to do it 1-3 times per year.
You’ll also find a barrel adjuster on your rear derailleur, allowing you to adjust your gears. However, that’s a whole other topic, so I’ll save that for a separate blog post.
I’d like to bring more simple maintenance tips like this one to London Cyclist. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment below. If there’s something that has been mystifying you about your bike, then again, leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can cover it in a future bike maintenance post.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.