How to service road caliper brakes

Your brakes have probably suffered some abuse this winter. Here's how to get them back in tip-top condition

To service your brakes, you’ll need:

  • Locktite 243
  • Maintenance spray
  • A small brush
  • Paper towel or rags
  • An allen key set
  • A 10mm ring spanner
  • A pick or small screwdriver
  • Grease
  • A file

You’ll need to totally disassemble the caliper to get it back in prime condition ready for summer.

Start by removing the brake pads and cleaning them up, removing any embedded metal shards or other foreign bodies. Then use the file to recondition the pad faces. There’s a video here telling you what to do.

Next, you want to disassemble the brake arms. Look out for the spring, so it doesn’t ping off somewhere, and be careful of the tiny bearing races. It’s not really necessary to fully disassemble these and you need to watch out that anything you use on them is plastic-safe.

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Give everything a good clean with paper towel – especially the bushes within the brake arms. Look out for recesses in the brakes which can collect muck.

Now reassemble things. Grease the bolt shafts but not the threads, which should have Locktite 243 applied to help make sure they stay tight. Tighten things up well, so they’re firmly in place without play.

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The last part is a bit tricky. Assemble the front arm, then against the spring tension fix it to the front of the brake assembly, adding a bit more Locktite if it’s needed.

Check that it all moves correctly, then refit the pads, making sure that the shoes are pointing the right way, so that the pads don’t shoot out of them under braking.

You’ll need to realign the pads once the brake is back on the bike. There’s a video for that too.

Fit the brakes back on the bike and you’re ready for a summer of efficient braking.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.