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How to Reattach the Front Brake on a Bike

How to Reattach the Front Brake on a Bike

How To Reattach Your Bike’s Front Brake

Being able to reattach your brakes is an essential part of proper bike maintenance. Putting your bike back together after taking it apart might be more difficult than you realized since the process isn’t exactly the most intuitive.

It can be tricky, but this guide will break down every step of reattaching the front brake of your bike, presuming you don’t already know how to uncouple the front wheel from the frame.

Reasons for Removing and Reattaching Front Brake

Maybe you need to break down your bike to transport it in your car after a weekend biking through the mountains, or maybe you have to replace the front tire due to wear and tear.

It could also be that particular time of the year when you ought to give your bike a routine overhaul, including adjusting the brake cable. Either way, it’s handy to know how to do this yourself without having to make a trip to your local bike shop for a costly tuneup.

How Brakes Work

Bike brakes work by activating metal brake calipers connected via a cable to the brake levers on the handlebar. These calipers are also attached to rubber brake pads on the sides of the wheels, and the cable subsequently squeezes the pads whenever the brake levers are compressed. This causes the pads to touch the rim of the wheel to stop it from spinning.

Types of Bike Brakes

There are different types of front brakes, from the more powerful cantilever brakes to the sturdier disc brakes. Caliper brakes are typically the most common among non-specialty bikes, but rugged mountain bikes tend to favor the cantilever variety. Regardless, it’s best to verify what kinds of brakes your bike has before you try to adjust the brake settings.

How to Remove Your Front Wheel and Reattach the Front Brake

Some tools you will need before starting work include a Hex wrench, torque wrench, cable stretcher, cable cutter, cable end caps and a screwdriver.

Assuming you know which kind of brake system your bike utilizes; you’re going to remove the front wheel by first releasing the cable tension in the brakes. In caliper and cantilever brakes, this can normally be accomplished by squeezing the calipers together.

Then turn the bike upside down, which will allow you to unhinge and ultimately unscrew the quick release lever on the wheel spoke. However, try not to take the release lever apart fully before pulling it away. If you do, you’ll just have to put it back together. Lastly, remove the tire out from the dropouts of the fork.

Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention – From here on, you’ll be retracing your steps, going back to retightening the quick-release lever. Make sure you use both hands as you do this to avoid any unevenness and keep spinning until you feel enough tension that it’s difficult to snap the lever back in place.

Give the wheel a good spin to verify that it is well-seated in the fork before turning the bike over to reattach the cable by threading it through its original caliper.

Presto, you’re done!

If you are unsure how to go about reattaching your brakes, these videos by Park Tool provide a good overview:

Credits to Park Tool


How to Adjust Your Brakes

In the instance that you try to go for a ride but find that your brake cable is too tight or too slack, have no fears.  If you’re squeezing the brake handles, but they won’t move, the problem might be the cable is stuck in the cable housing.

Double-check the handlebars to ensure that the cable housing is well-seated in the brake lever as this may be the issue. If nothing seems to be amiss, however, try loosening the cable adjusters a tiny bit in case you need more slack.

If you’re still experiencing difficulties, try squeezing the brake handles again to verify that the calipers still move in response. If the cable moves for the handlebars but not for the calipers, then the cable is possibly broken within its housing and will have to be replaced. If only one caliper moves, then it’s best to loosen the bolts keeping the calipers in place until they’re ideally even.

Hopefully, none of these will be the case, and your bike will be back on the road in no time with working brakes. Just don’t forget to oil the cable up from time to time.