Squealing brakes

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Brakes which squeal aren't normally a problem in terms of reliability or safety, but they can be incredibly annoying and a real embarrassment to use in public. Here's what we do to cure squeaking brakes:


1. Toe-in the blocks: this means adjusting the angle of the brake blocks so that the front edge is approx 1mm closer to the wheel than the rear, and thus contact is made gradually when you apply the brakes. This prevents judder and often is enough to eliminate brake squeal altogether.


2. Grease the pivots: remove the brake arms (or disassemble the calliper), grease the pivot(s), and reassemble. If the joint is no longer dry and is tightened correctly, there should be less chance of vibration and therefore noise.


3. Clean the rims: Dirt, grime and grease on the wheel rims can be enough to cause noisy brakes. A quick scrub with something very mildly abrasive like a green kitchen scourer or wire wool should remove any contaminants and may help reduce noise when braking.


4. Replace the brake blocks: some brake blocks are worse than others, especially in combination with certain rims. If the steps above have failed to eliminate brake squeal, we normally just replace the brake blocks, and often this slight difference in rubber compound or shape makes all the difference.


5. Replace the brake arms: if your brake arms (or calliper) are cheap models with too much flex and/or too much movement in the pivots it can be almost impossible to eliminate brake noise. Replacing them with a better quality pair will not only eliminate brake squeal, but will probably improve braking performance as well.

Although this list makes it sound nice and simple, actually carrying out the adjustments above can be tricky, and there are a couple of other less common causes of brake squeal. If in doubt, give us a call to book your bike in for an assessment and brakes service.

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