November 5, 2005

    How do I unstick a rear brake? It's on a kid's bike and it's operated by a brake lever or the pedals. I have tried squeezing and releasing the brake lever, stepping hard on pedals, and manually pulling the brake pads off the wheel rim. Thought I'd check with you before taking it to the store. Thanks.

Ned L.

    A quick fix: Where the cable comes out of the brake lever, you’ll see a little metal barrel you can turn with your fingers. See if you can turn it so it moves toward the brake lever. If it does, it might unstick the brakes enough for the wheel to move.
    As far as the cause, I’ll bet the bike has one of these problems:
    1. The rear wheel has gotten bent: First look to see if only one of the brake pads rubs the wheel. If so, you might fix it by centering the wheel. Loosen the nuts that hold the wheel’s axle, use your hand to push the wheel so that it centers between the brake pads, then tighten the axle nuts. If both pads rub at the same time, see below.
    2. The brake cable has broken: Find the end of the cable where it sticks out of the brake. Grab it with pliers and pull hard. If it comes off, it needs replacing.
    3. The brake cable has come loose from the brake: Pull the cable as above. If you can at first pull it thru the brake assembly and then it stops, it might just have come loose. You can see how to tighten the cable by going to one of the Park Tool pages on repairing brakes. (Go to the bottom of the list and look at each brake type to see which one applies.)

Mr Bike

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