No-one likes noises and scrapes when out on a ride and with hydraulic disc brakes becoming more and more prevalent we thought we’d share some tips for getting your caliper set up straight. Rubbing rotors is a common problem and often all that’s causing it is a slightly misaligned caliper. Even 1mm or so out and you’ll annoying noise and unevenly wearing brake pads.  Just follow these simple steps and you’ll get free running wheels and noise free rides.

Firstly check your brakes for misalignment. Spin the wheel and listen for the noise. Look down the brake for the gap between the brake pads and the rotor. It should be evenly spaced on each side of the disc. Try putting a white piece of paper behind the rotor to make it easier to see the gaps.

If you find it’s rubbing or not set up correctly – loosen off the mounting bolts slightly. You’ll normally need a 5mm hex key. You only need to loosen them off a little so you can move the caliper slightly.

Looking down over the caliper try and get it sitting reasonably central over the rotor – as close as you can. Then pull the brake lever hard so the pads engage. If you’re having trouble holding the caliper and pulling the brake hard – ask a mate for help or use a zip tie or toe strap to hold the brake on.

While the brake is held on tight up the mounting bolts. Remember to go back and forth with the bolts (as you would with your stem) and not to tighten one down hard then the other. If you have a torque wrench – even better. Tighten the bolts to the specific torque for your brake system, which can be found on the manufacturers specification sheet.

Place your white paper underneath and recheck that it’s sitting straight, spin the wheels and check you’ve got no noise.

Enjoy blissfully quiet rides!



Catherine Thompson – Head Mechanic and Instructor, Outspoken Cycles.

 Outspoken Cycles work to encourage people to use bicycles more, particularly as an effective means of transport. They offer leisure and professional bike maintenance courses as well as bike repairs and traditional bike shop services. We organise fun, dynamic and unique cycle themed events from smoothie bikes to pedal-powered cinemas. Through these we aim to get people inspired about cycling. We run courses and initiatives throughout the country but our inspiration comes from where we started – in Cambridge, the UK’s city of cycling. We have a dedicated team who make it their mission to show others how much (fun!) can be done on a bike.

Catherine teaches our well-known Velotech Gold course at Outspoken. Velotech Gold is perfect for the enthusiastic amateur bike mechanic, for bike mechanics in bike shops or workshops who need to know how to build and repair bikes more efficiently and mechanics who maintain a fleet of bikes.