You’re riding across a quiet and peaceful trail, and you suddenly hear your bike brakes squeaking as you pull on your brake levers.
There goes the end of your peace and quiet.
Squeaky bike brakes are a common yet annoying issue that not only distracts riders but also indicates underlying problems with the brake pads or the brake calipers.
Why are my bicycle brakes squeaking?
The causes of this unwanted brake noise are numerous, as are the solutions. To ensure a safe and smooth ride every time, you must immediately attend to squeaky bicycle brakes.
Here we will list common culprits that cause squeaky bike brakes, along with troubleshooting tips to help you solve the problem.
Let’s dive in.
Reasons Bike Brakes Are Squeaking
So why are my bicycle brakes squeaking?
Usually, bike brakes squeak due to vibration and poor grip on the bike’s brake rotor or bike’s rim.
Contamination or loose parts can prevent the brake pads from gripping the rim or rotor effectively. This causes minor vibrations that make a loud squealing sound.
Squeaky brakes are a common issue with both rim brakes and disc brakes. Even hydraulic disc brakes with a sealed design that don’t attract much dirt and debris can squeak due to loose or misaligned parts.
Let’s delve further into the common causes of squeaky brakes:
Dirty Brake Pads
Brake pads are porous like a sponge. So, they easily absorb grease and other contaminants, which cause the brake pad to make a squealing sound and lead to poor braking.
Bike polish, chain lube, degreaser, and brake fluids can travel to the bike rotors and contaminate the brake pads.
Brake discs can also squeal if the disc rotors or disc pads are dirty and need cleaning. Hence, you must exercise caution while using spray lubricants on a disc brake bike to prevent them from going in and causing squeaky disc brakes.
Worn Brake Pads
Old and worn brake pads can lead to squealing brakes. This is because they have teeth or grooves to help improve grip.
These grooves also work as wear indicators that emit a high-pitched screech when they wear down to their minimum thickness. This tells you that it’s time to replace your brake pads.
Worn brake pads may also squeak when there is a poor connection with braking surfaces. Bad wheel bearings are also another factor contributing to squeaky brakes.
Wet Brake Pads
Wet brake pads can also lead to noisy brakes. If you ride in wet or slushy road conditions, your bike brakes will suddenly start squealing. Fortunately, this is only a temporary issue and does not need fixing.
Misaligned Brake Pads
Misaligned or poorly set-up brakes can result in vibration and a loud, irritating screeching sound.
Loose Brake Calipers
If your brake calipers are loose, it can also make your brake squeal.
Do you hear your brake squeal, squeak, or make a pinging noise every time you ride?
A bent rotor or a bike caliper alignment issue could be causing your brake pads to rub against each other while riding.
To check if this is the problem, lift your bike wheel off the floor and slowly spin it. You can gauge if it is a brake rub issue if the wheel does not spin freely and comes to a halt quickly.
New Brake Blocks
Brand-new brake blocks can also make a squeaking or squealing sound. Most brake blocks have a coating that reduces grip on the bike’s wheel rim or rotor.
Once the coating comes off the braking surfaces, your bicycle brakes should stop squeaking. Also, to bed in new pads, pull firmly on the brake levers while riding at a decent pace.
Is It Dangerous Or Just Annoying?
Noisy brakes are annoying while riding and can cause decreased braking performance.
It affects a rider’s braking performance negatively, leading to accidents and injuries.
How to Stop It
Now that you know the answer to the question of why are my bicycle brakes squeaking, here are some easy fixes for those issues we talked about above:
Dirty Brake Pads
To fix squeaky bike brakes in case of contamination, put the bike on the bike stand first.
Now check the brake rotors, brake pads, braking surface, and other braking exteriors.
If your brake rotors have any oil or dirt in them, take a clean rag and isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol and clean them quickly.
You can also use an oil-free degreaser or brake cleaner for this purpose. If the brake pads are also contaminated, you’ll have to remove them from the bike caliper.
Now sand down the braking exteriors carefully using fine-grained sandpaper. Clean the rim of your bike’s rim brakes or the rotor bolts if your bike has disc brakes.
But if your brake pads are drenched in chain lube, simply toss them out and get new brake pads.
Misaligned Brake Pads
Whenever you clean or replace dirty or worn brake pads, you must carefully re-attach them to keep your bicycle brakes from squeaking.
If they are not correctly aligned, remove them and fix them back using an adjustable spanner or an Allen wrench. If you don’t know how to do it right, you can take your bike to a local bike shop and get help.
Loose Brake Calipers
Inspect the bike caliper alignment to identify any issues. If it is loose or misaligned, unfasten the caliper nuts and bolts securing it and take it out. Now clamp down on the brake pedal.
This will center the caliper over the rotor, with the brake pads providing support. Fasten the caliper bolts and nuts evenly and equally.
This should help you fix squeaky brakes.
If you need to fix squeaky bike brakes caused by brake rub, check if your wheel is seeded properly in the dropouts of the chain stay or fork.
A poorly installed axle can cause the rotor and wheel to be misaligned. Fix this issue, and you should be on your way to a smooth, quiet ride.
If the problem persists, check the caliper alignment. If it is misaligned, follow the steps above to resolve a loose caliper, and then spin the wheel slowly. If the brakes still rub, realign the caliper a couple of times until you get it right.
Your bike’s brake rotor may also be bent. To fix this issue, look down through the caliper and rotate the wheel. You will now be able to see when the brake pad comes in contact with the bent part of the rotor.
Carefully unfasten the mounting bolts while applying the brakes. You could also realign the bike’s brake pad or the disc brake mount.
Alternatively, you can slowly and gently bend the rotor back into place using a rotor-truing fork.
In conclusion, squeaky bike brakes are a common annoyance that can indicate underlying issues with brake pads or calipers. The causes can range from dirt and contamination to misalignment and worn-out pads.
Not only is the noise irritating, but it can also impact braking performance and pose safety risks. However, there are various troubleshooting tips available, such as cleaning brake components, aligning pads and calipers, and addressing brake rub.
Seeking professional help is also an option. By addressing these issues, riders can restore smooth and quiet braking, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable cycling experience.
Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic