How to Align a Mechanical Disc Brake on a Bike

A rubbing or underperforming disc brake can often make a ride frustrating. Regardless of brand and model, this article will help you gain the knowledge you need to adjust mechanical disc brakes to solve annoying noises or weak brake feel.

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

See all our disc brake videos in our Disc Brake Repair Help playlist ▶︎ https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGCTGpvdT04TW0Qi4wpGxYB2TuzJok9l5

Video contents:
00:00 Preliminary Information
03:10 Alignment Procedure
04:45 Alignment Procedure: Single Lever Arm – Dual Adjustment
05:38 Alignment Procedure: Single Lever Arm – Single Adjustment
06:21 Alignment Procedure: Dual Lever Arm
07:09 Final Adjustments
10:15 Other Considerations

➤ Tools & materials used:
• Hex & Torx Compatible Tools – https://www.parktool.com/category/hex-torx-compatible-tools
• CN-10 Professional Cable and Housing Cutter – https://www.parktool.com/product/professional-cable-and-housing-cutter-cn-10
• ATD-1.2 Adjustable Torque Driver – https://www.parktool.com/product/adjustable-torque-driver-atd-1-2

For a text-based walk-through of this process: https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/mechanical-disc-brake-alignment

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➤ Fix It:
Did you know that Park Tool is the #1 resource for bicycle repair education?
• Visit our YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/parktool
• Visit the Repair Help section of Parktool.com: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/
• Check out The Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair: http://www.parktool.com/product/big-blue-book-of-bicycle-repair-3rd-edition-bbb-3

➤ About Park Tool:
Since our founding in 1963, Park Tool has been the leading name in bicycle tools. Our YouTube channel is an extension of our mission to be the ultimate resource for mechanics and riders of all skill levels. Here you will find comprehensive repair help tutorials for a wide range of components and processes, as well as troubleshooting guides, tips and tricks, and information on the latest Park Tool products.

➤ More Disc Brake Repair Help:

• How to Replace Brake Pads on a Bike – Disc Brakes ▶︎ https://youtu.be/Xqw0SaZl-jo
• How to Replace a Disc Brake Rotor on a Bike ▶︎ https://youtu.be/SE9DJKXmIy8
• How to Align a Hydraulic Disc Brake on a Bike ▶︎ https://youtu.be/uk_nC9anQcM
• How to True a Bicycle Disc Brake Rotor ▶︎ https://youtu.be/O0c2Ez2v0PU

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Comment (49)

  1. Are the disc pads supposed to be floppy and easily move around without a front wheel installed? When i touch them they rotate very easily. The brake still works but the pads can be moved with my hands.

  2. This is an absolutely awesome video, thank you so much. Instructions were so clear. I was able to adjust my brakes perfectly after struggling to work it all out on my own. Thanks heaps!

  3. Hello!
    I am looking forward to buying new calipers and i have a question…
    When i am buying the calipers there is an option for f180/r160 calipers or f160/r140
    Which one do i choose(i am running 160mm rotors

  4. Grateful again for this very clear guidance, and for your responsiveness. Having followed the advice here (and below), I have one other comment/question for your feedback– When I maximally relaxed the caliper lever arm (and gently took out the wire slack before tightening the pinch bolt), I found that the dynamic brake pad (in my single lever-arm, single-adjustment system–Hayes MX-2) was hopelessly buried within the body of the brakeset. I was able to adjust it out (coarsely) only by re-tightening the caliper arm…which still left lots of range-of-motion on the arm, and no risk of jamming. Of course, if I had a dual-adjustment system, I would just adjust that brake-pad setting. In my simpler kind of brakeset, what else can one do but tighten up the caliper arm??
    Thanks in advance for your feedback,
    Cameron

  5. Great video–thank you! A coupla' quick questions. 1) "First, ensure the rotor is properly positioned by getting the wheel seated all the way in the drop-outs."
    On my mountain bike, for some reason there's terrible disc/pad rub with minimal braking power (front and rear) when I seat the wheels all the way into the drop-outs–I have to manually lift one side a few mm's before tightening the quick-releases, to get everything running smoothly. Why would this be?
    2) When there's lateral movement of the disc within the calipers, how does one know if it's from a bit of wheel wobble (an untrue wheel) vs. a bent rotor?
    Thanks!

    Cameron

  6. I think I would spend my hard earned penny’s ( if I had any left after buying my replacement fox float forks 🙂 on a set of vortex rims with the SuperDrive hubs as my old hope bulbs are really starting to die! Matt Jones is also the other slope style rider you mentioned. I’m stoked for you being on haibike with Sam pilgrim you two look like you have a right laugh 🙂

  7. Why don’t you want to use the barrel adjusters? I followed all the steps and my brake pads are parallel with the rotor and very close to it (without rubbing) however, my brakes still feel mushy and the wheel doesn’t lock up until the lever is pulled all the way to my grip. If I turn the barrel adjusters it completely solves this problems and my brakes feel great. I have a single arm single pad adjustment system if that matters.

  8. Great video!! found you through suggested videos. I just started a Youtube Channel not long ago and very interested in the human evolution and spirituality topic. Keep following your passion and creating great content. Sending you good vibes and lots of love 💖

  9. Awesome video! I just bought a bike online and the front brakes would hardly allow the front wheel to turn freely. After watching this video, I completely solved my problem. Brakes work great and wheel turns freely. Thankful for you helping hand!

  10. On my gravel bike, I have DECODE R brakes. They seem to be dual arm, single side adjustment, I just can’t get them to work right, and it’s driving me nuts. Waaay too much lever travel and poor stopping power. On my cheap as chips MTB, single arm, single adjustment, I get perfect braking though. Any thoughts?

  11. Your videos are so clear and perfect. I love how you use those 3-D images to help us see closer and see what you're talking about keep up the good work

  12. I did everything to fix my brakes but not a single method gave satisfactory results, until i watched this video. Thank you for such a great video. Will definitely subscribe you sir.

  13. I disagree with your statement about conical washers at about 11:20 "If the brake isn't designed for conical washers they cannot be used" <— I've added conical washers to plenty of disc brakes with great success. I don't understand why they wouldn't be used, personally. It's a bit embarrassing that $1000+ bikes don't have them and must be added for proper brake alignment at some point. My two cents.

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