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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Aligning MTB Brake Calipers

In this Tips & Tricks post we look at how to quickly and easily align MTB brake calipers that are dragging.

Video & Write-Up below!

Before we get into this, remember, if you have any doubts about your mechanical abilities it is best to find a professional resource.

Brakes are critical to your bike’s performance and your safety. Always test your work to ensure proper functioning brakes prior to riding on trail.

Centering MTB Brake Calipers

Occasionally brake calipers become misaligned. This How-To assumes that your brakes are in good functional condition and it is a simple alignment issue.

It is critical to review your brake system. Ensure that pads and rotors are within acceptable tolerances. Check that pistons move evenly.


Aligning the Caliper

This is a relatively simple procedure, but, there is one tip not everyone may know that makes it work SO much easier.

Loosen the mounting hardware.

Realign the caliper.

Some do this by applying the brakes which should “center” the caliper if the pistons are moving evenly.

Most of the time I align the caliper visually.

When you get the caliper even lightly tighten the mounting hardware.

Spin the wheel to check alignment. This is a good time to double check that the rotor is straight, that all your brake pistons are functioning.

Once you’re happy with the alignment you need to apply appropriate torque.

This is where it can be frustrating.

As you tighten the bolt it will tend to rotate the caliper slightly, knocking your caliper out of alignment again…

But, if you apply a small counter force with your opposite hand the caliper will hold it’s position.

On the rear (or lower on the fork) side of the caliper the bolt force tends to want to move the caliper outboard. A bit of counter force with your thumb will eliminate this.

On the front (or upper on the fork) side of the caliper the bolt force tends to move the caliper inboard. Pinch the caliper between your finger and thumb to counter this.

It seems strange that a rotating bolt can “pull” one way or the other, but you can feel it. I think it builds a bit more pressure on the “longer” side allowing the leverage to unbalance the forces. Anyhow, that’s a physics project for someone else because my caliper is even and I’m going riding!


Again, if you have any doubts about your mechanical abilities it is best to find a professional resource.

Brakes are critical to your bike’s performance and your safety. Always test your work to ensure proper functioning brakes prior to riding on trail.


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