We all love the feeling of the breeze in our hair as we cruise along on our favorite bike route and we all love the excitement that comes from bombing down that giant hill on the way home. Let’s be honest, going fast on a bicycle is FUN. However, if there’s one thing we’re thankful for at the end of that descent, it’s that we’re able to slow down before that quick corner or stop as a motorist turns right in front of us. Brakes are perhaps the most important component on your bike and for your own safety they are certainly the most critical to keep maintained. Many of you already know that when it comes to bicycle brakes, there a lot of different styles. You can find different styles of brakes on  Montague folding bikes, as certain designs are better for particular applications. Below is an overview of the different brakes you’ll encounter on a Montague. It’s always good to know simple bike maintenance, so we give a quick review about adjusting each type.

Dual Pivot Side Pull

This is the most common brake design on modern road bikes. Our entire pavement line, the Crosstown, Boston, Boston 8, Navigator and Fit, all have dual pivot side pull brakes. Two curved arms attach to the bikes fork just above the tire. One of the brake arms pivots in the center of the fork and the other pivots just to the side. Each arm has a tab extending to one side where the brake cable and housing are attached. When the brake lever is pulled, the two arms move together and squeeze the brake pads onto the rim.

Side pull brakes are very easy to adjust. The most common adjustment is the distance between the rim and the pads while the pads are in their resting position. The distance between the pad and the rim determines  how far you need to pull your lever in order to brake effectively. You can adjust the distance  simply by loosening the nut where the cable attaches to the arm using a 5mm allen key. Then squeeze the arms to their desired position and retighten the bolt to clamp the cable. The tension on the cable will hold the arms in place.

Linear Pull or “V-Brakes”

This design is used on the Montague X50. Popular on mountain bikes with suspension forks, they use a cantilever mechanism to apply the hard rubber brake pads to your bike’s rim. Two separate brake arms are positioned on either side of the wheel. The brake cable housing attaches to one arm and the cable extends over the tire to the other arm. Pulling the lever squeezes the arms together so the pads contact the rim. The brakes on the X50 also allow you to quickly disengage the cable housing, so that it’s easy to remove the front wheel to fold your bike.

There are a few adjustments that can be made to your V-Brakes to ensure they are working properly. It’s important to make sure the brake pads are not too far from the rim or so close that they are rubbing when the brake is not engaged. This can be adjusted by using a 5mm hex key to loosen the nut where the cable attaches to the brake arm. Once the cable can slide freely, you can either squeeze the arms closer or allow them to spread farther apart. Re-tighten the nut and the cable connecting the two arms will hold them at the desired distance.

You may also need to ensure the brake is “centered.” If you disengage the cable from the brake and allow the arms to spread apart, they should both stop at the same distance from the wheel. If not, you’ll need to adjust the spring tension. The springs on the brake are found where the arms mount to the bike, so they will naturally move away from the wheel when the brake is not in use. There is a small screw near each mount that sets the spring tension. Tightening this screw will put more tension on the spring and cause that arm to rest farther from the wheel. Adjust both screws so that the two arms are equidistant and re-attach the cable. The wheel should now be centered between the arms.

Mechanical Disc Brakes

 

This brake design is used on the Montague Paratrooper, Paratrooper Pro and the X70. A metal disc is attached to the wheel’s hub and rotates with the wheel. To slow the bike, brake pads clamp the disc from both sides. These brakes provide more stopping power than rim brakes and are perfect for mountain biking where descents and technical terrain require the added power. They also perform very well in wet or muddy conditions where typical rim brakes may suffer due to lack of grip.

To make sure your disc brakes are properly adjusted, you first want to align the caliper with the disc itself. Loosen the 2 bolts that hold the main body of the brake with a 5mm hex. Don’t remove them; simply loosen them to allow some play in the brake’s position. Center the brake the best you can by eye. Then, use the 5mm hex to turn the inside pad adjuster until the pad just touches the disc.  Push the brake arm so the pads tightly grasp the disc. This will force the pads to be aligned with the disc and you can then tighten the two bolts holding the brake assembly.

Next, you’ll want to set the brake pads at the proper distance from the disc. The inside pad does not move during braking, so use the inside pad adjuster to get this pad as close to the disc without rubbing as possible. Then, loosen the nut where the brake cable attaches to the brake arm. With the cable loose, push the brake arm so that it contacts the disc. Back off by about a ½ inch of cable and re-tighten the bolt. Spin the front wheel to ensure the pads are not rubbing on the disc. Pull the brake lever to make sure the brake engages at a comfortable spot. You don’t want the brakes to be too “soft” as you risk not fully engaging the brake with a lever pull.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

This brake design is used on the Montague XO (or X90) and is most common on high performance mountain bikes. The design is similar to the disc brakes mentioned above in that a disc or rotor  is bolted to the wheel’s hub. Rather than a lever that physically pulls a cable though, hydraulic disc brake levers apply pressure to hydraulic fluid in a line that runs to the brake caliper. This pressure forces the brake pads against the disc to provide braking power. They offer a faster response than mechanical disc brakes and added braking power for even the most technical trails and descents.

Set up and maintenance on hydraulic disc brakes is quite involved and any work done on them usually requires bleeding and refilling the hydraulic fluid. You can see the user manual for the XO and X90’s Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc brakes here. Working on hydraulic disc brakes is quite an undertaking and we recommend you consult your local bike shop with any problems.

Shake ‘n’ Brake…

What kind of brakes do you have on your bike? Have you thought about switching to a different kind? Any brake repair/adjustment tips you’d like to share?