To tighten bicycle brakes, loosen the bolt holding the brake line in place, pull the brake line tight, tighten the bolt, and test the tightness. You need a third hand tool, an adjustable wrench and pliers.

  1. Loosen tire bolt

    Use the third hand tool to clamp the rectangular black rubber brake shoes against the wheel rim. With the adjustable wrench, loosen the bolt securing the brake line in place. On side-pull brakes, it is a round-headed nut, and it is a six-sided bolt on center-pull brakes.

  2. Tighten brake line

    Once the nut or bolt holding the brake line has been released, use pliers to pull the line tight. Hold the brake line in place while tightening the nut or bolt with the adjustable wrench. Remove the third hand tool.

  3. Test brake line tightness

    Lift the wheel you are working on off the ground, and try to spin it. If it does not spin freely, you must loosen the brake line. Set the wheel back down on the ground, and squeeze the brake lever associated with the wheel you are working on. The brake shoes should touch the rim of the wheel when the lever is depressed 1/2 inch. If they do not, repeat the tightening process until they do.