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My rear brake is jamming to the point that only half seems to be moving. With worn blocks I got away with it, but now I have changed the pads I finally need to sort the problem. Could the brakes be in need of a good clean, or could there be a fundamental issue with the brake?

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Can you give some more info, such as the type of brake. –  Rory Alsop Apr 1 '13 at 21:40
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Welcome to Bicycles! Pictures, Pictures, Pictures! For most mechanical problems, it can be very helpful to include detailed pictures of the problem area from multiple angles. –  freiheit Apr 1 '13 at 21:47
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See this thread for a catalog of brake styles. Identify yours from there and tell us what it is (or take some pictures and post them). –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 1 '13 at 22:16
    
First make sure the cables and housing are clean. Mud/gunk/rust in there ruins everything. –  James Bradbury Apr 2 '13 at 14:35
    
sheldonbrown.com/rim-brakes.html#centering is a good starting point, but as other people have already said, more detail about your brakes would help. –  armb Apr 3 '13 at 11:43

2 Answers 2

You probably need to grease the pivots. For cantileaver brakes check out this page. For caliper brakes I would just drip a little lube into the pivots. If grease doesn't help you may want to consider taking the bike to your LBS for service/ advice. Adding some grease to your cable housing may help as well.

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As well as the cantilever page, parktool.com/blog/repair-help/categories/… has articles for V-brakes and caliper brakes ("Dual Pivot Brake Service", but applies to some extent to other caliper brakes). Clean cables (and lightly greased if you aren't using Teflon liners) is a good idea, but probably not the cause of only one half of a brake moving. –  armb Apr 3 '13 at 11:47

I had the same problem with mine earlier in the winter when they got filled with salt and road grit from my daily commute; after taking them apart, cleaning the dirt out of any motion points, and lubricating them, they work great. If you don't feel like taking them apart, at least try lubricating them first and that might suffice.

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