I bought a Schwinn Frontier Sport few months ago and started riding happily. After a few weeks my front rim brakes started creaking. It's so annoying in public places. My rear brake doesn't produce any sound but isn't as powerful as the front brake.

The retailer says cleaning would solve the front brake's issues and I got it cleaned, but nothing changed. Is there something I can do something myself to fix this?

  • 2
    If you bought it from a reputable bike shop their mechanic would, for free, "toe in" the front pads a hair to fix this. Commented Sep 8, 2013 at 19:12
  • 2
    It doesn't take a great mechanic to toe in your brakes. It takes only a barely competent mechanic to do so. Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 23:55
  • 1
    Cleaning with products can make things worse, the only way to "clean" a brake block is with sand paper. Commented May 8, 2018 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


V-brakes can be hateful and make a lot of sound if they're improperly adjusted- sometimes they're noisy even when they're properly adjusted, especially on braking surfaces that are not machined. You can usually alleviate this with one or more of the following methods.

  • First and foremost, make sure your pads are properly adjusted. This is better demonstrated than described, so check out this youtube video to save yourself a lot of reading. If the link goes down, just google v-brake adjustment.

  • Make sure the braking surface of the rim is clean. Use rubbing alcohol and a green scrub pad to scrub off any crud, and then wipe the braking surface off with a clean towel with a dab of alcohol on it. Using anything besides rubbing alcohol may leave a residue and make the problem worse.

  • Toe in the brakes. I found this image which not only illustrates what "toeing in" your brakes is, but shows a nifty little trick to set the gap appropriately:

enter image description here

You may need to toe them in more that what this picture is showing if they continue to squeal on you.

  • 1
    This was a very helpful video as i have just bought a new bike two weeks ago, and it has rained lot and my brakes are squeling alot Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 18:07
  • 1
    Rubber band trick is fantastic. I've tried so many ways to accomplish that to no avail. Brilliant!
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 17:36
  • I don't think that's a good video to link to. He doesn't toe the pads so following that video probably won't fix the problem. Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 11:20
  • @davidricherby thus the steps outlined in the rest of the answer.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 15:05

Also make sure the washers are set correctly. enter image description here

  • 2
    That's only the right arrangement sometimes, other times you need the thinner washer pair on the inside. And it won't help with squeal, only with braking force and making sure the pads don't slide off the rim or hit the tyre.
    – Móż
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 1:39

I'll tell you my scenario and what worked for me. I'll list, in chronological order, all the changes I made, because in the end it might have been a combination of changes which fixed the problem and not the final step alone.

The bike: a steel hybrid bicycle with v-brakes; single walled rim, with black anodization; new brake pads.

Rim condition: the anodization 70% worn, wear groove still deep, rim in good condition.

Here are two pictures at different angles:

enter image description here enter image description here

Step 0 (initially): The pads are toed in slightly as all the instructions on the internet suggest. All mounting bolts tightened using the recommended torque. Rim cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. No play in fork or wheel bearings. Very loud squeal when braking hard (but not as hard as to have the rear wheel lift off).

Step 1: Tightened the brake arms and brake pads bolts slightly more. No improvement.

Step 2: Removed the wheel, tightened the bearings slightly more (but still allowing smooth turning of the axle), even though there was no play. When I put the wheel back on, I tightened the QR skewer a bit more too. No improvement.

Step 3: I slightly sanded the rim and the pads using 600grit sandpaper, then applied a small amount of baby powder on rim and pads. No improvement.

Step 4: Added more toe in. The squeal got worse.

Step 5: Removed the toe in completely. I set the pads flat on the rim. The squeal was gone entirely.

I'm not sure why this worked on this bike. My other bikes with v-brake have the pads toed in slightly, with no squeal at all. I think there are too many variables that influence squeal, like pad material and hardness, pad shape, rim condition, brake arm flexibility, fork flexibility, temperature, humidity, spoke tension and lacing pattern, etc. But the most important one in my experience is pad angle relative to the rim.

Maybe someone will shoot a slow motion video, or do a more scientific experiment sometime that will reveal more information.

  • And yes, I'm absolutely sure I didn't toe out instead of toe in, initially.
    – Robert
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 0:48
  • Cool, sometimes you have to try things out and find out what works for that one bike, build your expertise that way.
    – Swifty
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 10:14

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