I reanimated an old city bike.

The front brakes work fine but the brakes squeaks. So I cleaned the rim and brakes, now the fork shakes on braking.

What is wrong and how can I fix this? Change the brake pads?

  • 1
    does the bike have v-brakes? if so this fork shuddering (also called brake chatter) can be tuned out. This article may help but there are many others: velonews.competitor.com/2010/09/news/cyclocross/…
    – user95786
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 15:40
  • 4
    Check that there's no play in the headset bearings. If that's OK the pads probably need to be "toed in". Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 15:44
  • If it's not been used for a while sometimes cleaning the pads isn't enough and new ones are the way to go. But first try toeing in and let us know how you cleaned them - I generally use fine wet-or-dry (silicon carbide paper) across the pad to remove muck and resurface, then brush and rinse with clean water. That saves any bother of "which solvent will degrease with damage". I normally do this just after washing the bike so the detergent would have got rid of any grease anyway (and means your hands stay cleaner).
    – Chris H
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


What did you clean the pads with? If there is residue left on them, this can cause the stuttering that you speak of. The angle of the pads also matters. You should toe them in so that the front edge hits first, to minimize squeaking.

Another potential problem is a loose headset (as mentioned by a commentor). Grab your stem in one hand and fork in the other. See if there is play by shaking back and forth. If you feel something loose, you may need to adjust your headset.

One more possible reason for your issue is that your pads have not been tightened enough.

Note that usually pads need some time to wear in, and match the rim. Until this happens, you will probably experience sub-optimal braking.


Usually you can get around this by adjusting the toe-in of the brake pads - http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/cantilever-brake-service. If that fails, you can swap in higher quality pads. Usually this works for even cheap brakes and forks.


I had a similar problem that was ultimately down to excessively worn bearings in the front wheel.

I'd tightened them previously but they were beyond their usable life and so there was movement side to side in the wheel hub.

Once the wheel was replaced the problem was eradicated.

Check the wheels for any side to side movement and tighten accordingly, if like me this is no longer possible then look at getting a replacement wheel or rebuilding your existing one with a new hub.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.