I have a cx bike with disk brakes. I bought a second set of wheels to run road tyres while not off road. On my road bike there's always a minor adjustment to make to the brakes when changing wheelsets, and I assumed this would be no different on the disk brakes. However, it takes me the better part of an hour to readjust the brake calipers on my cx bike as they seem to be so vastly different.

Was this my mistake, should I have mounted the wheels before purchase? What do people here do with this sort of thing? Should I just dedicate more time to learning to efficiently adjust the brakes?

I have Avid BB5 mechanical brakes with Bontrager and now Shimano wheels.

  • I'm not sure why you're adjusting anything. You should be just swapping the wheels freely and just going.
    – Batman
    Jan 28, 2015 at 2:42
  • That's the thing, the rotors rub the brake pads when I switch the wheels. I guess the rotors and their mounts on the wheels are different by a millimetre or two. I just undid everything and mounted the calipers differently and now it takes only a minor adjustment of the fixed pad to be acceptable for riding.
    – hsimah
    Jan 28, 2015 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


This is normal for using different wheel sets. Not all wheels are precisely the same.

I have a similar thing with wheels on one of my bikes.

Learn to align calipers quickly it's a simple process (with wheel on):

  1. Loosen calliper
  2. Squeeze brakes twice
  3. On third time hold brake in
  4. With brake held in re tighten calliper

With practice should be about a minute a wheel.

  • How do you people manage to do this dozens of times without ruining the post-mount threads of magnesium fork lowers?
    – Vorac
    Jan 28, 2015 at 14:19
  • Not something that's ever occurred to or worried me. I'm backing the screws out only one or two turns then re-tightening.
    – DWGKNZ
    Jan 28, 2015 at 17:25
  • If you're running mechanical discs, you'll want to tighten the inner pad down until it touches the pad before loosening the caliper and then back it off again afterward. If you don't back it off at the end, it'll rub. And if you don't tighten it up at the beginning you'll end up with a totally backed off pad after a couple of wheel changes.
    – jimchristie
    Jan 28, 2015 at 23:56
  • I read up on some tips. I loosened the calipers (after tightening the fixed pad to touch the rotor), adjusted them for one wheelset, changed out the wheels and only slightly moved the calipers. I then made a note of how many clicks I had to move the fixed pad for each wheel. I then followed @DWGKNZ instructions here to adjust the other pad. All up, after about two hours going back and forth I think I have the calipers in a good position. It took me about 10 minutes readjust the cable tension, but all up it seems okay. Thanks for the help, see you on the trails (I'll be the guy falling over).
    – hsimah
    Jan 29, 2015 at 0:44

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