I found an old bmx in my shed and I'm just doing it up a little as a good muck around bike. It's not very good, I don't even know the brand but i cut the front brake off, because it didn't even work but the back brake is a U brake but I've found that when biking I'll pull the lever all the way back (as far and the grip) but it's like the brake isn't even working.. I know it's working but it's just not strong enough. So I have 2 questions.

  1. How do I make the brake lever harder to pull so I don't pull it all the way to the grip?
  2. How do I adjust the actual U brake to be a little closer to the rim?

Any help is appreciated! Just trying to get it working. Feel free to ask any questions too. Cheers!

  • It's all really done based on cable tension. It sounds like the cable you have in there is shot, and needs replacing. It is probably also worth looking on YouTube for a short vid on how to adjust the brakes, once you've got the cable. Note also that in many jurisdictions, it would be illegal to take a bike out onto the road, if it only had one brake.
    – PeteH
    Mar 8 '15 at 10:04
  • Are you sure it's shot? It definitely works, and the bike has been barely used. It just looks like the brakes are too far from the rim maybe? But who knows. And yeah that's alright, it's only for riding the jumps I have in my paddock or the jumps down in the forest. Oh by the way, the cable is quite loose.. Can I tighten it?
    – Mitch
    Mar 8 '15 at 10:09
  • If it's barely used, possibly not shot then. Yes, you can (and should) tighten the cable. The looseness is what is making you have to push the lever all the way to the bars. The best thing is to have a play so you can see for yourself - you should see a hex nut on the brakes which is trapping the brake cable. Loosen that, pull a little cable through and see what happens..
    – PeteH
    Mar 8 '15 at 10:23
  • (The reason I suggested the cable was shot originally is because the looseness you describe, it can happen when the brake cable starts to stretch. When a brake cable has stretched, that's a good sign to replace it.)
    – PeteH
    Mar 8 '15 at 10:26
  • True, I'll try that man thanks!! I don't really want to spend anything on this bike even a cable... It's a pretty useless bike, just a fun muck around.
    – Mitch
    Mar 8 '15 at 10:31

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There are 2 screws you can see at right side of the brake. the bottom one is just above the pad screw - it's one that holding the cable. Open it a little.
Check if the cable is going smooth (if not, you should oil the cable or even replace the cable, and maybe the housing too). Check the pads, that they are not wear, nor dried on sun.
Then pull the cable (be sure that the cable going well at the lever), push the pads up to the wheel from both sides (to add tension), and tighten the bolt. The upper screw is to add more tension if needed.

  • Thanks a lot man!! I'll try this tomorrow and let you know how it works out. Hoping it works. Thanks!
    – Mitch
    Mar 8 '15 at 11:01
  • Update: I did this just before and it's fixed it up a lot! Not quite perfect but I'll try fix it up some more. cheers!
    – Mitch
    Mar 9 '15 at 3:49
  • 1
    That's not a U-brake. It may be what the poster meant, but U-brakes are a cross between a center-pull and an cantilever brake. sheldonbrown.com/canti-u.html Mar 10 '15 at 14:30

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