I have some generic cantilever brake levers on my MTB. The brake reach adjustment screws are normally fully wound out, so are not limiting the brake's reach at all.

Can I remove them permanently ? I can't see any downside?

enter image description here

Generic image showing Reach Adjustment Screw

  • Further explanation - I'm not obsessing over weight. Instead, the screws have managed to back themselves into the lever over a couple of rides, artificially pulling on the brake. Not enough to notice, but enough to make the ride harder. Could use locktite to stop the screws rattling around, but they're not required for my hand size.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 6:01
  • 4
    They are meant to adapt the reach of the lever for people with smaller hands or shorter fingers. Just remove them if you don't need to have the lever closer to the handlebar.
    – Carel
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 8:01
  • 5
    Basically, if you're Trump you need them. But I don't see how they could "back themselves into the lever", as the spring on them (assuming yours resemble the image) is pushing the other direction, and it basically serves as a lock washer. Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 11:58
  • All I can think of is the road vibrations encouraged the grub screw to seat itself a bit further in. The other side didn't seem to move over time, but the RHS (front brake) was a good 5-6 full turns too far in. An earlier suggestion of practical jokers at work was ruled out over the weekend because brake did it again and I was not at work.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 18:51
  • 3
    Have you considered that maybe your wife would like you to have an "accident"? Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


Their purpose differs between hydraulic and mechanical brakes.

On these cantilever brakes, the purpose is simply to adjust the rest position of the brake. If you have the screw fully wound out, you should not feel any difference if you remove them.

BUT there is be a real difference in properly bled hydraulic disc brakes: Here, it is used is to adjust the point at which the brake actually starts to grip to adapt the brake to your hand size. On hydraulic brakes, this is the only way to do that (in contrast, you can e.g. adjust the cable length on cantilever brakes). If an adjustment screws exists, it is most often an integral part of the lever that pushes on the cylinder and cannot be removed. (Especially lower-end brakes do not necessarily have them.)

Depending on your hand size, it can be really uncomfortable if they grip too early. For example, I rode some trails with the brake (BR-M486) gripping too early. To keep my fingers on the brake meant a hand position that got really tiring after some bumpy sections. Then I adjusted the screw so that I could keep the lever close to the handlebar in a rest position and my hands never got tired from that again. (Of course, a similar thing probably goes for the brake point being too close to the handlebar.)


Their only purpose is to limit the lever for one that has small hands (typically - children). They have no other use, so you can safely remove them.

  • 13
    Not all people with small hands are children. Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 11:27

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