Yesterday I checked my brake pads and noticed that the wear is uneven: much more on the left side, much less on the right side (both front and rear wheel).

This is how they look:

enter image description here

The left ones have almost reached the wear line, while the right one no. I never noticed any problem with braking.

Is there anything I should check?

When I installed them I made sure that the distance from the rim is the same on both sides and that when I pull the brake lever they are both engaged.

  • We're assuming direct pull type brakes? Or cantilever?
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 7:36
  • 2
    Do you have access to a spring balance? The sort of thing used to weigh fresh-caught fish? If so, try measuring the pull of each spring leg. I suspect the left side arm will be significantly softer than the right side arm, which means less pressure. So when you lean on the brakes, the left arm resists less.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 7:41
  • 3
    This is fairly normal. Few brakes are perfectly symmetrical, so one side will contact the rim sooner than the other and wear faster. If the pads are not left/right specific, one can swap left for right when they are about half worn, to extend their life. Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 12:26
  • 1
    And, with regard to "fairly normal", the appearance of the above pads is not at all worrisome. One should, of course, make an attempt to "balance" things as well as possible, but the situation shown is about "average" for medium-quality brake setups and is no cause for panic. Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 18:26
  • @DanielRHicks, top left has reached the wear line. Bottome left looks normal because of perspective, but the part touching the outer rim is also at the wear line (that's what triggered me to check them). Not yet braking with the steel on the rim, but probably too late to balance?
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


With the brake tension released (either through the quick release or untensioning the brake wire) is the spring tension on both sides equal? As @Daniel R Hicks notes, some unevenness is inevitable with direct pull and cantilever brakes due to their design.

For V brakes and other direct pull (as well as cantilever) there's a little screw on each arm that helps adjust the spring tension. For cantilever brakes, you might also want to make sure your straddle cable is evenly centered.

Also, you should make sure both brake arms move smoothly by lubricating the pivots with a dry lubricant (PTFE, etc.) and working them back and forth. There's a related question about how to overhaul the sleeve bearings: cleaning v-brake arms with riveted inner sleeve

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