Mountain bike, cable disc brakes.

My bike suddenly took a lot of effort to ride after maintenance. So I loosened the cable locking bolt and released more cable for my bike.

It’s running much better now and the brakes seem to work fine though looser, but not so loose that the lever go too close to the handlebars once engaged.

On online resources I see that they adjust the brakes so that they are just touching the disc? If the gap between the brake pads and rotor is bigger but the brakes are not too loose, is that ok too?

  • What about the fixed pad (most cable designs only move one pad)? What make /model are the brakes. In principle if you've got the travel they don't need to be skimming the rotors.
    – Chris H
    Feb 15, 2018 at 12:42
  • What problem were you trying to solve? Sounds like the brakes were maladjusted so that the pads were rubbing on the disc. Feb 15, 2018 at 14:01
  • @ChrisH the brakes are Shimano and the caliper adjustment was done already. What do you mean by travel?
    – onmyown
    Feb 15, 2018 at 15:55
  • @ArgentiApparatus i spinned the wheel and it looked reasonably aligned.. I’m not sure what’s the problem but after loosening it felt better
    – onmyown
    Feb 15, 2018 at 15:55
  • Travel in engineering-speak refers to the range of movement. In your case if the brake pad can move enough before the levers bottoms out (hits something) you probably have enough travel. Shimano make quite a lot of brakes, which model?
    – Chris H
    Feb 15, 2018 at 16:22

2 Answers 2


Yes, saying to make it "just touching" is kind of misleading. If you can get it adjusted so there's some gap and it never touches but the brake is adequately grabby without danger of bottoming out against the bar, that's a good place to be.

  • 1
    +1, but OP saying they adjusted cable tension by undoing the cable locking bolt makes me nervous. That's not a good way to fine tune the gap between pad and disc. Barrel adjuster should be used. Feb 15, 2018 at 18:05
  • @ArgentiApparatus yeah, i need to adjust it back to where I thought it was by eyeballing the gap and now i just use the barrel
    – onmyown
    Feb 16, 2018 at 0:27
  • That’s good to hear... as long as there is some gap and not barely rubbing as the instructional videos normally tell you to....
    – onmyown
    Feb 16, 2018 at 0:29

Cable disk brakes need to be adjusted differently from hydraulic disc brakes. You don’t mention which brand your brakes are but in general...

Hydraulics calipers and pads will automatically float just above the disc surface. They should auto adjust.

Cable actuated pads need to have their float adjusted manually. Most manufactures recommend a float of about one business card or so. The float is often different on the inboard (fixed) and outboard (moving) sides of the brake. Exact specs are in your manual.

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