I need to loosen very tight bicycle brakes(pads). This is the only thing running over the cable, have no idea what it is and don't have many tools to begin with so assuming I don't have what is needed to loosen this:

enter image description here

  • Welcome to the site - as an aside, it may be worth replacing that inner wire too, given how mushed it is. All those separated strands are now less-strong than when they are twisted together. Or if tightening it, try get the flattened area out of the critical side.
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


There is more than one way to adjust brake pad "tightness" (I'm assuming this means that the brake pads are too close to the rim).

To answer the question. Pictured is the brake cable anchor bolt. The one pictured looks like a 10mm. There are three possible sizes, 10mm, 9mm or 8mm. You can find the correct size wrench or use an adjustable wrench (carefully). Losening the nut will allow the cable to slip through a hole in the bolt increasing the distance between the brake pads and the rim.

My guess is this is a mountain type bike and your brakes look something like this. enter image description here

If this bike has upright handlebars your brake levers might look something like this. enter image description here

There are adjusting barrels on the levers. It may be possible to screw the adjusting barrel into the lever effectively making the cable longer without any tools.

  • 3
    For these faffly little nuts, it's a very good idea to use a ring spanner, or a socket. Either will reduce the risk of rounding off the corners.
    – Criggie
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 23:25
  • 1
    Adding to the excellent suggestion by @Criggie to use a ring spanner or socket for these bolts, they’re also something that it’s worth being picky about the torque. Too loose and your cables may slip when braking hard (and then your brakes won’t work as well until you readjust them again), too tight and you’ll weaken the cable (and likely need to replace it earlier than you would otherwise, if it doesn’t snap unexpectedly when braking hard). 6-8 NM is usually where you want them, though this varies a bit by brand. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 2:42
  • 1
    A 9mm nut would be quite rare - 10mm is standard for M6 and 8mm for M5. But bikes use odd fasteners sometimes.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 11:34

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