Rear Brake Installation

If you’re living the coasty life and riding freewheel, you ought to be running a rear brake. Buying the brake kit is easy, but what about getting it installed? That’s where we come in! In today’s post, we’ll walk through the process step-by-step so you can get rolling (and stopping) in no time.


First things first, get all your stuff in one spot. The brake kit includes:

  • Brake lever
  • Calipers
  • Cable and housing
  • Cable ties

And you’ll also need:

Install the Caliper

The caliper will include two grooved washers and a recessable nut. They’ll be screwed onto the caliper’s bolt when you open the box.


Remove the nut and slide the caliper through the hole in the brake bridge just above your rear wheel.

Then tighten the nut all the way. You’ll still be able to swivel the caliper left and right once the bolt is tightened. That’s ok and actually necessary when we start dialing everything in, so don’t stress.

Install the Lever

Now we can pop the lever onto the handlebars. Use a 4mm allen to open the lever, place it where you’d like on the bars, and tighten it back down.

Nothing too tricky.

Install the Cable and Housing

First, remove the cable from the housing by sliding it out.

See that little barrel-y looking end? That’ll sit into the barrel-y shaped hole on the back of the lever when we slide the cable in!

Feed the cable through the lever until the barrel bit catches.

Now slide the housing back over the cable. Be sure the housing gets all the way into its little “seat” there.

Feed the other end of the cable through the guide in the top of the caliper. Be sure to seat this end of the housing in there too.

Use your fingers to pull and hold the caliper closed a bit (so the brakes will be tight when you lock the cable in). While you’re doing that, pull the cable through the eyelet on the side of the caliper, and then tighten the bolt back down to hold the cable in place.

Now a pull on the lever should result in the caliper pulling tight!

Secure the Housing

Using the included cable ties, route the housing along your top tube and use the screwdriver to get them tight.

Make sure the cable/housing makes a gentle curve down to the caliper (kinks = bad braking) and leave the rest of your “slack” up front so the front wheel still has the freedom to steer. You should end up with a short loop of cable out front.

Align the Brake Pads

Use your 4mm allen key to align the brake pads with the braking surface.

Be sure the whole pad is hitting the braking surface. The brake pad rubbing the tire could cause a lock-up or a puncture, and the pads hitting lower on the rim will be less effective.

You want the brakes to engage at the same time on both sides of the rim, and well before the lever is pulled all the way to the handlebar. Swivel the caliper left and right until the pads’ rim contact is synchronized. And, if your lever’s going all the way to the metal, pull more cable through the rear caliper and re-tighten until it’s as responsive as you want it.

And that's it! Give your brake a few pumps to make sure it’s working, and you’re good to go (and stop again, of course)!

And the best part is, once it's time to change pads, this PFTV episode will be all the refresher you need. Ride safe!