Squeaky back brake in the wet

by bikeboy76   December 18, 2012  

What with all the rain and mud/leaf puree around at the moment I am having one of those seasonal problems. My back brake is clogging up and squeaking. The brake still works and stops when I need it to but it doesn't fully move back to position. The right hand pad stays just in contact with the rim and makes a squeaking, skirling sound as I move.

This doesn't stop me moving forward or even using the brake properly but I can feel the drag. It might only be 2/3% of effort but it is annoying, as is the noise. I can easily flick out the offending pad at the start of a ride or at lights but as soon as I use the back brake it starts again.

I have to admit I generally use the front brake to feather and control speed rather than for stopping power. I guess this just feels natural as I am right handed and the back brake is for rapid stopping, i.e. double hand braking.

I clean the mud off regularly and have tried picking out dried mud with a needle and even flossing the brake but the problem comes back the next time it rains. I am a bit worried about taking components apart to clean them and loosing the reasonable functionality I have now. Does anyone have any non-invasive tips to keep back brakes moving smoothly?

5 user comments

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Squeeling brakes are often caused when the pads are applied flat on to the rim. Have you tried "toe-ing in" the pad? i.e. the front of the pad connects with the rim ever so slightly before the rest.

posted by scaramanga [34 posts]
18th December 2012 - 15:58


could be sticky cable. remove cable, check for corrosion (replace if needed), flush out cable housing with wd40 or equivalent, grease cable and reassemble.

posted by duncster [1 posts]
18th December 2012 - 16:51


Thanks for the first couple of replies, but the problem is quite clearly centred in the brake arch itself. The pads are positioned fine, the brake will contract it just doesn't relax completely, probably due to mud getting into the mechanism. I'd like to know if I clean it what can be done to prevent water and mud clogging up the works again.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1822 posts]
18th December 2012 - 18:11


The squealing is very likely due to the pads needing a little tow in. A 1mm difference is enough, you can check with a piece of card or folded paper. If it isn't toe in, have you inspected the pads for any foreign bodies? It is worth cleaning your rims with degreaser and checking the pads for anything that may have got stuck in them. You can pick bits out of the pads with a small screwdriver or something similar if need be or even gently rub down the surfaces of the pads with a piece of sand paper to make sure that they are properly clean.. Are the brake blocks new? What type of brakes are you using? The sticking brake could well be down to a sticky or corroded cable. Have you tried loosening the cable off to see if the brakes return to their correct position when it is not providing any tension? Are you happy that the brakes are properly aligned? If they are not either loosen the fixing bolt and set them perfectly or use the adjusting bolt to get them just right. If the problem is in the caliper itself then lubricate the pivot. Jim Langley and Sheldon Brown both have great advice on their websites. If you are not sure about doing any of this youself then go to a good LBS and speak to the mechanic. Your safety depends on a good set of brakes so don't compromise.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [346 posts]
19th December 2012 - 0:04


In answer to your question about preventing your brakes getting covered in clag, the best answer is a set of mudguards. Mudguards are very useful for winter riding in the rain or just on wet roads. They keep you clean and stop grime being spattered all over your bike by the tyres. Clean your bike as often as possible too. It doesn't just make it look nice, it keeps it working properly and makes the components last longer too.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [346 posts]
19th December 2012 - 11:07