Replace brake pads
Replacing brake pads is a common and necessary repair and maintenance task. It's not uncommon to get an old bike and have no good stopping power because your old pads are worn out and gone. Luckily you can get some new ones and replace your old ones!
Choosing brake pads
You'll want to order new pads 1st. If you've got a common bike like a Maxi, you can search by brand and find appropriate pads on 1977 or Treats. Often different style mag rims and spoke wheels may have different pad sizes, so be sure to get the right pads. If your brand bike isn't listed or you want to make sure you're getting the right pads, take yours out and measure, you'll need to know width, outer diameter and the center to center length between the pads. The measurements are shown below for some common sizes.
Replacing the pads
First, get your bike on it's center stand or on a stand and remove your wheel from the bike. You should then be able to remove the brake plate (assembly #16 in the example wheel below). Often you can even leave your cable attached and just work close to the bike, though it will probably help to disconnect or loosen the brake cable.
In the above wheel for example, you make have a nut affixing your brake plate to the axle (#19) which you'll have to screw off to get the brake plate out. Next you want to just pry the plates together and up to pop out the old ones.
Take your new pads and put the springs in their holes. Then set the pads in upright and pry them down in the reverse of how you took them off. This is MUCH easier than trying to pry the springs on when the pads are in place.
Now just reassemble your wheel and reinstall in the reverse of how you took it off.
Adjusting your brakes
With the wheel back on and the bike still on it's stand position the bike so the wheel can spin freely. You should be able to spin the wheel freely by hand. There should be a barrel adjusted on your cable screwed in near your brake drum with the cable going through it. Screwing this out will tighten your breaks, and screwing it in loosens them. Adjust it so that the wheel spins freely when the lever's released but begins to stop spinning as you pull the brake lever. You may adjust the cable stop or knarp that's in the lever on the brake drum to shorten or lengthen the cable more than the barrel adjustment will allow, then fine tune the adjustment with the barrel. Sometimes new brakes will stick or rub slightly for the first few miles til they wear in. you can scuff them or sand them down to remove this, or just run them in. SCORE!
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