Bicycle Mechanics - Help! My 6yr old son's new bike hand brake levers are way too tight(strong).
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07-11-07, 10:07 AM
I just bought my 6yr old son a 18" bmx style bike w/training wheels. How do you loosen the brake levers w/o affecting the braking? The levers are way too strong for him to squeeze.
Thanks in advance.
You could probably tweak it a bit.
Check the routing of the cable and look for any kinks/try to straighten it out as much as possible.
I'm assuming it has single pivot sidepull brakes? Do the arms of the caliper move freely? perhaps the adjustment nut that sets the friction between the arms is set too tightly
There is a chance that the nuts and bolts that hold the brake calipers to the frame are too tight. You could try loosening thos just a bit.
This link might help to illustrate side pull brake repair.
07-11-07, 11:51 AM
In addition to what other people have said, I'd try to lube the cables, levers and brake pivot points. You can usually dribble a bit of oil in most moving parts. Secondly, most sidepull brakes, if that's what they are, have a wire spring on the back that provides the return pressure. These are usually way to stiff to compensate for poorly maintained brake systems. I have in the past taken these off and bent them a bit in the appropriate direction and greatly decreased the amount of pressure needed to actuate the brakes (I did this on my son's bike as a matter of fact).
07-11-07, 12:03 PM
Among all the other (very good) possibilities mentioned, I'd like to add that small hands don't have the strength to pull a lever that requires their fingers to stretch out to the max. If the brake pads are set as close as possible to the rim, very often there is no free travel in the lever. This is an OBVIOUS strain.
I'd take a compromise: set those brake pads further from the rim. There will be more travel before the brakes apply, but the grip at the lever will be easier and consequently much more effective.
This will be controversial, no doubt. I may be flamed. Don't care.
I think flat top has a valid point. Also look by the brake lever pivot. On my 6 year olds bike there is a screw there, next to where the cable enters the lever housing, that allows you to move the lever closer the handle bar by screwing the screw in. Perhaps shortening the reach would make it easier for him to grip.
Six years is too young to be using hand brakes; their hands aren't strong enough to stop reliably. They need to use their grip strength for steering and holding on.
This is the result of marketing gone bad; the product morons want to offer Junior a bike just like the big boys ride so they cram adult-type parts on a small frame and call it a kids' bike.
Your son needs a coaster brake.
^Speaking from experience here, my son started riding around 5. Getting the hang of a coaster brake was hard for him and lots of kids take their feet off the pedals when panicked. Led to crashes. I added a hand brake for the rear tire and he gained alot of confidence quickly. No bike company added it. A concerned dad added it, and it was the right call.
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