Finding the Problem
The problem of a sticking brake lever, one that doesn’t return to its closed position, can be a tricky one to resolve. It’s not easy to pinpoint the issue immediately as there are a number of possible issues, starting at the lever itself and ending at the caliper. More often than not it will be the rear brake that suffers this frustrating problem, as the cable and housing is much longer for the rear and there is more material to suffer kinks and friction. However, it can also happen to the front brake lever, and the same step by step process towards a resolution is required. While you have this lever issue, your caliper will probably stick on the pads, or scrape the rim, as it is not being pulled back properly. This will make your bike unrideable.
Tension and Resistance
Tension and resistance are the key issues with a sticky brake lever. The lever itself has no strong spring return in itself, it relies on the tension of the cable which runs to the caliper. If there is any resistance the lever simply will not have the force to spring back on its own. Resistance is likely to come from:
- The cable being worn or frayed
- The housing being dirty or kinked
- The housing being damaged or crushed within the brake body
- The cable and housing being too short or the flow of the cable being incorrect
- The caliper lacking spring tension
- Resistance within the caliper’s barrel adjuster
- The brake lever being dirty
Cleaning and Lubrication
Over time, calipers lose their spring tension and they are often the source of this problem. Check also how dirty the cable and housing is, and a good idea is to always keep them lubricated. Your brake lever may also require a good clean, and as I mention in the video, it can often be a combination of these problems that causes the lever to be unable to reach it closed position. After going through this step by step process, you will surely find the answer to this very frustrating problem!