A Foolproof Method for Adjusting Avid BB5 Disc Brakes

[Full credit for this method goes to Tim Grahl at Blue Collar Mountain Biking. I’ve only reproduced it here to make sure it’s available for our readers. —Alan]

You’ll need a 5mm hex wrench and a Torx T-25 driver. Let’s start with the assumption that the rotor, caliper, and cable are properly installed on the bike, and that the rotor is true.

BB5 Adjustment

1. Loosen the (2) black CPS mounting bolts with a 5mm hex wrench to a point where the caliper body can move freely.

BB5 Adjustment

2. Loosen the inboard pad adjustment knob using a Torx T-25 driver.

BB5 Adjustment

3. Slide a business card between the outboard, fixed brake pad and the rotor (be sure the biz card is between the outboard fixed pad and the rotor, not the inboard adjustable pad and the rotor), then tighten the pad adjustment knob until the rotor and business card are snugly clamped between the brake pads (you should not be able to pull out the business card). This aligns and centers the caliper over the rotor while leaving a business-card-sized gap on the fixed side.

BB5 Adjustment

4. With the business card still in place, re-tighten both CPS bolts to lock the caliper in place.

BB5 Adjustment

5. Loosen the pad adjustment knob and remove the business card.

6. Tighten the pad adjustment knob until the pad just barely touches the rotor, then back off one click to eliminate pad/rotor contact.

This method is more precise than the method outlined in the Avid BB5 Instruction Manual. It perfectly aligns and centers the caliper body and brake pads over the rotor. I’ve found it to be the most consistent way to minimize lever throw and ensure full engagement when using BB5 road calipers and road levers. And once you’ve done it a couple of times, it takes all of 5 minutes.

Read the original article at Blue Collar Mountain Biking
Avid BB5 Instruction Manual

8 Responses to “A Foolproof Method for Adjusting Avid BB5 Disc Brakes”

  • Steve says:

    Perfect timing. This weekend I planned to finish a full tune up on my cross bike with Avid BB7 road disc brakes. New cables were installed and now I just need to adjust them. This will help

  • Aaron says:

    I spent a very frustrated hour struggling to adjust my new BB7s recently before stumbling upon similar instructions and knocking it out in all of a couple of minutes. The things aren’t intuitive, but once you know the trick, they’re easy to adjust and they work beautifully.

  • John Ferguson says:

    There’s a certain amount of float in the pad mounting on these calipers, so if the alignment isn’t perfect when you first set it up get the adjustment close then ride for 20 minutes while using the brakes frequently. It should line up better and your minor adjustments will be more effective once you’ve bedded the pads in a bit.

    Oh, and the assumption that the rotor is true is kind of funny. The Avid rotors almost never are..

  • Alan says:


    I’ve had better luck with Shimano rotors. Not sure if that’s random chance or something in their construction.

    This is a handy tool to have around: http://www.parktool.com/product/p/rotor-truing-fork-DT-2

  • Darryl says:

    Thanks for this great tip! I hadn’t seen it before and it looks like the best method yet.

  • Brett says:

    Buy an Avid BB7 caliper. Mount loosely, and tighten the cable clamp with the cable under tension.

    Center the caliper on the rotor by tightening both hand adjustment wheels. Tighten bolts mounting caliper to fork.

    Back off finger adjustment wheels until there is no rub between pads and rotor. If it’s close, try spinning the wheel and stopping/slowing it with the pads a few times, and cycle the caliper a bunch; the pads/mechanism do settle a bit as mentioned. If the caliper is not new, remove the pads and clean them, the caliper, and reinstall.

    Sell the BB5 on ebay / craigslist to some fool who thinks it’s worth saving $20 to not have larger pads, better pad retention system, and two finger adjusters.

  • Alan says:

    I’ve had good luck with BB5s and BB7s on various bikes over the past few years. Once you figure out how to set-up BB5s, they work perfectly well for road riding. If I was buying aftermarket calipers I’d purchase BB7s, but I can’t see a compelling reason to swap them out on a commuter bike that comes spec’d with BB5s (off-road is a different story).


  • Mark says:

    I’m with Brett on this one. I was one of the first Bryant buyers and was disappointed that they shipped the bike with BB5s. I did give them a chance but swapped them out for BB7s after a couple of months. The adjustment pains I could live with but the tiny pads and the resulting lack of stopping power were deal breakers. BB5 versus BB7 is like night versus day, I had to wonder if avid is hurting themselves by making two products that look so similar to the untrained eye that perform so differently.

    Off road is indeed a different story, but IME mountain biking calls for more control than cable operated discs can offer and would not use BB7 there either.

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