How to Adjust V-Brakes
Learn how to adjust the brake pads, cable tension and centering on v-brakes (linear pull).
- 02:58 - Lubricate the pivot points with a few drops of Tri-Flow.
Today we’ll learn how to adjust v-brakes, which are otherwise known as linear pull brakes. For this job you’ll need a 5mm allen key, a phillips(+) screwdriver, a strip of sandpaper, and an optional cable puller.
Align Brake Levers
The first step is to set up your brake levers. Start by loosening the clamp, and then align them so that they match the angle of your arms when you’re riding. Once the angle is set, tighten the clamp. If you have smaller hands and your levers are hard to reach, you can set them closer by tightening the reach adjustment screw on most levers.
Remove & Inspect Brake Pads
Start by giving the cable some slack. Tighten the lever’s barrel adjuster in all the way. Then pull the protective rubber back and disconnect the brake cable’s quick release mechanism.
Then remove the pads. V-brake pads have two sets of positioning washers on each side of the brake arm. Be careful to watch how the washers are positioned so that you can re-install them correctly.
Inspect your pads. If they are worn past the indicator line, or have metal poking through the surface, you’ll need to replace them. If they look ok, use your sandpaper to re-surface both pads.
Adjust Brake Arm Tension
Now check your brake arm tension. The brake arms should have good spring tension, which makes them release when you let go of the brake lever. If there isn’t much tension, you may have to increase it on both sides. Undo both bolts one at a time, but don’t remove them completely.
You’ll notice a small piece of metal poking out the backside of the brake. This is the spring, and it slides into one of three holes on your frame or fork. Most brakes work fine in the middle hole. To increase your brake tension, move the spring into the top hole. To decrease the brake tension, move the spring into the bottom hole. Then tighten the mounting bolt.
Install & Align Brake Pads
Now re-install the brake pads, with the washers in the same order as they were before. Align the brake pads so the pad face is flat against the rim. V-brake pads are different from traditional pads in that they don’t require any toe-in. Both the front and rear of the pad should contact the rim at the same time. Because of this, v-brakes will sometimes squeak when applied. If you’ve re-surfaced the pads and they are still noisy, you may have to try a higher quality set of pads.
Take a look from the side to make sure the pad is in line with the rim’s brake surface, and not touching the tire or hanging off the bottom of the rim.
Align Brake Arms
With the pads installed, check the brake arm position. Both arms should be facing straight up and down when the pads are contacting the rim. If they are too wide apart, or two close together, you may have to re-arrange the pad washers.
One set of washers is usually thicker than the other. To correct brakes arms that are too far apart, make sure the smallest set of washers are closest to the pads. To correct brakes arms that are too close together, make sure the largest set of washers are closest to the pads.
Adjust Cable Tension
Now re-connect the cable and adjust the cable tension on the brake arm by pulling the cable through the pinch bolt and tightening. You’ll have to play with this adjustment until your brakes feel good. I like to have mine set so that the pads hit the rim when my lever is pulled about 1/4 of the way.
Brake Arm Centering
Make sure both pads now have equal clearance, and are not rubbing against the rim. Both pads should contact the rim at the same time. If not, you can adjust the centering by tightening or loosening the side adjustment screw with your screwdriver.
- Park Tool: Linear Pull Brake Service
- Sheldon Brown: Direct-Pull Brakes
- Bicycle Torque Specifications
- Hozan 4th Hand Cable Puller
- Park Tool HXS-1.2 Hex Wrench Set
- Park Tool Wrench Combo Set
- Park Tool SD-Set Shop Screwdrivers
- Park Tool SK-3 Starter Mechanic Tool Kit
- Park Tool PK-3 Professional Tool Kit
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Here's my repair situation: I have a what seems like a relatively nice road bike which I found for free on the side of the road years ago. Around three years ago, while cycling, there was a stuck link in the chain that caused it to jam. As I was pedaling uphill, the force caused the metal near the mount screw on the rear derailleur to shear. I have recently wanted to repair this bike. Unfortunatel...Read more
Hey Everyone, New here and I'm currently taking on a small project on converting an old-school Fuji to a SS/Fixed flipflop. Firstly I want to thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to being in this forum as a regular 😁 So im currently having trouble figuring out how to remove the DT Shimano shifters seeing as I don't want to ruin the frame, but do want a nice clean frame look. is the...Read more
I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show: On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P Off bike: https://imgur.c...Read more
Ok, so I am not real fluent with bikes, however I am attempting to repair my girlfriends Next PowerClimber 24". The cog that holds the rest of the sprockets on the rear tire is threaded to lock them in place. The cog is cracked and the threads are not holding allowing the rest of the sprockets to fall off. I have attempted to find a place to buy this broken threaded cog with no luck. I am get...Read more
My chain keeps falling off especially when I transition from 1st to 2nd chain ring. I also feel like I have to use a lot more pressure to shift from 1st to 2nd compared to going from 2nd to 3rd, which just might be me but I thought it was relevant to include. I am not super mechanically inclined so I can't diagnose an issue on my bike like this. Can you please tell me whats the issue and maybe how...Read more
A short questions for those knowledgeable. I currently have on my bike a Shimano HG50-11-36t 10 speed cassette. Would the HG81-11-36t 10 speed be a direct replacement or will I encounter problems?...Read more
Hello everyone. Are there any podcasts about cycling and more specifically bike mechanics? I have been learning more about bike repairs recently and would love to hear tricks from guys with know-how; need something to listen to during the work....Read more
I was looking into wheels, just for the heck of it, and something is confusing me. I have a cruiser. The tires are 26" x 2.125" (57 x 559) The rim is 1.25". Cruiser wheels, online, are 1.75" The difference between a 1.75" cruiser rim, and the 1.25" rims I have, is approximately half-inch. I bought the bike, new, from a bike shop, and bought white wall cruiser tires for it. It had wide tires o...Read more
Hi folks! I was directed here by the folks over at r/bikewrench as I hear you are a helpful lot! I have a beautiful old Sekine which I think after a little research is a SHC 271 from the mid seventies. Unfortunately I was in a pretty nasty accident last year and it was out of commission for a while. I was using it indoors on my trainer and slowly going about repairs, getting it road ready again wh...Read more
Is that possible without switching out the hub, and is that possible at all? I have a base shimano groupset and I'm in the process of upgrading everything (I'm switching out the crappy tourney der for altus 9-speed, cables etc), and I would really rather switch out my freewheel for a 9-speeder also. Do you think it's achievable?...Read more
20200613_221949.jpg (Size: 64.32 KB / Downloads: 62) Hey everyone. I'm new to working on bikes and have been cleaning mine from using it at college. I replaced the chain since it was very stretched. The new chain was slipping a lot. After searching for why that was happening I concluded that I needed to replace my sprockets. The tool fitting rotates with the sprockets, so I think th...Read more
Hey everyone! I was led here from reddit and told to try my luck with the fine folks here on bikeride. Let me preface by saying I know I’ve seen a lot of criticism when it comes to converting a MTN bike to a road bike due to a variety of reasons. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I am in need of direction. My father passed away a little over 5 years ago and a little over a year ago...Read more
hello from Estonia, I try to help a friend in replacing bottom bracket. we don’t have the old one anymore, so we have to find out the right bottom bracket just from measurements on the frame. the frame is supposed to be an old Dutch one. Detailed pictures of left and right side of the bottom bracket are here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-D-RO479uMl7NKhsrdkNF2oPW2IdTd1U wide = 65.8...Read more
As I pedal on the highest gears (the 2 smallest rings on my casette) I can hear a pretty loud clunking/clicking noise that I can't locate the source of. The chain also drags against the front derailleur. You can hear both sounds in this video: [https://gofile.io/d/2MY8gS] Unfortunately I couldn’t upload the clip here for some reason. I just recently replaced the crank arms, gave the bottom br...Read more
I have these [VP Urban pedals](https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2191/9809/products/vpurban__83868.1471321314.1280.960_700x.jpg?v=1501609051). One of the pedals were making a ticking sound each revolution. So I greased the hex bolt and the pedal threading with lithium grease. Not sure what the pedal hex bolt is called. Now, when I ride I'm getting a clicking feeling in the pedal on the downstroke....Read more