important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Adjust V-Brakes

Learn how to adjust the brake pads, cable tension and centering on v-brakes (linear pull).

Video updates

  • 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.

Related Links

Recommended Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

]Hello.. First post ! In trouble already.. It's years since I last did bike maintenance and then it all seemed to easy.. I've just bought an old Dawes Shuniah mountain bike (£5) that's been very neglected. The rear hub bearing are dry and I need to repack with grease. Looks like the axle is slightly bent as well. First hurdle is the cassette removal (without special tools ) The lock nut is diff...

Read more

Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...

Read more

Identification help

Latest post 2 weeks ago

  IMG_0838_resized.jpg (Size: 195.96 KB / Downloads: 15) Howdy folks! Was hoping you all can help me out. I am going to send bicycle parts and tools to help people in Malawi. Was sent this image and told this type of bike is the "work horse" of transportation. From what I can tell they seem to be 1 speed with narrow tires, maybe 26 inch? Obviously pedals might be good too. Any thou...

Read more

What is wrong with my bike?

Latest post 2 weeks ago

Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely....

Read more

Schwinn Meridian 7-speed Chain/

Latest post 2 weeks ago

So I have a couple of questions that I hope someone in this group might know about or have experience with. This is for my Schwinn Meridian 7-speed trike. 1. Are the derailleur chain and the drive chain the same type? Obviously they're different lengths; and I assume the derailleur chain is a typical 7-speed chain. But what about the main drive chain? Same thing? Or is it a standard single speed ...

Read more

I have these Chinese freewheels. On the inside are ridges which are supposed to be there so you can use the tool to remove it. With these freewheels, the ridges are very low. I have a tool, also made in China, and the ridges on the tool are also very low. So when trying to use the tool to remove the freewheel, it does not grip properly, and it can't be used to remove the freewheel. The metal on ...

Read more

Columbia 3 wheel differential

Latest post 3 weeks ago

Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me! I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to ris...

Read more

freewheel sprocket noise?

Latest post 1 month ago

does this noise mean anything? The bike was not used and left outside for a long time. The freewheel sprocket spun free in both directions. After removing it and dripping oil thru it in both directions it appeared to work fine. Once reinstalled it still works fine, but does make this noise when I stop peddling. With bike upside down and rear wheel spinning freely i can also fell the noise as a vi...

Read more

Schwinn Boundary bottom bracket bearing let go. I would like to upgrade them to sealed bearings. Threaded frame bottom tube 35 mm nut thread od. x 73 mm wide....

Read more

Help with a wheel please !

Latest post 1 month ago

Hello all. My name is Andrew, and I reside in sunny Bognor Regis, UK. I have been an avid BMX rider my entire life, but my body has taken a battering and I now have arthritis creeping in and if I am really lucky* I will also inherit my mother's osteoporosis. *yeah was being sarcastic. No other form of comedy funnier etc lol. Any way, when my body started to fall to bits and I had a bad BMX wreck...

Read more

I have a 1975 Hutchins road bike and want to, if possible, fit a modern crank set, say a Campy Centaur Compact, to the bike. Can this be done and would the existing 1975 front Campy derailleur work? Thanks, Dorsey...

Read more

Help with wheels please.

Latest post 1 month ago

I'm trying to find a 3 spoke or 5 spoke wheel for my virtue hybrid bike. All I can find is for road and fixie bike only.   Screenshot_20220522_213714_com.android.chrome.jpg (Size: 30.77 KB / Downloads: 10) ...

Read more

Brake problems

Latest post 1 month ago

I just installed a new set of brakes on a bike at a hostel I've been staying at and I can't get them to work right. First, the front brake lever has a ton of lateral play and they don't have much power when applied. Second, the rear brake arms won't release. It doesn't seem to be an issue of the brake nut being too tight, I can loosen it to the point where I can easily move the caliper by hand a...

Read more

Just wanted to drop some positive encouragement for taking your spindle crank out and getting some fresh grease in the cups and on the axle regularly. This will dramatically improve the performance of your drivetrain. For example on how often, I had fully overhauled my bike back in March, when I converted it back to urban street from the snow conversion. It's only May, not even 300 miles on it sin...

Read more

Inner Tubes

Latest post 2 months ago

First, I'm new here and also Thanks in advance for reading and helping me out. I'm a casual bike rider who lives in a large city and enjoys getting out for a ride in the summer to enjoy the beautiful weather. I don't have a very fancy bike (Trek) but it get's me around just fine. My Problem: I don't know if this is normal on all bike's but I have to put air in my tires every 2 weeks. I've replaced...

Read more