How To Adjust a Bicycle V-Brake

A good brake needs a good brake adjustment! Adjusting the pads, cable tension, spring tension: we explain everything to properly adjust your bicycle V Brake.

What do you need to adjust a V Brake

  • an Allen key, or a 10 key
  • a Phillips screwdriver

1. Check runout, wheel centering, and brake condition.

– Sheer and wheel centering

Before adjusting a bicycle V Brake, you must first check the runout and centering of the wheel. If your wheel is only off-center, that is, more to the right or more to the left of the fork or the frame, proceed with the centering.

Then spin your wheel to check the rim runout. If your wheel is too warped, I advise you to unveil it before adjusting your brake, or to call a cycle technician if you have never performed this operation.

– The condition of the cable

Check the condition of the brake cable , bellows and elbow . You can lubricate the sheath and the elbow: just insert a few drops of oil in the upper part of these elements.

Replace the cable, elbow, or bellows if these items are worn or damaged. Note that unlike a rigid elbow, the flexible elbow adapts perfectly to the configuration of your brake while facilitating the circulation of the cable.

2. Adjust the cable tension of the V-Brake.

Before adjusting the brake cable tension , make sure that the adjusting wheel on the lever is screwed in. It is a nut-lock-nut system.

  • Loosen the cable clamp screw and tighten the caliper jaws by hand.
  • Tension the cable and moderately tighten the clamping screw. You can also hold the cable with a universal pliers or multigrip pliers while tightening.
  • Now test the brake lever free play:
    – the brake is normally too hard. Loosen the thumbscrew a little, then press the lever lightly, until you get to the clearance you like. Finally tighten the clamping screw to lock the cable.
    – the brake is too soft? If your brake needs a little more cable tension, use the dial to fine-tune the adjustment. Otherwise, perform the cable tension operation again .
  • Check that the pads do not touch the wheel. If this is the case, it could be either a cable that is too tight, a wheel that is too warped, or incorrectly adjusted brake springs.

What is a good brake lever stroke? This is when the brake is actuated after a movement of the lever of 2 or 3 cm.

3. Adjust the shoe position

Check the condition of your skates. If they are worn out, take the opportunity to change them before adjusting the cable tension! The brake pads should be centered and parallel to the rim, for good support and braking.

  • Loosen a pad, position it on the center of the rim neither too high nor too low. It must above all not touch the tire when braking, nor be in a vacuum.
  • Once the pad is properly placed, brake hard with the lever to hold it in place, and tighten the pad moderately using the wrench.
  • To complete tightening, hold the pad firmly with your hand and tighten.
  • Recheck the correct position of the pad.
  • Then perform the same operation on the other pad.

Are your skates bearing fruit when braking? Here’s a tip: Position the skates slightly tilted towards the front of the bike, so that the front of the skate slightly touches the rear part before.

4. Adjust the springs

The springs return the lever to its initial position and center the brake caliper so that the pads touch the rim at the same time. There is one spring per caliper. The springs are adjusted using the small screw located on the side of the calipers. We will first make sure that the springs are functioning properly.

– Check the springs

To check them, disconnect the V-brake caliper by pulling on the elbow. Then manually push the 2 parts of the caliper. Each of them must exert resistance. If both springs are working properly, replace the elbow.

– Adjust the springs

Is your caliper tilted to the left, i.e. your right pad touches the rim? You have two solutions:

  • tension the right spring (by tightening the small screw)
  • or relax the left spring (by unscrewing the small screw)

Take it gradually. After adjustment, brake several times to reach the final spring tension. Adjust again if necessary to find the correct position of the caliper.

Good to know: for effective braking , the pads must touch the rim at the same time.

Some useful tips:

  • no need to put too much tension in the caliper springs! Your brakes will be too hard to apply.
  • a brake that lacks tension will not return. If so, give tension to both sides. It’s up to you to find the right balance in the spring adjustment .

Carry out a final general check after successfully adjusting a V Brake! Check the lever travel and make sure the pads do not touch the wheel when you are not applying the brake.

For effective braking: remember to check and adjust a V Brake at the front and rear of your bike!

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