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How to Install and Adjust V-Brakes

V-brakes are found on many mountain bikes. While disc brakes have come down in price in recent years and are very common, there are still plenty of bikes out there with V-brakes.

V-brakes are a lot like cantilver brakes, but with a direct pull cable. Here’s how to set them up:

Note: As with all brake setups, the wheel should be true and round before adjusting the brake.

1. Attach the arms.

Attach the brake arms to the frame or fork using a 5mm Allen wrench.

In most cases, if you see the three holes, put the spring into the middle hole.

2. Attach cable.

Attach the cable to the brake, threading it through the noodle and securing it with the pinch bolt on the other arm.

Should be tight enough to hold the brake arms parallel to each other, but obviously have a gap between brake pads and rim.

3. Align brake pads.

Brake pads should be placed so they don’t hang over the rim or hit the tire. Centered on rim.

Also, may want to toe them in. All this is accomplished with a 5mm Allen wrench on the brake pad (or an adjustable wrench with cheaper brakes.) Thanks to the adjustment washers you can angle the pad in a variety of ways.

Note: You can also switch the washers around to move the pads closer or further from the rim, by switching the sides of the small and large washers.

4. Spring tension.

The little Phillips head screws located on each arm, near the mounting bolt.

Tightening this screw tightens the spring. More spring tension means the arm moves further from the rim. So you want to tighten the spring of whichever arm is too close to the rim.

The goal is to have the rim centered between the pads.