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How to Adjust Bicycle V Brakes (Video Step by Step guide)

In this article, you will learn about bike brakes, their importance, and how to adjust them so they'll work perfectly every time.

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Your bike’s brakes must work smoothly and swiftly, whether you need to stop fast on a smooth, wet surface or squeeze through a tight space. But how does one adjust a bicycle brake?

In this article, you will learn about bike brakes, their importance, and how to adjust them so they’ll work perfectly every time.

Adjusting the hydraulic brake on the bike with the multitool. Source: adobe stock
Adjusting the hydraulic brake on the bike with the multitool. Source: Adobe Stock

Pull the brake lever to determine how tight or loose your brakes are. Tighten or loosen the barrel adjustment to your liking. Then, to rebalance, loosen the bolt on the brake caliper. Through the caliper, pull or release the brake cable.

Editors note: Don’t rely on some fixie foo on the internet for critical repairs (such as this one). Please take your bike to a professional bike repair shop.

What are bike brakes?

Bicycle brakes provide the rider control over when the vehicle will stop. When riding downhill or encountering an obstacle, this is extremely handy. A good set of brakes will respond swiftly and bring the bike to a complete halt.

While many fixed-gear cyclists tend not to use brakes (I don’t recommend that), It’s always recommended to use at least a front brake.

Why is bicycle braking important?

Your brakes are essentially what help you stop the bike. Therefore, they are extremely important and must be kept in good condition. Unfortunately, all brake pads are classified as “consumable components,” which means they will wear out and need to be replaced.

If your brake pad is worn down or starting to wear down, check out some of the options below.

What are the different types of bike brakes?

Bike brakes are classified into four types: disc, rim, coaster, and drum. Disc and rim brakes, also known as caliper V brakes, are the most popular and widely used brakes. They are the kind used by fixed gear and track bikes. Nonetheless, each brake has its advantages, features, and compatibility with various cycling sports.

Image of a bicycle repair man installing bicycle brakes. Source: adobe stock
Image of a bicycle repair man installing bicycle brakes. Source: Adobe Stock

How do V-brakes work?

V-brakes (also known as direct-pull cantilever brakes) are controlled by a cable that runs from one side of the brake to the top and pulls the two halves together. Other brake designs exist but are uncommon on fixies and other mainstream bikes.

V-brakes are significantly less expensive than disc brakes. They are simple to maintain and replace, even while on the move. V-brakes do not put any strain on the hubs or spokes.

How do you properly adjust V-bike brakes?

Here are some steps you can follow to adjust your fixies V-brakes.

  1. Adjust the cable tension

    After ensuring that the wheel is centered and rotating freely, adjust the cable tension. Release the brake cord while gripping both arms of the brake with one hand.

  2. Release your grip on the brake arms

    For optimum braking, release your grip on the brake arms until the brake pads are approximately the distance from the rim. You may need to use your other hand to help guide the cable through the clamping point.

  3. Tighten the bolt and reattach the brake cable

    Tighten the bolt and reattach the brake cable. Squeezing the lever confirms whether the brake lever travel is to your liking.

  4. Adjust the positioning of the pads

    Adjust the positioning of the pads now that the cable tension has been established. To help with rim alignment, squeeze the V-brake arms hard into the rim with one hand to imitate braking (as shown in the figure) or squeeze the brake lever.

    While the brake pad is loose, use your free hand to line it up, so it contacts the rim in the center of the braking track. Retighten the bolt once you’re confident the pad isn’t too low or rubbing on the tire.

  5. Adjust the pads until they are not rubbing on the rim

    Is one side clear, but the other is rubbing? The small screws on both sides of the brake come into play here. This screw controls the tension of a metal spring that runs up the back of each braking arm. For example, if the right brake pad is rubbing, tighten the right spring by tightening this screw in, forcing the brake arm out.

    Next, adjust the pads until they are not rubbing on the rim and are contacting evenly. When you’re satisfied with the position of the pads, squeeze the brake and repeat steps 1-3 to fine-tune the sensation.

If you want even more tips, watch this video called How to Adjust Bike Brakes | Bike Maintenance from the Howcast YouTube Channel.

A video called How to Adjust Bike Brakes | Bike Maintenance from the XXXXchannel YouTube Channel.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about adjusting bike brakes.

Why are V brakes used on road bikes?

Because the direct pull cantilever action allowed for more braking force than a traditional cantilever, V-brakes were developed. They are significantly more powerful brakes. In addition, V brakes were introduced to eliminate the need for a pull point for a cantilever brake cable and the center brake bolt of side pulls.

Are V brakes better than disc brakes?

Unlike disc brakes, which quickly heat up and transfer heat to the hubs and spokes, V brakes do not place stress on the hubs and spokes. As a result of the wheel and its components not heating up, the spokes and hub of bicycles with V brakes tend to last longer.

Are V brakes any good?

V-brakes are significantly less expensive than disc brakes. They are simple to maintain and replace, even while on the move. V-brakes do not put any strain on the hubs or spokes. They do not obstruct the installation of a rear kickstand.

Conclusion

When adjusting the brakes, ensure they are in good working order. Accidents and injuries might occur if your brakes fail to stop the bike. Therefore, ensure that your brakes are properly calibrated before cycling in congested locations or on long-distance rides.

This article covered what a bike brake is, the importance of adjusting a bike brake, and the steps to adjust bike brakes. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways:

  • Brake pads are extremely important since they affect how well your brake system works.
  • Bike brakes are classified into four types: disc, rim, coaster, and drum.
  • Bicycle brakes provide the rider control over when the vehicle will stop.
  • The caliper brakes on a bicycle are the most effective bicycle braking system.
  • The barrel adjuster is usually a barrel-shaped device that allows you to adjust the cable tension.

So, did we cover everything you wanted to know? Let us know in the comments section below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on fixing your bike brakes. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed!

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Author avatar - Bradley Knight
Written By Bradley Knight
As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies, including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

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