V-brakes are used on almost all hybrid bikes and most older mountain bikes. They’re simple, powerfull and easy to adjust. Here’s how to work on them.
For this job, you’ll need a small philips or flathead screwdriver and a 5mm hex wrench:
The brakes are adjustable at the lever and by the wheel. Start by winding in the barrel adjuster, which is the little threaded thing where the cable enters the lever.
The barrel adjuster is used for quick adjustments while riding. Winding the barrel out pulls the cable tight, which tightens the brakes.
But since we’re going to tightening up the cable by the wheel, screw the barrel back into the lever. This is the starting point.
Now take the hex wrench and loosen the 5mm bolt on top of the brake arm that holds the cable. The cable should slide freely.
Loosen the 5mm bolt that holds the brake pad onto the arm on both sides. Squeeze the arms together, and line the brake pad up with the rim. Re-tighten the bolt. Make sure the pads won’t touch the tire. The pads should be centered and even:
Squeeze both arms of the brake against the rim again. Then pull the cable tight. Let it out just a tiny bit, so that the brake pads no longer touch the rim. Then re-tighten the 5mm bolt.
Grab the screw driver, and look for the little screws at the bottom of the brake arm. These adjust the tension on the springs that pull the arms left or right. Tightening the screw will pull the pad away from the rim. Loosening it lets the pad be pulled towards the rim.
Use the screws on each side to center the brakes. There should be an even amount of space between the rim and the pad on both sides.
Spin the wheel. The brakes shouldn’t rub at any point. If the wheel is rubbing in one or two spots when you spin it, it might need to be straightened out, or trued. In that case, just drop it off at the shop.
When you squeeze the lever, it should stop when it’s about parallel with the handlebar:
posted by Montana