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V-brakes are fitted to most new mountain bikes because they give good stopping power. Maintaining brake performance is crucial because of the harsh conditions to which mountain bikes are sometimes subjected, so knowing how to adjust the brakes at home and out on the trail is very important.
Pad alignment and brake travel need to be checked and adjusted regularly to keep them working properly. Bear in mind that as soon as you ride off-road you will increase brake pad wear. Even a single ride can render already worn pads useless, so change them before they need it.
Adjustment in the workshop, especially pad alignment, is best performed with the tire removed, since off-road tires are bulky and can get in the way. Wheels must run true before setting up brakes.
Parts of a V-brake
Image (right) shows:
Brake shoe and pad; etc.
Adjusting a V-brake
1. Make sure the stopper pin on each brake arm is seated in the same hole on the brake bosses. If it is not, remove the pivot bolt, slide the brake arm off the boss, and put the pin into the correct hole.
2. Press the brake arms together. If they are not vertical when the pads touch the rim, rearrange the spacers on either side of the pads until they are vertical.
3. Check the pads. If they are worn, remove the pad-retaining clip, push the old pad out of the shoe, and replace it with a new one.
4. Retention the brakes by hooking the cable back in its cradle.
5. Use a Phillips screwdriver to tighten or loosen the centering screw on each brake arm. The aim is to make both arms move an equal distance before the pad touches the rim when you apply the brake lever.
6. Screw out the barrel adjuster on the brake lever to reduce brake travel and make the brakes feel more responsive.
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