How Do V Brakes Work

Author: Alex Bristol

Last Update:

Ever wondered how v-brakes work? Me too.

V-brakes are also known as linear-pull brakes or direct-pull brakes. They are a side-pull version of cantilever brakes, but the arms are longer. Moreover, one arm is attached to the cable housing while the other is attached to the cable.

For off-road bikes, V brakes transformed the rim braking performance. Most people wonder “how do V brakes work?” When the brake cable feels a pull, the two long arms provide leverage. Due to this, there is a lot of power being given out. V brakes tend to perform their best in almost every situation except the miry and sludgy ones.

The working mechanism of V brakes:

Before getting into the simple working of a V brake, it is essential for us to understand its technicalities and the complexity behind its attachment, which are the primary fuels behind the way it works.

  • Basic components:

The basic components of a V brake system are a brake lever, cable and housing, metal cable guide, a stirrup, left and right caliper arm with spacers and brake pads, left and right boss permanently fixed to the fork or frame, and the rim of the bicycle.

  • Attachment of caliper arm:

With the help of a spring tab, the caliper arms are attached to both the frame bosses. The spring tab, in turn, is attached to the hole in the boss. This spring tab is adjustable and offers spring loading for each caliper arm. The caliper is secured to the boss with a separate bolt. However, it can still be moved freely.

  • Attachment of the cable and housing:

The brake lever is joined to the handlebar. After the cable and housing are installed, it travels along the length, from the lever to the top end of the metal cable guide. The metal cable guide is attached to the stirrup and the cable continues through it. The cable then stretches to the opposite caliper arm.

  • Finishing touches on V brake attachment:

The caliper arm has a fixing bolt on it through which the cable is pulled. This is done until the required tension and brake pad gap is attained. After this, the fixing bolt is tightened.

V brake working:

Now that we have understood the intricacies of a V brake, let us look at the simple mechanism of its working. When the rider pulls the lever, which is attached to the handlebar, it results in the cable being pulled through the housing. Due to the limitations on the combinations of the cable housing, stirrup, and the metal cable guide, the brake pads are pushed against the rim. This causes friction between the two and the bicycle slows down or stops.


V brakes have double the mechanical advantage than any conventional brake which is why they require special brake levers. They can function exceptionally with a suspension system because they do not need a separate cable stop on the frame or the bicycle’s fork.

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