V brakes detachment and hook up

In the following article we are going to be looking at undoing and rejoining V-brakes. This is a useful skill to learn as being able to open and close V-Brakes can make wheel removal much easier. The task can seem a bit tricky, but if you work through the instructions methodically you should be able to achieve the final result. We’ve got a special tip in the article that will help you if you’re really struggling.

How do v brake calipers work?

The brake cable is attached to the cable clamp at the top of the left arm. The cable travels through a metal pipe which is hooked at one end into the a pivoted bridge at the top of the right arm. Each arm has a spring that when the cable is attached adds tension allowing the arms to move and hold the noodle in place.

Undoing v brakes

To release the brake you will have to remove the noodle from the cable bridge.

  • First, with your left hand, use your index finger and middle finger to hook around the noodle.  
v brakes hooking the fingers on the noodle
  • With the thumb of the same hand, push the top of the noodle down, this keeps the cable straight and at its loosest.  
  • Pull the noodle towards you. You are now pulling the left hand calliper arm towards you.
  • Now push on the right caliper arm with your right thumb.
v brakes pushing the right brake arm
  • Finally, use your right index finger to release the noodle from the cable bridge.
v brakes removing the bridge from the noodle
  • You can now let go of the caliper and noodle.

If you’re unable to undo the brake then try this tip:

  • Use a zip tie or adjustable strap. An old toe strap is ideal.
  • Put the strap or cable tie around both arms of the caliper and pull hard so that the arms are pushing the pads firmly against the rim.
  • Release the bridge.
  • Cut the cable tie or undo the strap and you will see that the cable has been released.

If the brake is too tight to be released, then try the following options.

Option 1 – Loosing the cable

  • First check if the barrel adjuster has any adjustment in it.
  • Hold the body of the barrel adjuster and undo the lock ring anticlockwise all the way back so that it sits against the body of the barrel adjuster.
  • Now screw in the barrel adjuster. You need to be turning it  clockwise.
  • If the barrel adjuster is screwed in all the way then you will need to release the cable slightly.
  • To do this hold both calipers in one hand and undo the clamp bolt just enough to release the cable.
v brakes
  • Open the arms slightly and retighten the cable. If you over loosen it you will find that the pads won’t engage with the rim when you pull the brake lever.  You are looking at just undoing it enough to allow the noodle to pop out of the bridge.
undoing v brakes
  • Now try again to remove the noodle. 

Option 2 – Checking the noodle for damage

If you’re still unsuccessful then see if the noodle is sitting in the bridge correctly. If the tube is coming out beyond the bridge, then the noodle is damaged and will need to be replaced.

v brakes noodles

Read our article here on how to replace a brake cable and noodle.

You can also watch a video tutorial here:

Option 3 – Removing the wheel

If none of these ways work and your noodle isn’t broken, then you can try to release the brakes by removing the wheel first. With no rim stopping the pads and subsequently the calliper arms from moving closer together, noodle removal with no wheel should be a piece of cake. To remove the wheel with your “V” brakes still in position,  you will first have to deflate the tyre so that it can slide through the pads. An inflated tyre is wider than the rim so without releasing its air, it will not squeeze pass the brake pads.

Tyre deflation.

  • First remove the dust cap if you have one.
  • For Schrader valves get a small allen key (4mm is the perfect size) or a screwdriver and press on the pin inside the valve. 
  • For Presta valves undo the little captive nut on top of the valve body. It should only be finger tight. When it is undone as far as it can go, depress the nut to release the air.
  • The air rushes out pretty quickly at first as it is under pressure. Don’t be alarmed. You haven’t done anything wrong!
  • Open and undo the quick release, thru axle skewer or loosen the bolts on the wheel axle. You should now be able to remove the wheel. 
  • Now you can go back to the start of the process for undoing a “V” brake. Without the wheel hindering your progress it should be nice and easy.

Re-joining v brakes

When attempting to re-join the caliper, replace your wheel first.

  • To re-join the brake, first, with your left hand, use your index finger and middle finger to hook around the noodle.
  • Pull the guide pipe towards you until the brake pad on the left hand side arm hits the rim.  
v brakes cable hook up
  • With the thumb of the same hand,  push the top of the noodle down, this keeps the cable straight.
  • Now push the right arm with your right thumb.
  • Finally, use your right index finger to push the cable bridge up and slot the end or the noodle into place.
  • If necessary, wiggle the end of the noodle so that the first part slides into the bridge. It will automatically stop when the thicker end of the noodle touches the wider part of the slot in the bridge.

If you’re unable to rejoin the caliper then check if the outer casing sits on the edge of the noodle and barrel adjuster.

For the rear brake also check all the brake cable stops. If there is any point where the outer casing is catching then push it back into place.

You now be able to undo and rejoin v brakes.

We have also made a video tutorial for you. You can watch it here:

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