After tuning my brakes a lot (I was learning how), I suddenly noticed my back brake got really stiff. Did not really matter if the cable is loose or not, the lever itself feels really hard to pull when comparing to the front brake. What could cause this? Since I do ride in the rain occasionally, the cable might be rusty? But I have only had the bike for like 3 months. Or could it be the lever itself?

  • Is the lever slow to return as well?
    – joelmdev
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 4:00
  • The lever itself is ok, I guess. It feels like it's hard to pull and "push" the cable. But it's not like it's too tight... I can pull the lever quite a bit before the pads "lock" on the wheel.
    – bsiq
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 11:31
  • My first thought was something like "Maybe the cable is somehow 'twisted' inside the plastic 'tube' in a way that it got hard for it to move?" because the "tuning" movement that may twist the cable (or at least looks like it twists it)
    – bsiq
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 11:36
  • Quick releasing the brake made the lever move freely. Nothing seems to be wrong between the lever and the noodle. This made me suspect the tension of the brake arms. Messing with the spring tension centering screws doesn't seem to change anything. I'm confused.
    – bsiq
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 22:16

3 Answers 3


Sounds like the cable is not routed properly. Unhook the outer going into the brake level and slide it way from the brake lever - the lever should be free. If not, pull the cable and see that its moving freely all the way to the the brakes.


First off, carefully check the rear brake and compare it to the front. In particular, the "noodle" of V-brakes is quite fragile and can get bent and crimped. Or it can simply get bumped and moved out of place.

Squeeze the brake lever (on the handlebar) and then let go -- does the cable (as it exits the lever) go "limp"? If so, the brake lever itself is probably OK. If not, the lever may be jammed somehow.

Inspect the cable route and look for any crimp in the cable housing.

It's not unusual for a cable housing to rust up and jam the cable, but it shouldn't happen in 3 months, even if the bike is ridden in the rain. More like the sort of thing that happens after 5-10 years.

If the bike is 3-months new and purchased at a bike shop you should take it back for a complementary "tune-up" anyway.

  • Noodle look, ok. What do you mean by limp cable? Cable housing looks clean/clear. I bought it online :( Having a closer look now. Released the cable and the lever moves ok with absolutely no resistance, so it means the issue is at the noodle end, right? I'm not sure but it feels like the brake arms are the thing causing trouble. Not sure how, though. Is it possible they are pulling too hard?
    – bsiq
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 21:44

When installing the v-brake, try to put the pin in the middle hole to lessen the spring tension if adjusting screws do not work.

  • Welcome to the site - that's certainly true, but could you expand it a bit to show how that might affect lever stiffness ? Use the edit link.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 7:55

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