I've been riding a lot thins winter in spite of unusually snowy, icy, and slushy conditions. While I know how to lube and clean my chain and can deal with other accumulated filth, I'm having trouble with my V-brakes.

When I'm squeezing the brakes, they work fine. That's the most important thing, but the problem starts when I release the brakes and continue riding. The brake arms aren't pulling the brakes back off the rims.

The brake arms have springy metal rods that are supposed to pull the brakes back when they're not being applied to the rims. Those springy rods are working as usual but the brake arms are firmly stuck and don't move back and forth freely. The force of my hands through my cables is enough to force them but the springy rods is not. I removed the brake assemblies and they're really resistant to swinging and salt encrusted at the ring where the motion happens.

I don't know weather there are bearings inside or just metal sleeves rubbing against each other, but I can't reach inside the mechanism to lubricate anything. I tried scraping the salt out and scrubbing with a damp cloth and that improved things but still isn't really satisfactory.

I'd like advice about what to do or any information about the internals of V-brakes. If it's just metal sleeves, I'll immerse them in warm water and rinse them out. If it's bearings, I guess they're not user-serviceable. Or maybe there's some secret I'm not seeing.

Help me out.

  • 3
    They're just bushing-style pivots. Wash them occasionally (a standard cyclist's water bottle is good for this). Maybe give the pivots a very tiny squirt of oil (to prevent corrosion), being careful to keep it away from the pads. Lube the cables (inside) as needed. Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 2:27

1 Answer 1


If @ Daniel R Hicks suggestion doesn't work you might need some more intense maintainence. Remove the brake cables from the calipers. Then remove the brakes from the bike, disassemble them completely. Clean all the salt and corrosion from the shaft and the pivot holes of the brake arms. Lightly lube the pivot points and shaft (I am partial to white grease) with a small paint brush. Reassemble the caliper and remount. You may want to do just the front first, that way you have the rear as an example if you get confused during the reassembly. Once everything is cleaned up, a periodic rinse and relube should keep things moving.

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