I have a old bike of mine that I want to fix up for my younger brother. I don't know the brand, it just says Shogun racing on it (I haven't used it in ages and it was a gift.)

It had the factory default brakes on it and they both snapped off, leaving the bike brakeless, and this is what I want to fix. When it broke I removed the parts that remained and threw away the broken ones (the handles and the pieces of plastic that connect the brakes to the brake wires,) as they were getting in the way. All of the wires are still on, just the handles and and pads are removed and the tension released.

What I would like to know is, do bikes require specific brake types? Do you have to have a brand/make-specific brake, or can I just get a generic one off, say Amazon or my local bike shop?

  • It would help if you could put some pictures of the bike you want to fix.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 1:15
  • I will tomorrow. When I wrote the question I wasn't on my system with the SD card slot. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 3:17
  • 1
    I would go to my LBS and ask for any old used ones that fit. Most likely, you'll get them even cheaper than new ones and they can mount and tune them, too, if you don't want to do that yourself.
    – arne
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


Brakes are usually standard!

It comes down to three things:

  1. Frame options/brake type

    If it is a frame with a "connector" for a v-brake, it won't be possible to fit a caliper brake type (and vice-versa). Or if it has no way to connect a disk-brake, then no way to use it without a proper adapter (or even impossible to do it); you even have frames without connectors for the brakes (ex: when the brakes are in the wheel itself).

    You need to try to indetify which type of brake it uses, and from there get a standard one (as long as it "answers" the next two points, wheel size and type of bicycle)

  2. Wheel size

    If the wheel is too big or too small for a v-brake type (for example) then no way you can use it.

    Also the frame "connector" for the v-brake (for example) if it is too small for a certain wheel rim, there is no way it will work unless you use the right size.

  3. Type of bicycle

    If it is a really old or out of the ordinary bicycle, the standard brakes may not work, and you will need to find suitable/custom/old ones...

  • 1
    But V-brakes and cantilever brakes work on the exact same frame mounts!
    – jbuk
    Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 22:41
  • The levers for cantis and vbrakes are incompatible, but the frame bosses are identical. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 4:53
  • There are levers which can do both (you just flip a switch). There are several types of brakes of which the type(s) (ignoring factors like reach) installable should be detectable on inspection.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 4:58
  • @jbuk indeed, I meant caliper. I've updated the answer.
    – jackJoe
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 7:36

Basically there are three styles of bike brakes (aside from disk brakes): Old style calipers, cantilevers, and V-brakes. Calipers are a single unit that mounts on a single bolt above the top of the wheel, cantis and V-brakes are two separate pieces that mount on "bosses" on either side of the wheel. Cantis have short arms and a "yoke" cable between them that the main cable pulls on, while V-brakes have arms that reach above the wheel and a single cable that comes in from one side through a J-shaped metal "noodle".

Calipers are the oldest style are are rarely used anymore. Cantilever brakes are still seen on some touring bikes but are becoming rarer. V-brakes are by far the most common style these days.

In terms of the brake levers, there is a significant difference, based on the brake design: Caliper and cantilever brakes both have about the same cable "pull" to go from no brake to fully applied, while V-brakes require about twice as much cable "pull". So you must use a brake lever designed for the type of brake installed.

Of course, in addition the brake lever must be suitable for the handlebar type, etc.

  • 1
    Caliper brakes are still the most common option on road bikes, so i wouldn't say they are rarely used anymore. Cantilever brakes are still reasonably common on cross bikes, though more are going disc.
    – Batman
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 5:50

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