The rear brake lever on my hybrid does not seem to snap back after I release as quickly as it used to, and it doesn't release as quickly as the front brake.

These are standard Shimano V brakes, in service for about 6-8 months.

I suspect that I need to lubricate something, but I am not sure what.

  • Can you attach a photo so we know what model? My guess is these are Alivio or Deore?
    – BEVR1337
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 17:51
  • 4
    Start with lube the cables and report back bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/24255/…
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 17:54
  • I believe that they are Deore. Thanks for the quick replies
    – Wiszh
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:11
  • Also make sure the springs are in place on the calipers themselves! Sometimes they come undone whenever you take off a wheel and undo the quick release on the brakes.
    – BEVR1337
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:13
  • 1
    It would also help to know where you are - right now much of the northern northern hemisphere is freezing, while bits of Australia are (literally) on fire. If you're in Australia advice about how to deal with water freezing in your brakes is going to be a bit irrelevant.
    – Móż
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


Normally, in freezing weather, this is caused by water freezing (and being helped in its task by grime, e.g. salt and dirt and stuff).

My procedure for this is generally:

1) Bring the bike inside or somewhere warm so that any ice/water can melt/evaporate off the bike. The evaporation is key -- if you just let it melt and then re-freeze, its going to cause more of a headache. I normally bring the bike in for the night when I want to deal with this.

2) Remove the brakes, thoroughly clean the bosses and brakes with rubbing alcohol and regrease and reinstall them. The brakes should move freely on the bosses. I find that this helps, but I find that cleaning the bosses and replacing the V-brake itself is sometimes a better option -- its not very expensive, and sometimes the crud works itself into places that you won't be able to clean out.

3) Make sure the cables are in good condition. If your cables are old/grimy/worn, you may need to replace them. Some people suggest lubing the brake cables, but this is against many manufacturer recommendations -- ymmv, if you choose to lubricate them.

4) Adjust the V-brakes the usual way. Not really specific to the problem, but you may as well do it at this point.

Fenders may help with preventing grime to get in, but they're a bit of a hindrance if ride in snow since it gives somewhere to pack...

As for greases/lubes, note that their viscosity and properties change with temperature, so you may want to take that into consideration (e.g. regular old white lithium grease vs a low temperature one).

And there's a good chance you'll be dealing with this multiple times in a given winter.

If its not cold, steps 2,3,4 are still good ones to follow for troubleshooting sticky V-brakes.

  • I lube brakes and shifter cables with dry lube when they have stopped working smoothly. Most times it makes a big improvement. The only other option is to replace them - Cable Manufacturers prefer you replace them, hence the "Don't lube' advise. Cables replacement is cheap if you do it yourself and don't go OTT on expensive cables and outers.
    – mattnz
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 0:16

Your brake mechanisms mostly likely need to be cleaned, inspected, and re lubricated. That includes cables, levels, pivots, and pads... also a quick check of the wheel's 'true' may be informative.

There are several possible causes depending on your specific brake design--there are variations even among the general types. The best and safest solution is to head to your LBS and have them service it. They fix these sorts of problems all the time. A decent shop should have standard labor rates or a flat fee per service item. Checking brakes should be a single service item for them.

Your spring mechanism could be worn or need readjusting, there could be binding on the pivots, there could be trash binding the mechanism, the brake lever could be dirty or jammed or out of adjustment, or the brake cable could be bound/sluggish or broken.

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