Same as this question one side of brake pad retention problem (i.e. attached to rim) but mine is a cantilever brake. The answer there doesn't work as mine doesn't have those screws and the brake holders look very different.

The bike is a mountain bike if it matters.

  • Possible duplicate of one side of brake pad retention problem (i.e. attached to rim)
    – Móż
    Apr 16, 2016 at 21:26
  • Comments to that question point out that the adjustment required is the same for both cantilever and V brakes, and the question is also about cantilevers. So I can't see how it is not a duplicate. You may find it helpful to read this answer too.
    – Móż
    Apr 16, 2016 at 21:29
  • 1
    Can you check the plastic collar between the brake arm and the frame to see if it has cracked?
    – mikes
    Apr 16, 2016 at 23:00
  • 1
    I have the multiple hole system @Criggie mentions. The other thing that can make the adjustment fail is friction in the cables, especially if the cable end is close to the brakes themselves. When I changed the cables I could loosen the return spring two holes and it still returns better.
    – Chris H
    Apr 17, 2016 at 12:37
  • 1
    Clean and lubricate the posts and the insides of the brake-arms. Don't forget to grease the springs as well.
    – Carel
    Apr 17, 2016 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


If you have cantilever brakes with no adjustment screw you can usually bend the spring.

At the top of the arm the metal spring probably pushes against a post. On the side that's stuck to the rim unhook the spring and push the spring away from the rim. Don't do it too hard to start with. Hook it back to the post and try to see if it's balanced the brakes. Keep trying until the brakes balance.

  • 1
    This fix is good for months at best. Every time a spring is bent beyond its elastic limit and deforms, you weaken the metal and remote a little more springiness. Better to use one of the three mounting holes to add more tension to the weak side.
    – Criggie
    May 8, 2016 at 9:09
  • 1
    In my experience the type of brake that does not have screw adjustments are generally so cheap and overbuilt that this is not a problem. I agree that changing the mounting hole would be a good solution if this was available though. You should write an answer rather than a comment. May 9, 2016 at 7:09

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