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Initial position

I ordered a bicycle, it came with a front wheel detached. I took the v-brake noodle out to loosen the v-brake arms to let the wheel through. However, I cannot get the v-brakes aligned properly. The right arm is waay too much away from the rim. Even if I move the arm with my hand, it doesn't touch the rim (so it doesn't seem like it's just a matter of cable tension. Is there some way to move the arm closer?

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  • 2
    Can you get a picture with it pushed in by hand as far as it will go? Have a good look for what's stopping the movement, especially around the return spring. It should be easy to push the arm in far enough by hand
    – Chris H
    Jul 30 at 15:07
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    By the way, just in case it’s not obvious: The fork should be rotated 180° so that the brake is facing forwards.
    – Michael
    Jul 30 at 15:41
  • Thanks! I was told that elsewhere too, I am not used to assembling a bike so it wasn't obvious for me but I fixed it now.
    – skmr
    Jul 30 at 16:55
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    Since brakes are safety relevant parts please ask somebody who is competent with bike to assist you.
    – Carel
    Jul 30 at 19:15
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    As @Carel notes, new bikes shipped in cartons need some final assembly/adjustments that are safety relevant. Brakes, handlebar/fork/stem and even seatpost need some knowledge. Best is to have someone who knows what they are doing take a look, but even a "how to finish assembling a shipped bike" video on youtube would be a big help.
    – Armand
    Jul 30 at 21:13
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I can see one metal spacer between the rubber part of the pad and the brake arm.

V-brake pads use a set of spherical washers which sit on each side of the arm to allow the pad angle to be adjusted.

The typical correctly-assembled order would look like:

  1. pad
  2. spacer
  3. concave washer (flat towards pad)
  4. convex washer (bump side sits in the "bowl" of the concave washer, flat side against brake arm)
  5. brake arm
  6. convex washer (flat side against brake arm)
  7. concave washer (bowl side against bump)
  8. thin washer
  9. nut

Some pads use two different thicknesses of concave washer, so you'd skip 2 and use the thicker washer at 3. See step 2 of these instructions: https://si.shimano.com/pdfs/si/SI-8JF0A-002-ENG.pdf

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  • I can see both a concave and a convex washer between the pad and the brake arm. poorly aligned, but present.
    – Swifty
    Aug 9 at 18:01
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There seems to be several issues:

  • Firstly, the pad position on the right arm looks a bit off. Release the pad nut, and adjust the pad to be perpendicular to the rim while pushing the arm with your hand against the spring so that the arm is close to the rim. Then, while continuing to push the arm, tighten the pad nut. Repeat with left pad if it's off too.
  • Secondly, the cable seems loose. Rotate the barrel adjuster counterclockwise (usually at the lever) a bit. Put the noodle in the left arm, and compress both arms with your hand so they touch the rim. Tighten the cable using the cable anchor bolt. You should now have a brake that continuously touches the rims. Not very useful as it drags with no clearance.
  • Thirdly, adjust the barrel adjuster. Rotate it a bit clockwise to release tension. This creates clearance at the brakes.
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    The cable isn't even connected at the moment. The OP seems to be saying the arm can't get close enough whatever they do
    – Chris H
    Jul 30 at 15:08
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    Yep, and I suppose the pad position is the cause of the arm not being able to be close to the rim. However, for a working brake the cable needs to be attached too.
    – juhist
    Jul 30 at 15:08
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    That's why I've asked for a photo with it pressed in by hand. To me the wording doesn't suggest a misaligned pad is stopping the arm
    – Chris H
    Jul 30 at 15:10
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    -1 for not mentioning the incorrectly assembled fork. Despite being noted by others in the comments the answer is ambiguous between left and right without mentioning the correct fork set up. While the technique of adjusting the cable at the pinch bolt with a loose barrel adjuster and pads touching rims is a good one, there the answer errs in that it doesn't take into account the obvious inexperience of the OP, and to achieve good results doing this, the barrel adjuster needs to be damn near all the way out, not just "a bit" ccw at the beginning & omits the 1-2mm pad-rim gap as the goal.
    – Jeff
    Jul 31 at 16:18

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