I'm trying to "upgrade" a frame that came originally with cantilever to V brakes. I'm finding really difficult to make it work (as in: when pulling the lever the pads go over to one side and don't actually stop the bike)

In the following pic we can see that the brakes themselves can be fit in. but whenever I pass the cable through them, the side where the cable came from is pulling too strongly and so the pad on that side gets pulled outward, away from the wheel.

back part of the bike

Can you explain where I'm failing? If there's not enough info, I'll supply more!

  • 1
    There is no (correct) way of installing the brakes so that pulling on the lever pulls the pads away from the rims. Could you post a picture with the brake cable attached?
    – Burki
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 7:24
  • Was there something wrong with the cantilever brakes that they needed replacing?
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 10:56
  • Are you trying to run the outer through the upper holder/hanger in the frame, which is forcing the wire to be centered ? V brakes like to have their wire off to the side, cantilevers need it dead-center.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 10:57
  • 1
    Not 100% relevant to the OP, but on cyclocross bikes (which are drop bar bikes) some of us would use mini-V brakes, which have the same cable pull as cantilever brakes. Both those brakes work with road levers. Anyway, the answer about V brakes use a different cable pull ratio and your levers are wrong is correct.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 11:39
  • The bike is missing a break, and I thought that v-brakes were better.
    – user59073
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


First an important note: V brakes require different levers. If your bike had cantilevers, it had standard pull levers. Those are unsafe to use with V brakes. They bottom out very easily with V brakes and if you can run them with minimal pad gap, the stopping force is dangerously high unless flex prevents you from applying the brakes with full force (usually it does so). So, use V brake specific levers on V brakes.

I suspect your problem is that the springs have some configuration issues. When you installed the brakes, did you ensure that on both sides, the spring is on the same hole? Usually there are 3 holes.

The fine tuning can be done with the adjustment screws on either side but they fail to provide enough adjustment if the springs are in different holes.

So, I suggest:

  • Update your question by posting a picture that shows into which holes the springs go
  • Update your question by posting a picture that shows how you installed the cable (it may be you misunderstood something about installing the cable). You do have a "noodle" for the cable, don't you? (Because the picture has no cable, I can't see if you use the correct noodle)

... the side where the cable came from is pulling too strongly and so the pad on that side gets pulled outward ...

This sounds really wrong. Like, either the brake cable is stuck inside the cable housing, or it is just not installed properly.

Please provide a photo of the fully assembled brake with cable installed.

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