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I got a cheap second hand bike to clean up and cycle around the city, and I changed the brake cables, housing and ferrule caps as they were frayed and damaged. My only problem is that the rear v-brake is now sticking (it clamps but it slow to open again) which it wasn't doing before. What could cause this?

Bike is a mixte/step-through/"ladies" frame.

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  • It has happened to me that the tensioning spring needed adjustment, or that the brake pad was catching on the overly wide tire. The removal of the old cable could have upset some dirt in the cable housing -- Have you lubricated the cable housing? Have you checked that it and the ferrule are clean inside?
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 2, 2022 at 19:27
  • I've checked the brake pads and I replaced the cable housing and ferrule caps - I didn't lubricate it though, is this something I should do when replacing all those parts?
    – Gildo
    Aug 2, 2022 at 19:30
  • Some cable housing manufacturers will tell you it's unnecessary, that their housings are designed to be "low friction". Some mechanics will argue introducing oils into the system will attract dirt, only increasing drag in the long run. I think this is a per-case decision, but I've always lubricated my v-brake cable housings.
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 2, 2022 at 19:42
  • Ok thank you! I will give this a try :)
    – Gildo
    Aug 2, 2022 at 19:56
  • You'll find many aspects of bicycle assembly/repair are anecdotal. What works well for one person often doesn't for another. The differences in parts, materials, and tools also play a role. I've seen people criticized for suggesting lubricating cable housings, but the hill I will die on is this: Square taper spindles are to be greased! NB: This reminds me, my third bike has v-brakes where the rear brake is slow to return, and I know for a fact I didn't lubricate the housing. "Do as I say..."
    – jayded-bee
    Aug 2, 2022 at 20:21

2 Answers 2

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Try pulling the brake arms apart again with your hand. That's the extra pressure the spring in the brake arm needs to apply.

When you disassembled the brake, did you remove the arm from the frame? There are 3 little footer holes for the spring to hook into. It may be that you need to get the spring into one of the "harder" holes.

Both brake arms should require about the same pressure to move by hand (ie with the cable relaxed and not doing any work) and the arms should not have any stickiness or unevenness in the range of travel.

Separately, can you easily pull the brake inner cable inside the outer? The V brake springs have to overcome all the outer cable's resistance plus the spring in your brake lever.

Its also possible to upset brake cables if your bike is in a workstand and the clamp is mashing the wires somewhere.


Once the brakes are "pretty close" you can fine-tune the spring tension using a hex or philips screwdriver into the nut that is underneath the frame mount. It will be really small. Tighten to make the spring firmer and have more pull-off pressure, and loosen for less pressure.


Also check that your brake pads/blocks are not hanging up on the tyre or rim anywhere. They don't move in a straight line and can contact the tyre as the blocks wear down. Also ensure your wheel's axle is fully seated in the frame.

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    Thanks for this answer - I adjusted the brake pads, shortened the cable route to allow a better angle for the noodle (it's a ladies 'step through' frame so the cable is coming up from near the pedals towards the seat) and tightened the cable and it's definitely better but still not perfect. I feel like there's a lot of friction in the noodle though - I tried replacing it and it didn't make any difference unfortunately. I'm going to try cleaning and relubricating the calipers and then I'll fine tune as you suggested
    – Gildo
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:13
  • @Gildo does your noodle point up or down? In a mixte or step-through frame, the outer housing will be approaching the brake from below, and its okay to have the noodle pointing down towards the first necessary bend.
    – Criggie
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:43
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    The noodle should have a teflon liner running through it. Is it worn down or damaged? You could try grease or silicone spray or some other lubricant.
    – Michael
    Aug 4, 2022 at 8:07
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Thanks everyone for the advice! I was away for a week but back working on the bike tonight - I realised my back wheel wasn't quite centred in the frame, so I adjusted the spacers to fix this, and that was the last step to getting it running smoothly. So a combination of lubricating the cables, adjusting the wheel alignment, adjusting the brake pads, making the cable route shorter and tightening the cables got me there finally! Great advice from everyone, thank you so much for the help!!

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