Originally Posted by Monster Pete
With v-brakes, you should have an adjusting barrel in the brake lever, which can be screwed out to compensate for pad wear rather than swapping washers. You may need to adjust the pads periodically as they will hit the rim lower down as they wear. If the adjuster doesn't pull enough cable, simply screw it back in and adjust the cable at the clamp bolt on the brake arm.
Hey MP, I've already long since used the play available by adjusting the barrel in the brake levers. Unscrewing it to the max to increase the leverage still makes it so I have to pull the levers nearly all the way to the handlebars before attaining adequate stopping power.
I already have been resorting to pulling the cable end (at the wheel) through the bolt to add increased tension. But this ends up causing drag from the pads being too close.
I had messed around with the pads a few weeks ago and improved the braking somewhat. But it was clear that my pads are nearly totally worn. Getting close pad distance was possible but I suspect I will risk rim wear by having a nearly bare brake shoe do the braking.
I bought a new pair of brake pads a few weeks ago (didn't realize I'd need two pair to change front and back wheel brake pads). I asked for small length ones like I have on my 16" folder but all they had were ones that are about 3" long instead of 2" like my old ones.
Spent two frustrating hours tonight changing out the old pads on the front wheel with the new pads. There are so many little things you have to have positioned "just right".
_Barrel adjusters in the brake levers
_One of three position for hold the spring arms
_Clamping the right amount of cable thru the bold (after the noodle)
_Setting the alignment of the brake pads in 3 dimensions
_Deciding whether to use the wide or narrow set of washers on the side of the pad touching the wheel
_Adjusting the little screw with a tiny alllen key that seems to find tune the spring arm tension
I have to balance all these factors. What I find is that clamping down plenty of cable to get a nice short brake activation results in tire lock from contact with the brake pads. Setting the clamp loose enough that the pads do not drag at all, results in having to pull the levers nearly all the way to the bars to get a good stop. I even tried using a piece of cardboard as a shim to setup a decent pad clearance to no avail. I've spent quite a bit of time fiddling with all of this and things are actually working worse than they did with the old pads as I had reset them a couple weeks ago.
Chilling out with a beer now. Ugghhhh!
I'm kinda wishing the new bike I'm about to pick up this week had maintenance-free roller brakes instead of rim. Yeah, I'm sure if I took it to a LBS they could have it set pretty sweet again for not much $. With the right tutelage I'm sure I could do it. But I ran out of patience tonight. I'd stubbornly prefer to be able to maintain the brakes myself. It just seems like there's no margin where I can get decent pad clearance while still having quick and tight brake leverage. I'm too tired now to bother taking photos and uploading but maybe I'll resort to that another day.
One possible clue to fixing this is that the strands of the exposed cable portion at the wheel end are pretty flat and kinda untwisted such that the wire is rather gnarly looking as it passes from the noodle into the clamp. I suspect this is resulting in the brake spring arms not being moved as much as they should by the cable and a corresponding loss of brake leverage.
I guess I should just give it up and take it to a bike shop and have them run new cables if need be. Roller brakes seem so much more sensible though.