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V-Brake lever adjustment issue

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V-Brake lever adjustment issue

Old 09-28-17, 07:06 AM
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V-Brake lever adjustment issue

I have a set of the following on my "now semi-vintage" Klein with V-Brakes.

Shimano - Servo-wave Action levers.

On the rear brake.... I have done the following:
1. New cable
2. adjusted the rear brake caliper.
Pads still have plenty of material left on them. (not due for replacement anytime soon).

There is a lot of travel in the lever. To get it to full stopping strength, I'm down to only about 1 finger width from the handlebar. And this is with using the adjusting screw on the lever.
I have no idea what is causing the excessive need for adjustment in the lever just to get it to a place where the brake is functional. This includes having the "barrel" adjuster on the lever almost fully extended as well.

I've researched on the web and not found a reason or solution to this issue. Any assistance would be welcomed.

It feels like there is too much "play" somewhere and I just can't seem to find what's wrong or incorrectly adjusted.
I like to do all the maintenance on my bike so I know how to do it all... so that's why I haven't taken it to a shop and paid someone else to do what I should be able to figure out myself.


Last edited by Rocket Mouse; 09-28-17 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 09-28-17, 08:19 AM
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So to be sure you have Servo Wave levers and V brakes? The reason I ask is that these levers were meant to enhance modulation while maintaining pad/rim gap. Their initial cable pull is large with the amount of cable being pulled dropping as the lever nears the bar. So the modulation increases closer to the bars. This means that the lever's travel, for the same cable pull, will also be greater at this portion of it's arc. This is the reality of simple lever systems with dimensional or power limits (the human hand can only pull "X" amount of lever distance from the bars and the human hand has only up to "Y" power, remember that the manufacturers also need to fit a large % of the population to sell what they make so the designs can be lacking for a big guy or too big for a small gal).

There were a number of attempts to increase the leverage/power of the pads squeezing the rim. Most don't work well enough to remain in the market place for more then one product cycle or two. The Force 40 "Brake Hanger" is another example.

It is a simple experiment to try another brake lever which might offer a different feel and different clamping power. I have done such for customers. I charge the basic labor and lever cost, half the labor and all the lever cost is credited back if the rider want's to go back to their original set up.

BTW brake pads wear in a way you can't really measure (or not by the vast majority of us). They harden/dry out over time with no loss of dimension. This can reduce the friction the pad can generate by a lot. Getting new performance targeted pads might do a lot to make the brakes work better. Pads are like tires in that they are a high wear item which degrades through the riding season(s) whether actually used or not. Just like your car oil has a time factor in it's suggested replacement schedule. Andy.
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Old 09-28-17, 09:28 AM
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I would suspect that your pads are more worn than you estimate. It always surprises me how much I need to adjust the pads (using the adjusting barrels) for a little wear. You only find out when you put in new pads and have to screw the barrels all the way in, and still have 1/2 the gap you had with the old pads. Brake pads aren't that expensive.
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Old 09-28-17, 09:35 AM
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Which brake levers, as there were/are several variations of design, which all get to the end result differently, take the M737 (first gen XT V's), this are very different from M570's (LX from the next/last generation) in construction.

From what your saying, something has gone wrong somewhere, I still use V-brakes on a couple of bikes, and if setup as per manufactuers instructions, they work with minimal lever pull (i.e. not to the bar)
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Old 09-30-17, 02:33 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I was scratching my head as it seemed one day it was fine, and the next I was in this situation.
Doesn't mean that it couldn't be as simple as new pads... just seemed weird to me..so that's why I thought something else was off.
And true... at least new pads are a pretty cheap thing to replace. So I'll give it a shot.
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Old 09-30-17, 04:14 AM
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Pics of the levers? That sounds like a canti brake lever used with a V-brake. Will stop you fine but pretty much pulls to the bar no matter what you do.
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Old 09-30-17, 11:59 AM
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also... are the pads set up correctly? when they are too close to the v-brake arms, they sort of cam over, slipping down the brake track... this can set up a situation as you described, even if centered on the brake track perfectly... some bikes like the thinner pivot cup on the inside, others like the thicker cup in between the arm and pad...

set all adjusters to minimum, then adjust the cables.... and the pads should contact the rim earlier in the arc swing when the pad is moving DIRECTLY toward the rim, not later...

the concept of those levers SOUNDS good, but sometimes experiments fail in practice... a new set of decent levers may end up being the solution, eh?

one other thing... the sudden onset of the issue has me wondering about possible loose or broken hardware somewhere along the line... check ALL involved components for looseness or cracks!

Last edited by maddog34; 09-30-17 at 12:04 PM.
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