V Brakes

So I just upgraded my commuter (a steel 1997 Trek 820 MTB) to full on friction shifting, weeee. I was tired of index getting gummed up during winter riding (cables gummed up, cable housing gummed up, chain wear, cassette wear etc…). Works a charm now and cassette wear won’t be a huge issue anymore to a smooth ride.

That being said, I was wondering about upgrading my V Brakes. Right now I have a set on that I installed in 2006. They were cheap at the time (under $20 for the set), likely a cheap Tektro, though they have no branding on them. They work well enough with frequent pad changes. But my question, for a commuter bike, will I see a huge improvement in braking power with a change to something like a mid level Shimano? I really can’t see spending over $50 on a set for this bike, so will a $50 set make any difference?

Even 1/2 way decent Shimano brakes are only like 15 bucks these days. :?

Avid still makes a full line of V brakes, pair the one that matches up with your price point and you’ll be set. Get a set of FR-5 or Speed Dial 7 levers and some teflon cables and it’ll really be rocking. Should be able to do that for under $50.



I think your pads will make the biggest difference from what I’ve read. The kool-stop salmon (extreme conditions) pads seem to be the way to go from what I have read online.

I agree, as someone who still uses V brakes offroad, Kool-Stop pads are the best, I just use the regular black ones they are far superior to other brands.

As far as performance of a particular model, I feel they’re all pretty much the same with the exception of the ones that use a parallelogram so the pads have a linear path to the rim, like Shimano, LX, XT, XTR or Avid Arch Rivals. They get a little better pad contact throughout the life of the pads and have a nicer feel.

The particular levers you use can have an effect on the feel of the brakes too. For modulation adjustment Avid Speed Dial and Shimano XTR are my favorites

Bent, I was on canti’s until last year! LOL.

Ian, you can not go wrong with Kool-stops. Get pad-insert types so you can just set them up once. Parallelogram brakes are great until they wear, then the slop sends the pads into your sidewall, wrecking the tire. Here’s a test. Wiggle your brake arms. No slop? Springs are easy to center and keep the pads from rubbing? Pads stay locked in position? You have awesome brakes. If you have a spring with a long arm up along the brake, that’s awesome. If it’s a coil type jobby, keep an eye on it. Also, if the adjustment screw to center it goes into metal, perfect. Plastic? Well, that can let go at some point. If it passes all the tests, why replace them? Pull them off the brake bosses once in a while to clean and grease. Use full length cable housing, and grease your cables with a good waterproof grease once in a while. And use stainless steel cables. Perfect all weather set up. That said, I love Avid’s linear brakes and levers. I hate their hydro’s, but that’s another story.

Some Kool-stop tidbits. The salmon are the best in slop or unknown conditions. The pads actually do wipe the rims clean well with the plow tip. They seem to be fairly quiet. The big bonus, is that the pads don’t seem to brake down and get embedded with crap that will wear out your rims so quickly. What makes them that red colour? Iron oxide. Yup, rusty pads that don’t build up heat. Awesome, though.

Well I guess no need for new brakes at this point. They may be old and cheap, but they pass the above tests. I’ll look into pads as the current ones wear away.