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When I pull my brakes on, the front wheel judders. Is this because I've got V-brakes

Q. When I pull my brakes on, the front wheel judders. Is this just because I've got V-brakes and they're rubbish or can I stop it happening?

Susan Cheadle, via email

A. V-brakes might not be as sexy as discs but they can still work well if adjusted right. The first fix is to adjust the brake pads (undo the central bolt until you can move their angle through the cone and cup washers) so that the front end of the pad, not the back edge contacts the rim first.

If they still squeak and judder then part of your brake assembly might be loose. Tighten any bolts up securely, and check for obvious rattle or play which might mean they need replacing.

On old Shimano V-brakes the little parallel link arm used to come loose and squeal, which could be fixed by zip tying it to the body of the brake to stop the looseness. If sorting the brakes doesn't fix it, then check the rims are clean and free from dents or obvious 'steps' at the joint seam.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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