V brakes vs Cantilever : 8 Main Differences

Deciding which break you need might be difficult sometimes but don’t worry, we have got your back!

If you are an aspiring cyclist and invested a lot of energy to become pro at cycling, then you know that it is difficult to determine which brake would work for you. Let’s dig into the benefits and disadvantages of cantilever brakes and V brakes.

Introduction to V brakes vs Cantilever

First of all, when we analyzed the adjustment of these brakes the Cantilever brakes are more difficult in adjusting compared to V brakes. But V brakes showed reduced clearance and due to these cantilevers are considered appropriate for environments that are dusty. V brakes can withstand a lot of pressure and are user-friendly too.

In this article, we will be explaining a lot of factors that can help you better understand how these brakes work and which one will be ideal.

Now below we will be comparing the V brakes vs Cantilever.

Introduction to V brakes vs Cantilever
Introduction to V brakes vs Cantilever

What makes Cantilever Brakes more valuable than V Brakes?

The fact that Cantilever brakes always have been quite basic types of brakes is known to everyone. But still, its demands didn’t fade away. In addition to this, the brakes are also a bit superior to V brakes because of a single advantage.

Cantilever brakes offer an amazing benefit which is the additional space within the tire rim and brakes. This works well in muddy situations. Mud can get caught on V brakes which will make pedaling more challenging.

Also, the cantilever is favorable to work in muddy environments and does not lose its efficiency.  Apart from the above features, V brakes work much better. It’s considerably simpler to tune V brakes. Vbrakes are simpler to apply and squeeze. Having said that, cantilever brakes work well and are useful to have.

The Pros of V brakes over cantilever brakes are described in full below. I’ll discuss if and how we can exchange cantilever brakes with V brakes after explaining the main Pros of V brakes.

Here’s how V Brakes Outshines the Cantilever Brakes

1. Offering enhanced Adjustment

 You can easily adjust the V brakes. All you need is two wires running of brake pads to hub at the center of the caliper brakes. It’s harder to modify than Vbrakes if any wire is too loose. With V brakes, a screw can help you tighten each wire.

Caliper brakes have several directions so that the brake pads themselves can be changed. Getting it to proper height and angle can be pretty frustrating. When using V brakes, the pads are retained in place and aren’t nearly as difficult to adjust to the proper direction.

To keep them functioning properly, brake pads are should be adjusted somewhat frequently. Long periods without altering them may be acceptable.

2. Vbrakes -Easiest to Use

The majority of people claim that Vbrakes are easier to squeeze. This is because of how V brakes are made. The wheels can be locked out using either kind of brake. Here, you squeeze firmly enough for the tire to stop entirely.

This is a significant benefit to ride quickly or frequently descend hills. As you are already aware, cycling uphill eventually results in cycling downhill. Therefore, it will not be a big problem if the terrain is relatively flat. However, to ride quickly and brake hard, it’s still substantial.

Additionally, V brakes are much nicer if you are heavier because more energy will be required to slow down the bike.

difference between V Brakes & Cantilever
difference between V Brakes & Cantilever

What is the difference between V Brakes & Cantilever Brakes?

Cantilever and V brakes are the most widely used types of brakes on bicycles.

Some bikers might be unsure of which brake will enable them to hurry their cycles at the ideal pace while maintaining grip. And whether these brakes genuinely differ or not can be mind-boggling.

When compared to cantilever brakes, v brakes are totally different. Even though they are both quite similar, cantilever brakes are what set them apart from one another. Inverted connections are made between these wires. The tire is below the horizontal arrangement of V brakes, on the other.

Linear brakes are another name for V-brakes. This is due to the brake’s flat and straight component that squeezes together. Cantilever brakes and V brakes are significantly distinct from one another.

You can easily observe how the wires join by looking at the front tire’s brakes. Cantilever brakes are those in which the wires pertain at a single point.

You may find it difficult to distinguish since cantilever brakes are a modified type of brake.

The Mechanism by which these brakes work-V brakes vs Cantilever brakes

In addition to the factors, we need to also determine the mechanism by which these brakes work.

These brakes require sufficient pressure applied on the brake pads which allows you to stop your bike.

Cantilever brakes

Cantilever brakes Mechanism

V brakes are not symmetrical, whereas cantilever brakes are. This implies that a cantilever brake works on the mechanism of central pulling and all the forces applied to that. and that the design of both brake arms is the same.

A pulley is where the brake cable is attached. Another cable connects the two brake arms by passing through the pulley.

Pro and cons of Cantilever brakes


  • Excellent Mud Clearance
  • Lightweight
  • Compatibility
  • Effective for Low to Moderate Braking


  • Reduced Stopping Power
  • Challenging Adjustment
  • Limited Compatibility
  • Maintenance Demands

V brakes Mechanism

With this brake system, you have a metal tube known as the “noodle holder” that holds the cable in position when it enters from the side. After crossing the tire, the cable is secured enough with the help of anchor bolts.

Another component is the boot which is composed of rubber. This boot’s function is to stop dirt from entering the noodle and don’t allow it to get contaminated.

V brakes Pros and cons


  • Strong Stopping Power
  • Ease of Adjustment
  • Versatility
  • All-Round Performers


  • Mud Clearance Issues
  • Limited Tire and Fender Clearance
  • Less Suited for Specific Applications

Disadvantages of Cantilever

A major drawback of the Cantilever brake is that it consists of so many pieces.

Because each component that holds the brake shoes in place can move unaided, the brake shoes move all over the area.

They lack centering screws for spring tension, which makes the brake alignment process extremely challenging.

It is not as straightforward as you would want it to be to modify the cable pulley system, which is another item that has to be done.

Moreover, the frame and fork are in the same direction, the brake arms cannot open without fastening the brake shoes. This means that larger tire wheels are problematic to eliminate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which brake type offers better stopping power: V-brakes or Cantilever brakes?

  • V-brakes are generally known for offering stronger and more consistent stopping power, especially in dry conditions.

Are V-brakes suitable for cyclocross or touring bikes?

  • V-brakes can be used on cyclocross or touring bikes, but they may have limited mud clearance, making Cantilever brakes a better choice in muddy conditions.

Which brake system is more user-friendly for adjustments and maintenance?

  • V-brakes are generally considered more user-friendly for adjustments and maintenance, making them a popular choice for riders of all skill levels.

Do Cantilever brakes work on modern bike frames designed for V-brakes or disc brakes?

  • Cantilever brakes may not work well with modern frames designed for V-brakes or disc brakes, as they often lack the necessary brake posts.

Which brake system is better for city commuting on mixed terrain?

  • V-brakes are a suitable choice for city commuting on mixed terrain, providing strong stopping power and versatility.

Are there hybrid brake systems that combine V-brakes and Cantilever brakes?

  • Some hybrid brake systems combine elements of both V-brakes and Cantilever brakes to offer a balance between mud clearance and stopping power.

Do I need different brake levers for V-brakes and Cantilever brakes?

Some brake levers are designed for specific brake systems, so ensure compatibility when selecting new brake levers. However, many levers are versatile and can work with both V-brakes and Cantilever brakes.

Can I use Cantilever brakes with drop handlebars on a road bike?

Yes, you can use Cantilever brakes with drop handlebars on a road bike. This setup is commonly found on cyclocross or touring bikes.

Can I use V-brake or Cantilever brake pads on carbon rims?

Using the wrong brake pads on carbon rims can damage them. Always use brake pads specifically designed for carbon rims to ensure safe and effective braking.

Mark Webster is bike enthusiast and researcher in bike industry from last 15 years. Mark had been working in different bike manufacturing companies for research and development of new models. Mark has mission to make bike design safest for bikers. The dream of Mark is to make bikes too mainstream that we can reduce global carbon emissions.

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