V-style brakes are very efficient and only need a very light pull on the lever when properly adjusted. If you have to reach too far for the brake levers, you can bring them closer to the handlebars with a hexagon key or Philips screwdriver.
For maximum braking power, check pad alignment and wear. Check also that there’s an equal gap between the pad and the rim on either side. If there isn’t, adjust the gap using the tiny adjuster screws at the pivots.
V-style brakes work best when the brake arms are almost upright. If the brakes look wrong or don’t work well, there’s probably too much inner cable showing between the brake arms. If you suspect this, undo the cable clamp.
Then make sure that the cable is completely free. Push the brake arms into a more upright position and lightly do up the cable clamp. Check that there’s enough room for the wheel between the pads and tighten the cable clamp again.
When the pads are correctly aligned, there will be a gap (arrow) between the top of the pad and the top of the rim. As the pads wear down, check they don’t overlap onto the tyre. Check also that curved pads follow the curve of the rim.
Now a check on pad wear. If there’s a ‘wear line’, as on the pad at the front, they’re OK until the line is reached. If-there’s no wear line, change the pads when they reach 2 mm from the bottom of the grooves, as on the back two pads.