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Greater Arizona Bicycling Association, Inc.
Where cycling is more than just riding a bike
March Show
HomeRoad Bike Brakes Adjustment Procedures


Brake cables come in a standard length for most bikes. The most important aspect of brake cables is defined
by the shape of the metal anchor piece. Mountain style brake levers require an anchor that resembles a
barrel standing upright, with the cable stuck into the side. Drop bar (or road bike) brake levers require a
different style of ball with a rounded end.

Replacement cables are available with a Teflon coating to decrease friction and increase cable life. Always
use stainless steel or Teflon replacement cables, as they tend to resist corrosion and last quite a bit longer on
your bike than galvanized cables.

It is also a good idea to replace cable housing when you replace your cables. Remember that brake and
derailleur housing can be different.  Cables typically stretch, rust and/or fray from use. Compensate for
stretching using the barrel adjuster. If the cable has rusted or frayed, it should be replaced. Remember to
check for cracked or otherwise damaged cable housing.

1. Remove the old cable: Begin by loosening the anchor bolt at the brake assembly, then pull the cable out
through the brake lever.

2.  Check the cable housing for rough surfaces by sliding the old cable back and forth through each section
of housing. Replace the housing if it is cracked or there are signs of binding.

3.  Begin insertion of a new cable by coating it with a thin film of grease or chain lube. Insert the metal
anchor piece inside the brake lever.

4.  Thread the cable through the housing starting at the brake lever. Slide the cable through the lever,
housing(s) or top tube and the anchor bolt.

5.  Make tension adjustments, possibly using a "third-hand" tool or a friend to press brake arms towards
rim.Keeping the cable taut, tighten the anchor bolt.

6.  Cut cable using cable cutters. Leave about 2" (5 cm) of extra cable beyond the fixing bolt (anchor bolt).
Crimp a metal end cap over the cable end with pliers to prevent future fraying of the cable.

7.  Check for proper brake adjustment and make fine adjustments with barrel adjuster.

NOTE: You can "pre-stretch" your new cable by pulling on brake levers repeatedly and forcefully and then
re-tension the cable once it has stretched out.


Click HERE for Park Tool 's instructions.

Click HERE to view video