important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Replace an Inner Brake Cable

Remove the old inner brake wire and install a new one.

Brake cable inner wires wear out over time. Other than obvious fraying, rust or visual wear, you can tell your cables are worn when your braking starts to feel sluggish. If lubricating the housings or brake levers doesn’t help, they’ll likely need replacing.

Tools

For this job, you’ll need a replacement brake cable inner wire. Most brake cables have a barrel end that looks like this, unless you have a road bike with drop handlebars, in which case it’ll have a cylindrical mushroom head like this. Often new brake cables will come with each type on both ends. I recommend stainless steel cables if you’re riding regularly in a wet climate, as they won’t rust. You’ll need a good set of wire cutters, some bicycle specific cable cutters if you’ll be replacing the outer cable housing, and some triflow or light lubricant. You’ll need either a 9 or 10mm metric open end wrench or a 5 or 6mm hex key for the brake’s cable pinch bolt. You’ll also need to know how to adjust your brakes and levers, as explained in previous tutorials depending on your type of brake system.

Brake Cable Removal

The first step is to carefully observe how your cable is presently routed from the lever to your brake. A misrouted cable can cause many problems. It may help to photograph each section of the cable from the lever to the brake so you can use it for reference. Your brake may not look like the one pictured here, but the concepts will be the same.

Now disconnect the cable by loosening the brake’s pinch bolt. Notice how the cable is flattened where it was pinched. I like to cut the cable just before this part so it is easier to remove by sliding through the outer cable housings. I recommend replacing the outer cable housings at the same time. See the tutorial titled “How to Replace Cable Housings”.

Brake Cable Installation

Once you have nothing but the brake lever and the cable left, line up the slots in the lever’s barrel adjuster and then pull the cable through and remove the head from the lever. Install the new cable into the lever the same way the old one came out.

Now turn your barrel adjuster clockwise almost all the way, so the barrel slots lock the new cable in place. Drop some light oil into your cable housings and make sure the outer housing’s cable ferrules are firmly in place before carefully sliding the new cable through the housing. Then route your cable the same way it was before and thread the inner cable under the pinch bolt’s washer. Pull the cable tight and tighten the pinch bolt. The cable will flatten when tightened. Always tighten bolts to the manufacturer’s torque specifications. Adjust the brake as needed. Search the other tutorials for your specific type of brakes.

Once installed and adjusted, cut the wire about 2 inches further along the cable. Your new cable should have come with a cable end that can be gently crimped on using wire cutters or pliers. This will prevent fraying. Then give the cable a slight bend and tuck it out of the way behind the brake arm.

Related Links

Recommended Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

Hi, I got a cracked shimano DI2 front derailleur (see picture attached). I try soldering it but no luck (probably don't have the right solder). Any suggestions on how to fix that please? Thanks   20230206_170038.jpg (Size: 47.7 KB / Downloads: 9) ...

Read more

Hello, I’ve got an old set of square taper FSA tempo cranks (2x) that I want to swap from a single speed 120 OLD bike to a 1x10 135mm OLD one. Any tips on how to calculate the spindle width for correct chain line? I can’t find anything for that model on the manufacturers website, and i don’t think measuring the one on the single speed will work with the different chain line....

Read more

Help with headset preload

Latest post 1 week ago

First time adjusting a headset and I'd like to get it right. Brand new giant reign with a carbon frame, that I do not want to damage I finally have the preload set to where there is no play but I'm concerned that it is to tight... Stage 1- obvious play/clunk Stage 2- no clunk, but if I lock up the brake and push and pull hard, I can feel some very slight movement Stage 3 - no play or movemen...

Read more

8 Speed on 7 Speed Freehub Body

Latest post 3 weeks ago

Awhile back, I was able to hack a 7 speed freehub body and get an additional speed out of it by using a 9 speed cassette with the narrower spacing. Note that these older freehub bodies are 7 speed exclusive. They do not typically have the space to fit a larger cassette on them. To do this, I took a 9 Speed Dura Ace 11-23 cassette and I simply removed the final combination cog from the back, then...

Read more

How often do you wash your bike?

Latest post 4 weeks ago

Ciao. I know that some bike riders overexaggerate the 'cleaning part' and wash (or spray) their bikes at least once a week. I know, it's mandatory after a muddy trail ride. But I'm thinkging more about daily commuters. It gets dusty here and there, but how long is too long without a shower for a bike? For a bike that rides almost every day....

Read more

I made a video of what my bike is doing. Can someone please watch and help? https://youtu.be/NTu-831CuGM...

Read more

How to lubricate my bike's D-lock?

Latest post 4 weeks ago

Looking for advice. I have repeated problems with my D-lock sticking. I've used standard light bike oil which then leaks all over my hands when I handle the lock. I have some 3-in-one PTFE spray: would that be better?...

Read more

Hi, So I bought a used Schwinn Meridian sight unseen online auction for $59 & drove 8 hours round trip to get it. It appears to be brand new actually. When I got it home, the next day I checked out my score. When I sat on it and pressed on the pedals, they moved but the bike did not. I inspected the bike and realized that whoever put this trike together, forgot to put what appears to be ...

Read more

Hi everyone! I hope you're enjoying a great start to 2023. I'm curious to hear your go-to method for getting a chain truly clean. I don't mean, just looks shiny or is good enough for a quick clean after a ride. I want to know what you do when you want to get every last morsel of ground-up, link-destroying, roller-eating, tooth-gnashing crud out of your chain. The Best Chain-Cleaning Recipe Ever?...

Read more

Patching a tire

Latest post 1 month ago

In the past I have had a lot of punctures. When they happened, I patched the tube, but the holes in the tire were so small, they did not need patching. After many more kilometers, rubber started coming away around two of the holes in the tire, exposing the chords. If I did not do anything, a rock could cut the chords, destroying the tire. I wanted to get more use out of the tire. I cut patches fr...

Read more

Obviously, this doesn't speak for them all, but they certainly might fit! And not even just barely (as suggested by some sources), but with a lot of room to play with. This is another GT Tempest frame that I recently purchased. It's originally a 26" alloy touring bike. As you can see, there's lots of head room, and plenty of clearance to increase the tire size up to probably 38c—maybe even 40c....

Read more

hello I, I just bought a e-trike that has a shimano derailer: Tourney RD-FT35A , is there a higher quality replacement ? thanks tee...

Read more

Help with cassette type

Latest post 2 months ago

I have old vintage road bike from I think 80th. Unknown manufacturer or model. I am trying to replace cassette, but I cannot find this type on internet. Please help. Cassette is 5 speeds with internal diameter 33-35mm. Cassette Hub has 9 teeth equal to each other. 4 speeds are fixed together and screwed by 5th on the top of the hub. Wheels are 27x1 1/4. Thanks for help! Kon   20221122...

Read more

Don't buy plastic cranks

Latest post 2 months ago

I replaced the chain ring on my bike recently. The new one I bought had AVANTI written on the cranks in large letters. I expected, with a name like Avanti, it would be good quality. It had steel internals, and plastic on the outside of the cranks. When I went to accelerate quickly, the crank broke. It turns out the steel in the middle is very thin, thin enough for the crank to break when accelera...

Read more

Cannot get tire off wheel

Latest post 2 months ago

How can I get my Eliminator Grid T9 tire off my rim? I've been at it for about an hour and it just doesn't want to come off....

Read more