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How to Install Bike Brake Cables

how to install bike brake cables

As bike owners, it is normal for us to do some maintenance routine while replacing some parts that are damaged and needs replacement. But, some parts of the bike are difficult to replace, such as the bike brake cables. Bikers often ask bike mechanics to install bike brake cables because installing this component in your bike can be tricky and challenging.

But, is it possible to learn how to install bike brake cables on your own? Yes, it is possible if you are willing to learn how to do it. It can be a challenge and difficult but learning this bike skill is essential for the maintenance routine of your bike. Inspecting the inner cable and its outer housing and replacing them once they are old, damaged, and worn out is a must for the safety of your bike ride.

How to Fix Bike Brakes Cable

how to fix bike brakes cable

The moment you find out that your bike brake cable is not working the same way due to aging or worn out, fix it is essential for your safety. Fixing the brake cable can also mean removing and replacing it with a new one. Removing an old bike brake cable and installing a new one can be a tricky process, but we have made some step-by-step instructions that will serve as a guide for you if you want to do it.

First Step: Removing the Old Bike Brake Cable

When installing a new bike brake cable, the first thing to do is remove the old one away from the bike. But before that, start by locating the end of the old brake cable that sticks out from the retention clamp of the braking system. This part is the crimp end of the cable that you will need to cut off to make it easier to slide the cable off the housing.

  • The first thing you will need to do is find the bolt that holds the bike brake cable to the retention camp. You can use a 5 mm Allen key to loosen it and then slide the brake cable out. If you find end caps or other smaller parts of the brake housing, store them in a safe place since you will need them while installing the new cable.
  • After that, look for an adjuster which is a small barrel located to the brake lever on the handlebar. This component is responsible for securing the cable to the lever. What you do is turn this adjusted counter-clockwise to loosen until its slot will be lined up with the one in the lever.
  • The next step is to pull out the brake lever while sliding the brake cable through the slots in the lever and the adjuster. The nipple, which is the rounded part of the brake cable, can fit the slot in the lever. Just continue pulling the lever while sliding the nipple away from the slot to finish detaching the cable.
  • The next step is to remove the outer cable housing from the bike. This step can be done by sliding the housing from everything the secures it to the bike. It can be a hook, zip ties, or other parts, but it is up to you to find ways to remove them. If the housing is in good shape, you can definitely use it again, but if not, replacing them entirely is also an option. I also suggest taking pictures of how the cable housing is installed in your bike to serve as a guide for you during the installation of the new brake cable. If you are not replacing the housing, slide the inner cable out by pulling out the nipple away.

Second Step: New Brake Cable Installation

Before installing the new cable, you must first inspect if it is the right fit for your bike. You can double-check to make sure that the new cable is designed for your bicycle. You can also check if the end caps match the old one. Also, be responsible when buying the new brake cable by asking the store assistant if it matches your bike.

  • If you are replacing a new housing, ensure that it has the same length as the old one by cutting the extra length. Measuring accurately is essential, or else you might expose the inner cable to too much friction.
  • After cutting, the next step is to install the housing on the bike. You can refer to the previous picture to copy the position of the cable housing to your bike. Ensure that all the other components, such as the end caps, are attached to the new housing. During the installation, ensure that the housing is correctly connected to the bike.
  • The next step is to slide the new brake cable into the housing but make sure that the end of the new brake cable that attaches to the brake lever is at the right end of the bike. Meaning, the one with the nipple should be on the side near the handlebar while the plain wire should be on the retention clamp of the braking system at the rear.
  • Then you will need to pull the brake lever while putting the nipple on the rounded gap on the brake lever. The adjuster should also be aligned on the adjuster slot, then sliding the cable to the slots. If you have already put the cable in the proper place, you can disengage the brake lever while twisting the adjuster clockwise to secure it.
  • At the rear, you can turn the pinch bolt counterclockwise using the Allen key to loosen it. Then, push the brake pads to touch the wheel of your bike while sliding the cable through the retention clamp. You will need to pull the cable very tightly while replacing the pinch bolt. Using the Allen key, turn the bolt clockwise to tighten and secure the brake cable at the bike rear.

Final Step: Finishing the Installation

After securing everything, check the brake lever if it is working correctly. You can pull it several times if it is working perfectly fine. If it is too tight, you can either loosen the barrel adjuster or the pinch bolt. If it feels too loose, you can tighten the barrel adjuster or unfasten the pinch bolt while pulling the inner cable tighter using a pair of pliers.


Learning how to install bike brake cables is essential knowledge to have as a biker. Of course, you can quickly go to a bike shop to do the job for yourself but learning it on your own adds a different satisfaction on your part as a biker. Installing bike brake cables can be tricky and challenging, but it can be done if you are willing to learn.

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