Road bike brake cables need changing from time to time. After plenty of miles they can corrode, fray or – worst case scenario – snap.
But instead of wheeling the bike down to your LBS when the cables are past their best, you can change them yourself. It's fairly straight-forward – just make sure you test your handiwork carefully before heading out on the road.
Watch the latest Park Tool Maintenance Monday video here for a step by step brake cable change guide and some top tips from ex-shop mechanic, James Tennant.
Video: How to change road bike brake cables
Step one: Cut the old wire
Remove the old cables by snipping off above the crimp, loosening the retention bolt on the brake caliper and feeding the cable out through the brake lever.
If the cable housing – the outer – is packed with dirt and needs replacing, unwrap the bar tape and remove the outer. Line the new outer cable up against the old one on something flat and snip the new housing to the right length. Re-tape the outer cables in place and replace the tape – check out our handy how-to on wrapping bar tape for help with this.
Step 2: Rewire
Re-thread the inner through the brake lever clamp
Next, thread the inner cable through the brake lever clamp, through the outer and through the barrel adjuster on the caliper. Hold it in place to make sure the cable is lined neatly, is not overstretched and is not obstructing steering or other cables.
Wind in the barrel adjuster and then out by one turn. Place the inner cable in the retention clamp and, making sure the brake release levers are in the downward position, press the calipers in by hand. Use the fourth hand tool to take up the cable slack.
Tighten the cable into the retention clamp to 6Nm – about the force required to turn a heavy door handle.
Step 3: Check and adjust
Test your brakes to see much travel there is before you go for a ride.