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Brake cables on a drop handlebar need to be changed at regular intervals, although this depends on how much the road bike is used. For a heavily used bike, change the brake cables every two months; for a bike ridden lightly two or three times a week, change the brake cables once a year.
The steps in this sequence are performed on the back brake. Replacing a cable on the front brake follows the same principles, but there are no cable guides to thread through.
Brake levers that fit a drop handlebar require a brake cable with a pear nipple. Always keep a new cable in the toolbox or workshop as a spare. A rear cable can be cut to fit the front as well. Once the cable has been removed, remember to put a few drops of lubricant on the pivots around which the brake lever moves, and spray some oil into the tube inside the lever hood where the cable is inserted.
Parts of a Brake Lever and a Brake Cable
Image (right) shows:
Brake lever hood, Brake cable, Pear nipple, Brake cable, Brake lever, Barrel adjuster
Replacing road bike brake cables
1. Loosen the cable-clamp bolt on the brake caliper. Remove the old cable by pulling its nipple from the lever hood with needle—nose pliers.
2. Insert the new, greased cable into the cradle on the lever in which the nipple sits.
3. Cut the new cable housing to length with good-quality cable cutters. Measure the old housing and cut the new one to the same length.
4. Fit each length of cable housing with a metal ferrule at both ends. When you apply the brake, ferrules prevent the cable housings from being pulled through the cable guides on the frame.
5. Thread the cable through the first length of cable housing and the first cable guide.
6. Pull the cable through the cable-clamp bolt on the caliper until each brake pad is about 2mm from the wheel rim.
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