How to Install Brake Cables on a Mountain Bike

One thing that makes mountain bikes stand out is their effective braking system.

These stop your bike from moving in the fastest and most efficient way possible without throwing you over the bars!

But installing a brake cable sounds easier said than done. And that’s what this article will try to solve.

Here, we’ll be showing you how to install brake cables on a mountain bike in an easy, safe, and convenient way. Not only will this make you a better rider. But it will also help prepare you for anything when you’re out in the trails.

So, how to install brake cables on a mountain bike?

Tools Needed to Install Brake Cables

Have the tools needed before starting your brake cable repair. This lets you do the repair with efficiency and precision. Using the wrong tools might also lead to damages to your bike parts, so you want to avoid them.

We recommend you go for Park Tool tools to ensure quality and durability.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Replacement brake cable and wire
  • Wirecutter
  • Bicycle cable cutters
  • Lubricant
  • Wrench
  • Allen keys

How to Remove the Old Brake Cable

Step 1: Remove the crimped end

Every metal wire has a secondary safe clip at each end of the wire to protect further slip. Locate the end of the brake cable in the wheel portion. You’ll usually find it sticking out of the retention clamp of the brakes.

Always note the specific tip used in your brake wire. And make sure your new one is compatible with your old wire. Cut the crimped end using a wire cutter.

Step 2: Loosen the pinch bolt

Your pinch bolt holds and secures your brake wire. You want to loosen this using your hex keys. Do this by slowly twisting the bolt counterclockwise. This loosens the bolt and lets you slide it out of your brake cable.

Step 3: Loosen the cable from the handlebar

Find the adjuster of your brakes at the handlebar. This usually connects your cable wire to the brake lever. Manually rotate it using your fingers once you’ve located it. This would then unlock it and let the cable out.

Step 4: Remove the cable from the lever

Your wire no longer has any resistance by this time. This means you can now pull the brake lever and expose the attached end of your brake wire. Slide the crimped end of the bolt and remove it from the lever.

Step 5: Remove the outer cable

Slide the outer cable out from the cable mounts in your bike’s frame. Slowly pull the crimped end of the metal wire out to separate your inner cable from the outer cable.

Check the cables individually for any damages that need repair or replacement. You can also just replace one part if the other cable is still in good condition.

How to Install the New Cable

Step 1: Match your cables

Make sure that your new cables are the same brand or type as the previous ones. You can check if both crimped ends are the same and if they have the same size as your cable wires.

Bring your old brake cable to the bike shop for reference to make sure you have the right cable. Also, make sure you don’t confuse your brake cables from the shift cable as they differ in function.

Step 2: Cut the exact measure

Measure your new cable length using your old cable as reference. Use the proper cable cutter to cut the cables in the exact size. Cutting your cables too long would expose your inner cable too much. Make your cuttings fine and clean by avoiding zigzag lines.

Step 3: Install the new cable housing

There should be ferrules in your old and new cables so both ends of your cable connect to the frame. Measure its length through the bike’s body mount to get the desired length.

Step 4: Thread the inner cable into the outer cable

Slowly slide your inner wire inside the outer cable. Run it back and forth to feel its fit. Then make sure there are no obstructions along with its interior.

Thread the inner cable into the outer cable

Always start on the end of the brake lever. You can identify it as the crimped end attached to the wire.

Step 5: Re-attach the adjuster

Pull the lever to expose the end casing of your wire crimp. Slide it in to secure its position. Do the opposite process of how you dismantled it to put all back together in. Secure your cable by reattaching and locking in the adjuster.

Step 6 Securing the retention clamp

The retention clamp is the wheel part end that secures your brake wire. Slip your wire cable in the clamp and by using your hex key, tighten the retention clamp to finally secure the brake cable.

Step 7 Install the end cable crimp

Secure your brake cable on the wheel end part. Let the cable exceed at least 4 cm or 8 cm from the retention clamp. Then place a crimp to secure the end wire.

Step 8: Complete the installation

You can check by testing the brake lever and pulling it back to feel the resistance. This lets you see if the brake mechanism is working. You can also adjust your brakes depending on the softness and hardness of your ideal resistance.

Step 9: Do the final check

Check your brakes function by walking the bike forward and testing it. Test it again by gripping the brake lever and pushing the bike forward. This lets you see if it still moves or the brakes already have a solid grip on the wheel. Also, make sure that your bike will not budge.


Brakes are very important for mountain bikes because you need them when riding across varying trails. Make sure they’re in excellent condition because your life depends on the front and rear brakes!

One good way of doing it is by learning how to install brake cables on a mountain bike. This doesn’t just save you the hassle of going to the shop, but it also makes you more familiar with your bike.

conclusion - mountain bike brake cables

You own your bike and you ride it, right? It just makes perfect sense for you to know how to tinker with it, whatever the situation may be.