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Replacing brake lever and reusing the existing cable

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Replacing brake lever and reusing the existing cable

Old 01-25-13, 08:08 PM
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Replacing brake lever and reusing the existing cable

Newb and trying to replace a Cane Creek Direct Curve brake lever with a Soma Urban Crosstop lever. Never replaced brake levers before. I just replaced the handle bars and the Direct Curve doesn't fit the bars. I just want to get the front brake to be functional for right now. I plan to put on two new brakes and the Soma levers soon.

I have two questions.

Can I use the existing cable again or do I have to cut it to remove it?

Is it reasonable for me to do this on my own if it's possible?

Thanks for any help. Pictures below
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Old 01-25-13, 08:26 PM
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You should be able to reuse the cable unless it is badly kinked, worn or has some broken strands. Remove it by turning the cable adjuster barrel ring until the slots line up and pull the cable out of it's recess.

Can you do it on your own? Yes, it's easy and quite straight forward.
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Old 01-25-13, 08:32 PM
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I can just pull it out?
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Old 01-25-13, 09:22 PM
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Disconnect cable from brake. Remove housing from cable. Line up slots as instructed by HillRider. Squeeze lever back to expose recess/cable end piece. Remove cable end from recess and lever (pull up cable through slots). Inspect cable before using.
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Old 01-25-13, 09:26 PM
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Got it. I was trying to be too gentle. Now I'm trying to figure out the ends of the cable and how to get the new lever to work. Different design than the direct curve. Learning a lot VERY quickly.
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Old 01-25-13, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Dabbling Runner
Got it. I was trying to be too gentle. Now I'm trying to figure out the ends of the cable and how to get the new lever to work. Different design than the direct curve. Learning a lot VERY quickly.
Understand that there are two types of cable ends. Your original cable has what's called a barrel end which is the most common for flat bar levers. However most road levers use a different end sometimes called a teardrop or egg, which is stepped and fits into a rotating fitting and is kept there by cable tension.

So if you changed levers, there's a decent chance that you don't have a choice about changing the cable.
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Old 01-25-13, 10:24 PM
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Just gave in. Last post was spot on. New levers are different. The bike will be out of commission until I get new cable and ends.
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Old 01-25-13, 10:26 PM
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a lot of new brake cables come with the barrel at one end, and the pear at the other you cut off the end you don't use...
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Old 01-25-13, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Dabbling Runner
Just gave in. Last post was spot on. New levers are different. The bike will be out of commission until I get new cable and ends.
You don't buy cable ends, they're part of the cable. While you're at it you might as well go whole hog and replace the housings.
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Old 01-25-13, 11:15 PM
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Part of the problem you are having may be that the Cane Creek lever is a standard brake lever intended to be mounted at the end of a brake cable, whereas the Soma lever is a "cross" or "interrupter" lever which is intended to be spliced in the middle of a run of cable, so it does not have the standard receptacle for the cylindrical end of the wire to fit into.

The regular brake lever works by pulling the end of the wire out of the housing. The cross lever normally works by spreading the cable housing apart while the wire runs uninterrupted through it. You may be able to thread a short length of cable housing (3/4 inch or so long) along the wire until it stops against the little cylinder on the end of the wire which was originally seated in the old lever; you will need to remove the end of the wire from the brake and pull it out of the housing to do this. Then feed the wire through the cross lever and seat the short housing in the lever. The remaining housing, with the wire fed back inside, runs to the brake just like the original installation. The end of the wire that you removed from the brake may be too frayed or too short to thread back; you can get a new one inexpensively at a bike shop.

If you are at all unsure about what you are doing it might be best to consult an more-experienced friend or have a co-op or bike shop mechanic help you, given how important your brakes are.
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Old 01-26-13, 09:24 AM
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I'm not a fan of resuing old cables.

First of all, what does the cut end look like? If it's frayed (my bet) you can sometimes cut it a little shorter to eliminate the frayed end. A good trick is to solder the cable where you plan to cut it and then cut through the soldered area. If you are a neat solderer, you can even run it through cable housing afterward.

Secondly, a common place for cables to break is right at the formed cable end. When you reuse a cable, you're starting with part of it's life already used up.

cables are cheap. If you're spending the money to replace the brake lever why not pop for a new cable too.
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