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Loose brake cable?

Old 08-03-14, 08:58 AM
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Loose brake cable?

Hi All,
The brake cable for my front wheel keeps jumping out of the handle bar. I have to keep putting it in while riding which isn't fun. Yesterday, I adjusted my brake pads a little, so had to disconnect the cable and reconnect and now its even worse. It keeps jumping out of the handle bar and the metal bit at the other end (before it goes into the wheel) also keeps coming off and braking is very poor.

I have a spare brake cable - do I replace it and the problem gets solved? Or is it something else?

Thanks
Arvind
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Old 08-03-14, 09:17 AM
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e_guevara
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What brake levers on your bike? What are the brakes?

We need a better description of your setup. Pics would help very much.
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Old 08-03-14, 10:03 AM
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Usually it is the tension in the cable that keeps the housing ends in the retainers. You probably need to adjust your brakes so that the cable is under tension when the brakes are not applied.
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Old 08-03-14, 10:16 AM
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As you hold the brakes closed against the rim, pull the cable tight at the brake clamp and tighten up the clamp. It takes 3 hands or some dexterity. Then fine tune with the barrel adjusters.
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Old 08-03-14, 11:42 AM
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Hozan '4th hand' is the shop tool for the job. Universal Cycles -- Hozan 4th Hand Cable Puller
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Old 08-03-14, 06:11 PM
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Thanks all for those quick replies.

@e_guevara: Here are pics of all the relevant parts - please let me know if you need better pictures. They are V Brakes. I managed to take the cable off. Putting it back doesn't seem to work too well - but I will watch some videos and try again.

Do let me know, in the meantime if you can find out what the problem is or tell me if you need some more information.

@wphamilton: As of now, it's just me

@fietsbob: Thanks for the info - I don't want to buy too many tools though as of now if I can help it. Will keep it in mind though if there is no other option.
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Old 08-03-14, 06:21 PM
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Oh those are easier, you can just unhook it and take some cable up at the clamp.

But you'll have to string it through the brake lever first and route it now that it's completely out. Clamp it down on the brake, and then hook it in on the other side, make sure that it's all the way seated on that metal part. then if you need to take more slack out just squeeze the brakes and unhook it, and do the clamp without any tension on it!
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Old 08-03-14, 06:28 PM
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It is pretty obvious that the cable is finished, the broken strand creates extra friction inside the cable housing which is why the cable pops out of the lever. Change the cable
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Old 08-03-14, 06:35 PM
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Thanks guys.

@wphamilton: I've never done this before. This was a video I was watching - can I just do what he does step by step? - Basic Bicycle Repairs : How to Install Bicycle Brake Cables - YouTube

@alcjphil: Ah thanks. Yeah it just seems to be gone totally - each time I try and do something a strand of wire seems to pop off . Do I need to buy the protective gray cover (housing?) and the bit at the end with a rubber piece (noodle?) too? Or is there a way I can take those off the previous cable?

Coz right now, there is a little crushed metal cap at the extreme end which is preventing me from doing it. Do I just clip it off or something? Or do I need to buy new housing and a new noodle as well?
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Old 08-04-14, 08:36 AM
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I agree that the cable is toast. The housing and the noodle can be reused.

Cables are crimped at the end with an end cap. That's the one stuck at the end of the noodle (pic #2 ). You can just use a pair of pliers to while clamping on the cable to pull it off.

With a new cable, squeeze the brake lever and insert the cable end (the round head) into the cage at the end of the lever. Straighten out the entire assembly (lever + cage + cable) then slip the cable into the slot on the side of the lever. Release the lever and pull on the cable to remove slack. Thread the cable into the housing (lube the inside with oil or teflon grease) until the housing is flush with the barrel adjuster. Insert the noodle. Using your other hand squeeze the V-brake arms together, then install the noodle onto the V-brake. Thread the cable onto the mounting nut then tighten. Adjust the brake response with the barrel adjuster. You may need to redo the process several times to get the right brake response.

For a better and more complete explanation, here is a tutorial from Park Tool (with pictures): Linear Pull Brake Service (V-brake style) | Park Tool

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-04-14, 09:32 AM
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You can reuse the noodle, but best practice is to install new housing with a new cable. The end cap on the old cable is crimped on, it would pull off with a bit of effort, or you could just cut it off since you can't reuse it and the cable wire is being thrown out as well
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Old 08-04-14, 09:45 AM
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Plus .. the 4th hand also works to get zip-ties really tight .. fwiw.
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Old 08-04-14, 10:37 AM
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Thanks a ton guys. I will figure this out with all your help. So the plan now is:

- Cut off the end cap, take out the housing and noodle. Throw the cable away.
- Buy pair of plyers
- Install new cable with old housing and noodle
@alcjphil: A quick follow up question about why it's best practice to replace housing too... if its intact?

Arvind
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Old 08-04-14, 10:43 AM
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Cable housing wears too. No use putting old housing back on if it starts giving you problems in a few months. If it is a front brake, you need only a short length that will hardly cost anything. With that broken strand of wire you had on the old cable, the inside of your old casing will probably be badly scuffed up, therefore you should change it
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Old 08-04-14, 11:05 AM
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Got it thanks . I'll just buy some new housing as well.
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Old 08-05-14, 03:58 PM
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So I managed to get the end cap off and installed the new cable. Just for a test I reused the old housing. There's still a couple of problems I think:

- The brakes work the cable doesn't pop out like before, but if I pull at it it does slide out with the housing. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's bad housing? The back brakes seem ok, the housing doesn't come out of the lever even if I pull.

- The brake lever seems a bit loose. As in, if I try and squeeze there's no tension till a bit, after which there is more tension and I can squeeze. I'm not sure why though.

Lastly, the cable I got from the LBS seems really long, not sure why he sold me that much . I guess I just cut it off?.. As of now I kinda have it wrapped around the front fork.

At least I can ride now though
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Old 08-05-14, 04:08 PM
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Brake cables are always too long, normal practice is to cut them off after they have been installed and crimp on an end cap. It sounds to me as if there is too much internal friction from your brake housing, it should have been replaced. Internal friction works against you in 2 ways. First the brake spring has trouble pulling the cable back when you release the brake lever. Second, the friction increases the effort needed to apply the brake. Brake cable housing should be as friction free as possible
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Old 08-05-14, 04:14 PM
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Got it. I will bike down right now and get some housing. Also have attached a couple of pics to kinda explain what I mean. Hope they help in conveying what I mean better.
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Old 08-05-14, 05:55 PM
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There shouldn't be any exposed cable from the lever all the way down to the brake. The noodle should be backed up fully onto the housing and its end snug in the brake arm's cradle.

The purpose of the housing is maintain tension on the cable when you pull on the lever. If the housing is bad, it prevents the cable from sliding smoothly inside and makes braking harder. Housing length also affects braking performance. A too short housing pulls on the cable, while a long one introduces more cable friction. Size the cable just enough to have a slight bend in the run.

Cables and housings are always sold longer than needed to account for different sized bikes and different installation preferences. Once you have set the cable onto the mounting bolt on the brake, leave about 2 in then cut off the excess. Crimp the cable end with a cap to prevent the ends from fraying.
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