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How to replace brake housing

Old 05-17-21, 11:13 PM
  #1  
spokenfork
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How to replace brake housing

Howdy,

I am a new member here and new to bicycle maintenance. Once again please excuse my stupid questions!

I ordered some brake cable housing to change the color.
I am not seeing much info on how to change only the brake housing, can this be done?
The bike is only a few months old so I thought I may not need a new cable.

Can anyone offer any tips on how to change the brake housing? Are the wire and end caps reusable?

The brake is Avid BB5 Disc Brake.
Thanks so much for any info!
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Old 05-18-21, 06:37 AM
  #2  
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OP has disc brakes, he isn't going to be squeezing any caliper by hand.... OP, I suggest you have a shop do this. Brakes can be unforgiving if you don't know what you are doing. Edit- I am wrong and stand corrected.

Last edited by shelbyfv; 05-18-21 at 03:59 PM. Reason: just wrong....
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Old 05-18-21, 07:14 AM
  #3  
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It is going to vary a bit depending on what the brake handle looks like. If the bike is brand new, why are you choosing to replace the cable housing? Don't like the color? Otherwise there should be no reason to replace it before you need to replace the cable. There are scads of YouTube videos out there showing exactly how to replace the cable and these will be what you need to know in order to replace the housing. One of many showing how to replace cable and housing on a disc brake:


Can you re-use the existing cable? Maybe, but only if the end is not frayed. There is probably a cable end cap at the brake. You can gently twist this off with a pair of pliers. If the cable end is at all frayed it makes it difficult or impossible to thread the cable back through the new housing. You don't need to remove the inner cable from the brake lever to replace the housing. After undoing the cable at the brake, just pull on the housing. It should slide off easily. Put the new housing next to the old housing and cut the new housing the same length as the old one. Make sure you haven't narrowed the opening where you cut the housing. Slide the cable into the housing and re-attach it at the brake. The video should show you how to adjust the tension on the cable so that it does not drag on the rotor when the handle is released but stops the bike.
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Old 05-18-21, 07:20 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
OP has disc brakes, he isn't going to be squeezing any caliper by hand.... OP, I suggest you have a shop do this. Brakes can be unforgiving if you don't know what you are doing.
Avid BB5 has an actuation lever that is pulled by the cable. You can move this lever by hand to "squeeze" the caliper while tightening the fixing bolt. It takes a bit of dexterity to do this, but it's not bad at all.

Although I disagree with initially tightening the adjustment barrel fully before cable fixing. It's best to leave some movement both ways, in case one's initial cable tension is too tight. Then the barrel can be driven in to relax the caliper a hair.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:04 AM
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This thread should be in 'bicycle mechanics' not GD.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
OP has disc brakes, he isn't going to be squeezing any caliper by hand.... OP, I suggest you have a shop do this. Brakes can be unforgiving if you don't know what you are doing.
Of course you can “squeeze” the caliper by hand. You just move the actuator lever on the side of the disc caliper. On rim brakes, we tend to squeeze both sides of the caliper together but we could just as easily squeeze the arms together.
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Old 05-18-21, 09:42 AM
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Here is my advice on the housing.

You can use the old one to get the correct length.

You need good side cutters and a square cut.

I use a bench grinder to make sure any edge that might catch the cable is removed. You can use a file, which I use to finish up.

I use a stick pin to open up the liner and kind of flare it slightly.

However you adjust is up to you, but you need the a smooth square housing end where the cable does not catch or bind.

John
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Old 05-18-21, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Here is my advice on the housing.

You can use the old one to get the correct length.

You need good side cutters and a square cut.

I use a bench grinder to make sure any edge that might catch the cable is removed. You can use a file, which I use to finish up.

I use a stick pin to open up the liner and kind of flare it slightly.

However you adjust is up to you, but you need the a smooth square housing end where the cable does not catch or bind.

John
I use a “pokey tool”. It’s a sharpened spoke with (or without) a bent triangular handle. A woodworker’s awl also works.
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Old 05-18-21, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by spokenfork View Post
Howdy,

I am a new member here and new to bicycle maintenance. Once again please excuse my stupid questions!

I ordered some brake cable housing to change the color.
I am not seeing much info on how to change only the brake housing, can this be done?
The bike is only a few months old so I thought I may not need a new cable.

Can anyone offer any tips on how to change the brake housing? Are the wire and end caps reusable?

The brake is Avid BB5 Disc Brake.
Thanks so much for any info!
You can to go youtube and search for "replace bicycle cables" and watch a couple of videos to see what's involved. And take pictures of the existing housing on the bike so you can refer to them when you install the new housing.
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Old 05-18-21, 12:43 PM
  #10  
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Did I miss where the OP said if this was for MTB or Road (drop bars)? That makes a difference in the complexity and instructions for the brake lever end of things.

Regarding reusing the cable: there are some tricks and strategies to re-use a cable that will often work, but if this is your first time doing this, you will make this a lot more straightforward if you just get a new cable. You will need a new cable crimp as well (the little thing crimped onto the end of the cable).
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Old 05-18-21, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
It's simple enough with road bike brifters. Just note where the cable goes in the brake levers before removing them. Loosen the fixing bolt at the caliper (the bolt that presses on the cable) and press the brake lever all the way in too see inside and where the cable goes.

Re-using cables doesn't damage it in any-way. After the metal cap is removed at the caliper end, clean the caliper end of the cable to remove any oil/grease. If the end is frayed a bit, put the wire strands together with tape, put a drop of superglue, wait to dry, remove the tape, sandpaper the extra glue/tape left behind and you'll have no trouble putting it back in.
OP was asking about replacing housing, not the cable. Replacing housing on drop bars often requires re-taping.
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Old 05-19-21, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
In my first reply, I told him to remove tape (if using dropbar) to replace brake housing. Non-adhesive bar tape, very easy to re-tape / re-use.
.
So why are you repeating yourself now?
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Old 05-19-21, 07:57 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by spokenfork View Post
Howdy,

I am a new member here and new to bicycle maintenance. Once again please excuse my stupid questions!

I ordered some brake cable housing to change the color.
I am not seeing much info on how to change only the brake housing, can this be done?
The bike is only a few months old so I thought I may not need a new cable.

Can anyone offer any tips on how to change the brake housing? Are the wire and end caps reusable?

The brake is Avid BB5 Disc Brake.
Thanks so much for any info!

Welcome to the forum. We have a great mechanics sub-forum where discussions have a tendency to stay focused. As with all questions, the more information you give, the better feedback you get. Is this a drop bar or flat bar bike? When you mention end caps, are you referring to the housing ends or the little dressing cap that goes on the end of the cable?

You may to have to replace the cables along with the housing. The binding bolts often distort the cable to the point that it doesn't feed through the cable.
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