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Brake Housing & Cable Installation – Drop Bars

Brake Housing & Cable Installation – Drop Bars

In this video we’ll walk through housing and
cable installation for drop bar brake levers. Installing Brake Housing and Cable is part of our
video series, The Park Tool Guide to Rim Brakes Watch this video to see how we’ve
organized the content in this series. Otherwise, let’s begin. Hello, Calvin Jones here with Park Tool Company. First, let’s go over the tools and supplies
needed. Cable cutter for cutting the cables and also
woven and braided housing side pull cutters for cutting the wound housing a seal pick for opening up the inner liner and a bottle of lubricant for inside the housing. Let’s begin by discussing
what the role of housing is. The brake lever will be connected to our caliper
with the housing that allows the cable to pass through it, going around the frame,
going down the fork, and that allows us to squeeze the lever
and pull our caliper – either rim caliper or disc caliper –
tight against the rotor or rim. There are certain housings that are appropriate
for a brake system as well as certain cables. Let’s first look at some that are inappropriate. This is a smaller shift wire –
it’s about 1.1 millimeters in diameter – passing through some smaller housing that is shift housing. The shift housing, we’ve cut away a section of the outer protective plastic sheath to show inside. That’s not a cable, that’s the support wires
that run in line with the load. This provides a very good rigid shifting system. In braking, it is very inappropriate
because we have a lateral force, much more force going on in our braking
that could blow right through these wires. This is a traditional brake housing called
a wound housing. This is a single spiral wrap. We’ve cut away the plastic sheet on this one
to show inside. Very strong in the direction of the force of braking Fairly inexpensive, does a good job of braking, You can sometimes actually see through the plastic a very subtle line pattern showing the wrapping. This is another option that is a bit more expensive –
this is a woven or braided housing system. Inside, we have a similar system to the compressionless housing, but this weave – this is a Kevlar weave on
the outside – it gives us a lot of strength. So this black housing here, we’ve cut off
the plastic to see inside. The lower piece here is a little bit clearer – you can see through there and see the braid or the weaving. So, a more expensive system, but does provide
a good rigid high-performance brake housing. This is a traditional drop bar setup.
We have no handlebar tape here, we’re holding our shift housing with tape
so that we can see a clear view of our brake housing. We’re going to run the front caliper to the left side,
so begin by inserting the housing fully inside the lever. The housing passes underneath
the shift housing in this case, and we want to think about routing now. Here, if I choose this path, my shift housing is actually pushing forward on the blue brake housing. So if I come behind here, that is more natural
that’s much more relaxed. So think of your routing as you’re
determining your housing length. Here, I want to hold as if I have taped the bars – I’m going to put my hand
where the bar tape would end. So if I hold tight here I can simulate the
bar end pulling tight. This is clearly too short – this would not
be a good thing. In addition, this will drop slightly as you squeeze,
so we have to allow for that. If I come much too long – this would be horribly
too long. No reason to have it that long. Ideally, we’d like to see the housing enter
the barrel adjuster in a nice straight line. That would actually be pretty good right there but remember the rider might rotate the bars up they might flip the stem,
getting a little bit of height, so from ideal you may want to
add just a little bit, but not so much it’s going way way past. So I’m going to use my thumb,
hold that position right there, I’m a little bit past, it’s going to allow for slight adjustments
and this will be my cut point. The right lever – we roll back the hood,
we insert the housing fully inside and again I want to hold my hand
where the handlebar tape would end. Here, we pay attention to routing. If I come around to the front of this,
it’s actually a bit awkward. I think here if we come behind in this case,
it’s a much more natural line so we’re going to come behind in this case. Here we do have a nice test –
we don’t want it any longer than we need. We gently rotate the bike all the way
in this case to the right because we can pull this and find out
our cut point would be right here. It’s never going to need more than right here. So if it’s shorter than that, it would bind and it would be a problem, say, packing the bike or crashing. So gently let it roll over, find your cut point
right where it would stop – that’s it right there. That’s how we cut the rear housing. On this bike, we’re going to have our housing go
from the frame stop to the barrel adjuster. Sometimes you have to compromise and
sometimes there is no perfect solution. Here, we squeeze our brake to the rim. We want it to enter each stop in a straight line but this is such a small frame it’s difficult
to get smooth curves. So here, that possibly is going to be as good
as we can get away with. That will be our cut point there. To cut the wound housing, remember
it’s a single piece of wire. So we’re going to use a diagonal cutters and we’re going to reach to the end of the jaws
there where there’s the most leverage. A little bit of flex opens up the coils and
helps give us a cleaner cut. Sometimes there will be a sharp burr. You can use these to come in and trim.
Be careful not to let a piece of metal fly off. If there’s still a little closed end or a plastic liner,
we can take a seal pick and open that up. So that is ready for some oil. It is possible to also use a cable cutter, but these are really intended for multi-wire,
not the single wire cuts. The braided or woven housing does use the
cable cutter. The construction here is of
multiple wires inside, so here we find where we want to cut,
hold the housing square to the tool, squeeze and it cuts. Here we see that we’ve ovalized
it a little bit. We can use these little crimpers on the tool
to open that up and again repeat with the seal pick, if necessary,
to open up the inner liner. Sometimes we will find that there’s a jagged end, a burr. Trimming it simply can’t get it out. It can sometimes be filed out by hand,
or we can use the axle vice. Use the 5mm, have the housing barely stick up,
gently snug that down then we can come across with our file,
trim up that burr and make a nice level smooth
flat end of our wound housing. This would not be done with the braided housing. After the wound wire is filed flat and smooth,
it may pinch off the liner. Use a seal pick to open it up
and it’s ready to go. It’s also a good idea to use some lubrication
inside the liner. The liner is actually pretty good for low
friction, but what the lubrication provides
is a displacement of water. So, should water try and get in there,
this oil is simply going to help keep it out. Whenever an end cap can be used,
it should be used. This end cap slides on our housing,
provides a very nice end to go into our brake You’ll see on some brakes it fits right in. This is a good model here that
would use an end cap. If we didn’t use an end cap here,
it’s a sloppier fit. However, some models and some brands
this end cap simply does not go in. They’ve made the barrel adjuster smaller in
diameter. Effectively, it is its own end cap so this model would not use an extra end cap. Drop bar brake levers use the mushroom or
teardrop end on a brake cable not the disk or circular end. This end is cut off, the cable is fed through the brake lever
into the cable anchor out the back pull it through and make sure the head is
properly engaged. Next, our housing – cut to length – will come
up and fully into the lever body. The housing has stopped inside the body. We remember the routing we had before – in this case we chose to come behind the
shift housing into the barrel adjuster. A small hole in the barrel adjuster
allows the cable to pass through, but it will stop the housing. We can hold as a double-check
where our handlebar tape would be, squeeze this and see that we have a reasonable
length of housing. The process is repeated on the other lever:
cable fed through, out the back, housing installed fully
remember your routing cable to the back into the pinch mechanism. And that’s the basic process for installing
housing and cable on drop bar levers. The next section in our rim brake series is
on brake caliper mounting and adjustment. There are many different types of brake calipers,
and we’ve got videos on most of them. Select the one that’s appropriate for you.
If you’re not sure what you’ve got, watch this video to find out. If you’re working with disc brakes, we have other content with links in the video description below. Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe
for more from Park Tool.

35 comments on “Brake Housing & Cable Installation – Drop Bars

  1. I notice you don't use an end cap on the lever end of the cable. Should you use one if there is enough room in the lever body for an end cap?

  2. Beware when you buy shimano sets, there are 3 different quality ranges. I highly recommend to pay the extra 10 bucks and go mid.
    The cheapest are 4€ for the set but use a spiral cable. And no aluminium endcap and no small guiding ends on plastic endcaps. No coating whatsoever.
    The mid ones are 15€ a set and have the straight protective cables. Shimano calls this SUS. They come pre oiled and have protective caps and the metal end cap. OPTISCLICK and SIL TEC fall into this mid category.
    The high end ones are 30€ a pair. They are polymer coated instead of oiled.

  3. Hi Park tool, thank you for these awesome tutorials. Do you have a video tutorial on shifter house and cable installation?

  4. Did he route the front brake cable to the left hand lever? Is that an alternative somewhere? In the U.K., the right shifter is always the front brake.

  5. Is there a video running cable thru older Shimano road bike brake shifters?
    Mine are no where near as easy to run your brake cable thru as the ones in this video.

  6. What is the housing linke if you have CANE CREEK CANTIS with that extra 90 degree cable? Until where does the housing go and is there a normal pull to the housing to to the tension?? (Which I suppose is not normal but who knows how you tapped your housing?)

  7. DO NOT lubricate your housing. It will attract dirt, create sludge, and erode the plastic sheath. The cable sheath is designed to provide the slickness necessary through teflon polymer.

  8. Today is my first time I install my own 105.. is not easy… it takes time and experience… gone cost u a bit much… but is good to learn about it and I love it. Thanks to park tool

  9. I love the explanations of why each step is done how it is, I watched a couple other videos on the subject which were very hard to follow, but this was perfectly laid out. Thank you!!

  10. Excellent guide! One minor thing – I have read that often it is not necessary or even detrimental to oil the housing with modern liners as they are pre-lubricated, is this true? The reasoning that the oil helps keep out water does make sense but I can also imagine excess oil gumming things up over time

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