How to Fix Bike Brake cable Detached (Reasons & Solutions)

Pace or comfort?

What is crucial for riding? Well, I would say control.

Yes, you can’t go too far with a bike without control. And brakes are the most significant parts that play vital roles in controlling the bicycle. That’s why, when the bike brake cable detached, you lose control of it. So, you need a quick fix after the bike brake cable is detached.

However, I have developed a process that can help you fix the disconnected bike brake cable in the right way. I will share it with you later in this post. Before that, know why the bike brake cable detached. Let’s dig in.

Why bike brake cable detached

Why bike brake cable detached

A bike cable can be detached because of loose holding screws or broken heads. Besides, it occurs when the cables get too old/rusty and tear out. Also, the brake lever can have problems itself.

Let’s talk about them in detail.

  1. Loosen Screws: You must know that the bike brake cables are attached by holding screws on the calipers. So, when these screws get loosen, the cables will be disconnected from the calipers.
  1. Broken Heads: The head of a brake cable looks like a small drum. The drum helps the brake lever to hold the cable tight. That’s why, when the head gets damaged, the brake lever loses grip from the cable. Thus, the bike brake cable gets detached.
  1. Brake Lever: It is not always necessary that the cable has a defect. Sometimes the brake lever has a defective hood inside. So, it fails to pull the cable, and the cable gets detached from the lever.
  1. Rusty Housing: A bike brake cable mostly detached from two ends. But it is possible that it gets separated from the middle. When the housing gets too rusty, the thread can tear from anywhere.

Anyways, whatever the problem is, you must fix it before going for the next ride. It won’t be safe to ride with defective brakes.

You might be interested in removing oil from the brakes

How to fix bike brake cable detached

The 3 vital steps of any bicycle repair work are, identifying the problem, rectifying it, and advanced troubleshooting if necessary.

Unfortunately, preventive measures can’t help much in this particular case. Actually, correctly doing it is the only preventive action you can take. So, let’s know how to fix a bike brake cable detached.

Step-1: Detecting the problem(s)

Detecting the problem bike brake problem

First of all, you have to detect the problem. For that, set your bike to a Repair Stand.

Then, rotate the wheels and squeeze the brake lever. Now, observe the impact and take action accordingly.

  1. Firstly, if the cable doesn’t move, the cable head or brake lever is damaged inside. Now, get a screwdriver and loosen the brake lever. Then, take the cable head out of the lever. If it is OK, chances that the lever hood is broken inside. In that case, get a compatible Brake Lever and remove the old one.
  1. Secondly, if the head is broken or damaged severely,  get a new Brake Cable. Make sure the head shape matches the old one’s shape.
  1. Thirdly, suppose the cable is moving, but the caliper is motionless. In that case, the cable is detached from the caliper or middle of the housing. Get a new Brake Cable if it’s broken. If it is detached from the caliper, just ensure optimum tension and tighten the holding screws.
  1. Fourthly, sometimes there is movement everywhere, but the wheel is not stoping while squeezing the brakes. It means the cable is not detached. But the brakes need adjustment.

After you go through the checklist, go to the following step to fix all the defects.

Step-2: Reattaching the cables

Reattaching the cables

Now you know where the problems are. Rectify them step by step. Before that, get a set of Screwdriver, which is necessary for the job. However, let’s know how to reattach the cable.

1. Firstly, remove the exhausted brake levers and cables. For that, loosen the cable holder screws, and take the cable out from the caliper. Now, rotate the barrel adjuster counterclockwise until the cable comes out. Then, separate the cable from the brake lever hood. Also, remove the brake lever from the handlebar.

2. Secondly, install the brake lever accordingly to the handlebar. Make sure it is aligned correctly.

3. Thirdly, install the new housing cable. If it is too long, you can cut it off for the required length. However, you can restore the old one if it seems reusable. For that, take the wire out of the housing. Then put the new cable in it.

4. Lastly, put the cable head inside the lever hood and tighten the brake lever. Then retighten the barrel adjuster. Now, set the cable to the caliper and tighten the holding screws partially. After it’s all done, go to step-3.

Step-3: Adjusting bike brakes

After reattaching the cable, you need to adjust the brakes. It is a must to do if you want efficient stoppage power.

Because when brakes are fine-tuned, the cables acquire optimum tension, and the components (caliper, rotor, pad)  get aligned correctly.

Thus, the braking performance gets enhanced a lot. However, all your effort will go useless if you don’t adjust the brakes after reattaching the cable.

As there are many kinds of brakes, it will take too much time to explain their adjustments. I have discussed it previously in my Bike brake adjusting guide. You can check it out instead.

Frequently asked questions about bike brake cable

Are all brake cables the same length?

Not at all. In a bike, there are generally two brake cables. The shorter one is for the front wheel brake. Where the longer one is for the rear wheel brakes. However, not only on a bike, brakes cable lengths can vary from bike to bike.

When should I replace bike brake cables?

Whenever necessary. When the cables are causing inefficient stoppage power, replace them. Rust, tear, and wear is symptoms of a bad bike brake cable. However, if you ask, after how many weeks/months should you replace them?  Well, 2000 to 3000 miles is the riding distance after you should replace the brake cables.

Can you use a bike brake cable for gears?

Not recommended. Gear cables are pretty different from brake cables. Especially the diameter of a gear cable is greater than the diameter of a brake cable. Moreover, brake cables are relatively more compressible, which is not compatible with gears.

Are SRAM and Shimano brake cables the same?

Well, it’s a yes and a no. SRAM and Shimano brake cables have the same type of heads. But the size is not different from each other. If you ask, are they swappable with each other? I would say, yes, they are. But, it’s better to use the cable which is more compatible with the whole groupset.


Whenever a bike cable detached, you have to take immediate action. Otherwise, any unpleasant incident can happen. Besides, if you fail to do it correctly,  it will cause inefficient braking power.

Which can also lead you to accidents. So, fixing it in the right way is also crucial.

However, the steps I described above can help you to fix detached bike brake cables correctly. Moreover, it involves basic to advanced troubleshooting.

So, you can do all kinds of bake cable repair work all alone. Thus, you can take care of your bike yourself. Additionally, some money will be saved from the maintenance budget.

I hope you ride with excellent control on the road.


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