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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A GOOD HABIT
Extract cable from lever: Undo the cable anchor bolt at the brake and then pull the cable back through all the cable housing and guides until the cable just hangs from the brake lever. Squeeze the brake lever and push the cable – the cable should appear through its retaining hole in the brake lever.
Note the shape of the nipple at the end – bike cables come in different sizes, with differently-shaped ends (barrel, cyclinder etc) so make sure you buy the right replacement. Keep the old cable for reference.
Prepare cable: New cables often come with a different nipple on each end. Cut off the unwanted nipple, making sure that the cut is nice and neat - you can’t poke a frayed cable through little holes! Cut any new lengths of cable housing to size. Lubricate the cable by running oil down it, or putting some oil in your palm and then pulling the cable through your hand.
Re-run the cable: Push the cut end back through the brake lever, and then through all the housing and guides, until you finally insert the cable back through the anchor bolt. Get all the components along the brake line nicely seated and aligned, and then pull the cable hard.
Attach and adjust: With one hand, squeeze the brake blocks together against the rim and then relax them a millimeter or so. With the other hand, tighten the anchor bolt until the cable is secured. Loosen the cable adjusting screw until the wheel spins freely. It may take a few attempts to adjust the brakes perfectly
Test: Pull the brake lever hard to make sure the anchor bolt is secure. Give you new brakes a ride and test them somewhere safe. Finally, cut off unwanted cable, and crimp a cap over the end to prevent fraying.
Rusted cables can suddenly snap when you most need them, so check and replace them in good time.
The cable in the picture is corroding near a rusty boss - best replace it. Cables can rust inside kinked or split housing, so check there too