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Repair Help and Education

Brake Levers

Useful Tools and Supplies

This article will discuss the cable (inner wire) installation in hand lever brakes. MTB hand levers secure to the handle bar by a clamp bolt. Generally, set the rotation of the lever body is in line with the rider's arm.

MTB-type Brake Lever Cable Attachment

MBT-type brake lever
MTB-type brake lever.

The MTB-type brake cable uses a disc shaped end. The lever will have a fitting to receive this disc. To insert the cable in the lever, begin by lining up a slot in the adjusting barrels.

SRAM type levers
SRAM® levers feed from the inside through the lever body.

Shimano type lever
For Shimano® type levers, first engage cable end in lever, then fit cable into adjusting barrel.


Dropbar or Road Bike Type Brake Levers

The dropbar type lever body often is used by the rider to support his/her weight. This effectively makes the lever similar to a "bar-end" extension. Secure these levers fully. The body should not move, even with the full weight of the user pushing downward.


Shimano brake levers
Look for the mount bolt under rubber hood of the outside of each lever.

Use 5mm hex to secure body
Rubber hooks may need to be pulled back to access mounting bolt head

The brake cable end attaches to the lever by fitting through a socket called the brake cable anchor pivot. Feed the cut end of the wire through the hole in the pivot and out the backside. If the handlebars are taped, it is necessary the housing end be aligned with the cable hole in the lever body. It is sometimes necessary to wiggle the end until you find the housing end.

Campagnolo lever
Campagnolo® brake lever cable installation.

Shimano-type aero lever
Move brake lever inward as you pull back to expose cable anchor pivot of Shimano® brake/shift levers.


Shimano Levers-other options

Some models of Shimano lever may have the cable end behind a name plate. Remove the nameplate screw and nameplate. The plate pulls away forward. Use care not to scar the exterior of the plate.

remove screw from lever
Remove nameplate screw

face plate
Pull nameplate forward from top


There is a reach adjustment screw behind the nameplate, adjacent to the cable hole. This screw turns a stud that will rotate the lever down and closer to the bars.

reach screw
Location of reach adjustment screw


Reach adjustment image
The lever position range from fully open to fully tightened position screw


The cable access hole is the inner hole at the lever. As seen from the front, it is the left most hole for front shift lever, and the right most hole of the rear shift lever .

cable insertion
Rear shift lever with brake cable fed through lever and body