How to Install a Bicycle Brake Cable on a BMX Bike

Updated July 20, 2017

Though bicycle motocross (BMX) biking is a sport that emphasises speed and style, stopping is an important part of the sport as well. A brake cable is a necessary component to stop properly. The cable should be checked regularly against wear. Typically, brake cables do not snap suddenly unless they have become heavily rusted or corroded. Brake cables are a wear item on a BMX bike. They should be replaced regularly to ensure maximum stopping power.

Disconnect the brake by squeezing the pads with your hands toward the rim. Slide the metal ferrule out of the carrier above the brake's caliper.

Align the trench on the brake lever's barrel adjuster with the split in the washer on the barrel adjuster. Spin the barrel adjuster in until it bottoms out against the lever, while keeping the washer and the barrel adjuster in alignment.

Use the 5mm Allen wrench to loosen the mounting bolt holding the brake cable on the brake caliper. Free the cable from the caliper completely.

Pull the brake lever until it reaches the bar. This step will expose a metal carrier on the end of the lever that holds the head of the brake cable. Remove the brake cable by pulling this ball out of the carrier and pulling the cable out of the housing.

Insert the new cable through the brake lever and into the housing. Seat the head of the cable in the carrier in the brake lever. Push the cable through the housing and into the caliper. Push it under the mounting bolt and tighten down the bolt with the 5mm Allen wrench.

Reconnect the metal receiver with the metal ferrule at the end of the housing. Squeeze the brake lever to ensure the cable is seated fully. If you can pull the lever all the way to the bars, loosen the mounting bolt with the Allen wrench and pull the cable tighter. If you can't pull the lever at all, loosen the mounting bolt to let the calipers spread further apart.

Use your cable cutters to cut any extra cable protruding from the caliper. Put a cable end on the cable. Crimp the end using your flat cutters.


Adjust the cable tension properly. If the cable is too loose, it will affect your stopping power. If it is too tight, it will affect your braking control and modulation.


Always tighten the mounting bolt down completely. A loose mounting bolt can result in the cable coming free, which renders your brake useless.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-mm Allen wrench
  • Cable cutter
  • Flat cutters
  • Cable crimp end
  • Brake cable
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About the Author

Clayton Guebert has been writing for newspapers and magazines since 2005. His articles have appeared in the "Point Reyes Light" and on He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California-Santa Cruz.