How to Install Top Mount Brake Levers

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Install Top Mount Brake Levers
Brake levers are easy to install. (journey image by Vaida from

Top mounted brake levers are used on mountain bikes; road bikes have integrated handles and do not use top mounted brakes. Brake levers are easy to remove or install and are held in place by only one clamp. The brake cable passes directly through the centre of housing and continues down to the brake caliper. A barrel adjuster on the lever is used to tighten the cable by hand if needed.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Hand grips
  • 4mm hex wrench
  • Brake cable
  • Diagonal pliers

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  1. 1

    Pull the handgrip off the handlebars. If it is old, cut it off with a utility knife and replace it, too. Using a 4mm hex wrench, loosen the setscrew on the old brake lever clamp. It is located just underneath the handlebars on the brake lever clamp. The brake lever clamp is a flat steel band that holds the lever to the handlebars. Slide the old brake lever off the end of the handlebars.

  2. 2

    Slide the new brake lever on the handlebars. Position it where you like it and tighten the 4mm hex screw with the hex wrench.

  3. 3

    Pull the brake lever shut as if you were braking hard. When the end of the handle opens up you will see a hole that goes through the brake handle housing. Insert a cable into this hole until it comes out the other end of the handle. Pull it all the way into the handle until the little ball on the end disappears into the handle. Release the brake handle.

  4. 4

    Insert the other end of the cable into the brake cable housing. The brake cable housing is a hollow black wire. It has a hole in one end and will be pointing straight up from the bike frame. Push the cable into the housing until it comes out through the brake calipers.

  5. 5

    Loosen 4mm hex nut with the hex wrench, on the opposite brake caliper from where the cable has emerged. Insert the cable between the nut and a bushing and pull it tight with your fingers. When it is as tight as you can get it, tighten the nut as hard as possible. Cut excess cable off with diagonal pliers.

Tips and warnings

  • Check your brake. If the cable feels loose, turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise until the cable is tight. The barrel adjuster, which is a black or chrome serrated washer and a serrated knob together, is located on the brake lever handle. The cable passes through the centre of it. When the brakes work sufficiently, tighten the serrated washer to lock it down.
  • Always double-check your brakes before riding after working on them.

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