My Shimano ST-3300 brake lever doesn't return completely, leaving a one inch gap instead of being completely closed. It is off of the bike and there are no cables attached. Any ideas? Thanks.

  • Visit older questions for some discussion bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/7602/… Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:45
  • As @hillsons says, please do your research first by searching to see if your question has already been answered. If that previous question is not what you are looking for, then you are going to need to be more specific. What type of brake, for example, would be handy to know.
    – superdesk
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 3:08
  • If the brake lever has no cable attached it should move freely (with virtually no resistance) from all the way "open" to all the way "closed". You can of course try lubing it, but it sounds like something's bent, or perhaps the pivot has worked loose on one end. (It's also possible, of course, that a cable end has gotten stuck in there, but I'm assuming you'd notice that.) Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


There are a few different reasons for why this could be happening.

  1. The pinch bolt is loose on the brake calipers, and the cable is pulling itself out, thus introducing slack in the line. Not likely.

  2. Since these are aero brifters, the cable housing probably runs along your handlebars. This can introduce harsh angles that apply alot of friction inside the housing and cause the cable to not pull freely. Check the connection of the housing to the brake levers, and any other places where there is a tight turn for the housing.

  3. If the cable is old and rusty, it will lose its frictionless coating and cause a lot of pain for braking. In this case, replace the cable.

  • I have removed the brake lever from the bike and removed the brake and shifter cables, so the possibility of those two binding has been removed. I can hold it in my hand and squeeze and release it at will, but it doesn't return to its original position. That being said, do you have any other suggestions? Thanks! Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:41
  • Depending on what brake caliper type you have, the brakes may need to be adjusted or maybe just need some lube. Note, we're talking about the calipers now, not the levers. First, drop some chain lube or WD40 into the pivots on your calipers. Squeeze them together so that the oil gets drawn inside. See if this loosens them up. If this still doesn't work, you may need to adjust them. Without knowing your caliper type, I can't tell you how, as the old ones are generally different than the new ones.
    – Booker
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 21:16
  • The brake lever is sticking. No cables attached. Off of the bike. Holding in my hand, I squeeze and it returns most of the way, with the exception of about one inch. Something is preventing the brake lever from returning to its designed starting position. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 1:25
  • Some people have had success with flushing the shifter with wd40, but taking apart a brifter and putting it back together properly is a non trivial task from what I've heard - usually you just replace the brifter...
    – Batman
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 3:49
  • Yeah, I've seen this happen before. Can't remember why it did though. Sounds like maybe just a simple obstruction. Check inside for loose bits of cable or other small bits of stuff.
    – Booker
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 17:38

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