I want to change all the cables in my bike. My knowledge in bikes is limited. As i found there are cables for the brakes and cables for the shifters. My question is: are those cables all the same? i.e. if I want to change the shifters and brakes cables, should I only buy two quantities of breaks cables?

Because I found these http://www.fahrrad.de/fahrradteile/felgenbremsen-zubehoer/clarks-universal-bremszug-komplett-kit-vorne/337558.html and I wonder if I should order two quantities or one of this and some other kind of cables for the shifter.

p.s. do I need to buy a cable for each brake handle? Does that mean I need to buy 2 just for the brakes and also 2 for the shifters? Viz, 4 boxes of that in the website?

  • @PeteH ok, but do I need two boxes of that or only one?
    – Jack Twain
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:13
  • Brake and shifter cables are different to each other. Last time I replaced mine, each one came as a pair of cables, i.e.one pack of each would sort both front and rear. I don't know if there are other buying options. If you're planning on doing the job yourself you'll need some sharp wire cutters e.g. Park Tools
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:22
  • @AlexTwain I get you got an old bike and you have chosen to fix it up. Rather than ask general questions one at a time I suggest you get book on bicycle maintenance. Use SO for specific questions. Based on a previous post those cables don't look that bad. You stated you are on a budget. Did you first try lubricating the cables?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:30
  • If you use a shift cable (compressionless housing) for your brakes, they will burst and your brakes don't work. Normally, you can buy a set of all the shift and brake cables and housings at your bike shop. But you need a cutter tool (dremel if you want to hack it), which is not cheap.
    – Batman
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


Standard brake cables are 1.6mm thick and have either a cylindrical end perpendicular to the cable for MTB-style levers, or an inline stepped-cylinder (like a pear) for road-style levers.

Standard gear cables are 1.2mm thick and have a smaller cylindrical end, inline (cable enters circular face).

By standard, I mean both Shimano and Campagnolo use these gauges and end-styles and I'm not aware of any other variety used by gear or brake levers in current popular use...

  • As the inner cable gauge is different, there are different types of outer-cable (or casing) for gear and brake, one being made of strands of wire, the other formed from a strip of metal.
    – Emyr
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 14:25
  • Weird, only time I have seen a wire outer is on a Trek bike. All other shifter outer I have seen are the same as what you describe as brake outer - a spiral of ~2mm wide flattened wire, with a plastic tube inside and outside.
    – Vorac
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 9:07

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