I just bought my first bike with Shimano STI Shift/Brake Levers. So far, I really like the feel. I cannot, however, figure out how to tighten the brake cables. I can find the barrels for tightening the shifter cables on the side of the shifter, but the brake cables go under the grip tape on the handle bars.

Bonus question: The smaller shift levers on both sides don't like returning all the way to their resting position, and require a nudge to get them back. As far as I can tell, they are just rubbing against the larger shift levers. I assume this is normal and that once I use the bike a little they will spring back correctly?

  • Did you check at the brake itself (where the brake cable reaches the brake)? As for the bonus question, that doesn't sound right.
    – Batman
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:01
  • There is a nut that attaches the cable to the brake, but it isn't a calibration nut, undoing it would actually disconnect the brake cable from the brake. Is this the only way of tightening the cable, or is there a way to calibrate it at the brake lever?
    – RedBassett
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:17
  • For bonus question, I'll have the shop check it when the bike goes back in for re-checking in a couple of weeks.
    – RedBassett
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:18
  • If you don't have the barrel adjuster at the brake, you can go to the bike shop and ask them to install an inline brake adjuster. Jagwire makes them for like 5 bucks.
    – Batman
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:37
  • I was under the impression there would already be one? But if not, I will keep that in mind as an option!
    – RedBassett
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


With Shimano STI brake lever and shifter combos, you have two options for where a barrel adjuster is placed.

  1. An inline barrel adjuster can be placed on the cable housing, between where it leaves the handle at and the frame. This is more common with the shift cables than the brakes, but it is possible.

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  1. At the point where the cable enters the brake caliper.

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