A family member has asked me to convert their hydraulic disk brake system (an old Hayes So1e) to cable disk brake. I believe the bike is only going to be used casually, so performance isn't paramount, it just needs to work.

The image shows the hydraulic hose for the rear brake running along the middle of the top tube. What would be the best way to implement a cable? The tube is slightly square shaped, so I think it would be difficult to fit a clamp-on cable stop (and would also interfere with the gear cables). If I omit cable stops, use uninterrupted housing for the whole length and use zip ties to secure it to the frame, I'm thinking there might be issues using barrel adjusters.

enter image description here

  • 1
    What's the reason for changing to mechanical calipers from hydraulic? Feels like a downgrade.
    – Criggie
    Dec 5, 2017 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Criggie : Maybe for the simpler maintenance?
    – Carel
    Dec 5, 2017 at 20:55
  • 2
    @Criggie The Hayes Sole brake in question is one of the most famously problematic hydraulic brakes ever. Replacing with basically any decent brake is a great idea. Dec 6, 2017 at 0:52
  • 2
    There should be no problem using barrel adjusters -- you can pretty much place those anywhere along the length of the cable, so long as it's not close to a tight bend. Dec 6, 2017 at 2:04
  • 1
    @Criggie I don't think they want to deal with brake fluid etc - something I am yet to have a go at. Also unless I'm not looking very well, cable systems are cheaper.
    – user34810
    Dec 9, 2017 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


You can run the cable outer housing exactly the same as the hydarulic hose.

The main reason for using frame stops is to provide sections that don't suffer from compression of the outer housing under load. A full run of brake housing could compress and use some of the braking power.

You could solve this by using compressionless brake housing, which has multiple metal bracers instead of a continuous coil.

NOTE I am NOT suggesting to use gear housing as brake housing. They're different thicknesses.


  • 1
    The mechanical disc brake cables on my tourer are run just like this as built. +1
    – Chris H
    Dec 6, 2017 at 7:07

You can run a single piece cable housing the same way that a brake hose would.

The "problem" is that the hose holders that keep the hose held to the frame my not be reusable. In that case you have three options:

1) Disconnect the hose either from the caliper or from the lever and slide the housing out the holders and then slide back in the cable housing.

2) Break the cable holders and use zip ties to replace them. The provided photo shows that the frame has a small hole where to put the zip tie.

3) Buy replacement brake hose holders. Many bike frames require the same type of holders, they should be very affordable. Do a search for "C-clip cable guides" and you'll surely find a good option.

The first option has the disadvantage that the hydraulic oil will be spilled. Cara should be taken not to let that oil touch any painted surfaces and should be disposed properly.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.