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In the process of getting the slack out of my rear brake cable, the "cap" on the insulated part of the cable pulled out of the barrel adjuster. While monkeying around trying to get that part of the cable to "catch" back inside, I backed the barrel adjuster all the way out of the handle and can't seem to get it back in--I may have stripped the threads. The brake is working fine; I went for a short ride and had no issues with it. My concern is that not having the cable seated inside the barrel adjuster long-term may cause some sort of damage and/or failure.

I think my best option may be to simply remove the barrel adjuster so it doesn't abrade the cable over time. Is there any danger/drawback to doing so? (As far I am aware, the main role of the barrel adjuster is just to fine-tune the tightness of the brake without tools being involved. I can live without this convenience.)

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    If you did damage the treads all is not lost yet. Many bike shops will have tools to clean up damaged threads, which can often let you carefully thread the barrel adjuster back in. – Rider_X Mar 15 '18 at 17:03
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I have to say this first: riding a bike when part of the brake system is not assembled as it is supposed to be is potentially dangerous.

The brakes may seem to work fine but if the housing or adjusters are not seated properly they may come adrift and leave you with a non functioning brake.

Brake and shifter barrel adjusters are necessary to fine tune caliper engagement and shift indexing. I do not recommend removing them as one day you will wish they were there.

Backing a barrel adjuster all the way out will not strip the threads as there is no thread engagement therefore no damage to the threads. They can be a pain to get back in though. If you disengage the cable at the caliper temporarily so there is no tension in the cable it may be easier to screw them back in. Alternatively have a local bike repair shop sort it out.

You may also want to check out some online resources on proper brake adjustment. Park tool has a particularly good set of videos on their YouTube channel.

  • Just to clarify, I think I may have stripped the threads not by backing the adjuster all the way out, but by my attempts to screw it back in. The darn thing just will not catch! – pyobum Mar 22 '18 at 5:41
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Further fixing suggestions

  1. Remove the brake inner cable from the caliper and let it dangle.
  2. The barrel adjuster will probably just drop off now, if it was sitting there unthreadded.
  3. Try to find a spare bolt with the same thread and diameter, and thread that into the hole in the caliper from the other side. If you can't find such a bolt you could try threadding in the barrel adjuster, although its possibly aluminium alloy and therefore soft. Test with a magnet to see if its steel or not and make your own decision. The point of this is to reform the damaged thread at the other side of the hole.
  4. Unthread your bolt and then try rethreadding your barrel adjuster into the normal side.
  5. If it works, reassemble like normal. If it doesn't work, you should take the caliper and the adjuster to a LBS or an engineering company to get the thread "chased" or buy the right tap and do it yourself.

The risk behind removing the adjuster is that brakes are important, and you want them to work on demand, correctly, and quickly. No barrel adjuster means the outer housing is sitting against the threadded hole in the caliper, and that is too big so the outer will eventually get crushed into the hole.

We may be able to advise more if you add some clear photos.

Your last resort is to replace the caliper, or engineer something to do the same job as the barrel adjuster.

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