I think I braked too quick on a slope and the brake cable came out of the brake handle so my front brake doesn't work.

What do I do to fix it?

  • 5
    There shouldn't really be any such thing as braking too fast or too hard and damaging your brakes. If they're set up properly, the limiting factor should be either the grip of the tyres on the road or you flying over the handlebars. Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 17:27
  • 2
    The brake cable has gotten dirty/corroded inside, and so the cable does not retract quickly when the brake handle is released. This is especially common on front brakes of BMX bikes with a "spin around" front wheel (due to the way the cable routes), but it can happen on any bike under the right "wrong" conditions. I can usually fix these using the right cleaning/lube hocus-pocus, but the sure-fire fix is to replace the cable and housing. Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 19:21
  • Your problem description is not clear (at least not to me). Pictures would probably help. The end of the cable inside the brake handle is pear or cylinder shaped, something must go terribly wrong for it to be pulled through the attachment inside the handle. Or do you mean that the cable and brakes don’t return to their starting position? That’s usually caused by too much friction between cable and cable housing or insufficient spring strength of the brakes. If that’s the case, replacing the cables+housing and properly routing them should fix it. Tensioning the springs is more of a work around.
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 14:22

2 Answers 2


The brake outer cable and ferrule most probably popped out of the barrel adjuster on the brake lever.

This can happen when you panic brake if your brakes were a little out of adjustment -- basically you pulled in a ton of inner cable while you were saying "ohhhh mmmyyyyyyy" and then when you let go of your death grip, the inner cable went back out and as your brake liners were a bit sticky, brought the outer with it.

You should be able to pop the outer cable back into the barrel adjuster with just some arm strength. Backing the barrel adjuster all the way back into the brake lever (or on the brakes itself) will help. Many brakes also have a detensioner mechanism which is designed to make it easy to detension the brakes (so you can take the wheel off).

Once you get it back on, to prevent it from happening again:

  1. Adjust your brakes so that you don't have to bottom out your levers in order to get maximum power <== most important

  2. If you have the dough (US$5-15), get new brake cables (inners, outers) - this will prevent the stiction that makes it easier for them to pop out.

If you do #1 properly, #2 should be unnecessary.

  • 1
    A brake cable service kit is cheap - under 5 simoleons at wiggle and contains enough outer and two inners for a whole bike, Its worth recabling the whole bike for the improvement.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 19:53
  • 7
    And I read "ohhhh mmmyyyyyyy" in George Takei's voice.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 19:54

This can happen if there is too much friction between the cable and the housing, usually from a corroded brake cable or from a bent piece of housing. Replacing the cable and housing would be the best solution but in the mean time it can also help to lubricate the cable or manually unkink the housing.

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