Maintenance | 25 Nov 2022

How To Replace The Clutch And Brake Cable Of Your Motorcycle

You might get your motorcycle serviced regularly, make timely repairs, replace parts, etc. However, situations that are not in your control may arise and there will be times when you would not find a garage or a mechanic nearby. It is during these times that you need to be able to make some basic repairs yourself. Now, if you are not a grease monkey, there are quite a few repairs that you would not be able to make. However, minor repairs like fixing a puncture can be done easily. A puncture, while common, might not be the only thing that may go wrong though. There are other components that might wear out or break due to a variety of reasons. Among such failures, the clutch and brake cables are two of the most common components that are prone to breakage. In this article, we will talk about replacing the clutch and the brake cable if they were to wear out while you were riding. The clutch or brake cable snapping will be a rare occurrence if you replace them from time to time. However, like life, most things are uncertain and if you were to find yourself in a situation where you need to replace them, this guide will help you out. If not for yourself, you might be able to help out a stranded fellow rider whose brake or clutch cable were broken.

Carry necessary tools and equipment
The scenario where you would be required to replace the clutch or brake cable all by yourself will arise mostly when you are riding long distance. The constant application of brakes and engagement of the clutch might cause them to wear off. That’s when you might find yourself stranded on the highway. Hence, when you set out for a long trip, carry a spare set of clutch and brake cables. Make sure you buy genuine cables that your motorcycle manufacturer sells or recommends. Using cheap or third-party cables run an increased chance of breakage, and their use might also cause long term damage to other components of the motorcycle. Also, genuine cables will be of the right length and equipped with all the required springs and nuts for a proper fitment. Besides the cables themselves, you might only require a spanner or a plier to loosen the nuts. Some grease might also come in handy but is not absolutely necessary.

Replacing The Cables
Replacing both the clutch and brake cables is fairly easy, however, you need to be careful about some steps to ensure that the cables are installed properly and perform as they should. You would not want them to break again due to improper fitment. If that happens you have already used up your spare, unless of course you have another extra cable. To make things easier, here’s a step by step guide you can refer to.

1. Identify the point of wear/break
2. Loosen the nut which attached the cable to the brakes. The position of this nut will be different on motorcycles with drum brakes and disc brakes. Carefully identify the nut before loosening it.
3. Once the nut is loose, you should be able to pull out the cable from the point of attachment. If there is any resistance, it could be because of the piece of metal that is soldered on the cable. This piece is referred to as a nipple and it works like a hook or an anchor to the braking unit. When the brake is engaged, it works like a finger pulling the trigger and applies the brakes. Carefully navigate the nipple out of the groove that is provided to take it out.
4. Once the brake end of the cable is detached, it’s time to detach the lever end. Brake levers have adjusters to adjust the tightness of the cable. Loosen the cable to the point where there is least resistance.
5. Once the cable is loose, align the groove on the nut with the groove on the lever and carefully pull the cable out.
6. Just like the brake end of the cable, the lever end too has a nipple and the lever has a groove below it where the nipple is slotted. Locate the slot and pull the nipple out.
7. Now, your cable is free from both ends. Do not pull it out fully yet.
8. Carefully map the path the cable has been fitted in from the lever to the brakes. The new cable will need to follow the same path so that it does not interfere with other parts of the motorcycle.
9. Once you have charted the path, pull the cable out slowly. Do not pull it out in a hurry as it might damage some other components.
10. If your new cable does not have springs, preserve the old ones and use them with the new cable.
11. Now, identify the lever and brake ends of the new cable and attach the lever end of the cable by pushing the nipple into the groove.
12. Once the lever end is slotted correctly, run the cable through the path all the way to the brake end.
13. Slot the brake end of the nipple into the brake groove and tighten the nut.
14. Adjust the tightness of the cable to get the desirable tension for brake application.
15. Test it out by riding at a slow and controllable speed. If everything seems okay, you are good to resume your journey.

The clutch cable too has the same mechanism and the above steps can be applied to change the clutch cable as well. The only difference will be the position of either ends of the cable.

Now, replacing the cables yourself shouldn’t be exclusively for breakdowns or emergencies. If you are a DIY person, you will enjoy the process and the sense of achievement of replacing the cables yourself successfully. Go ahead, try the steps out on your motorcycle, so that you are better prepared to carry out the procedure if any of the cables break during a ride, or to help a fellow rider who’s stuck in a similar situation.

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Comments (1)

B VAIDYANATHAN

05 Dec 2022

I even have tools and knowledge to replace / overhaul my clutch and brake system be it Hydraulic or mechanical. Being a regular highway rider and bike enthusiast I feel it is a basic need for me to put hands on to do it DIY & at times of emergency. This also gives a sense of satisfaction.