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105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:58 pm
by nickdos
I just noticed that my left/rear brake lever (Shimano 105 - 5700) has a certain amount of give when I pull it, compared to my right/front one. What I mean by this, is it takes about 1/3 of the action before the brake cable is activated and the calipers start to move (see photo below, which shows how much I need to pull the lever before I get the cable tightening). Whereas my right lever activates the brake right from the get-go - there is no give. Is this normal or is there something I can adjust to fix this?


EDIT: I should've added that my cable is tight and I've wound out the adjuster screw on the brake callipers to that there is minimal distance between the pads and the rim, in an attempt to reduce the reach on my brakes already.

Re: 105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:21 pm
by scirocco
No, that's not normal if you've wound the adjuster in so that the brakes are almost touching the rim. The front and rear brakes should be quite easy to adjust so they feel like they activate at the same point on the lever pull.

I'd suggest checking the cable very carefully. The inner wire might be frayed and just about to fail, or one of the cable outers might have some sort of problem. Check that the cable outers are properly seated in the frame stops and there's nothing wrong there. Disconnect the wire at the brake calipers and pull it part way out through the lever so you can check if it's okay.

The lever might be faulty but I doubt it, much more likely to be a cable issue.

Re: 105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:35 pm
by Mulger bill
Agree that its most likely a cable issue.

However, due to the extra length of cable and housing involved, there should be a slight (hardly discernible) difference but not as much as the OP describes.

Re: 105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:10 pm
by nickdos
Thanks for the feedback. I've played with the brakes a bit more and agree the cable is to blame.

I think the cause of the problem is a bent/deformed cable and is less likely to be due to frayed cable as the bike is quite new (9 months old). Its hard to be 100% certain as the cable is internally routed within the frame but I can see that where the cable exits the frame and then goes to the brake, it goes through a very tight S bend. I think at some point the cable has been bent and there is a hard kink in the cable which prevents it moving past a certain point when the cable is released. I can force the callipers apart with my hands and then the lever feels normal - it grabs the brakes from the start. But it wont' go back to that position by itself. So a new brake inner appears to be the fix.

Re: 105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:30 am
by nickdos
Update: After pulling the cable out and inspecting I found no evidence of damage. I then looked at te ferules (?) and lastly checked the brake mechanism. Bingo, the brake had one of its two pivots seized up, which prevented it opening past a certain point. A quick burst of wd40 and it came good. All fixed :)

Re: 105 brake lever has too much "give"

Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:32 pm
by macca33
Just had a similar issue with mine - circa 2002 Ultegra. The brake cable outers were cut a tad too long which puts a sharp bend into the cable at the frame mounts. This, coupled with the usual grit / grime from use, left me with almost 3/4" of freeplay in the rear brake lever. I loosened the cable at the caliper, pulled the excess loose and lightly oiled up - through the brake lever and the two lengths of outer cable, then gave it all a good working through - it is all good now.