Let me tell you a little story about properly routing the cable for your front disc brake…

disc cable routing stage 1

It all started when I purchased my Specialized Stumpjumper at Landry’s Bicycles. I was replacing a stolen bike in the middle of the NCCA collegiate racing season, which also happened to coincide with the gap between bicycle model years. I was lucky to find a bike that fit that was in stock, but I got one.

And what did I do the day after buying it? Raced it, of course!

With the stress of a stolen bike, college, work, and racing season, I couldn’t be bothered with checking out the bike. Plus, Landry’s is always on the “Top 100 Bicycle Retailers” list and they were a sponsor of our Babson College Cycling Team, so I trusted them.

But that led to a little problem… (more on this later.) The problem was caused by the front brake cable routing, which can be seen in the picture on the left.

See, the brake cable is wrapped tightly behind the fork crown and down the fork leg. I never questioned the cable routing until one day when I realized the cable was eating into the aluminum on the fork crown!

You can see the damage in this picture:

disc cable routing damage

Granted, the fork will still work fine. But if given the choice, I’d rather not have the cable rubbing like that. To fix it, I wrapped cable ties around the cable on the fork crown and the head tube (kind of like makeshift cable guides.) That fixed the problem, but it caused another!

The cable tie around the head tube wouldn’t stay in place, so it ended up scraping all the paint off the head tube!

I wasn’t happy at all so I just said “screw it” and let it go.

disc cable routing done right

Then one miraculous day I found an article at BlueCollarMTB.com about proper front disc cable routing. Then everything made sense!

It turns out the cable was not routed properly in the first place! So with the help of that guide and a little common sense, I re-routed my cable to go in front of the fork and down the inside of the leg.

(See the picture on the right, or the picture below, for an example of the proper routing.)

After that simple switch, my braking performance has improved and I have a feeling my fork legs and cable housing will last a bit longer!

What’s the moral of the story then?

Always double check a new bike to be sure it is setup properly.

disc cable routing done right

Chances are the cable was routed improperly when it left from the Specialized warehouse. And not all bike mechanics will bend over backwards to make sure things are perfect. (Although a bike from a bike shop will at least be put together properly, unlike Wal-Mart bikes.)

So you have to look out for yourself! If something looks wrong, it could be. Check it out, read up on the subject, or take it back to the shop if you have to.

(Of course, you could learn to do your own repairs, too.)

Also, note that the “complete idiot” in this case is me, for assuming that the cable was properly routed to begin with.

Happy trails!

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  1. Great post Coach and thanks for the link. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and ultimately your own safety is in your own hands.

    So always give your equipment a good look over before you leave the bike shop and before every ride.

  2. Absolutely right. No matter how good mechanics (or any professionals) are, “ultimately your own safety is in your own hands.”

    Great point, I really like that.

  3. Hey, thanks for the info, I’ve been searching the net hoping to find this exact info, I was just about to make the same mistake, Thanks for taking the time to post the photos.

  4. @Vehicros

    Great! Glad to help!

  5. Perfect, Thank You! I just purchased a new bike myself, and had the same problem. I noticed on the first ride the cable would rub the tire, so I had to zip tie it to the fork, noticing the cable clamp on the front of the fork. After seeing your photo, I removed the tie, placed the cable into the cable-tie and routed like pictured, cool. Yeah, I purchased a Mongoose Tyax Super, you would expect them to know how to route cable at a factory, apparently not.
    Thanks again,

  6. Yep, you’d think the factory would send it out properly installed. Even if they didn’t, you’d think the bike shop would care enough to make it right!

  7. This is helpful information. I stink at doing maintenance on my bike. For some reason I’m afraid I’ll break the thing. I’ll work on my truck but not my bike. Go figure. Thanks!

  8. Well done,You have done it.
    But i would recommend ,that first we have to go the retailer from where we had purchase our bike for repair & if he denies then surely we have to do some R & D like this.
    Bloom Bike shop is best for dealing with such kind of problems.

  9. I discovered this issue on my own bike which I got from Bike29. It was my first bike with disc brakes, 29″ wheels, and single speed and it wasn’t tied down at all. I added one ziptie just under the arch, but it would still shift and sometimes rub on the tire. I tucked it behind the arch at first and it left black grit on the stanchions and I imagine that’s not good for smooth performance. I tried tucking it behind the crown like yours, but it took paint off the headtube. I then looked online at various high end bikes to see how it was done on theirs. I copied it (just like yours) and discovered there were little nubs on the back of the fork’s arch just wide enough for a ziptie obviously meant for the cable…

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