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  1. #1
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    Shorten XT Brake Lines without Bleed

    Aloha,

    I did a search on this and results were minimal so I thought I'd post up what I did. I got a new set of XT brakes on my bike the other week but didn't have time to shorten the lines. Finally got the parts and the time so I thought I'd shorten the lines. I have all the fluids and bleeding equipment but thought I'd try shortening the lines without having to bleed the brakes. I did not remove the pads as there should not be any leaking or dripping. I did not install the bleed blocks. The concept is to just cut the lines, shorten them and then install the shorter lines with the new olives into the lever.

    Sorry I didn't get any pictures while I did this today. Hope the instructions are simple enough to follow.

    Things you'll need:
    Brake line olive(s) - 1 for each line you want to shorten.
    4 mm Allen wrench
    Something sharp to cut the brake line. I use one of these but companies make special tools for this as well.

    Tape, preferably something easy to see (duct tape?)
    8mm open end wrench.

    Two clamps like this:

    Spare (old?) handlebar
    Awl or ice pick or sharpened spoke.
    Hammer
    Pliers




    So here's the Procedure:
    With the bike in a stand (or on the ground, right side up)
    Remove the rubber boot from the end of the lever and slide it down out of the way.
    Use the 4 mm Allen wrench to remove the lever from the handlebar.
    With the lever off, move the lever around to measure how much line you want to cut off, I used the end of where the line goes into the lever referenced to the end of the shift cable.
    Put a piece of tape around the line where you want to cut it.
    Also put a piece of tape 5-6" below where you want to cut the line and leave the end out like a ribbon, maybe around 2".
    Take the spare handlebar and clamp it to something such that it is vertical.
    Now slide the lever over the handlebar and tighten it such that the brake line goes down into the lever. The idea is when you later remove the nut and line, the fluid won't leak out of the lever.
    Using the cutter, make a clean cut about 1" from where the line goes into the lever.
    Immediately move the end of the cut hose up such that the fluid does not leak out.
    Using the 8 mm wrench, remove the nut that holds the line in.
    Now cut the line at the tape where you marked the line.
    Using the pointy tool, slightly open and clean up the hole in the middle of the line. Remember, you want to keep the end of the line pointed UP so none of the fluid drips out.
    Remove the tape and then put the 8mm nut on the line. The 2nd piece of tape should keep it from sliding too far away.
    Put the olive over the line
    Clamp the line about 2" down with the 2nd clamp. Insert the pin into the line and lightly tap with the hammer to get it to seat all the way into the line. Again, companies make tools for this.
    Using the plier, twist off the old line
    Now get ready, the 8 mm nut is in place, the olive is still in place and not fallen off.
    Position the lever close by so that you can in one move insert the end of the line into the lever, hold it there and then tighten the nut with the 8 mm wrench.
    Tighten the nut enough so that the fluid down leak out but not too tight that you can't turn it. DO NOT PULL THE BRAKE LEVER until a few steps below after fully tightening the line with the 8 mm wrench.
    Now using the 4 mm allen wrench, install the lever on to the bike.
    Now that the lever is on the bike, make sure line is not twisted. Once satisfied, tighten the nut snug with the 8 mm wrench.
    Wipe up any fluid that might have seaped out.
    NOW YOU CAN PULL on the brake lever and check for any leaks.
    If it is leak free, congratulations.
    Pull the rubber boot back over the nut.
    Go get yourself a beer.

    That should be it.

    Good luck with that. Hope this helps.

    Aloha,
    g

  2. #2
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    i see you didn't bother with the pistons

  3. #3
    West Chester, PA
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    Even if you don't let any fluid drip out of the line when you cut it, it is impossible not to lose a few drops from the lever when the line is disconnected.

    Just do the job right and bleed them. Then there won't be any issues with bubbles getting into the caliper if you put the bike upside down or lay it down in the car/truck.

  4. #4
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    if you do it the way shimano recommends, you don't have to do a bleed
    extend the pistons, cut the line, then retract the pistons

  5. #5
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    I've shortened hoses on Shimano brakes many many times and never had to bleed them. It takes about as long as changing a cable on a mechanical brake.

  6. #6
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    Like I said above, I have all the tools. I've bled many many brakes in my lifetime (cars, motorcycles, bikes, solar cars.....). All I'm trying to say is if this is what you want to do, than go for it. It's your choice. If you want to spend your time bleeding your brakes, go for it. If I needed to bleed my brakes, I would have done it.

  7. #7
    West Chester, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan GSR View Post
    if you do it the way shimano recommends, you don't have to do a bleed
    extend the pistons, cut the line, then retract the pistons
    Well, I've done it twice now and neither time it worked. I know my **** and followed the directions to the T. I think the process ignores the (impossible to prevent) slight loss of fluid from the lever when you remove the hose.

    If it worked for you, great. But people keep asking why their brakes went to the bar after the bike was upside down. This is why.

  8. #8
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    Seems like a lot of work compared to just bleeding the brakes after you have them apart. The bleeding process seems simpler than going through the extra steps. Bleeding takes about 2 min with a helper.

    It also seems like the method you posted would have a better chance of working if you extended the calipers prior to cutting the line and then pushed them back in when your are done to force the small bubble back into the reservoir. Maybe pop the reservoir cap off when you are done and top it off or at least "burp" it.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the advice. All I wanted to do was let people know this is a method that works. When I went looking guidance for this, I couldn't find much useful information.

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