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Old 06-22-08, 02:40 PM   #1
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Running Brake Cable in Cross Lever as ONLY brake

I just switched from some risers and a BMX brake to a set of bullhorns on my track frame. I installed a top cross lever to the left of my stem running to my front break. I am well aware that the design of a cross lever is intended to be used in conjunction with another primary brake and that the lever isn't machined to do what I am doing with it. I understand that the brake cable insertion point (sorry, don't know if it has a name) on the lever is designed to take the ferrule at the end of the housing and not designed to receive a brake cable nipple.

That being said, is this photo just the way it should look when used as the only lever attached to the brake? Is there a different/safer way for me to run this? In truth, the brake feels and works fantastic. The nipple is easily twice the size of the hole for the brake cable so it will never pull thru. It looks a little stupid, but mostly I just want to know if this is safe or if another style of brake cable or method would be better.

Thanks in advance to all you skilled mechanics....
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Old 06-22-08, 03:06 PM   #2
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You have the wrong brake cable. Brake cables for road bikes have a differently shaped cable end that will fit much more elegantly into your brake lever.
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Old 06-22-08, 03:12 PM   #3
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I thought this could be the issue. I've really only ever had no brakes or used a BMX style lever (well, since I've been working on bikes). I already had this cable. I'll have to hit the LBS. Do you think this current set up is a safety issue or just ugly? Thanks
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Old 06-22-08, 03:21 PM   #4
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Around here the cables come from the store with two ends on them. One a mountain barrel end as you show in the pic and the other a bullet shaped road end. The idea is you cut off the one you don't want before threading it through the system.

What you're doing is fine other than some of us will cringe at having the barrel end sitting in the hole that way. Switching to a road bike end would produce a cleaner termination. But if you're not using this for emergency stops then I doubt that any harm would ever come from this and even then it's doubtful if it would ever be an issue.

Even if the lever is an inline device it still sees the same pressures when used your way as when used as intended. So you don't need to worry about loading the lever or pivots to more than they were designed for.

In fact it's a rather clever adaptation. One I'm sure others have used. At least one person used the same sort of levers as bar end levers on a set of bullhorn bars that I've seen.
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Old 06-22-08, 03:42 PM   #5
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Do you think this current set up is a safety issue or just ugly?
Just ugly. To be honest, it's not bad enough that I'd make a special trip to the LBS to get road bike brake cable. Probably nobody but you will ever notice.
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Old 06-22-08, 03:47 PM   #6
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BC Rider. Funny you should mention the two ended cable. I cut that end off and threw it in the trash! I dug it out. Once you pull the little rubber seal out of the brake lever that holds the ferrule from the housing, the bullet end fits in like a grove and looks way more professionally done. You get used doing things one way and all of a sudden someone tells you there is a use for that other end! Did some major parts upgrading earlier this week and had no issues at all. Now I can't install a brake cable! I'm going downhill! Thanks for the post. PS... BC Rocks!
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Old 06-22-08, 05:25 PM   #7
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Old 06-22-08, 06:25 PM   #8
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BC Rider. Funny you should mention the two ended cable. I cut that end off and threw it in the trash!
Now to make you feel really bad. Since this is for a front brake you could have cut the short amount of cable that you need and had enough left to use the other end on your BMX bike.
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Old 06-22-08, 06:41 PM   #9
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Oh... now that's just plain rubbing it in Retro!

You're right in that we somehow just end up doing things the same way we always did. I suppose I won't ask you why you thought that other end was on there or I'll just be ganging up on you along with RG.....

As RG mentioned when I cut a new cable for a front brake I'll size it up and cut it about 3 or 4 inches over. That EASILY leaves me enough cable with the other end on it for another front brake install on the other style of bike. And since I ride both styles it'll always come in handy later on. On a rear I don't bother since there's never enough to even do a front. Now that you've got both styles of bike you can do the same and make one cable work for TWO bikes... just like the rest of us cheap *******s.....
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Old 06-23-08, 06:55 AM   #10
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The post with the cross levers used on a bullhorn along with thumb shifters was probably mine, but far enough back that I no longer have the picture.

Cross levers work just fine as primary brake levers. They have full power and modulation. The brake cable will work in either direction (cable end in adjuster or on the other side of the lever). The road bike end of the cable is the one to use. The adjuster barrel works as with any brake lever to adjust the brakes.

Cross levers come in 3 clamp diameters, 31.8 for the area next to the stem on OS bars, 26 for the stem area next to standard road bars and 24mm for the parts of road bars (including bull horns) that are not in the stem clamp area.

If you think about the operation of a brake lever, anything that creates a differential pull between the cable inner and the housing works. It doesn't matter if you view it as pulling on the cable or pushing on the housing, its the same result at the opposit end of the cable.

Cross levers can be used as stand alone levers in many applications that otherwise present a very difficult installation for traditional road brake levers.
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Old 06-23-08, 08:06 AM   #11
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Now to make you feel really bad. Since this is for a front brake you could have cut the short amount of cable that you need and had enough left to use the other end on your BMX bike.
Yes, yes. I totally see this now and feel like a real idiot. I have no issue with having functional bike parts sitting around for future use on different projects, but I hate to waste things. Now all that's left is a lot of housing. Had I used the correct cable end I actually have a BMX brake that needs to be redone. Well, it's live and learn. Now I know!
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Old 06-24-08, 07:33 AM   #12
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... or it could have been mine:



I'm all for it. They're way cheaper than true TT levers, probably lighter, and add less length to the bar.
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Old 06-25-08, 09:31 AM   #13
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Would this style lever pull enough cable to work well paired with V-brakes?
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Old 06-25-08, 09:43 AM   #14
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..................or just ugly? Thanks
Take a black marker and color it; you'll never see it after that.............
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Old 06-25-08, 10:17 AM   #15
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There's nothing wrong with that set up. Everyone's doing it, including me.
Sometimes, depending on the caliper used, modulation sucks, that's all.
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Old 06-25-08, 12:30 PM   #16
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Would this style lever pull enough cable to work well paired with V-brakes?
Nope. Different amount of cable pull. Although, you could use the new mini V's.
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