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Old 05-22-09, 07:40 AM   #1
alfred mcdougal
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Who makes the best break cable?

Easy question. What manufacturer makes the best brake cable? I'm looking for a brand that stretches as little as possible.

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Old 05-22-09, 07:50 AM   #2
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Brake!
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Old 05-22-09, 07:51 AM   #3
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Alfred a brake cable is not spelled break. Break is what you do when you drop an egg on the floor. There is almost no difference strength wise if you buy the most expensive or the cheapest cable. They will all stretch initially and eventually due to pad wear need to be adjusted. I personally like the cable sets for $5 from Walmart which include all the cables for a bike. Roger
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Old 05-22-09, 08:04 AM   #4
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I would go with a stainless steel cable from someone like Jagwire or Shimano.
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Old 05-22-09, 08:34 AM   #5
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And by the way, folks, cables do not 'stretch'. This term is used improperly to describe the cable and particularly the housing (brake and derailleur) seating into the stops and anchor points, as well as the housing's tendency to slightly compress- initially, and to a lesser degree over time.
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Old 05-22-09, 08:34 AM   #6
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pretty much all the same, stainless works best
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Old 05-22-09, 08:40 AM   #7
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First thing, brake cables don't really stretch - inner cables, at least. So if that's your worry, forget it. Go with a stainless of the proper gauge and forget it.

So that limits the question to housing. A good housing, properly cut and capped, will show very little "stretch". "Stretch" is caused by bad housing. What happens is that when you cut it and put a ferrule on, it doesn't always get seated properly, and when you apply the brake, you end up compressing the end of the housing which saps your braking power. Or, on a shifter, the amount of tension in the cable will lessen as the housing seats, requiring a tune up.

The key to solid braking (or shifting) is to make a clean cut of the housing. Here's how I do it:

1. Cut it with a good cable cutter. Brake housing can be a little tough to cut cleanly, because the last spiral in the compressionless housing tends to get bent a bit by the cutter.
2. If it doesn't come nice and clean, use an awl (or something generally sharp and pointy) to push the last bit back down, or failing that twist it a bit so you can snip it off. For derailer housing, the risk is that you smoosh it. If that happens, open it up with an awl. Then, take a brake cable, run it through a few times to open it up all the way.
3. Then, file it down until the surface is nice and smooth - remember, when you pull the lever, you're basically pushing the end of that housing against the cable stop - if it has a ragged ending, you will compress than ending before applying power to the brakes. So make it clean.
4. Put a ferrule over the housing. Use stainless if possible, I've had cheap ones seize up a brake from corrosion. I prefer ferrules that fit loose, because you ensure that it fits all the way down.

If you're careful with that, then you should have good solid brakes and shifters. Last time I did mine, I took my time, and the result was there was no so-called "cable stretch" effect. Didn't have to do a tune-up at 100 miles like you will with a bike that wasn't cabled properly, and the brakes are solid.
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Old 05-22-09, 08:53 AM   #8
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An even housing cut is what it's all about. Just dropped in for a look but thanks for that guys.
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Old 05-22-09, 09:02 AM   #9
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I disagree, sort of. The steel wires of a brake cable are not under enough force to stretch, true. But because the cables are multi-strand, the individual cables do sort of marry together quite a bit. The total cable does get longer as the individual cables wind together tighter. I would call this stretch.

Anyway, they all do it. But some more than others. Good ones are sometimes labelled as pre-stretched. If that means they have been run through an extruder, then they are pulled tight and forced through a small hole to reduce any further tightening process considerably. Look for that and you will find cables that will need less of an adjustment after the initial period of riding.

But, even those cables will stretch a bit further, so it only reduces the adjustment. Is it that big of a deal to give it a little tweak after a week of riding?

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Old 05-22-09, 09:54 AM   #10
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I disagree, sort of. The steel wires of a brake cable are not under enough force to stretch, true. But because the cables are multi-strand, the individual cables do sort of marry together quite a bit. The total cable does get longer as the individual cables wind together tighter. I would call this stretch.

...

But, even those cables will stretch a bit further, so it only reduces the adjustment. Is it that big of a deal to give it a little tweak after a week of riding?
It's not that it's a big deal to tweak after a bit of riding - it's more that the same process that causes it to need a tweak after a week (bad housing cut) will cause your braking and shifting to suck for a long time. If that ending is ragged it can act like a spring, meaning that your shifters will go out of tune faster, and your braking will be spongy. Basically, what's the good of compressionless housing if the ragged end compresses?

I'd always assumed that any cable lengthening due to strand unwinding would be negligible, but I'm open to being wrong there. The last bike I cabled (9 speed) didn't need tweaking until I knocked the RD with my screen door (probably bent the hanger a tad).
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Old 05-22-09, 10:14 AM   #11
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Some will say these are junk. Some will say they are no better than the cheapest cables. But I love 'em:

http://www.biketoolsetc.com/index.cg..._id=JW-BCMTE77

They last a very long time and give me no trouble.
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Old 05-22-09, 10:36 AM   #12
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Some will say these are junk. Some will say they are no better than the cheapest cables. But I love 'em:

http://www.biketoolsetc.com/index.cg..._id=JW-BCMTE77

They last a very long time and give me no trouble.
+1. I really like all the Jagwire stuff.
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Old 05-22-09, 11:24 AM   #13
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A cable's a cable, as long as it's stainless.
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Old 05-22-09, 11:42 AM   #14
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Plus, the extruded ones have a smoother diameter so there will be less friction against the inside of the housing.

j
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Old 05-22-09, 12:20 PM   #15
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The issue I am having is with the REAR (not the front) brake on my 2009 Rockhopper. It is an Avid BB5 system, set up by the shop who sold me the bike. I have routinely had to place tension on the cable since acquiring the bike so I have space between the caliper and my handle grip so I can pull on the caliper to place friction on the rotor. Basically, I'm constantly losing stopping power on the rear brake. The front brake isn't causing problems, but I only use it in conjunction with my rear brake, IE I don't use it nearly as much as my rear brake and I donít place nearly as much force on the front rotor via the brake. I hope all of this makes sense to the readers.

I have inspected the brake pads, the brake (whatever it is called), and the calipers. The are all fine from what I can tell. The brake housing looks fine to me; its only 3 months old.

All of this being said, I'm routinely losing stopping power after less than 100 miles of riding the bike. If I have to re-adjust my brakes this frequently, something is wrong. What is it, anyone have any ideas? OR, are Avid BB5s simply crap brakes?
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Old 05-22-09, 01:19 PM   #16
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While I can't say the BB5 is a "crap" brake, I did replace mine with the BB7 for more power and durability.

The BB5 brake pad surface is much smaller than the BB7 which uses the same pad as Avid's hydraulic brakes.



I weigh 230 lbs and the BB5 was not only inadequate, I smoked them on long descents. My buddy riding behind me could smell them. Pad wear is obviously accellerated too with a much smaller surface area, and heat dissipation is diminished causing fade.

No matter what caliper, the rear will always feel more spongy than the front brake due to the longer cable housing. You might look into SRAM's Pit-Stop system that replaces sections of housing with rigid stainless tubing. Nokon housings also provide less compression than standard spiral-wound housings for a firmer feel at the lever, although at a substantial price.

EDIT: After carefully reading your posts again, one thing makes perfect sense: You use your rear brake more often than your front. It only stands to reason it would wear faster and require adjusting more often, despite the spongy feel I described earlier. Try using both brakes together. Your front brake will be more effective anyway as inertia transfers your weight to the front tire. I don't see it as a flaw that the rear brake always feels less powerful than the front. It's about in sync with how much you should be using them proportionally.
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Old 05-22-09, 02:20 PM   #17
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I've always used the front and back breaks in conjunction with one another. Let me rephrase... Most of the pressure I place on the breaks simultaneously is on the rear break. Maybe, 65% of the pressure is placed on the back brake while only 35% is placed on the front. If I place to much force on the front brake I get vibrations, maybe jitters is a better word, in the front fork.

I think what I will do temporarily is swap the front pads with the back pads. I'm will think about replacing the rear BB5 with a BB7. The BB5 seems inadequate for the kind of demands that I place on my bike, which are rigorous and punishing.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old 05-22-09, 02:53 PM   #18
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BRAKES NOT BREAKS. If you are looking for cable for breaks I don't know of anyone who makes that. Roger

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Old 05-22-09, 03:00 PM   #19
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rigorous and punishing.
Kind of like reading your spelling
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Old 05-22-09, 05:17 PM   #20
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Regarding "smoking" these brAKEs - any long decent can do that to any brAKE (you happy yet?). Bore witness to one lunatic veteran of the Markleeville, CA "Death-Run" who liked going downhill - REALLY fast. He'd drafted a tractor-trailer on a several mile decent before taking an exit. To save his fool life. And his coaster-brake was literally glowing cherry-red by the time he finally stopped.

A good nut.
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