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  1. #1
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    What tools will I need to install new brake levers/cables

    So I've ordered new brake levers, cables, and pads (also new handlebars and seatpost, but that's not relevant here). Trying to figure out what tools I'm going to need to get to install them.

    I've got the normal assortment of allen wrenches, screw drivers, wrenches, vice grips, pliers, etc. I figure I'm going to need a cable/housing cutter, and probably a cable puller (though I may be able to do without that, right?). Anything I'm missing?

    I've got the park blue book and will be referring frequently to Sheldon's site. A backup plan if I really screw it up is to take it to an lbs, but I'd really like to learn to do this basic sort of stuff on my own. I'm putting on aero levers on drop bars to run center pull cantilever brakes if that makes a difference.

    My first order I forgot the straddle cables, ferrules, and end caps for the wires, so I was planning on ordering those and whatever tools I'll need in a second order so I can do it all up right.

  2. #2
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    himeapau, Cable housing cutters aren't a must have item, but really nothing works as well. Two other items I use are a file to square up the cable housing ends and a narrow awl (a nail also works) to clean up anything crushed on the inside of the housing. The cable housing cutters can also be used to cut the cable. Diagonal cutters have a tendancy to flare out the cable ends, not difficult to re twist, but there's no need to with the correct tool.

    Brad

  3. #3
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I use a dremel tool to cut the cable housing, cable cutters for the cables. You sound like you have a handle on how to install them.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  4. #4
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    No dremel tool, so I'll probably get the park housing/cable cutter. About time I bought my first park tool. Good ping on the file and awl. I have a little awl, but will have to pick up a file as well next time I'm down at the hardware store. Just feel like I'm forgetting something. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    A good set of side cutters will cut the cables just fine. And the same sidecuters along with a bench grinder or even a metal file will dress the crushed ends after cutting to allow the cables to run clean and the end ferrules to fit well on the housing. And the only cable puller you need is the fingers of one hand or at most those same fingers wrapped around a set of plier handles. But I've never needed to do more than pull on the cable with my fingers to get it tight enough. to do the job. Just run the barrel adjusters all the way in first and that'll give you all the adjustment you require.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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    I would recommend not getting the Park CN-10 cable cutter. They are beefy cutters and do a lousy job cutting housing...they leave a massive pigtail that you have to contend with before installing the cable.

    If you can find them, buy some shimano cable cutters. Or use a good set of diagonal cutters from a hardware store for the housing.



    If your cables are stainless steel, to keep the ends from fraying after you cut them dip them in JB weld. stainless cables are a ***** to get solder to stick to the end...and I hate the crimp on end caps.

    -j

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    diagonal cutters are not the proper tool to cut housings and cable. they will wear out too fast. it is acceptable to use dykes on brake housing but not for me. use a proper cable cutter. felco c7, midwest p6300, knipex

  8. #8
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Funny, my diagonal side cutters worked for about 8 years without issue before I bought my Park cutters.

    Granted quality counts. I went through a few cheap side cutters that notched the jaws from cutting music wire in one of my other hobbies of building model airplanes. But once I found a set that worked they'be been fine for music wire and bicycle cables and even shifter housings for years. So while they may not ALL work when you find a set that is properly hardened and tempered they do work and work well.

    It's the same with linesman or dykes pliers. Some are not properley heat treated and the cutting jaws don't last long. But if they are nicely done then they will last for years.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  9. #9
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Shimano cable cutters are the way to go for routine use. If you just want something for occasional use, consider a Spin Doctor set of cutters (sold at Nashbar and Performance Bike, catch them on sale and they can be pretty cheap).

    Nashbar Pro Cutters are the same as the Spin Doctor cutters, on sale right now for $14.95. Same sale price at Performance right now on the Spin Doctor cutters.

    I picked up my Shimano TL-CT-10 used on flea bay. Just picked up a second set on fleabay (while typing this response, I took a quick look, and a seller had a nice BIN deal).

    I have never had any luck with lineman pliers cutting cables, YMMV. You will quickly get real tired of using crappy cutters. A decent set of cutters pay for themselves the first job you complete.
    Last edited by wrk101; 09-11-10 at 02:34 PM.

  10. #10
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    I use a pair of Midwest cable cutters: http://www.bobstools.net/Store/MWP6300.html

    They are better than any of the bike specific cable cutters I've used, and cheaper than the brand name ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Funny, my diagonal side cutters worked for about 8 years without issue before I bought my Park cutters.

    Granted quality counts. I went through a few cheap side cutters that notched the jaws from cutting music wire in one of my other hobbies of building model airplanes. But once I found a set that worked they'be been fine for music wire and bicycle cables and even shifter housings for years. So while they may not ALL work when you find a set that is properly hardened and tempered they do work and work well.

    It's the same with linesman or dykes pliers. Some are not properley heat treated and the cutting jaws don't last long. But if they are nicely done then they will last for years.
    did you use the dykes on cables/housings for 8 years in a shop environment?? if yes what were they because i want some. i would not even consider putting channellock brand dykes(the best diagonal cutters IMHO) through that kind of abuse, though i have during races/events, not daily

  12. #12
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    I've been using them to cut both bicycle stuff as well as music wire, which is likely about the same or harder than the shifter housing wires, for years now. As for it being a shop environment no, but if they are hard enough to last for a few cuts then they'll easily last for the same decade that I've had these for now and more. So far they are still going strong. And cutting 1/16 inch music wire fairly consistently is nothing to be dismissed out of hand. When it lets go it really rattles your fillings. The two sets of diagonals I use in my shop have survived this sort of abuse on many occasions over the years of ownership.

    I know you're trying to make a point about using the right tools for the job. But for many home folks IF they find a set of diagonal cutters that don't give up on the first cut then it's likely that these same cutters will serve well in a HOME bicycle shop setting for many, many years just like mine did and are continuing to do. In other words the OP doesn't need to invest in a set of proper cable and housing cutters just to get started.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  13. #13
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Since I don't see myself doing this regularly (this is my only bike at the moment) what cutters do you use BCRider?

    I see the midwest cable cutters, but those are actually more expensive than the park tool. I've recently seen a lot of poor reviews of the park tool though. That Shimano is quite pricey for something I'm not sure I'm going to be using often.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    It's a big pair of 9 or 10 inch long overall diagonal side cutters. The brand in this case is some offshore one that I lucked out with. The second pair of a different brand I got a few years later turned out to be just as good. On the whole if you buy the slightly better brand for a few bucks more they will serve you well. Or get a set of linesman. These are also very heavy duty and offer you more use options over the long haul as well as cutting cables and housings. Overall likely a better compromise if you don't need to be able to clip stuff right to the very end. Ideally you'd get both since the diagonal or dykes cutters come in extremely handy due to having the cutting edges right to the very end for when you need it.

    This Klien webpage shows the linesman or ironworker's pliers as the first item and the dykes or diagonal cutters in the second item. You don't need to buy actual Klein quality but if you pull stuff out of the $3.99 bargain trash can you'll be gambling that they are good enough steel and correctly heat treated to work for you. Better to spend more like $10 to $15. Or sometimes you can get a semi brand name set of multiple tools for around $25. Try them, if they dent the jaws take them back for a refund and try some other brand. For cutting brake and shifter cable and brake housings they should not dent the jaws if they are any good at all. If they do they are truly junk.

    The cutters won't leave a clean end on the housings so you'll need to either file the end to clean it up or you'll want to touch them to a running grinder to square them up. But from using the right Park tool I find I still need to do that anyway.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  15. #15
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    or I suppose I could grab a cheap pair of aviation cable cutters and dremel tool from harbor freight for about the same cost as the park tool.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/9-inch-...ter-94449.html
    http://www.harborfreight.com/96-volt...kit-92880.html

    ok, about $10 more but would let me grind the ends smooth rather than getting a file and doing it by hand. I wonder if that'd be a better way to go for a one time thing.

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    I would recommend the dremel...at least for housing. I have never used it for cutting cables.

    A grinding stone makes quick work of any burrs/pigtails on the end of the housing and you can get that top coil to be nice and flat and even. Just need to watch that you don't ****** the inner liner but you can prevent that by working in short bursts instead of one long grind.

    I suppose the fiberglass reinforced cutoff wheels would make quick and clean work of the cables as well but never tried it.

    -j

  17. #17
    Junior Member Garrett Garcia's Avatar
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    I use just a park tool cable/housing cutter it does the job fine.

    Also some alan wrenches to tighten cable to brakes or der.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfieldja View Post
    I would recommend the dremel...at least for housing. I have never used it for cutting cables.
    yeah, I saw that they had aviation cable cutters for $10 that I could get for the cable.

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    Those aviation cable cutters may work. The bicycle specific cutters are often designed to close around the cable to cut it from all sides vice cutting across it. This results in less likely to mash/fray the cable.

    As long as those aviation cutters are sharp they should work though.

    -j

  20. #20
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Our brake and shifter cables are the same sort of cable that is used for lighter duty uses in aviation. So the cable cutters should do just fine. They'll likely do a decent job on the housing. The ends will still require a cleanup but the cutters wouldn't wear out.

    For grinding the ends instead of a Dremel like tool I'd suggest spend a touch more and get a bench grinder. If you have any sort of dedicated working area even if it's just a corner of the laundry room a small bench grinder is useful for SO many things beside working on bicycles that it's as much a no brainer as having a GOOD bench vise. But if you're working on an apartment balcony then a Dremel like tool is the better option just because you can put it away.

    For long term ownership though go with the power cord version. The corded AC versions of these cheaper offshore tools are far, far, FAR better than the cheezy battery versions that don't even have enough torque to pull the skin off the top of a bowl of Jello pudding. Not to mention that long after the battery has expired and you can't find replacements the corded tool will still be working strongly.

    I got a Samona offshore as a spare to save running back and forth from one work area to the other with the actual Dremel and so far it's running fine after a couple of years of occasional use. Or just suck it up and buy an actual AC version Dremel, a speed control FOOT PEDAL and enjoy them for the rest of your life. This is one time that I totally agree that it totally pays to buy the totally superior and well supported tools over the cheap offshore ones. I've had the same Dremel tool and foot pedal control for about 30 to 35 years now and it is still going as strong as the day I bought it. Well, actually I think one of the bearings needs it's once a decade drop of oil. It's starting to get squeal'y again. Oh my....
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  21. #21
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenfieldja View Post
    I would recommend not getting the Park CN-10 cable cutter. They are beefy cutters and do a lousy job cutting housing...they leave a massive pigtail that you have to contend with before installing the cable.

    -j
    I'd have this problem with both a pair of Felco C-7's and the Park tool.
    One way to avoid the pigtail is to take the housing, bend it into a "U" shape. At the outside curve of the "U", the spirals will separate enough so you can see a gap through the liner. It's like bending a Slinky toy and seeing how the space between the coils at the outside of the curve is now large enough to fit your finger between.
    Now you can cut the housing so the blades of the cutter enters this gap and only cuts the section of spiral metal on the inside of the curve.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I've seen a couple of good things about the jagwire cable cutter. Anyone use that? They make decent cable, right? So, maybe they'd make a good way to cut it?

  23. #23
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Also there seems to be some debate on whether or not I should lubricate the cables (the housings are lined). Any thoughts on that?

  24. #24
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I've seen a couple of good things about the jagwire cable cutter. Anyone use that? They make decent cable, right? So, maybe they'd make a good way to cut it?
    For the thrifty option, go with the Nashbar/Performance cutters on sale. $15. If you want to spend more, go with the Shimano. I just picked up a second pair of the Shimano cutters yesterday off ebay, $22.50 plus $5 shipping. Myself, if I had a choice between $10 to $15 so so cutters, and $27.50 for the Shimanos, I would go with the Shimano.

    As far as lubing cables with lined housing, search the forum, I am sure there have been endless threads on that topic, and lots of opinions. Type of cable?

  25. #25
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    That's a good question. I just noticed that the stuff I ordered was singled ended for mountain bikes. I thought I'd checked to make sure it was double ended for mountain and road. I know I'd been looking at what I thought was the same thing at multiple websites. I must have gone with what made the cheapest total order at the one site that it was only single ended for mountain. Bummer.

    Looks like I ordered this:
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...Cable+Set.aspx
    When I meant to order this:
    http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=402723

    Guess I need to pick some of that up at the lbs when I go in for end caps and ferrules.

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