Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Cable-cutting tool for touring?

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Cable-cutting tool for touring?

Old 05-23-23, 06:44 PM
  #1  
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
sapporoguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 259

Bikes: 2000 Santana Sovereign SE; 2005 Co-Motion Speedster; Kona Kilauea with various dorky commuter accoutrements; Mercier Kilo TT fixie; Burley Fladbed trailer for groceries, bags of cement and the like.

Likes: 0
Liked 85 Times in 41 Posts
Cable-cutting tool for touring?

What are all y’all putting in your tour toolkits to trim shift and brake cables? (Not housing, just cable.) We tour on a coupled tandem, so we have multiple coupled cables. I’d like to pack full-length cables and trim them on the fly.
I love my Pedro’s for the workshop, but that’s way too heavy for touring. I’ve packed a needle-nose pliers with a cutter that kinda works but can leave ends frayed.
Is there some compact option that makes clean cuts?
sapporoguy is offline  
Likes For sapporoguy:
Old 05-23-23, 06:49 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 4,528
Liked 1,402 Times in 738 Posts
I don't cut cables unless absolutely needed. Simply coil them after the pinch bolt. Cutting requires a cap of some sort or beeswax (which is what I use if I do cut a cable), but a cap ends up fraying the end, which is why I use bees wax. An untrimmed cable has a welded end and will not fray, thus I let them stay long and coil them up.
TiHabanero is offline  
Likes For TiHabanero:
Old 05-23-23, 06:54 PM
  #3  
Clark W. Griswold
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: ,location, location
Posts: 14,295

Bikes: Foundry Chilkoot Ti W/Ultegra Di2, Salsa Timberjack Ti, Cinelli Mash Work RandoCross Fun Time Machine, 1x9 XT Parts Hybrid, Co-Motion Cascadia, Specialized Langster, Phil Wood Apple VeloXS Frame (w/DA 7400), R+M Supercharger2 Rohloff, Habanero Ti 26

Liked 4,363 Times in 2,914 Posts
I wouldn't take cable cutters or any tools like that touring. I would just do as TiHabanero does and coil it till I can get to a shop with good cable cutters and some end caps or maybe someone with a welder or some solder or something.

I generally would replace my cables and housing a month before a tour get everything settled in and adjusted and then probably not worry for a while. Unless you go through cables quickly it is not a huge worry. If you do go through cables a lot you should try and figure out why and solve that. Really what I carry for touring is tubes and some spare spokes and maybe a quick link and an emergency hanger but I don't go too crazy because I would end up carrying a spare everything and these days you can get pretty much anything anywhere either from a shop or via one of the many shippers in the world and the only time I might be really concerned is in the middle of nowhere in an underdeveloped country.
veganbikes is offline  
Old 05-23-23, 07:46 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 11,423

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Liked 1,539 Times in 1,199 Posts
I have a couple twisty wires from bread loaf wrappers packed with my cables in case I need to use them to keep the excess that is coiled up from uncoiling. I have also used electric tape to tape the coiled excess together. I carry a roll of electric tape on tour.

Make sure if you bring a cable on a tour that it is not one of those that has a mountain bike cable end on one end of the cable, and road bike fitting at the other end. Every cable I bring on a tour does not need to be cut for it to be useable.

Sorry, I can't help with a better solution, having a Ritchey Breakaway bike and also an S&S coupled bike, I certainly understand your desire to retain usage of your cable couplers when you replace a cable.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 05-23-23, 09:43 PM
  #5  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 248

Bikes: LHT disc, Cannondale CAAD8, Cannondale Super 6, Avanti Agressor MTB

Likes: 0
Liked 16 Times in 10 Posts
Had to do this once on a tour. Used a multitool with a pair of pliers which also had a cutter in the jaws. Not a clean cut but it worked. Just use tape to secure the end. You could ask a bike shop to do the cutting for you. Would not cost much if at all.
Don't carry a specialist cutter with you...
Steve0000 is offline  
Old 05-23-23, 10:10 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
MarcusT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: NE Italy
Posts: 1,643
Liked 635 Times in 356 Posts
I've used these and are more than sufficient. If you find them too heavy, every hardware store and Dollar store carries them. You can purchase them when needed
MarcusT is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 02:07 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: The Ring of Fire
Posts: 1,271

Bikes: Several, all affordably priced.

Liked 737 Times in 476 Posts
Originally Posted by sapporoguy
What are all y’all putting in your tour toolkits to trim shift and brake cables? (
Nothing. The need to cut cable is so, so remote that it warrants bringing no tool for said need.
Ron Damon is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 04:52 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 11,919

Bikes: Several

Liked 780 Times in 575 Posts
Originally Posted by Ron Damon
Nothing. The need to cut cable is so, so remote that it warrants bringing no tool for said need.
I am in the "nothing" camp as well. Cables just don't fail suddenly and without warning. I just keep an eye on cables for wear and replace them preemptively. I don't bother with spares. Nothing wrong with carrying them if you choose to, but I tend to count grams so they don't make the cut and a cable cutter certainly doesn't for me.

Some brifters do make it hard to see the problem area for wear and fraying so be careful to inspect there. In many hundreds of thousands of miles of riding I have had one "almost" cable failure. That one left me with a barely functioning shifter for a while. That was how I first learned about the need to watch brifters for cable wear at the tight bend in the brifter housing on some brifters. If it had failed I would have rigged it to be in one gear of my choice on that deraillerur and shifted the other derailleur only until the next parts source. A broken brake cable is a lot less likely, but in a pince and with care I figure you can limp along with one brake. Maybe on a tandem that is less true, but have you ever actually broken a brake cable that wasn't really badly neglected or abused?

That said, if I did carry spares, I'd either roll up the extra length or take spares precut to length.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 05:37 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: The Ring of Fire
Posts: 1,271

Bikes: Several, all affordably priced.

Liked 737 Times in 476 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1
I am in the "nothing" camp as well. Cables just don't fail suddenly and without warning. I just keep an eye on cables for wear and replace them preemptively. I don't bother with spares. Nothing wrong with carrying them if you choose to, but I tend to count grams so they don't make the cut and a cable cutter certainly doesn't for me.

Some brifters do make it hard to see the problem area for wear and fraying so be careful to inspect there. In many hundreds of thousands of miles of riding I have had one "almost" cable failure. That one left me with a barely functioning shifter for a while. That was how I first learned about the need to watch brifters for cable wear at the tight bend in the brifter housing on some brifters. If it had failed I would have rigged it to be in one gear of my choice on that deraillerur and shifted the other derailleur only until the next parts source. A broken brake cable is a lot less likely, but in a pince and with care I figure you can limp along with one brake. Maybe on a tandem that is less true, but have you ever actually broken a brake cable that wasn't really badly neglected or abused?

That said, if I did carry spares, I'd either roll up the extra length or take spares precut to length.
Yet another reason to forgo brifters. 😉
Ron Damon is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 07:19 AM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 9,045

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Liked 2,047 Times in 1,269 Posts
One more vote for "coil the cable, don't carry a tool."

On a couple occasions I've pulled into an auto repair shop and asked to borrow a tool (a cable cutter, in one case!). Never had to pay, but both times it was interesting to watch their faces as a guy riding a bicycle pulled into the shop. Nice guys, and a couple fun conversations ensued.
pdlamb is offline  
Likes For pdlamb:
Old 05-24-23, 08:05 AM
  #11  
tcs
Palmer
 
tcs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 8,737

Bikes: Mike Melton custom, Alex Moulton AM, Dahon Curl

Liked 1,933 Times in 1,113 Posts
Originally Posted by sapporoguy
We tour on a coupled tandem, so we have multiple coupled cables. I’d like to pack full-length cables and trim them on the fly.
Looks like most of the well-meaning posters don't understand what you're talking about.

Coupled cable:





There is no 'coil the excess' - the upstream cable must be cut to exact length.

Hmm. Maybe a tiny triangular diamond file?

Last edited by tcs; 05-24-23 at 09:51 AM.
tcs is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 08:18 AM
  #12  
Senior Member
 
saddlesores's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Thailand..........Nakhon Nowhere
Posts: 3,681

Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

Liked 348 Times in 235 Posts
pre-cut before you go.
saddlesores is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 10:06 AM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 9,045

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Liked 2,047 Times in 1,269 Posts
Originally Posted by tcs
Looks like most of the well-meaning posters don't understand what you're talking about.

There is no 'coil the excess' - the upstream cable must be cut to exact length.

Hmm. Maybe a tiny triangular diamond file?
Not clear to me what the problem is here.

For a tandem, a "full length cable" (if it's a tandem length) should be able to replace the coupled cable during the trip. Obviously packing might be problematic, or the (replacement) cable could be disconnected from the rear brake/derailer for the trip home. I had to do something similar on a travel bike when my coupler was cracked on the previous trip home (thanks, TSA!), and I caught it on the next trip.

Alternatively, O.P. could pre-cut a front cable, perhaps an inch longer, and have enough room to take up the rear cable at the brake or derailer.

In either case, the excess can be coiled up and trimmed later.
pdlamb is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 10:23 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
zandoval's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bastrop Texas
Posts: 4,646

Bikes: Univega, Peu P6, Peu PR-10, Ted Williams, Peu UO-8, Peu UO-18 Mixte, Peu Dolomites

Liked 1,746 Times in 1,121 Posts
I don't do touring but I don't really see the need for a cable cutter on tour.

Just coil um up and leave um long till ya get to the shop. Getting a decent clean cut even in the shop can be a draw sometimes. I have not used the torch, twist, weld method yet but it looks like the cleanest method I have seen.

Many years ago in the Army I do remember cutting a 5K generator throttle cable clean by wrapping allot of black tape around it then using a fine hacksaw blade to cut through the middle.
__________________
No matter where you're at... There you are... Δf:=f(1/2)-f(-1/2)
zandoval is offline  
Likes For zandoval:
Old 05-24-23, 11:29 AM
  #15  
tcs
Palmer
 
tcs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 8,737

Bikes: Mike Melton custom, Alex Moulton AM, Dahon Curl

Liked 1,933 Times in 1,113 Posts
Originally Posted by pdlamb
Not clear to me...
Sure. One precut cable for every upstream coupled cable plus one full-length cable for any downstream cable. That would be one way.
tcs is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 12:56 PM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 11,423

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Liked 1,539 Times in 1,199 Posts
Originally Posted by tcs
Sure. One precut cable for every upstream coupled cable plus one full-length cable for any downstream cable. That would be one way.
Depending on the situation, that could be simple or a real pain.

My S&S bike does not use shifter cable connectors, the shift cables are full length outer housing and they are easy to disconnect from the rear half of the frame. I carry a pre-cut to length single shift cable for my Rohloff hub. The Rohloff uses two cables, I was careful to make sure both shift cables are same length when I built the bike, so only one spare is needed. The frame came with a cable splitter for rear brake, but I chose not to use it when I built it. Thus, for me, having this coupled bike is the same as a non-coupled bike when it comes to cables.

But my Ritchey Breakaway bike, I bought it as a complete bike, thus I did not have an opportunity to measure cables. I would have to remove the rear brake cable to measure a new one. And I do not know if both of my shifter cables are the same length (lever to coupler length), thus I would have to remove both just to find out if I need one or two spares. If I take this bike on a trip, I am bringing full length cables that would not use the coupler if I have to replace one. And before someone says, why bother, breakage is rare, this bike uses Campy cables and a lot of bike shops only carry Shimano/Sram cables, so there is a reason to carry the spares if I travel with this bike.

Both of my coupled bikes are solo bikes, not tandems. If the OP can be assured that a tandem length cable is long enough, he could replace a cable and not use the couplers in the process. Then once home, could cut some cables to re-install the couplers.

I do not know if all tandem cables are long enough, I use two tandem length cables for shifting my folding bike, the cable runs on the folder are quite convoluted due to the folding mechanism. I recall on one occasion that my tandem length cable was too short to be installed on my folder, I needed a different longer tandem cable.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 02:37 PM
  #17  
Banned
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 1,280
Liked 384 Times in 289 Posts
I have never had a problem with the top tier brake and shift cables. Cheap ones stretch and break and so I prefer to pay a couple dollars more for stronger ones. If I wanted to carry spares I would simply cut and solder the 4 cables in advance and put them in my tool kit.
Calsun is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 03:06 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 40,051
Liked 16,600 Times in 7,780 Posts
Originally Posted by sapporoguy
What are all y’all putting in your tour toolkits to trim shift and brake cables? (Not housing, just cable.) We tour on a coupled tandem, so we have multiple coupled cables. I’d like to pack full-length cables and trim them on the fly.
I love my Pedro’s for the workshop, but that’s way too heavy for touring. I’ve packed a needle-nose pliers with a cutter that kinda works but can leave ends frayed.
Is there some compact option that makes clean cuts?
I broke a brake cable at the start of a day ride. Someone had a spare. Another guy was a mechanic at REI. He replaced the cable. I asked how he intended to cut it. He coiled it. “Duh.” I thought to myself.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 05-24-23, 03:32 PM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 11,423

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Liked 1,539 Times in 1,199 Posts
On the topic of fresh cut cables and frayed cables, I know a guy that dips his fresh cut cable ends into Superglue so that they do not fray. Sounded like a great idea. I tried that, dipped it in a tube of Superglue, let the glue harden by letting it just sit there for quite a few minutes (I do not recall how long), and it worked great. Eventually I bought some of those crimp on cable ends and used those, but for quite a while the bare end stayed bare and did not fray. If you try that, make sure there is no grease residue in between the cable strands. I do that with all my fresh cut cables that I install at home. I wait for a day or two before I crimp on the end fitting, just in case I want to remove that end later for some reason and I do not want the crimp on end to be glued on.

Another hint, if you use bar end shifters, make sure that the cables are stainless. I thought that all my cables were stainless but somehow a galvanized cable got into my box of spares and I used it on a bar end shifter. Within four years the cable snapped. Looks like some corrosion contributed to the failure, likely from hand sweat where your cable is quite close to sweaty fingers. Two photos below:



Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 05-25-23, 01:57 PM
  #20  
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
sapporoguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 259

Bikes: 2000 Santana Sovereign SE; 2005 Co-Motion Speedster; Kona Kilauea with various dorky commuter accoutrements; Mercier Kilo TT fixie; Burley Fladbed trailer for groceries, bags of cement and the like.

Likes: 0
Liked 85 Times in 41 Posts
Thanks, all, for your thoughtful answers. All the suggested approaches seem good options.
I should have mentioned, I generally tour with cables pre-clipped. I put the connector about halfway down the length of a cable to the rear so that the two cable sections are about equal in length. Then I only need to carry one length of brake and one of shift cable. Whatever excess I end up with, I coil.
I was just wondering if there's a simple, lightweight tool out there that one could tour with--If one chose to.
sapporoguy is offline  
Old 05-25-23, 02:17 PM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 27,550
Liked 4,597 Times in 3,414 Posts
I wonder if my Swiss Army pliers could nibble through a cable. But, it'd probably make quite a mess of the end.

If you had something that could capture the end before cutting it, then you could minimize fraying.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 05-25-23, 05:12 PM
  #22  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,335
Liked 1,009 Times in 828 Posts
I've carried cables with me sometimes on many tours, but never needed one.
A small file? Would at least be cleaner cutting, but is it worth it?
I admit to carrying a brake cable with both types of ends, but have always figured I'd just borrow a tool somewhere if needed.
djb is offline  
Old 05-25-23, 05:21 PM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 801
Liked 14 Times in 12 Posts
Pre cut seems like a great idea...

Barring that, maybe melting a bit of solder into the cable before cutting it with a lousy cutter would keep it from fraying, but haven't tried it.

A diamond cutoff wheel on a rotary hand tool will also do a clean cut if a cable cutter isn't available, and I think most, if not all, auto mechanics would have those.
stevepusser is offline  
Old 05-25-23, 08:54 PM
  #24  
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,503
Liked 858 Times in 443 Posts
This is something I picked up somewhere. I use it for keeping the ends of cable from fraying and when I'm cutting the cables. It also keeps the cables form getting crushed like they do with metal cable caps. The tubing is durable, but easy to remove.

I slide a small piece of heat-shrink wire insulation over the end of the cable, use a lighter to shrink it and then cut it. The smallest diameter tubing, 3/32 does not weigh much, and I carry a lighter for my stove.


Last edited by Doug64; 05-25-23 at 09:00 PM.
Doug64 is offline  
Likes For Doug64:
Old 05-26-23, 05:31 AM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: NH
Posts: 1,017
Liked 121 Times in 84 Posts
Originally Posted by Doug64
This is something I picked up somewhere. ..
I started using Doug's heat shrink method of capping after he posted this suggestion at an old thread. Quick and tidy!

BobG is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.