Brake cables

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Brake cables

Postby tuco » Mon May 14, 2007 5:01 pm

Do brake cables snap?

In the good old days of dragsters the brake cables always snapped up near the lever just when we needed them the most.

Is it still a problem?
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by BNA » Mon May 14, 2007 5:29 pm

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Postby europa » Mon May 14, 2007 5:29 pm

I've never broken one and that includes the kid's bikes that are left to rust etc. I'm not saying it can't be done, but if you're looking after your bike ie, keeping it inside etc, I think you'd be unlucky to break one. A bike out in the weather might need some form of oiling now and then, though you aren't supposed to grease the cable outers anymore.

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Postby sogood » Mon May 14, 2007 5:56 pm

From what I read, if you want to keep your machine in race fit condition, then you're likely to have replaced those cables well before they frail and rust. Not that I would advocate it, but some people replace their cables after 2 race seasons. :shock:
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Postby heavymetal » Mon May 14, 2007 8:23 pm

I remember the old ones used to snap at the head. I haven't snapped one since. Saying that, I'll probably snap one now :shock:

I think on the old style brake levers, the cable was more exposed to the elements which caused it to snap. It's gear cables that snap now, where as in the past it was rare to snap a gear cable.

It was usually that little chain that went into the Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub that broke.

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Postby sogood » Mon May 14, 2007 8:53 pm

heavymetal wrote:It was usually that little chain that went into the Sturmey Archer 3 speed internal hub that broke.

I remember that chain. If you have an accident with your SA hubbed bike, it's quite easy to grind that chain to nothing. Terrible location. The little cover the put over it does bugger all.

I do miss SA's gear adjustment though. It's so easy. Just have to line up and that's it. :D
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Postby heavymetal » Mon May 14, 2007 9:00 pm

sogood wrote:The little cover the put over it does bugger all.


Unbelievably they were made out of plastic. I did eventually track down one made out of metal, but it eventually ground away after my many stacks on the dragster :D

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Postby sogood » Mon May 14, 2007 9:07 pm

heavymetal wrote:Unbelievably they were made out of plastic. I did eventually track down one made out of metal, but it eventually ground away after my many stacks on the dragster :D

Impressive. Did you ever try to service one of those SA hubs? I have poured through technical manuals but never had the guts to pull one apart. Still wondered how it all worked.

I have to say it's way more convenient to maintain than these derailleurs.
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Postby heavymetal » Mon May 14, 2007 9:09 pm

I pulled one apart once. I was never really able to get it to work properly after putting it back together. It seemed to have more neutral gears than three gears. :shock:

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Postby mikesbytes » Mon May 14, 2007 10:05 pm

In 3 years, I've changed 1 gear cable on the OCR. Still using the origional break cables. Guess they must of improved

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Postby sogood » Mon May 14, 2007 10:27 pm

mikesbytes wrote:In 3 years, I've changed 1 gear cable on the OCR. Still using the origional break cables.

Reason for the change was?
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Postby gururug » Mon May 14, 2007 10:40 pm

I had a gear cable snap on my new/old school column shift roadie. Bike hadn't been ridden much, i'd say the cable was 8-12 years old.
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Postby Bnej » Mon May 14, 2007 10:48 pm

sogood wrote:I do miss SA's gear adjustment though. It's so easy. Just have to line up and that's it. :D


Shimano Nexus hubs are just as easy, you line up two red marks. Plus, the cable attaches to a gizmo that rotates around the axle, nothing sticks out to get broken off.

I believe with the Rohloff hub you can even set the gear when the cable has broken directly on the hub.

I pulled one apart once. I was never really able to get it to work properly after putting it back together. It seemed to have more neutral gears than three gears

One sun gear, probably four or more planets, then an outer orbital gear. By selecting which is locked to the input and which to the wheel, you get four ratios from such a system - though only three are used in a 3 speed hub.

See this article on epicyclic gearing.

Re. OP, you'd hope that you don't break two brake cables at once. I think normally cables start twanging and clicking before completely snapping, so as long as you start each ride with two brakes in good condition then you should be safe.
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Postby tuco » Tue May 15, 2007 2:41 pm

Okay, I feel safer now.

As kids we'd hit the anchors at warp speed then, "Twang!", no brakes!
It's a wonder so many of us survived the dragster, no helmet era.

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Postby europa » Tue May 15, 2007 3:54 pm

Last night, I finally got around to fitting the Aero brake levers to the Europa - didn't worry about the funny brackets for the new brakes, just did the brake levers and cables. Well, the old cables, the ones fitted to the bike when new in the mid eighties, showed no sign of rust or any other problems, and that poor old bike has spent many years just sitting in the shed as well as being ridden in all sorts of weather.

I don't think brake cables are an issue.

Still haven't got out to try the new levers ... some sod keeps sending storm clouds across my house :(

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Postby Bnej » Tue May 15, 2007 4:05 pm

europa wrote:I don't think brake cables are an issue.


They can be, but yeah not normally.

If you look at the ends for signs of fraying, esp if the cable loses it's cap and starts coming apart at the calliper, then you have a problem brewing. Likewise, if the pull of the brake starts feeling inconsistent, or developing more travel, you need to check it.

As long as you are checking for frayed ends and nothing strange is happening, then you ought to be safe from a spontaneously snapping cable. Never start a ride without two functioning brakes, and stop ASAP if you find yourself with one only!
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Postby sogood » Tue May 15, 2007 4:15 pm

What does frayed ends have to do with it? Fraying ends are effectively out of the system as far as brake function is concerned. Wouldn't any critical cable problems be located more in between the caliper and the lever? I understand one of the early problem is with rust and lack of lubrication b/n the cable and its housing, thereby causing excessive drag in the system.
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Postby Bnej » Tue May 15, 2007 4:46 pm

sogood wrote:What does frayed ends have to do with it? Fraying ends are effectively out of the system as far as brake function is concerned.


Once they start fraying at the ends, it tends to get worse over time, and eventually it'll pop out because it's effectively getting thinner, so the nut won't hold it onto the calliper.

That's why you have to have the cap on the cable to stop it from fraying.
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