In which I Give Thanks...

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
...that my brake cable snapped *just* as I was arriving home, rather than at a busy junction. Next door but one were probably quite surprised to see me though, and may not have liked the language I was using.
 

gambatte

Middle of the pack...
Location
S Yorks
Mandarin?
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Don't give thanks - there's no need to attribute this to some divine intervention bollocks.

Instead learn to give the mechanical bits of your bike at least a cursory glance from time to time. Brake cables do not 'just break'; their name comes from their function not from any propensity to fail!

It must have either been very old, extremely rusty, or has wearing on an edge or hard point (knackered outer) or where it was clamped.

Routine replacement of them every year (or so) is neither expensive nor difficult.
 

Cab

New Member
Location
Cambridge
Sometimes brake cables can get horribly mauled when some idiot makes a mess of locking and unlocking his bike next to yours. Its correct to keep an eye on them, of course, but I rekon that the best of us (I'm not one of them by the way!) can still get caught out by that.
 
OP
John the Monkey

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
Terminator said:
Sometimes brake cables fray and break inside the lever which has happened to me a few times.
This particular one had broken inside the lever - oddly enough, I'd have had a look at them (and I can't remember noticing anything untoward) when I replaced my brake hoods 3 weeks or so ago - those were old enough to have perished, so I should have had pause for thought on the cables too at that point I guess, mea culpa.

The bike is a second hand one, so I suspect Tim's point about the cables being old is probably true - it is at the LBS having both broken and extant cable replaced now. The thing about it possibly rubbing on an edge is worrying - I'll try to have a look in the levers once I get the bike back.

I'm with you on learning more about doing this stuff myself Tim - are there any resources you'd recommend particularly for someone new to bike maintenance?
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Park Tools' website is a good resource.

http://www.parktool.com/repair/

The only 'specialist' tools you need to work on brakes (over and above a decent set of allen keys or multitool) is a good quality pair of cable cutters. Anything else is likely to make a dog's dinner of the cut ends.

When you buy replacement cables remember to get some little cable end terminals. Not only do they finish the cut end neatly, but they cover the frayed strands which can be needle sharp.
 

GrahamG

Veteran
Location
Bristol
That was a very polite response John to a slightly shirty toned post, I'm impressed.

www.sheldonbrown.com is another good one.

My own personal favourite for the non-technical (i.e. doesn't require special tools or any serious know-how) is trial and error! That's only if you have the time to do a job twice though :biggrin:
 
OP
John the Monkey

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
Tim Bennet. said:
The only 'specialist' tools you need to work on brakes (over and above a decent set of allen keys or multitool) is a good quality pair of cable cutters. Anything else is likely to make a dog's dinner of the cut ends.
Thanks Tim. I found these;

http://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/basicbikecare.html#tensteps
http://bikewebsite.com/gettingstarted2.htm

That seem to offer good, beginner level advice in terms of regular checks to carry out. Whilst I'm not new to bikes as such (I've always had one around for most of my life) I've never used them day in, day out, or over the sorts of distances (albeit still fairly modest in comparison with most) that I am now.
When you buy replacement cables remember to get some little cable end terminals. Not only do they finish the cut end neatly, but they cover the frayed strands which can be needle sharp.
I do have a few knocking around (my daughter's bike was delivered without one on the back brake cable, so I bought a few for that). Thanks again for the tips.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Yes - there's some good tips there, including:

Operate the brake and shift lever and look closely at all four cables both at the levers and at the derailleurs and brakes. Also inspect along the frame. If you spot any signs of fraying or rusting or even if you see cracking in the cable housing sections, have the cable and housing replaced
If there was any chance that brake cables could fail without any warning, cycling would be a very different sport. More like Russian Roulette! The only reason it's possible to fly down alpine passes on a fully loaded touring bike without a care in the world, is that with a bit of care and maintainance, cable brakes are very reliable!
 
OP
John the Monkey

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
GrahamG said:
That was a very polite response John to a slightly shirty toned post, I'm impressed.
To be honest, I think Tim's right - as I say in the earlier post, I've never used a bike every day, for the sorts of miles I'm doing before. All my previous bikes did the odd mile or two now and then, here and there, and that was it. It stands to reason (especially with the bike being pre-owned, and pretty old) that I *should* have been, and should be looking for stuff like this. (Despite the jocular tone of my first post, it was pretty scary to feel the tension suddenly disappear from the brake lever, to say the least).

Oddly enough, the bike was going into the LBS for a check over/service soon, but I put it off because they're so busy at the moment (students being back means they have a huge backlog of work) that they would have had to keep it in overnight, and I like my riding so much at the moment that I wanted it back same day :/

GrahamG said:
My own personal favourite for the non-technical (i.e. doesn't require special tools or any serious know-how) is trial and error! That's only if you have the time to do a job twice though :biggrin:
Exactly, and when you don't *need* the bike the following day :biggrin: My hybrid gets this treatment, as it's largely an occasional bike (my tourer being the one I ride everywhere) so it doesn't matter if I have to leave it in the garage for a bit. I'm still slightly wary of doing my own work on stuff like gears and brakes though.
 

Number14

Veteran
Location
Fareham
Tim Bennet. said:
When you buy replacement cables remember to get some little cable end terminals. Not only do they finish the cut end neatly, but they cover the frayed strands which can be needle sharp.
Before you put the litle end caps on, it's a good idea to solder (if you've got a soldering iron) the ends of your cables. This stops them fraying and then the little end caps will slide on easily.
 

Elmer Fudd

Miserable Old Bar Steward
Number14 said:
Before you put the litle end caps on, it's a good idea to solder (if you've got a soldering iron) the ends of your cables. This stops them fraying and then the little end caps will slide on easily.
Or wrap a bit of insulating or masking tape round them before you feed them through.
 
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