cables for bikes make you're own.
- Making your Own Motorcycle Cables
i made all of the cables for
my bikes. You'll need ends, ferralls, inner and outer cable and
roll .080” (2.0mm) diameter wire, 1 x 19 strand. Sold each 50’
Some of us have experienced a pulled cable end, be
it throttle, brake or clutch and our machines also have a compression release.
It’s a bummer when this happens, especially at night, away from home. When
building or restoring my bikes, going back to my 1st doodlebug (using electrical
solder) and now my Rapides and R90/6RSS, I like to make my own cables, because
they fit the bike. It is not an easy task but rewarding when done and working.
There are several distributors of cables, cable housings and fittings, with
Flanders and Barnett my two of choice. I buy the universal throttle cables that
have a factory made ‘ball’ @ the end. The rest of it has to be fitted to your
machine. I also like to bend a ¼’’ radius tube to fit right at the carb top, so
that notorious kink is eliminated altogether. Mikuni makes a very good rubber
dust boot to help protect all cables from dirt. I also use black heat shrink to
cover these boots as time and sun deteriorates them. These will fit at the
adjusters as well. You can situate your adjuster where ever it is convenient for
you. I use heavier cable for the clutch and brake assemblies and make both ends
Most store bought cables are made of 1 x (17 or 19) strand inner
cable with sizes from .046 to .120, fitting mopeds to big bikes. The better
inner cables are made of multiple strands referred to as a 7 x 7 cable, with
seven groups of seven strands in each group, a total of 49 smaller strands.
These are still about the same outside diameter size, (O.D.) wire so they will
fit into your machine’s outer housing, should you wish to re-fit. The best part
about these inner cables is their flexibility and tendency to work easier in a
tighter bend radius. These are usually found in smaller diameters. I use a very
high wattage old style soldering iron.
The outer housings are available in
two types: lined with Teflon and unlined. The better outer cable housings are
also made to be more flexible. They are made w/ more and smaller wire diameter
spiral wraps for flexibility. Their size depends on the application and the
inner cable sizes.
The other three parts to this work project are the outer
cable ends, inline adjusters and inner cable end fittings usually made of brass.
There are dozens of end fittings to anchor any number of combinations to fit
levers and /or engine levers or rods. The outer end fittings are to make the
housings look clean and provide proper fitting into the abutment. I like to
grind the outer housing end flat after cutting it, using a sanding disc, and
then insert an awl to clean up that inside spiral cable before I put on the
outer cable end cap. Again the adjusters can be put where ever you like them for
The one item I have not mentioned yet is probably the most
important, the solder. We have all used in a pinch not knowing any better the
old standby solder readily found in our garages. Electrical 60/40
Tin-Antimony-Lead solder, plumbers solder made of 50/50 silver leadless or 60/40
tin-lead solder. Silver, Zinc, Indium and Cadmium are also used in combinations
in the making of various solders; each has their pluses and minuses. Most of
these are flux core solders but that does not mean you can not add your usual
paste-flux to this process. These types of solders have a relatively low tensile
strength of 4500-6000 psi. The MG product has 3x the tensile strength as these
electrical types. Now just because the above plumbers silver leadless solder
says silver, does not mean that it contains a good amount of silver content,
maybe 6-9 % at most. Silver solder is by far the best way to join the fittings
in this case, inner cables to brass fittings. There are many silver solders on
the market, used for a multitude of purposes, most with heat ranges around
900-1400 F. degrees working temperatures. This depends on content and
percentages of alloy material. This is too high for our use when cable making.
Infact it is best NOT to use an open flame- torch on inner cables, but a very
good soldering iron is needed. Some of you may have your soldering pots and used
them for decades, and they work.
But silver solder does come in a lower
temperature heat range for gas type torches without oxygen and iron use. This
product‘s working temperature is 430 degrees, perfect for soldering iron use. I
prefer this product MG120, also known as MG120A. These MG products use a flux
core and cleaning agent for the preparation of bonding. The MG120A has a syringe
applicator for the cleaning agent whereas the MG120 is a bottle. It is available
at welding supply stores.
The key to a strong union is wetting and capillary
attraction. Wetting is the ability of the molten solder to coat the strands
surface. Capillary attraction is its ability to flow or wick. I prefer to
‘’tin’’ the inner cable end after I have slid my end fitting on to the inner
cable first. This allows you to ‘’work over’’ /mushroom or flair the multiple
ends more easily to prevent the dreaded pull-out. Pull the inner cable back to
the fitting and solder. Trim or file the fittings when done.
lubricate all your non Teflon lined cables once a year by buying one of those
simple spray type lubricators available at any good local m/c shop. I use a
spray can of white lithium grease. These devices clamp over the outer cable end,
have a small rubber hole built in and the grease squirts inside, down the cable
housing through to the end. If you use a junction box with a single throttle
cable to twin cables make sure you protect that junction from dirt and debris,
clean and lube with light grease once a season along with all of your other
Remember what Owsley Bear says ….… ‘‘They love to get out and play in
>> made by:
Messer Company - MG Welding
N94W 1455 Garwin Mace Drive
Menomonee Falls, WI. 53051
(262) 255-5520 -- (262) 555-5542 fax#
Hardness 15 10 kg/ mm2 approx
Melting point 430 degrees F 221 degrees C
Available in ::
1/16’’, 3/32’’, 1/8’’ >>>> use 1/16’’ for cables
VOC ~ OS#1467 Northern California Vincent ~ H.R.D ~ Dancing Bear S.O.