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Is it possible to buy bulk amounts of shifting/brake cable for road bikes? It would be nice to just have a spool of wire that you run onto your frame and then cut off only as much as you need.

A Google search for "bike cable spool" doesn't really result in much, surprisingly...

How do bike shops deal with this? Surely they don't buy individual packs of cable for every bike do they?

I know you can buy cable housing in bulk, so I was surprised when I couldn't find similar for just the cable...

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The problem that you'll likely run into is the stop in the lever/shifter ends. I'm not aware of any systems that will accept bare cable at this end:

Cable Ends

If you wanted to pair your spool of wire with some sort of crimper (or go all out with some sort of mold/press), you could make your own - but investing $3,000 - $30,000 on some machine that melts metal on the end of the cables probably isn't worth your while.

I don't have much experience with bike shops (I buy most everything on eBay), but I would think they have boxes of these cables packaged in bulk like this:

Bulk Cables

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That makes complete sense, I'm not sure why I didn't think of that. I haven't ever really looked at that end of the cable very closely before. I assumed it was something that was crimped on. –  Jakobud Apr 30 '12 at 18:53
    
The image links are broken. –  ChrisW Oct 30 '13 at 11:29
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Bulk rolls of cut to fit cable housing are available. But only bulk quantities of precut cables are available, due to the cable ends.

For a home user, bulk purchase like this would last for many years service needs, and generally won't save a significant amount of money. Unless you are ordering parts for your local club, I would suggest buying what you need, when you need it, with maybe one backup set in the garage.

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Of course, though it depends what you call "bulk quantity". I am going to assume home user fixing several bikes per year at most. For larger quantities, you might consider asking for special discounted offers for bulk purchases,

First of all, there are kits with all necessary parts to replace all of a bike's cables. This one goes for under $12 with free world-wide shipping.

enter image description here

On the other hand, every LBS sells

  • shifter cable (1BGN)
  • brake cable (1BGN)
  • cable housing (2BGN/meter)
  • housing end caps (0.2-0.7BGN)
  • cable end caps (0.1BGN)

Those are all you need. Just ask them, buy some quantity, and have it at home. Also buy a dedicated bike cable and housing cutter (30BGN). When there is a problem, you reach for your tools and parts bin and 10 minutes later the cables are replaced, all by yourself.

How do bike shops deal with this? Surely they don't buy individual packs of cable for every bike do they?

They do. All cables are manufactured to a standard length, then cut after installation to fit.

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