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I am in a pinch and need something to crimp onto the end of my brake cable to stop it fraying. There aren't any hardware shop's nearby and its a long way to the nearest bike shop.

Any household object that'll do the job? Any good stop-gap until I can get a proper part?

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    If you just want to prevent the end from fraying, you can use any sort of glue, or wrap with any sort of tape. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 9 '14 at 12:42
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    can you get hold of any heat shrink? – PeteH Jul 9 '14 at 13:17
  • Not immediately, it works well though? – user12879 Jul 9 '14 at 14:21
  • As @DanielRHicks suggested the best bodge for this is a big old blob of super glue. Worth even doing a couple of coats. – DWGKNZ Jul 9 '14 at 20:46
  • Along the glue lines I have had great success with a thick blob of ADOS F2. – mattnz Jul 10 '14 at 2:14
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You can cut an aluminum soda can into a small strip and wrap that around and fold it like a tiny burrito into the end. Crimp with pliers.

enter image description here

Picture lovingly misappropriated from http://billgrady.com/wp/2002/11/14/how-to-wrap-a-burrito/

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The empty ink-tube of a ballpoint pen makes good cable ends. The metal ones may be squeezed into place. If you have a plastic one cut off 1 cm, put over the cable end and heat with a flame.

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I have actually used these options:

Epoxy glue: let it dry a little before applying. It is too liquid just after mixed, so let it dry and use it like if it were modelling putty.

Thin cooper wire from a telephone cord. Wounded it around the end of the cable. It would look like a bass guitar string.

Solder wire applied cold, wound a couple of turns and crimp it with pliers.

Thin metal office supplies used for holding pieces of paper together (fasteners and similar) cut into small pieces and crimped with pliers.

Failed attempts were made with masking tape, electrical tape and duct tape. Soldering it was also a fail for me, the molten solder would not adhere to the steel cable, that's why I ended just crimping it.

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    Yeah, soldering will only work on a galvanized cable. It will not work on stainless steel. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 10 '14 at 3:19
  • Solder can work on stainless, try roughing the end up with a file or sandpaper, and use some flux. If your solder is prefluxed, it may not be enough. Also, lead-free solder is harder to work with too. – Criggie Sep 12 '20 at 22:23
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I usually use an old spoke nipple. Slide it over the end and crimp with an electrical (stake-on/solderless connector) crimper.

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  • That's what I do, and it works perfectly. But for this question, I not sure the guy have spare nipples... – Alexander Jul 9 '14 at 20:18
  • Actually a crimpable connector would look pretty cool. – Jahaziel Jul 9 '14 at 20:35
  • I agree and more likely he has one at home. Make it an answer so we can vote it up. – mikes Jul 10 '14 at 0:45
  • Many of the people with spare spoke nipples and a crimper would have cable ends, or else they'd have been able to avoid the OP's situation. Nevertheless, a good one for many home wrenches. – Weiwen Ng May 14 '20 at 10:52
  • Damn that is a really good idea – sam May 14 '20 at 21:34
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Wrap it tightly with electrical/gaffa tape?

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    I've tried this. It's much like a finger tip bandage, impossible to keep on. – RoboKaren Jul 10 '14 at 14:58
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Anyone with a roll of lead-based solder can hammer it out against an iron plate to make a thin foil, then wrap the cable with it, and finally "swage" it by hammering it down. The soft lead will press into the cable gaps and should create a very tight nipple.

I tried this at the handlebar end with not such good results, trying to jerry-rig a cable anchor: although the foil layer touching the cable does swage in well, the outer layers are too brittle to hold well together. It's like trying to make a sandwich out of phyllo dough, the gaps make for a crumbly product. I imagine it'd be pretty easy to make a little baby crucible out of steel, stone, or something else that melts at a higher temperature than lead. It would be a mold for the anchor. It would include a slot where you lay the cable halfway through it. Then, stuff the cavity with solder (melt it in, jam your iron in, use a torch, whatever). That should make for a good DIY anchor, meaning you could buy cable in bulk and make your own cables.

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    Welcome to the bikes SE! I do wonder how universal this answer and the other ones based on soldering equipment are. Nevertheless, this is a good, well-explained answer, and it should apply to a good number of cyclists. Additionally, kudos for not 'necroing' a question just to give a duplicate of an existing answer. This offers detail that's different enough from @Criggie's answer. Necroing a question in this manner is totally acceptable. – Weiwen Ng May 14 '20 at 10:55
  • I should add that traditional swaging probably originally used lead. And while I think that for a crimp ferrule on the cable to "whip" the end and keep it from fraying, a lead-based metal (probably even 100% lead, like a musket ball) is surely enough --- but now that I think about it, the solution for brake cable anchors is probably going to be very different. While lead fishing sinkers won't call for powerful tension forces, this application certainly will. And so lead alone is probably not nearly strong enough. I haven't tried silver-based solders, but if anyone has, I'd like to hear it. – Pete Zelchenko May 15 '20 at 0:56
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    I assume that "necroing" back-forms from necrophilia, in this case picking up a very old thread and following up with a "me too" answer that is previously already largely given. I think the value of StackExchange-type formulae is that there is a possibility to add new or qualifying material even years later. Thanks. – Pete Zelchenko May 15 '20 at 1:00
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I used an Alumiuum pop-rivet. After cutting off and knocking out the center 'nail', the remaining sleeve is easily crimped on with pliers. The flared end is optionally clipped off.enter image description here

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If you have a soldering iron and some solder, that may stop it from fraying further, but won't make it any less sharp.

You could consider a bit of alu foil, but I doubt this would stay on. Perhaps with some glue suitable for metal?

Perhaps a small cable tie done up super-tight with pliers?

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  • Interesting, I think the cable tie might work well and would be removable when I have access to a proper cable end. – user12879 Jul 9 '14 at 12:34
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    Solder works fine, and after soldering, you cut or file a bit off the end to make it smooth and less sharp. – Gary.Ray Jul 9 '14 at 12:46
  • You need to clean the cable very thoroughly though. Many cables are greased at the factory and should be lubricated before being used anyway, so you need to get that off before soldering will work. – Móż Jul 9 '14 at 22:35
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    Have you tried soldering brake/shifter cable? It's stainless steel and next to impossible. You need a very powerful iron with a heat sink because otherwise the heat will wick right down the wire. Even after fluxing the cable up the wazoo, solder still won't want to stick to it. – RoboKaren Jul 10 '14 at 0:46
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    Some cables are galvanized and will solder relatively easily. Stainless steel cables are just about impossible to solder. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 10 '14 at 3:20
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I use normal solder - this keeps the strands together and negates the need for a cap. I thread the cable and then solder where I will cut, and then trim the excess off. Note this method leaves a sharpish point still.

The trick is preparation... if you have stainless steel cables then they don't take solder too well. You need to clean the end with a solvent to remove any grease, sand it or file it some to abrade the surface, use some flux liquid and a decently hot soldering iron.

Silver solder works better but is definitely overkill for a bike cable.

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