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when I came to change the shifting (gear) cable on my claude butler bike I found that the original cable has a slightly bigger head(nipple) than the replacement cables I have-3.9mm compared to 3.5mm and consequently will not work-wtf The mech is shimano v brake

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  • You have Campagnolo compatible cables. They have slightly smaller heads. How does it not work? Does the smaller head slip through?
    – ojs
    May 1, 2021 at 16:23
  • The ones I have are the same as those that are widely available-its the original one that is slightly bigger.Yes it slips out and wont hook on May 1, 2021 at 18:34
  • In my opinion it makes a lot of sense to make generic cables compatible with all shifters out there. Looks like Shimano figured out a way to make their shifters non-compatible with third party cables then.
    – ojs
    May 1, 2021 at 21:39

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Sounds to me like you've got Campagnolo-sized shifter ends. The difference is subtle but definite.

From https://bike.bikegremlin.com/8548/cable-housing-standards/
Left is Shimano, Right is Campagnolo.

Not sure how you're measuring, using a ruler might explain the difference. The common-quoted diameters are

Shimano shifter end barrel diameter: 0.173" (4.39 mm)
Campag shifter end barrel diameter:  0.159" (4.04 mm)

Generally speaking, campagnolo stuff is more expensive because it is less common, because it is more expensive (loop!) These shouldn't cost more than a couple of dollars each.

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