Gregory Bender

Cable soldering

Suzuki DR350 motorcycles, 1990 - 1999.

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Okay, so here is what I did to make custom length clutch cables for my Suzuki DR350.

  1. DISCLAIMER - I am not an expert at making cables. This was my first go at it and, so far, it seems to have worked out very well for me. If you are an expert at making cables, you may very likely find errors in my approach. Follow these instructions at your own risk.
  2. ENCOURAGEMENT - I had a lot of fun doing this and I enjoyed the process. I will definitely be making more custom length cables in the future for my Moto Guzzis.
  3. I started with my existing OEM Suzuki clutch cable. It already has the short length that fits perfectly into the handlebar lever, the mid-adjuster, and the specially bent tube near the engine. I didn't want to try to replicate any of that.
  4. Cut the cable and remove it from the sheathing.
  5. Place the specially bent tube in the bench vice. Use a Dremel type tool to make a length-wise cut where the tube is crimped to the sheathing. Then, make a small cut perpendicular to this cut at the base of the crimp (furthest from the where the sheathing enters the tube). Pry this little piece open and pull out the sheathing.
  6. Place the mid-adjuster in the bench vice. Use a Dremel type tool to repeat the process you did above.
  7. Cut your new sheathing to the length you want it to be. I used an angle grinder to cut the sheathing. Then, I cleaned up the end using a bench grinder. Make sure the end is flat, perpendicular to the length of the sheathing, and without burrs. Also, when cleaning it up on the bench grinder, go slow. It is easy to generate too much heat and melt the inner lining. But, go slow and you won't have any trouble.
  8. Insert your new sheathing into the mid-adjuster and special tube. Make sure it is in there the entire way. I measured the depth and then put a piece of tape on my sheathing. Once it is in there, use a pliers to crimp the metal back in place the best you can. Then, use a small worm-drive hose-clamp to really crimp it tight again. This approach isn't my favorite, but it seems to be working out fine. And, I think it is very important not have have movement in those areas.
  9. Now for the new cable. I started with the end at the transmission. I used a two-piece cable end at this location (see photo below). There is a piece that is soldered to the cable and then the main pivoting piece fits over it and is free to rotate. The piece that is soldered to the cable is too long. So, I used the Dremel to shorten it so that it would not protrude from the bigger piece. Once you have the piece you need to solder in place, splay the ends of the wire such that the end cannot pull off the cable. This provides a lot more surface area for the solder to get to. Doing so also creates a "wedge" such that the solder/cable cannot physically pull back through the cable. How I soldered:
    1. Dip the cable/end into acid-type liquid flux. I was careful not to dip any deeper than the fitting.
    2. Immediately dip the cable/end into my 50/50 tin/lead solder.
    3. Allow to cool
    4. Clean up any excess solder/wires with my bench grinder and wire wheel.
  10. Now for the end at the handlebar lever. This was a single-piece end (see photo below). The approach is the same as the above. Just make sure that you have everything assembled before you start splaying the end of the cable. Don't forget the special little plastic piece that wraps around the cable end - very important.
  11. Once complete, thoroughly clean both ends with a baking-soda/water solution to neutralize any remaining acid from the flux.

A few important notes:

I ordered these parts from Flanders:

Other things I picked up for soldering:

Online video that I found most helpful:

Very long, but the best I've found. Worth the time if this is your first try.

There were a number of other sites that I googled, but none really laid it all out in as much detail as I wanted.

Photos:

This shows the two-piece cable end at the transmission. You can also see the end that I cut off so that it wouldn't stick through the body of the barrel. They make one-piece barrels, but Flanders didn't have them and I went with this approach. Next time I'd likely source a single one-piece cable end.
This shows the two-piece cable end at the transmission. You can also see the end that I cut off so that it wouldn't stick through the body of the barrel. They make one-piece barrels, but Flanders didn't have them and I went with this approach. Next time I'd likely source a single one-piece cable end.

Photo courtesy of Gregory Bender.

The 6x10 cable end for the handlebar lever.
The 6x10 cable end for the handlebar lever.

Photo courtesy of Gregory Bender.

Thanks to Charlie Mullendore of Antietam Classic Cycle who posted this information on the Yahoo! Loopframe_Guzzi news group.