Park Tool CN10 Cable Cutter review

Wire rope cutters have blades which result in a much cleaner cut – a must-have when servicing your gear and brake cables.

Professional tool makes light work of your cable woes

Often you can get by nicely with generic tools, but not when it comes to cutting gear and brake cables/housing. For good results, you really need a purpose-built pair of wire rope cutters, and the Park Tool CN10 is a very sturdy, easily adjustable tool.

With a simple pair of side cutters, while you’ll be able to get both inner and outer to the right length, there are a couple problems: the outer housing is likely to be pretty badly crushed, and if the inner isn’t neatly round, it may not be possible to thread through the housing at all.

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

Wire rope cutters have blades which encircle the cable and so result in a much cleaner cut, one which leaves both inner and housing in usable condition.

Wiggle have got the Park Tool CN10C on offer and I highly recommend it. (Or see this collection if you’d rather view other options).

Features

As well as the cutting end (!) the Park Tool CN10C has two different crimping notches for crushing end caps onto your brake and gear cables to stop them fraying.

It’s internally-sprung, and strongly enough that it will open easily after every cut so you can work quickly with one hand free to arrange your cable and housing. There’s a simple clasp to hold it shut in storage.

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

The only nit-pick I have is that the tool doesn’t feature a spike for opening out cable housing (something I found very handy on my cheaper tool). In more fevered moments I’ve often thought a filing surface on one edge to square off brake cable housing would be nice too – but to be fair to Park Tool, they’ve built something that does a particular job, and does it well.

Buy cheap, buy twice…

After a short and unsuccessful experiment with a pair of cheaper generic cutters, I caved in and bought the Park Tool version on offer at my local bike shop.

Counting various re-cablings over the years, I’ve probably used it for the equivalent of around twenty complete bike builds, and it still cuts smoothly first time. Take a look at these photos:

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

On the left is a brake inner cut with my Park Tool CN10C, on the right one which I cut (with difficulty!) with a pair of side-cutting pliers. Outer is vastly easier to cut with the Park Tool and the result is pretty good:

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

Averaged out, that’s a cost of around £1.50 per bike (if you replace your housings once a year, £1.50 per annum per bike).

Just try getting your local bike shop to cable a new bike for £1.50 labour. 🙂

Little maintenance needed

As long as you maintain it properly (which pretty much means “keep the bolt tight”) the Park Tool cable cutters will give years of faithful service. The lower blade is threaded and the bolt is then backed up by a large locknut:

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

If you don’t keep the blades tightly aligned, the geometry of the cutting surface breaks down and poor results are all but guaranteed. Strangely, the internet has plenty of negative reviews of this tool (or its predecessors) which makes me wonder how many fail to keep to this simple rule – or are unlucky enough to buy a loose or badly QC’d copy.

Park Tool have a maintenance guide published for this tool, so I won’t repeat it here – needless to say, it’s not rocket science (and you’ll probably get a few years from it before having to worry).

Conclusion

The Park Tool CN10C cable and housing cutter isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s comfortable in the hand, accurate and durable – a tool that you can expect to get good use from for many years to come.

A badly crushed cable housing requires plenty of TLC before it will let the inner run freely (possibly hampering smooth shifting or brake lever return) while a mangled inner may not thread properly through the housing at all.

Park Tools CN10C cable cutter review

On the other hand, the curved blades of the CN10 all but guarantee a clean finish. Cable isn’t cheap and you won’t regret tackling it with the right tool for the job!

Battery powered dynamo lighting

Did you know that many dynamo bike lights can be powered quite happily by ordinary DC batteries?

It’s only recently that manufacturers have finally started producing battery-powered lights with asymmetric reflectors, so you aren’t riding along spraying half your photons up towards the International Space Station.

The Busch & Müller Ixon IQ (£70) was the first decent effort that I’m aware of, and more recently the catchily-named Philips LED Bike Light (RRP £110) and the Supernova Airstream (an eye-watering £170).

Cycling off
Cycling off by Phil and Pam, on Flickr

If you already own a decent dynamo headlight, however, or are too just cheap to pay a lot of extra money for a proprietary holder with re-manufactured lithium rechargeables inside, there is a third way.

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ICE Sprint 20 RS review

With the Sprint, great design from start to finish delivers a fantastic fold, well balanced handling, a very comfortable seat over polymer suspension – but still provides the briskness you’d expect from a vehicle which excels at long journeys on the open road.

Fun, flexible, comfortable, fairly fast and built to last

Is this folding recumbent trike the ideal all-rounder?

With the Sprint, great design from start to finish delivers a fantastic fold, well balanced handling, a very comfortable seat over polymer suspension – but still provides the briskness you’d expect from a vehicle which excels at long journeys on the open road.

2013-01-05 at 15-42-02

While there are faster trikes (and more ‘adventurous’ ones 😉 ) the Sprint targets the middle ground, and ICE have delivered a great compromise.

Variants include the 20″-wheeled, rear-suspended model (Sprint RS), a fully-suspended 20″ version (Sprint FS) or a rigid 20″ front, 26″ rear wheel version (Sprint 26), any of which may be fitted with an ‘X type’ swap out to race spec components. This demo bike is from Edinburgh’s Laid-Back-Bikes, where the range is one of the most popular sellers.

This review covers the Sprint RS only, but of course a lot of it is applicable to the whole Sprint (or even whole ICE) range.

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Maintenance free commuter bike: so far

The story of my maintenance-free commuter bike so far… after 15 months commuting in central Edinburgh, it’s saving me a packet!

Does the White Fright live up to its billing?

I ordered up the parts for a new utility bike – the White Fright – in October 2011.

2012-03-27 at 17-32-11

At the time I was at a long-term low of just two bikes – a recumbent and a hardtail MTB. Edinburgh’s neverending quagmire of tram works was making the recumbent a little tiring for the daily commute (although by ‘tiring’ I really mean “had to wait sensibly behind queues instead of squeezing between vehicles”!) and the epic winters of ’10-11 and ’11-12 had cost me savagely in new moving parts for the hardtail…

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2013: New Year Resolutions

I’m not much of one for new year resolutions, but admittedly it’s a convenient point to take stock and lay out plans for the near to mid term. I’m going to turn 30 this year and with the onset of old age it seems more important than usual to achieve… something!

On the basis that I’m more likely to stick to anything I make public, here are a few things I mean to prioritise in 2013:

Go touring

It’s looking increasingly like our previous (non-biking) expedition plan might fall through this year, leaving the possibility of going touring, something I haven’t done in earnest since my teenage years.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/idleformat/5958760475/

Current front-runner is Sweden, to combine with a social visit. Alas, Google suggests that riding to the Nordcap might be a little far (1500 miles each way!) but we’d like to see the midnight sun.

The Swedes don’t allow bikes on trains, apparently. Thinking caps on!

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RaptoBike Lowracer, DualDrive special

Custom-built hub-geared FWD

(Not ridden – observations only!)

Another customer special from the LaidBack showroom – this time a RaptoBike lowracer kitted out in awesome orange “colourway”.

Raptobike Lowracer DD

As well as DualDrive (freeing up the front end to a clean single ring), this frameset has been finished off with a pair of handbuilt wheels on deep aero rims. Very handsome!

All photos from Laid Back’s Flickr stream.

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Milan velomobile hits the road

It’s been a while since I posted an update on the Milan that was put together in Edinburgh’s Laid-Back-Bikes over the summer months (see previous posts).

Back at the start of August update the Milan was complete barring electrical work. The bike was provided with twin B&M headlights (to be run from a battery) but otherwise needed to be drilled and extensively wired for switched indicators and a rear light.

Finally time came for the Milan to launch and be ridden home to the west coast (a respectable day’s ride).


Outside Laid-Back-Bikes in Marchmont

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Upright (Strava bike) weight analysis

A while back I published a post looking at the weight of my recumbent (the RaptoBike lowracer). Here’s a nice contrast – when I built my upright Strava bike I also weighed all the parts as I was putting it together.

Again (as I keep saying!) I think that weight as a commodity is vastly overrated. Still, I have to recognize that a lot of people disagree, and it is interesting to see where the differences between a recumbent and upright bike are.

Strava bike weight
Planet X Superlight Team Aluminium

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RaptoBike Midracer review

Promising the same winning ride quality, flexibility and speed packaged around two full-size 700C wheels… not to forget the affordable pricing.

Can it live up to the hype?

Front wheel drive for big wheels in a fast, versatile and robust package

Way back in 2008 Arnold Ligtvoet’s RaptoBike lowracer caused a storm when it hit the streets (going on to win the Bentrider Bike of the Year Reader’s Choice amongst other plaudits).

It didn’t take long before word got out that Arnold was tackling a midracer as his next project, promising the same winning ride quality, flexibility and speed packaged around two full-size 700C wheels… not to forget the affordable pricing.

RaptoBike Midracer review

One way or another it took a couple of years to see the light of day, but courtesy of Edinburgh’s Laid-Back-Bikes the RaptoBike midracer is indeed here in the flesh!

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