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How to Measure Motorcycle Cables

Posted on 25 Sep 2013 in Powersports | 13 comments

Changing out the handlebars on your motorcycle can be a great way to customize the bike to your liking.  While some may think that it is just the simple task of clamping on a new set and hitting the road, there are some other things to consider as well.  One of these considerations should be the motorcycle cable lengths and brake line lengths.  If you are changing the dimensions of the handlebars, more often than not, you will have to change the lengths of the cables and lines too.  This is not as difficult of a task as it may seem.  Here are some steps to follow before ordering your new cables and lines from brands like Magnum and Motion Pro.

What you needMagnum Cables

  • Thin gauge wire
  • Tape measure

Steps

  1. To get the most accurate measurement, you will want to install your new handlebars on the bike.
  2.  Run the wire in the desired path that you will want to run the cable.  Try to avoid running it against parts with paint or chrome and also hot areas.  You will also want to avoid sharp angles in the cable.  For example, take the wire and run it from the throttle housing on the handle bars to the carburetor or the throttle body.  The clutch cable and brake line can be measured similarly from their corresponding connection points.
  3. Measure the length of your stock cable.  When doing this, only measure the length of the housing; do not include the length of the free wire at each end.
  4. Subtract the length of your stock cable from the new measurement that you have made with the wire.  This will give you the + or – length that you will now need to order.
  5. When ordering your cables or lines at Dennis Kirk, enter in the make, model and year of your motorcycle and you will be given the correct fitment options for your bike.  Choose the lines and cables with the correct + or – length that you measured.

If you have any questions about the process or would like a recommendation on motorcycle cables and lines, our Tech Team at techsupport@denniskirk.com will be able to assist you in getting your ride back on the road faster.

Ryan

Ryan is one of the lucky ones who gets to combine their passion with work. He has enjoyed powersports his whole life and now gets to write about it. Ryan has been around the industry since High School and continues to enjoy learning and sharing about powersports with others in his role at DK.

13 comments

  1. Daniel Henderson / September 28th, 2013 22:13

    Could I have your permission to reprint this article on How to measure cables for the newsletter of the Palm Beach Chapter of ABATE of FL Inc.?

    Reply
    • Ryan / September 30th, 2013 8:07

      Hi Daniel. Please email us at blog@denniskirk.com and we will see what we can do to help you out.

      Reply
  2. ROY DANIELS / August 3rd, 2016 15:41

    I have a 201

    ,

    H

    I HAVE 2010 BONNEVILLE I NEED THE BARS CLOSER TO ME DONT HAVE A CLUE FOR CABLE LENGTH I WOULD THINK 6INCHES WOULD SUFFICE.NOT SURE
    I

    T 100

    Reply
  3. Mark piotrowsky / August 24th, 2016 1:51

    Hi,Ryan. I have a 2007 Honda vtx r 1300. I have just installed 5.5 inch pull back risers.
    Any suggestions for throttle cables..clutch cable and front brake hose? Thanks

    Reply
    • Ryan / August 24th, 2016 7:59

      Hey Mark, contact our Tech Team and they will be able to give you a run down on all of your options- 320-358-3409 or by email at techsupport@denniskirk.com

      Reply
  4. Mark piotrowsky / August 24th, 2016 12:32

    Thanks Ryan.

    Reply
  5. Mark / September 10th, 2016 4:27

    When you say measure the old cable housing does that include the metal elbow or just the housing 1992 Harley Davidson fxlr Low rider custom

    Reply
  6. TDF / January 26th, 2017 16:27

    What problems would I have if my cables/wires are too long? Can I just hide the slack? I want to change from the handlebars the prev owner installed (16″ Apes) to a drag bar or maybe a beach bar. Thanks

    Reply
    • Ryan / January 27th, 2017 8:16

      If you can reroute the cables to keep them somewhat tight, you can be alright. But if the slack is turned too sharply, the inner cable can bind on the casing, causing it to stick, which could be dangerous.

      Reply
  7. Guido Bibro / June 11th, 2017 18:44

    I recently put a suicide clutch and jockey shifter on my Evolution chopper. The design of the foot pedal is terrible. And the cable is at a bad angle.is there a good suicide clutch setup available for 5speed cable transmissions. By the way. I’ve been a shovelhead man since childhood. So I am not familiar with the new stuff.thanks

    Reply
  8. Kris / June 30th, 2017 13:38

    Iam Putin some 18La chopper abbs on my 2013 wide glide how much will cluch cable an threatel cable s an brake cable run

    Reply
  9. Jr / October 24th, 2017 18:58

    When measuring the length do you start at the ball on the cable and end at the ball or just the braided protector of the actual cable??

    Reply

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