René Herse Rear Cable Hanger

RH_hanger

Compass Cycles is re-introducing the René Herse rear cable hanger. I have loved these simple, lightweight, elegant cable hangers – so much that I made my own when I built my Mule. There are many ways to design a rear cable stop for centerpull and cantilever brakes – this is the one I like best.

The hanger is held by the seatpost binder bolt – just make sure your slot is at least 2.5 mm thick. This is a much better solution than a cable hanger that uses a seatstay bridge (or even worse, a single post): Since the René Herse hanger is loaded in tension rather than torsion, it can be lighter, and yet it will flex less. That results in a more positive braking action, removing some of the springiness that you often feel in rear brakes.

There are other cable hangers that attach to the seatpost binder, but none are as small and light as the Compass René Herse model, which weighs just 3 grams.

de-insulated

The secret is simple: Instead of making the hanger large enough to hold the cable housing and a superfluous ferrule, the Compass René Herse hanger is sized to fit the housing without the plastic covering. Stripping the plastic covering (and deleting the extra ferrule) gives you a metal-on-metal connection that also reduces the flex between housing and hanger – again improving the braking action. It’s not rocket science, but it’s a better, more elegant way of doing this. Of course, to make the René Herse rear cable hangers requires custom-machined parts, which are more expensive than standard ferrules.

Cable_hanger

The Compass René Herse rear cable hanger is made by Nitto to our specifications. Hand-brazed from steel, it’s polished to a mirror shine and then chrome-plated for durability and beauty. It’s equipped with a slot to make removing the brake cable easy – useful for Rinko and travel bikes.

cable stop_on_frame

To match the minimalist cable hanger, we also offer cable stop braze-ons in the same size. I’ve often been bothered by the huge cable stops used on most modern bikes – they seem almost as large as the top tube! Even though I intended my Mule to be just a “working bike”, I couldn’t bring myself to using those oversized stops. Instead, I made my own, smaller stops by cutting down derailleur cable stops.

housing_stops

I won’t need to do this in the future, as we now offer these stops. Of course, you can use the René Herse rear cable hanger on many bikes, but if you build a new frame, these braze-ons result in a more elegant, lighter and more functional setup. More functional? Less flex because there is no ferrule and no outer lining of the housing.

housing_guide_arrow

 

 

At the front, where the brake cable housing turns with the handlebars, we recommend using a guide (arrow) to prevent the housing from getting kinked at the exit of the stop. This is a good idea no matter what type of cable stop you use. It’s just a short piece of tubing. On this bike, it’s been slotted to allow removing the brake cables when the bike is disassembled for Rinko.

Click here for more info on the René Herse cable hangers and housing stops.

The René Herse® name, logo and designs are registered trademarks of Compass Cycles.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. Bicycle Quarterly's sister company, Compass Bicycles Ltd., turns the results of our research into high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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26 Responses to René Herse Rear Cable Hanger

  1. SteveP says:

    It’s the little things. I always try and get an extra cable guide installed on the right chainstay to control the RD loop. You see so many out of whack or sailing in the wind, ready to be snagged.

  2. Richard says:

    Now I understand why brake ferrules never fit in the cable stops on my L’Avecaise. I always thought the tolerances were off just a bit. Apparently Jeff used smaller stops like mentioned in the blog. It makes sense now.

  3. Darren says:

    Elegant! Now only if there was a Front Cable Hanger to match.

    • The most elegant solution for the front hanger is to incorporate it into the stem. That way, you get zero flex… Singer and Herse had nice solutions. We’ll think about it.

      • Michael says:

        Could you hang this one from the stem clamp bolt?
        I have read the Cyclocross racers hang rear stops from their stem clemp bolts.

      • Perhaps you could, but hanging the cable hanger that far forward probably exacerbates brake judder, because it increases the lever of the brake cable over the steerer tube. Also, the hanger needs a bolt that is perpendicular to the bike’s center line so it can swivel – a stem’s handlebar clamp bolt is oriented the wrong way, and the hanger would tend to bend and flex. That would be far from ideal.

      • Darren says:

        Indeed. But that only works for Non-Aero brake lever setup. How would you use Singer and Herse solution for Aero? Unless, braze on to custom stem but that doesn’t look elegant to me and what if you have to change stems?

      • With all cable hangers, aero cable routing works best if you loop the front brake cable over the stem. Otherwise, you get a very tight bend of the brake cable, which causes much friction. Here is a photo of the cable routed above the stem with aero brake levers:Cable routing above stem

      • Darren says:

        I do love your Mule stem setup. Can simply drilling a hole into the stem work for an Aero brake lever option? Won’t the cable bend be to sharp?

      • It works if you route the cable above the stem, as shown in the photo in the comment further up.

  4. Richard says:

    Now I understand why brake ferrules never fit in the cable stops on my L’Avecaise. I always thought the tolerances were off just a bit. Apparently Jeff used the smaller stops. It makes sense now.

  5. Greg Achtem says:

    One thing I like about the Surly’s version of this cable stop is the barrel adjuster. Of course now that I have brake levers with adjusters the Surly’s is superfluous. Also the Surly is not a split stop making cable removal cumbersome.

    • Cable adjusters are a bad idea with centerpull and cantilever brakes. If you just shorten the cable as the brake pads wear, the pads will start abrading the tire (centerpulls) or risk diving underneath the rim (cantilevers). So you have readjust the pads anyhow… The Compass centerpulls are designed to make that easy: You simply slide the pad toward the rim, which also gives you the opportunity to adjust its angle so it hits the rim squarely.

  6. I always specify slotted cable stops on my coupled frames. I like your “snap-in” cable guide next to your short slotted stop. I use the standard long cable stops designed for cables with ferrules. I think the ferrule and longer cable stop reinforces the cable enough that an additional guide is not necessary. Seven years and 27 round trip flights on my two coupled bikes and no problem whatever with that setup. I think that a ferrule makes no difference in brake feel, as your shorter stop merely takes the place of the ferrule.

    Packing a coupled bike is pretty similar to Rinko, except you also have to take the frame apart to fit into the 26x26x10 box, which means you also need cable splitters for both front and rear derailleur cables, as both derailleurs go with the back of the frame. But split stops let you just remove the rear brake (assuming sidepulls) and keep it with the handlebars, no splitters necessary, and no adjustment on reassembly required other than centering, which is dead simple with dual pivot sidepulls. Even easier with straddle-cabled brakes; you don’t even have to take off the brake.

    • You are right, travel bikes do require more disassembly, because you split the frame. With Rinko, no cable splitters are needed, because shift levers and derailleurs aren’t separated.

      As to the ferrules, they add another layer between housing and frame. Instead of putting the housing directly into the braze-on, you put it inside a ferrule, which you then put into the braze-on. So instead of one interface that flexes a bit (because the cable housing never seats 100% tight), you have two. It’s not a big deal, but since the ferrule doesn’t do anything , why not eliminate it?

      The ferrule does make sense on sidepull brakes, where you can use a barrel adjuster to compensate for pad wear. The ferrule makes it easier to turn the adjuster (metal on metal rather than metal on rubber). But as I explained above, barrel adjusters are a bad idea on centerpull and cantilever brakes.

  7. Jacob Musha says:

    This setup looks like it eliminates the barrel adjuster which is often part of the seatstay bridge cable hanger. Do you go without a barrel adjuster?

    I’m curious how removing the plastic covering over the housing reduces flex. With the plastic, you still have a metal-on-metal connection on the surfaces that matter (the face of the housing to the hanger) unless you do a really sloppy job cutting your housing. The few times I’ve had to remove the plastic covering to make a piece of housing fit I’ve found it to be an annoyance.

    • Barrel adjuster: Yes, I don’t use them. See the comment above why – they should be used only with sidepull brakes, where the brake pad orientation doesn’t change much as the pad wear, because the arms are so long. (The long arms also are the reason those brakes have so little power.)

      The plastic covering does increase flex, because it doesn’t seat all the way in the ferrule on most bikes. When you look carefully, you notice that the housing slides further into the ferrule as you pull on the brake levers. Then it springs back when you release them.

      Removing the housing takes less than 20 seconds. It’s the easiest part of setting up your brakes.

  8. keith says:

    Is torsion really the governing factor on seatstay-mounted cable stops? I would think that shear load (and its induced moment on the cantilever of the cable stop) would govern failure/poor performance (if it exists). Torsion would only occur if the cable exits the stop at an off-axis angle. I am wondering if the flex of these welded cable stops are significant, considering the short extension of the cantilever and the fairly thick piece of steel most builders use for this part…is this something you could feel the difference compared to a Rene Herse cable hanger?

    • Anything that is cantilevered is stressed in torsion (bending). How significant is it? I haven’t tested just the hangers, but all the little improvements add up, and the end result is definitely noticeable. I have ridden many bikes with rear Mafac Raid or Compass centerpulls brakes, and the difference in feel that you get from an optimized setup is surprising. Even on the front, if you add inline cable adjusters, ferrules and so on, you can make an excellent brake feel mushy.

      Furthermore, the weight of all those pieces of steel also add up. A stout piece of tubing weighs more than the thin wires of the Herse hanger. Many modern steel bikes weigh 27 pounds or more without lights, yet my Mule weighs 24.9 with lights, fenders and even the pump. It would be easy to shed another pound by using a lighter saddle and seatpost, but the bike wasn’t built with weight as the main concern. It’s just that when you optimize the design of each part, you save weight everywhere, and it adds up quickly.

  9. the coasting frenchman says:

    Hi Jan, though I don’t often post comments on this blog, I love reading it almost as much as I do the magazine! However, I’m still wondering what the big deal with cable adjusters is; most, if not all the bikes that came fitted with MAFAC or DIA-COMPE brakes (I’ve got a few at home) came with barrel adjusters on top of their brake levers, and mountain bikes also had them back before 95 and Shimano (re)introduced v-brakes. Apart from adjusting the brakes as they wear, I’ve always found that those adjusters were a great help to set up the amount of lever travel I wanted when setting up the brakes in the first place.

    • On almost all brakes, the angle of the brake pad changes as the pad swings toward the rim. (There were some brakes with linkages to avoid this, but the linkages tend to bind and vibrate, causing less brake power and squeal.)

      This means that as the pad wears, it doesn’t hit the rim at the same place any more. On sidepulls, it’s no big deal, because the lever arm is so long that the change is minimal. On cantis, the lever arm is very short, so it’s extreme, and the pad can dive under the rim. Then you lose all braking. On centerpulls, the pivot is above the rim, so the pad hits the rim higher as it wears, until it cuts into the tire. Then you get a blowout.

      Modern brakes solve this issue in part by making the pads very thin. They wear quickly, but you need to replace them before they hit the tire. We use thicker pads that give you a very long life. But you shouldn’t just turn a barrel adjuster as the pads wear – you need to re-align the pads with the rims. On the Compass brakes, that is very easy.

      To set up the lever travel, it easiest to just pull the straddle cable a bit further through the brake arm. On the Compass brakes, that is very easy, too. If you prefer a cable hanger with a barrel adjuster, there are many choices on the market that have them. We wanted to offer something that was stiffer, lighter and more elegant.

      • Jacob Musha says:

        Speaking of cantilever brakes, does Compass ever plan to offer them? If not, or in the meantime, do you have any recommendations for cantilever brakes? I’m planning out an Enduro Allroad bike…

      • I think for an Enduro Allroad bike with tires wider than 44 mm, cantilevers are the best choice. On gravel, your braking power is limited, so flexing the fork blades isn’t that big a deal. I don’t have a strong preference among current cantis. This may be something we might offer in the future…

  10. thebvo says:

    Thanks everybody for asking such great questions. I love learning all these little things about our bikes. = }

  11. Bruce Dance says:

    I appreciate elegant design as much as the next fellow (I’ve run cantis with a minimal rear hanger and a drilled stem for decades) but I’m not convinced that eliminating ferrules is always a good idea. In some cases cable stops of the sort described can work well but in other cases they may not. There are several potential issues;

    1) Stripping the coating from the housing encourages the housing to kink and/or to enter the cable stop at a slight angle (if the fit is imperfect in any way), thus increasing friction.

    2) The fit between the OD of the spiral in the housing and the cable stop cannot be entirely guaranteed because it varies from one cable maker to another.

    3) with most types of cable housing the exposed spiral will immediately start to corrode unless that region is corrosion-proofed in some way. If used on treated winter roads, it is often almost impossible to prevent corrosion from forming rusty stains at such cable stops.

    4) as noted with this kind of cable stop some kind of strain relief eyelet is a good idea wherever the cable housing is long and/or likely to enter the eyelet at a bad angle otherwise. If said strain relief is slotted, it is almost invariably vulnerable to damage. It would appear that the one in the illustration has already been deformed and if so, it will probably break off in due course.

    5) The cheapest way to make a cable stop drilling is with a twist drill, which leaves the bottom of the cable stop with an angled seat, instead of a flat bottom. It isn’t 100% clear in the photos if the cable stops and hanger are angled in the bottom or not, but from the domed shape they might well be; very few of this sort are not. An angled seat encourages the last turn in the spiral to flex inwards every time the brake is used, and in extremis the last turn can collapse onto the cable and bind; indeed this is arguably more likely to happen if the cable prep is better, i.e. with a ground end to the housing, because the last half-turn is thinner and more likely to flex/bend sideways on an angled seat. A truly flat-bottomed seat for the cable housing is a much preferable arrangement; if the cable housing is ground square it will seat firmly onto a flat seat and it will not flex or deform when the brake is applied.

    Angled cable stop seats and ferrule-less cable stops abound on older British framesets and IME they usually cause nothing but trouble. In days gone by good bike shops would have an array of different shouldered ferrules available so that cables could be fitted reasonably well to frames with poorly thought-out cable stops. A common accessory would be a rubber strap (eg of the kind used to secure electrical wiring harnesses at one time) around both ends of the top tube to provide strain relief for the cable housing, without which the spiral would inevitably kink.

    Given a free choice I prefer to use a well-designed ferrule or cable stop, i.e. with a shoulder on the ferrule, a flat bottom for the cable housing to seat onto, preferably without a slot, and ideally with a liner through it.

    Fortunately suitable ferrules are available, e.g. such as those seen here;

    http://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=OIP.M23cc1db85ee08c35ae446ed5efb347a3o0&w=300&h=300&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0&r=0

    which have a flat bottomed seat, an aluminium body, and a built-in liner. About 2/5 the length of the ferrule is solid (and different starting ODs are available), allowing the OD at the shoulder to be chosen and/or machined down to make it a perfect fit in any frame mounted cable stop, and making the (usually angled) seat geometry of the cable stop irrelevant. [If you don’t have a lathe, you can mount the ferrules in an electric drill and grind/file/abrade them to the correct fit.] The length of housing engagement is long enough that a separate strain relief is not usually required, provided the ferrule is a good fit in the cable stop. The OD of the ferrule is only about 5.75mm. The weight is of course insignificant.

    Using such ferrules, a top tube brake run (say) can be simply eyeletted using two short lengths of 5mm ID tubing. This can be 1mm wall if the tube wall is solid, but ought perhaps to be slightly thicker if the eyelet must be slotted. With eyelets of this sort the frame can be used with full housing all the way (good for wet weather use) or a bare cable run between shouldered/lined ferrules, as the fancy takes you.

    If you don’t want the possibility of using a full cable housing run, the eyelets can be smaller diameter, so that no part of the cable stop or shouldered ferrule need be more than about 5.75mm diameter, giving an elegant look.

    • You raise some good points. I also have seen bikes with squished cable housing windings – usually on older, low-quality housing that was made from round spirals, rather than the flat material now used.

      The René Herse Rear Cable Hangers have proven themselves for decades on original Herse bikes. I’ve ridden quite a few of those, and worked on many more, and not once have I encountered the problems you describe. For the last two years, we’ve tested prototypes of the hangers we now offer – like all Compass products, we only release them after we’ve tested them thoroughly on our own bikes.

      I agree with you that a strain relief for the brake cable housing that moves with the handlebars is desirable. This is independent of whether you use a ferrule or not, and whether you “de-insulate” the housing or not. The housing will kink where it exits the ferrule, and the rubber “insulation” doesn’t do much to prevent this. Having a simple loop brazed ahead of the cable stop solves this problem handily. Again, the slotted stop on my bike has held up in the rough life of a Rinko travel bike (the bike gets banged around on trains and in airplanes).

      I think the main point is that we don’t sell anything that we haven’t tested ourselves quite extensively. We are some of the most demanding riders, and often find problems with products (including the ones we sell) that few others have discovered. Unfortunately, this is rare in the bike industry today, but it’s the reason is why our customers buy our products with confidence.

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