Why and How to Cut Bike Cable Without Cutter

Do you want to replace your bike cables and housing? Perhaps you’ve been experiencing erratic shifting, or your brakes aren’t as smooth as you’d like.

Either way, you’ll need to cut through your cables cleanly and smoothly, often achieved by a cable cutter. But since cutters are overpriced compared to the very few times you’ll use them throughout the years, I’ve come up with a few alternatives. Top alternatives are Dremel Tools, Pliers, and high tension Hacksaws.

So, keep scrolling to discover why and how to cut a bike cable without a cutter!

Why Do You Need to Cut Cables on the Bike?

If you aren’t a pro biker, you might be lost on why people cut their bike cables in the first place. Here’s a list of situations where you’ll need to do it:

  • Worn cables: Cables are constantly exposed to weather conditions, including dust and rain. Over time, the dirt accumulates and starts wearing out the wires, which leads to a not-so-smooth shifting performance. If this happens, you must cut the cables and install new ones.
  • Frayed housing: Cables pass through a steel part called a housing, which protects them from the natural elements and allows them to bend flexibly. When the housing gets frayed, increased friction and shifting problems arise, which calls for quick replacement.
  • Rusted cables and housing: If you haven’t used your bike in a long time and have returned to find the cables all rusty, you’ll need to replace them to avoid braking accidents and injuries.
  • New longer cables: When installing new cables, you might need to adjust their lengths or snip off their ends to fit into the housing comfortably.

In all cases, you’ll need a reliable cable cutter, which can be pretty expensive. However, since you probably won’t need to replace your cables more than once a year, looking for a more affordable alternative is the wise option.

Do You Need Special Tools to Cut Bike Cables?

While cutting bike cables, you should make smooth and clean cuts to avoid fraying your new wires. Having said that, you don’t need special tools to do it since they aren’t increasingly thick. 

There’s a myriad of tools on the market that can get you smooth cuts. Although they’ll be much slower than a cable cutter, the affordable price will be worth it.

Park Tool Bicycle Professional Cable and Housing Cutter CN-10

Tools Specifically Designed to Cut Bike Cables and Housing

If you want to stick to the basics and use tools specifically designed to cut cables and housing, check out the following list of some of the best cable cutters on the market:

  • Park Tool CN-10 Cable Cutter: With sharp cutting jaws and two durable handles, the CN-10 cutter is among the best on the market. Its only downside is its price tag, which might not be affordable for everybody.
  • Felco Cable Cutter: Durability and efficiency are the Felco cutter’s motto. It has non-slip handles and sharp jaws, and its small size makes it more convenient and portable than other options.
  • BOAO Stainless Steel Cable Cutter: The BOAO cutter is an all-in-one product that comes with bike shift cables, flexible O-rings, end caps, and end ferrules. Shockingly enough, it’s more affordable than the previous two cutters.
  • Qlouni Cable Cutter: The Qlouni cutter is a heavy-duty cutter that can snip cables and their housing in seconds. Although not durable as its counterparts, it’s much more affordable.
  • iCrimp Bicycle Rope Cutter: With rust-resistant jaws and convenient handles, the iCrimp cutter checks all boxes as an efficient tool for cutting cables. You can use it to snip a cable end smoothly without fraying, but beware that it’s heavier and larger than most cutters on our list.

Alternate Tools You Can Use to Cut Cables

If you’re as convinced as I am that most cable cutters are overpriced, check out my list of alternatives that you can use to cut cables and housing. Although they aren’t as fast and smooth as specifically-designed tools, they’ll do a decent job if you use them right.

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Dremel Tool

Dremel tools are excellent alternatives to cutters. They’re fast, efficient, and much more affordable. In addition, such tools work using rotary power, and they have sharp edges that, when rotated fast, can cut through all stubborn wires.

But a piece of advice; when using a Dremel tool, try to still your hands as much as you can. Any erratic movement will lead to a rough cut, which can lead to fraying. Also, use the tool for the cables only, not the housing. Cutting through a housing using it is challenging, so only attempt it if you’ve tried it before.

2. Pliers

Pliers work similarly to cable cutters but are more affordable and likely to be in your bike toolbox

If you want to try them, keep a hammer nearby because you might need it to press the tool down on the wires. Some bike cables are made from heavy-duty stainless steel, so you might need more than your hands and the pliers to cut through them.

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3. High-Tension Hacksaws

The last tool I recommend trying is a high-tension hacksaw. It sounds unconventional, but anything to save a few bucks, right?

High-tension hacksaws have extremely sharp blades and strong pulls. If you have steady hands, you can cut through your cables and housing in a few minutes.


How easy is it to cut a bike lock cable?

Cutting a bike cable can be easy if you have the right tools. A bike cable is a strong wire that goes through the bike lock to keep the bike safe. But, if someone wants to steal the bike, they might try to cut the cable. The tools they use to cut the cable are called wire cutters, and they can make it easy to cut through the cable. So, it’s essential to use a good bike lock that’s hard to cut through and keep your bike in a safe place to protect it from thieves.

Final Thoughts

If you want to replace your bike cables but don’t want to dent your wallet by getting a new cutter, I have a few alternatives.

You can use a Dremel tool, a pair of pliers, or a high-tension hacksaw. They aren’t as fast and smooth as cutters, but they’re decent enough to be worth a try!