Bend Radius and Size Considerations when Choosing a Pulley

Wire Rope sheaves


While poorly manufactured cable and rope products can lead to a short cable service life, the main factor that drives cable deterioration is choosing the wrong pulley for your application. There is a significant relationship between cable construction and pulley size that is crucial to the success of your application. The best way to determine your pulleys for cable and wire rope is to follow a recommended bend radius guide. Read more to understand the best choices for pulleys and the bend radius guides for various cable and wire rope constructions.

Choosing a Pulley for Cable and Wire Rope:

Although it seems like a practical idea to use the smallest pulleys possible for cable and wire rope to reduce the size of your applications, it greatly reduces cable life. In general, a big pulley is the best option as it provides a less intense angle for the rope or cable to make. Choosing a small pulley means the rope/cable will have to turn a sharp corner adding stress to your cable/wire rope, causing damage over time.

Recommended Bend Radius Guides:

Our guide provides a visual understanding of the minimum recommended pulley diameter for specific wire rope and cable sizes and the approximate bend radius of the rope and cable. The calculations of bend radius in our tables are approximately half of the minimum recommended pulley tread diameter. Whether running partially or entirely over the sheave or drum, check your design against the recommendations to understand the service life you can expect from your cable and wire rope.  

Our guide covers the cable and wire rope constructions 3x7, 6x7, 6x42, 7x3, 7x7, 6x19, 7x19, 19x7, 6x37, and 8x19. An example of how our guide works is if you have a 6x37 or 8x19 wire rope that is.188” in rope diameter, the recommended pulley tread diameter is 2-1/4” and the approximate bend radius is 1-1/8”. To view our recommendations for pulley tread diameter and the approximate bend radius of other rope sizes, visit our guide.Stainless Aircraft Cable

By understanding the general rule that a larger pulley is often best in applications and following the bend radius guide, your cable and wire rope products will last for years to come. If you are interested in buying wire rope and cable, look no further than Strand Core. Why buy with us? We carry various styles and sizes of cable and wire rope, our products are Manufactured in USA, and we can provide a custom configuration of materials and constructions that comply with various industry specifications. If you are interested in checking out our wire rope and cable options, please visit our website. Alternatively, if you have any questions, our team is happy to help! Reach out to us by email through or by phone at 800-983-9926.  

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