11. How to Lubricate Brake and Shift Cables
Cable lubrication is recommended, especially if you ride in the rain or have old cable housings.
Most brake and shift cables these days have a plastic lining built into the housing, therefore eliminating the need for lubrication. However, if you ride a lot in wet weather, or have an older bike without the plastic lining, you’ll want to lubricate the cables to prevent rust. I personally believe that well-lubricated cables also improve braking and shifting.
I use Tri-flow to lubricate cables, as it is very effective at distributing itself evenly, and lasts a long time. Most bike shops carry it, or they may have a similar product that will work just as well. Make sure you shake the bottle before use, and have a rag handy to wipe off any excess.
Most brake and derailleur systems have some sort of quick release system that allow you to release the cable from it’s stop. Here it is demonstrated on a cantilever brake, but other systems like sidepull, U-brakes, and V-brakes have similar quick release mechanisms.
Once the brake is released, compress the lever, pull on the housing, and slide it through the barrel adjuster until the inner wire is exposed. Now carefully squeeze a few drops of oil onto the inner cable just above where it runs down into the housing. If the cable is vertical, the oil will penetrate the housing on its own.
Slide the cable housing back into the barrel adjuster and re-connect the brake.
To lube the rear shift cable, first shift the gears until the chain is on the largest sprocket, and then stop the wheel from rotating.
With the freewheel stopped from moving, shift your shifter all the way in the opposite direction, as if you were going to shift to the smallest sprocket. The rear derailleur should now be stuck on the largest sprocket, which will give you enough slack to fully release the cable from the frame. Pull the upper section of the outer cable down leaving a section of inner cable exposed. Lube the cable the same way as the brake cable, and then reconnect the outer housing.
Now pull the lower section of housing free from the frame, and slide it away from the derailleur. Repeat the lubrication process and reconnect the housing. Don’t forget to move your rear shifter back to the largest sprocket before rotating the rear wheel.
To lube the front shift cable, shift the front derailleur to the largest sprocket, and then stop the crank from rotating and move the shift lever all the way in the opposite direction. Disconnect and lube the upper housing of the front shift cable the same way as the rear. Reconnect the cable and once again make sure to shift the lever back where it was before rotating the crank.
[attachment=4121][attachment=4121]I have a Sillhoutte and the shifter cable housing has a 90 deg. bend at the downtube connection.The opposite side shifter does not have this bend.Is this a possible bend that has been done by an incorrect cable housing routing.It just looks to be to much of a drastic bend.... Read more >>
Hello, I'm attempting to put new on a bike where I never saw the old housing. I have a center pull cantilever brake and I'm wondering if anything has to go on the end of the housing before the cable connects to the link wire.... Read more >>
My cable guide on bottom bracket is a press on type and doesn't have a screw. Looked around the 'net for a replacement but all of them have a screw. This is for an older Black Diamond, "Ascent" model mountain bike that I just got and need to get in shape. thanks... Read more >>
Greetings: New guy here again. I will be replacing brake and shift cables on my 43 year old Raleigh Grand Prix. It's been hanging from my rafters for 20+ years, and the cables are old, dry, rusty and ready to snap. Before that happens, I'd like to replace them, but not sure where to start. Will I need any sort of special tools? Also, are there specific cables I'll need to source for this old bike? ANY advice on replacing the cables will be greatly appreciated! TIA!... Read more >>
I inherited 2001 LeMond road bike recently and I want to add inline cable adjusters to the shifting cables (the existing adjusters are rusted and don't work anymore). I was planning on buying a new shifter cable and housing set, but now I'm wondering if I should keep the existing housing and just replace the cable. The housing seems to be in good shape, but is probably 5+ years old. The cable and housing set I'm looking at is Aztec shifter cable and housing. As for raw cable, any advantage to PTFE coating vs. stainless steel?... Read more >>
I own a 2013 Trek 7.2 FX, and the front brake shoe stopped working up to par, so I decided that I needed to upgrade it. I'm getting a Avid Single Digit 7, and well, I need a brake cable. The one I own now it frayed, so I can't really use it, so what would you recommend?... Read more >>
Hi all I have got a Giant bike from mid 80's. Rear derailleur is Harnet. The adjuster barrel is totally seized up, tried it giving a few WD40 baths, nothing working. Now the question is : Is the RD cable barrel adjuster really required as I am having downtube shifters so I can accurately adjust the RD at a position where it runs without any clicks or dongs.....Still confused about it.... Read more >>
I have a bit of a red/yellow theme on my bike, the frame is red, the stickers, pedals, grips, brake blocks etc are yellow, I've been considering changing the outer cables from black to yellow, when I last went out on a ride I broke the rear inner cable so now seems like a good time to swap them over. Jagwire is a make that keeps popping on the searches I have done, it would appear they are a good make and are fitted as original equipment on a lot of bikes so I'll probably go for this make, seems you purchase it by the metre so just need to measure up what I have and get some. I've noticed ou... Read more >>
I have a raleigh mountain bike which uses gripshift. My problem is that I think something in the right gear changer has shifted, because it won't go below halfway on the dialer but the bike recognizes that as being in first gear as opposed to second which is what it should see it as, and it reaches as far as what used to be third gear on the dialer but the bike only goes as high as second gear. I think it would go up to third if the dialer went higher, but it only moves between half way and the top. Sorry I don't know any technical jargon, but I hope that made some kind of sense and if you co... Read more >>
Hello, I am redoing cables for a Schwinn Varsity 1973. I was planing on fragmenting the housing like what was on the bike originally (ie not continuous housing). Would this product below work for me? Sent away for a bike cable cutter. Thanks in advance Jagwire Racer Diy Road Cable Kit Grey, Complete Brake & Derailleur Kit Item # CA409C10... Read more >>
Hello all, I have the same problem with my bike as trilong2009 did three years ago. The threading in which my Brake Cable Barrel Adjuster Screw (for the rear brake) is apparently somewhat damaged or stripped -- even though I could see most of the threading -- because I am unable to turn the cable barrel adjuster tight and that in turn is not allowing me to adjust the cable. This first happened last year when the bike was new and hardly used, and so, I am a little skeptical that it was because of a lot of grime and grit that got caught in the there; but, nevertheless, I did ... Read more >>
Whenever I try to use my rear brakes, the cable housing sort of "jumps" out of position. It's really bugging me because I have to reset it everytime I pull on my rear brakes. Here's a video of the issue. I suspected it to be too much friction between the cable and the housing, but I cleaned the cable and relubricated it, and the problem still persists. Any suggestions on how I can fix this?... Read more >>
I am not a bike mechanic by any means. I was wondering if a brake cable can be too short and if the lack of slack can actually affect the braking. A mechanic saw my braking cables and immediately told me that I don't have total braking power. If that is true, why?... Read more >>
I recently installed new Tektro road brakes on my drop bars and am having difficulty running the cables through the brake body. Any tips for guiding the cable into the ridiculously small space behind the lever? I installed housing and wrapped it already so I'd rather not take it apart just to do route cable.... Read more >>
So i went to go get a cable for gear shifting and the bike shop repair person said they are the same standard size and you cut to fit. Well the cable i got is too short for the back derailer. Are there longer gear shifting cables? Did he give me brake cables instead? Or do i have to stretch the cable or figure out how to use the shorter one?... Read more >>