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.
Can anyone tell me where to begin when resetting the position of the front derailer and shift cables on a cheep older Walmart bike? I was trying to fix the scrapping of the derailer and shifting problems but messed up and loosened the shift cable bolt and can't get anything back. I loose the large ring or the small during shifting so I need to start from scratch...but where?... Read more >>
I recently got a Trek Antelope 800, and the thumb shifter is broken. I have found a thumb shifter (Shimano Tourney SL-TX50) but I am not sure if it comes with the cables I need to install. Anyone know where I could get these cables?... Read more >>
I'm putting my plan together to fix up a Fuji Allegro, and I'm curious if I can tuck the cable housing for the brakes under the handlebar tape, or if it must be above. Not a deal breaker either way, just curious if it is a functional idea.... Read more >>
[attachment=4841]I have a non-branded carbon fiber TT bike (Cervelo P3) purchased on the internet. It looks very similar to the picture posted. The problem is once the shift cables are installed and adjusted the shifting only works a couple of times or less and then hangs up and the cable binds up somehow and the bike will not change gears. When you take the tension off, the cable will slide back and forth thru the housing without hanging up. Has anyone experienced this before? Is there a way to replace the internal housing? I think the frame is not hollow and has plates that the hou... Read more >>
So I bought a new Schwinn bike to replace my old one that got stolen, and on the first set of gears (the ones connected to the pedals) the cable wasn't taught enough to switch gears. So, I researched, and found that the cable had to be tighter. So I thightened it. Now it goes up to 3 from the first gear, but it won't go down to the 2nd gear. So I turned the dial to one, and it went to one. It won't go to the second gear even though the dial says it is. What should I adjust to fix this? I ride long distances, and up bridges, so this is kind of a big problem.... Read more >>
Can anyone tell me the difference between galvanised and stainless steel cables/wires? From what I have read online, stainless steel doesn't rust. I have bought some cables, so how do I check what material it is?
Thank you... Read more >>
Hi! Newcomer here.
I am the proud owner of a KTM Ultra Fun So far it has been nothing but joy, until recently the right-hand gear-shift cable decided to burst and detach from the gear-shift lever (Shimano ST M410) in the middle of a ride, part of the cable remaining inside...
The first pic below shows the large fraction of cable as I was able to retrieve. The second one zooms into the broken end.
[attachment=4411... Read more >>
Ok, I was cleaning my bike and as I was wiping down the seat tube, the front derailleur cable flung out, as the allen screw wasn't very tight...
I looked up several videos and followed them to the best of my ability, but I can't get the slack out of the cable...
I thought that the white things on the cable housing in the 3rd picture were the barrel adjusters referred to in videos, but turning them has no effect.
Please help ... Read more >>
Hi all, my friends road bike is knackard and it's up to me to fix it. I've compeltely overhauled the bike and it's running fantastic apart from one minor, annoying little problem.
The bike used to use those horrible lever-pull shifters below the handlebars however I changed to a pair of Shimano 7-speed rapid-fire shifters with integrated brake levers and the problem now is that the frame lacks the neccesary cable stop boss, and so far I've been using duct-tape and a bunch of cable-ties however this is just not strong enough and the cable is moving when shifting the gears on the re... Read more >>
I have just replaced the rear gear cable, the bike now runs and shifts okay but in certain gears there is either a clicking sound or the chain jumps a gear unexpectedly. Is this a tensioning issue? I have tried adjusting the mech via the rear barrel adjuster but it hasn't really helped...... Read more >>
[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 >>
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 >>
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 >>