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.
Hi - I am working on a wheelchair rather than a bicycle however it does have caliper brakes on both back wheels which are controlled by regular brake levers located on the wheelchair hand grasps (at the back). I want to control the brake levers remotely via two servo motors. I need to move the location of the brake levers so that someone can still push the wheel chair and that the servo motors won't be in the way of the users hands.
I need the resistance on the brake lever to be as 'light' as possible so that the servo motors can have the torque to open/close the brake lever incr... Read more >>
I am getting a 1978 Raleigh Grand Prix road bike into riding condition. The derailleur cables need replacing. Can I use standard cables found at a local bike shop or do I need to find special "vintage" cables online? This is my first bike repair project, so any help would be appreciated.
---Anders... Read more >>
Just about to replace the inner cable on my XT M8000 11 speed shifter. Can anyone tell me if I need to use the Optislick inner cable or would a PTFE one be fine. Also does the Optislick cable have a different housing. Cheers Stevo... Read more >>
I know the difference between the 2 cables but how do I spot the difference between the 2? I have bought both cables and they will be delivered later this week. Is there a difference visually, feel wise?
Thanks... Read more >>
Can anyone tell me what PE lined brake cable mean? Also how do i tell if the cable is PE lined or not when looking at it? I have had a quick look on google and no luck so far.
Thanks... Read more >>
About 2 months ago, I put new cables on both the bikes (1970 Gitane, 1980 Peugeot) I've been restoring...
I have been checking the alignment of the gearing and brakes, and I believe I've noticed a minor 'new cable stretch' for lack of a better term....
What I'm trying to say is, I'm noticing a slight re-adjustment in brakes and derailleur adjustment that's needed a couple months after the install...
I kind of remember this to be true on motorcycle Clutch cables.. but have not seen t... Read more >>
So I've recently noticed that my rear dérailleur has almost completely lost its ability to shift the chain between sprockets (on a good day, it can move between two of the seven rear sprockets).
I think I've found the source of the problem in the shift mechanism:
In the photo, you can see the dérailleur cable enter a white plastic part (just below the "2"). You can also see some big metal wires emerging from the housing and meeting this white plastic part (just below the "1").
When the dérailleur shi... Read more >>
I was having issues with my bike chain slipping on the front derailleur mid ride and skipping gears on the rear when shifting. Did some reading determined that my derailleurs probably needed adjusting, most likely because as a relatively new bike the cables would have stretched. I had my housemate have a look (he has a little bit of bike knowledge) he twisted the H and L screws and the barrel adjuster to show me what they do (actually made the front derailleur worse) and left me to it.
Anyway I'm normally pretty good at fixing things so I followed instructions from the internet a... Read more >>
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 housing ... 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.
[at... Read more >>