22. How to Replace Cable Housings
Measure, cut, lubricate and replace your old seized or damaged cable housings.
If your cable housing is old and stiff, or damaged, it’s a good idea to replace them to improve your braking and shifting. So how do you know how much length you will need? It’s easy if your old cables are still attached as you can simply measure them, but sometimes you’ll need to measure them manually.
It’s quite difficult to evenly cut cable housings with regular pliers, so I’d recommend picking up a proper cable cutter before you begin. However, you will need some regular cutters on hand to cut off any sheared spiral housings, and a scribe or some kind of sharp poking device is handy to poke out the inner lining clear. You’ll also need to install ferrules on each end of your housing, so you’ll need two for each section of housing.
It’s also very important to know that there is a big difference between brake and shift housings. Brake cable housings have a coiled metal spiral embedded in them, while compressionless shift cables have a series of tiny round wires running parallel along the length of housing. If you were to use brake cable housings on shift cables the result would be very poor shifting.
As I mentioned before, if your old housings are intact you can simply take them off and measure them for the exact replacement length. However, if there are no existing housings, you’ll have to buy more than you think you’ll need and then trim it down. For example, if I needed to replace the rear derailleur housing, I would take a ruler and move it along the estimated path and then add another few inches just to be safe.
Housings should make a smooth curve, with no sharp bends. For example, the length shown here is ideal. This would be too short, and this would be too long. The sections that run from your handlebar to your frame shouldn’t be too long, but there should be enough room to turn the handlebar all the way in both directions.
Once you’ve measured twice, cut the housing clean across using the cable cutter. The inner spiral on brake housings will sometimes shear leaving some metal poking out. Trim this with your wire cutters until the end is flush. Then clear a hole in the plastic lining with your poker. Shift cables usually cut clean and just need the lining poked through.
Once all of your housing sections are cut and trimmed, slide a ferrule on the end of each. I like to also squirt a drop of Tri-Flow into the housings to keep them operating smoothly. Now you’re ready to install the housings and reinstall the inner cables. I’ll demonstrate how to replace your inner cables in an upcoming tutorial.
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 >>