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.
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 >>
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 >>