Lubricating gear/shift cables.

Today I will run through how to lubricate the gear/shift cables on your bike.

This is a fairly simple process involving no tools :)  I here you asking “how can I service my gear/shift cables with no tools?” Well, read on and I shall enlighten you :) or refresh something you may have forgotten.

The simplest way to lubricate your gear inner cables is to do as follows;

Shift the rear gears/derailleur up to the easiest/large gear cog  nearest the spokes,                                                                          (unless you have a rapid rise rear derailleur on your bike, which requires you shift the rear derailleur to the smallest, outer most gear cog )

Now while the chain is sitting nicely on the easiest/largest cog release the shifter as if to shift back down to the smallest/hardest gear BUT DO NOT MOVE THE CRANKS OR TURN YOUR REAR WHEEL. You will notice that this frees up a lot of cable which should allow you to remove the outer casing from the frame stops on your bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have the cable outer free from the frame simply slide the outer casing to expose the inner cable/wire and wipe the inner cable/wire clean.

Next you can apply either a light oil or grease to the inner cable/wire and refit the outer casing to the frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do this for any section of inner cable/wire that is normally running through the gear outer casing. While you are at it you should check the condition of the outer casing to see if the metal strands are starting to pull through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If there is evidence of the metal strands coming through as shown above I would suggest getting your outer casing replaced at your local IBD.

Now you have successfully lubed the rear gear inner cable and outer casing refit all cable housing back into the frame.    It is best to now shift the shifter lever back up toward the easiest/largest rear gear cog and then pedal the bike to set the chain where the shifter will set it. IF YOU HAVE MISSED FITTING A SECTION OF OUTER CASING INTO A FRAME STOP DO NOT PANIC, just turn the cranks as you would normally when pedaling and CAREFULLY  push the rear derailleur up into the easiest gear, release the shifter again allowing you to refit the cable outer into the frame stop.

Now it is onto the front derailleur cable and you will follow the same principle as for the rear derailleur cable.

Shift into the biggest front chain ring and then WITHOUT MOVING THE CRANKS release the shift lever to free up the cable. Remove the outer casing from the frame and clean/lubricate and refit as you did for the rear derailleur cable. Remember to check the condition of the cable inner and outer casing.

As a side note for any gear inner cable/wire always check for fraying of the cable. Below you will notice part of a gear/shift inner cable/wire that has frayed (notice how the strands have started to unravel before snapping) before snapping completely. During many bicycle services  this is what we have found can happen to the gear inner cable, especially on the right/rear shift lever on Shimano 9 speed units. I suggest that when you service the gear cables on your bike you look for any type of fraying near the gear shift lever as if the cable snaps as shown below and wedges in your shift lever unit THE CONSEQUENCES CAN BE CATASTROPHIC FAILURE FOR THE LEVER. Better to check while lubricating the cables and if you notice any fraying then have the cable replaced at your local IBD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope this has helped with your regular maintenance :)

Shane at SR Bike Works

  • Pingback: ()

  • greencannondale

    Shimano recommends replacing shifter cables on a regular, annual basis to prevent the cable end from shearing off.

    • Just to add to the data, Campagnolo says to replace their cables and housing every 12,500 miles or 2 years, which ever comes first. Unless you are racing, then it is 9300 miles, or 1 year. Don’t know what SRAM or Jagwire have to say.