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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Lubing Derailleur Cables (Steps?)

    I need some help regarding lubing my derailleur cables, as I have never done it before.

    Can you people please write out a step by step procedure for lubing my derailleur cables?

    By the way, does one also need to lube brake cables?

    Thanks for all responses.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

  2. #2
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    What I do is:
    (1) I remove the cables from the housing
    (2) I take a rag and squirt about a teaspoon of grease onto it (I use white lithium grease since it's easily available at Home Depot, but others prefer marine wheel bearing grease)
    (3) I grab the cable loosely with the greasy rag and pull the whole length of the cable gently through the grease
    (4) I thread the cable back into the housing, trying not to wipe any of the grease off in the process
    (5) After the cables are fully reinstalled and adjusted to my satisfaction, I wipe the excess grease off the exposed parts of the cable

    Lubing derailer cables generally makes shifting smoother, so that the shifters don't "stick". But you know that already.

    Lubing brake cables is also good, because if you have sharp bends in your brake cables, then the brakes can stick on the rims after you release the levers. I've especially had this problem with canti brakes and drop bars, since the front brake cable makes a very sharp bend from under the bar tape to the cable stop attached to the headset.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member bluehair's Avatar
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    Lube your cables this way if you do not want to have to readjust both derailleurs, a significant challenge to a novice, and both brakes. Put your bike in a work stand and rotate the bike so that the ends of the cable housing are verticle. Drizzle some light lube like Tri-flow (? spelling) onto the cable and let it flow into the housing. Gravity will bring the lube into the housing. Do this 2 or 3 times and let the bike sit for a while. Rotate the bike again to get at the rest of the cable ends and do the same thing.
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    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    You can make lubing the cables very easy (brake and shifter) by using Wal-mart Super TECH white grease in a spray can. Make sure the straw is taped to the side of the can, as you will put that straw in the spray can nozzle and about 1/4" in the cable casing so as to shoot grease into the casing. The grease sprays out as a liquid and then becomes your typical grease consistency when a thinning additive evaporates. Be sure you stick the cable back in the casing while the grease is in a thinned state so the still liquid grease will be pushed through the cable and soak into the cable to ward off rust formation if your running anything except stainless steel cables.

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    I thought you weren't supposed to lube der cables because it damages the housing?

    I've always greased all cables by starting the cable into the housing, then putting a big gob of grease on the end of the housing where the cable enters and greasing the cable as it feeds into the housing.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou
    You can make lubing the cables very easy (brake and shifter) by using Wal-mart Super TECH white grease in a spray can. Make sure the straw is taped to the side of the can, as you will put that straw in the spray can nozzle and about 1/4" in the cable casing so as to shoot grease into the casing. The grease sprays out as a liquid and then becomes your typical grease consistency when a thinning additive evaporates. Be sure you stick the cable back in the casing while the grease is in a thinned state so the still liquid grease will be pushed through the cable and soak into the cable to ward off rust formation if your running anything except stainless steel cables.
    Can I use a regular bike lube, like ProLink, instead of the Super TECH white grease? I am thinking grease is going to attract a lot of dust and dirt to the cables. Am I right?

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Can I use a regular bike lube, like ProLink, instead of the Super TECH white grease? I am thinking grease is going to attract a lot of dust and dirt to the cables. Am I right?

    Regards,
    No, the grease won't attract much dirt since the greased part of the cables should be inside the housing. As I mentioned, you should NOT grease the exposed parts of the cables.

    Regular chain lube is not good for this purpose since it is too thin. It will not stick to the sides of the housing, and it will run off. Grease is needed because it is thicker. Grease is also used to lubricate bearings, by the way, since oil is too thin for this use as well.
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    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    No, the grease won't attract much dirt since the greased part of the cables should be inside the housing. As I mentioned, you should NOT grease the exposed parts of the cables.

    Regular chain lube is not good for this purpose since it is too thin. It will not stick to the sides of the housing, and it will run off. Grease is needed because it is thicker. Grease is also used to lubricate bearings, by the way, since oil is too thin for this use as well.
    Moxfyre, could you please tell me which section in Wal-Mart is the Super TECH white grease stocked?

    Thanks.
    Regards,

    Jed

  9. #9
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Moxfyre, could you please tell me which section in Wal-Mart is the Super TECH white grease stocked?

    Thanks.
    I haven't ever bought grease at Walmart, I think that was n4zou who said he bought it there. I get mine at Home Depot, where it's labeled "White Lithium Grease" and is generally in the hardware section with nuts and bolts and nails and things.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    I haven't ever bought grease at Walmart, I think that was n4zou who said he bought it there. I get mine at Home Depot, where it's labeled "White Lithium Grease" and is generally in the hardware section with nuts and bolts and nails and things.
    Sorry for the mix-up. I should ask though whether the White Lithium Grease you buy at Home Depot is the spray kind that n4zou described in his post, or is it a regular tub or tube of grease?

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Sorry for the mix-up. I should ask though whether the White Lithium Grease you buy at Home Depot is the spray kind that n4zou described in his post, or is it a regular tub or tube of grease?
    The kind I get is in a squeeze tube which I find very convenient. I'm highly skeptical about whether spray-on grease can really lubricate a cable without removing the housing. But if you don't want to have to reattach and adjust the cables, then give it a shot...
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    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    Moxfyre, could you please tell me which section in Wal-Mart is the Super TECH white grease stocked?

    Thanks.
    It's in the automotive section along with all the other automotive related items like brake fluid and oil additives. After you lube cable casings using that spray on white grease you will never use anything else! That grease will spray through cable casing including twists and turns under handlebar tape. You will fine white lithium grease in a tube as well. I also use the red synthetic grease for wheel bearings but you must clean out any other grease, as it will not mix with any other types of grease. The advantage of using this grease is it's impervious to water and never hardens.

  13. #13
    Gone, but not forgotten Sheldon Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCAS
    I need some help regarding lubing my derailleur cables, as I have never done it before.

    Can you people please write out a step by step procedure for lubing my derailleur cables?

    By the way, does one also need to lube brake cables?
    Modern cables and housings generally should not be lubricated. The viscosity of the lube actually gums up the works. The exception is where the shift cables run through the guide under the bottom bracket. A bit of grease there now and then is a good thing.

    See also my article on cables: http://sheldonbrown.com/cables

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  14. #14
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Modern cables and housings generally should not be lubricated. The viscosity of the lube actually gums up the works. The exception is where the shift cables run through the guide under the bottom bracket. A bit of grease there now and then is a good thing.

    See also my article on cables: http://sheldonbrown.com/cables

    Sheldon "High And Dry" Brown
    Really? I've had a number of times where a cable was sticking and rubbing, and a bit of grease made it run smooth... But maybe not a good idea to lube a brand new set of cables.
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  15. #15
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Modern cables and housings generally should not be lubricated. The viscosity of the lube actually gums up the works. The exception is where the shift cables run through the guide under the bottom bracket. A bit of grease there now and then is a good thing.
    [/CODE]
    I put new cables and casings on a Moustache handlebar with barcon shifters and there was too much drag through the long casings with twists and turns. That white grease in the spray can made shifting slick, smooth, and easy.

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    I've had mixed luck greasing cables, especially the "noodle" that loops around to the rear derailleur. That can get really sticky and gunked up. You shift into a large cog (assuming a "high normal" design), and this causes a section of the cable to come out of the housing at the stop on the chainstay. This is covered with sticky grease so it picks up all the road grit. Then you shift into a higher gear and this section of cable gets pulled back into the housing, along with the gunk. Now repeat about 1,000 times and pretty soon black junk has worked its way all through the length of the housing.

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    Grease and cable housings ...

    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    Really? I've had a number of times where a cable was sticking and rubbing, and a bit of grease made it run smooth... But maybe not a good idea to lube a brand new set of cables.

    The books were out of date and told me to grease the cables. I was going for full housings because I was sick of sticky cables. Well after final assembly with Park grease the cables move like mud. I had to start over with new cable housing.

    At some point, I might try full housings again. In fact, I think manufacturers are moving away from cable stops and embracing full housing and stock bikes. But I exclusively use dry teflon based lubes now. BTW, Finish Line dry is a good way to get a rusted cable housing to get moving again if you're too lazy, cheap or time constrained to replace it.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Jed19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willtsmith_nwi
    The books were out of date and told me to grease the cables. I was going for full housings because I was sick of sticky cables. Well after final assembly with Park grease the cables move like mud. I had to start over with new cable housing.

    At some point, I might try full housings again. In fact, I think manufacturers are moving away from cable stops and embracing full housing and stock bikes. But I exclusively use dry teflon based lubes now. BTW, Finish Line dry is a good way to get a rusted cable housing to get moving again if you're too lazy, cheap or time constrained to replace it.
    Thank you all for the responses. The friendly wrench at my LBS just showed me how to lube all my cables, i.e. Fderailleur, Rderailleur, front and rear brakes. He also strictly recommended that I not lube with grease. He was partial to Finish Line Dry Lube, and I trust his skills. Of course, we are in SoCal, and the light, dry lube is just perfect.

    Regards,
    Regards,

    Jed

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