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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 11-29-06, 12:36 PM   #1
superslomo
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When to replace cables/housing???

I'm just working on my old bike, to elevate it from junk to beater/commuter status.

It's got non-aero brake levers, and downtube shifters.

How do I know whether I need to replace brake cables or shifter cables? They seem to be doing the trick fine at the moment, but they are darkened and have been on for quite a while (I've had the bike for twelve years without changing them ).

Any symptoms the show that they are too far gone? The bike is a 1980, and I have no idea when/if they were last changed, though the shop I bought it from might have replaced them before I picked it up.
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Old 11-29-06, 12:47 PM   #2
motorhommmer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superslomo
I'm just working on my old bike, to elevate it from junk to beater/commuter status.

It's got non-aero brake levers, and downtube shifters.

How do I know whether I need to replace brake cables or shifter cables? They seem to be doing the trick fine at the moment, but they are darkened and have been on for quite a while (I've had the bike for twelve years without changing them ).

Any symptoms the show that they are too far gone? The bike is a 1980, and I have no idea when/if they were last changed, though the shop I bought it from might have replaced them before I picked it up.
I would do it. I do mine once a year, depends on mileage etc. They are not expensive. However if you are happy with shifting and braking leave as is.
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Old 11-29-06, 01:04 PM   #3
superslomo
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Part of me is thinking about replacing the old brakes with aero levers, but I'm a little concerned that it shouldn't look to well cared for... it is NYC, and the bike thieves are fierce around here. The brakes were a little sluggish when I was working on it, so I just moved the housings and put some lubricant in, and they seem fine at the moment.

Truth be told, I've not dealt with replacing cables before, so I'm really not eager to do what is unfamiliar... I suppose I was looking for an excuse not to do it
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Old 11-29-06, 01:17 PM   #4
Al1943
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I think STI shifters are much more sensitive to dirty or corroded cables and housings than downtube shifters. Keep on keep'n on.

Al
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Old 11-29-06, 01:18 PM   #5
superslomo
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It's not only downtube shifting, it's friction shift... I assume that makes it more impervious still.
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Old 11-29-06, 01:19 PM   #6
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if you decide to do it, you can always get inexpensive cable sets. Someone here said I should try the bell sets at kmart. I found them at walmart for $4. has 2 brake cables, 2 derailer cables, ferrules and all the caps and such. Though, I will probably dump the housing and get some from my LBS for a slightly higher quality.
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Old 12-02-06, 05:25 PM   #7
Michel Gagnon
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There are two issues: sloppy working and worn out cables.

– Sloppy working happens when the cables or housing are rusted or when the housing or cable is kinked. Shifting is sloppy, the brakes are hard to apply (yet they work fine if you squeeze directly the brakes by hand) and they don't spring back. That's not a safety issue, so if you don't see any kink and the cables operate smoothly, you're OK.

– Worn out cables are more of a safety issue. Typically, it's fairly easy to diagnose.
- Brake cables either fray where they are bolted in the brake or in the handle. If those two places look nice, without broken strands, you're OK. Otherwise replace the cables.
- Shifter cables sometimes break near the derailleur (esp. front), and more often in the shifter. Look around for broken strands and replace if necessary.
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Old 12-02-06, 08:00 PM   #8
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I agree with Michel, but suggest you really need to completly remove the cables and eyeball end to end
to rule out rusting or broken strands inside the housing, usually where the cable enters or leaves the housing. If the cable is rusted, the housing is almost certainly rusted. Best bet for a 12yr old bike and NY weather is to change them out. If the der cable breaks you ride home in the smallest cassette cog or smallest CW, if the brake cable breaks bad things can happen, as it will break when you most need it.
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