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  1. #1
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    Lubing cables question

    I rely a little too heavily on my local LBS for bicycle maintenance and I'd like to start taking on a few basic tasks myself.

    First question, how do I lube the brake cables? I have Campy Chorus shifters and despite digging around under the hoods, I couldn't find a logical place to squirt some lube. Pictures, videos and explanations welcome, thanks in advance for your help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Fredmertz51's Avatar
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    http://www.protectall.com/cable_life.htm I use this and tri-flow, but I don't have Brifters. I lube it from the levers down, don't know if it would work from the brake/derailleur back up.
    Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand.

  3. #3
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    You can't lube the cables from the shifter lever. If you want to lube them you need to unbolt the cables from the derailleurs and brakes and then remove the cables from the housings. If you aren't having shifting issues, don't bother because when you re-attach the cables, you will have to re-adjust your brakes and derailleurs.

    You also need to be careful which lube you use. Some lubes can cause the lining inside the housing to expand which will actually increase the friction.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I never lube my cables. If I suspect a cable problem, I replace cables and housings. I don't use anything but stainless cables. With the exception of old freewheels, I don't use oil on any part of any of my bikes. If it needs lubrication, I take it apart and grease it.

    I'm not telling you to do what I do. I'm just telling you what works for me.

  5. #5
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    I always lube cables. When they go in new, I use grease. When they dry out, I use oil. Try standing the bike on it's head (front wheel), and dripping oil from the cable stops backwards.

  6. #6
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    The best way for me to lube cables is to slide them out of the housing and wipe white grease on the cable. I always solder the cut end of the cable at the brakes and derailers, then make a clean cut on the soldered end with my Park Tool cable cutter. Makes cables much easier to reinsert in the housing. If the cable end is frayed you may not be able to get it back in the housing which sucks. You want a smooth burr free cable end with no blobs of solder. I use 5% silver, 425 degree solder and Stay Free liquid flux. The flux is acid so it needs to be neutralized with baking soda after soldering.

  7. #7
    Alex Ramon BicycleTutor's Avatar
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    Here is a video that shows how to release and lube the cables quick and easily using Tri-Flow.

  8. #8
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    i dont lube any cables reason being it only rots plastic cover and sticks up your brakes,think about it all it is is one piece of wire running inside a plastic sheath,no need for any lube there,the udjusters do all the work and nothing else does.

  9. #9
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    ps,lubing cable will also attract alot of dirt and eventually stuff up,as far as i know these wire cables are meant to be lubed at all

  10. #10
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC View Post
    The best way for me to lube cables is to slide them out of the housing and wipe white grease on the cable.
    I use white grease in a spray can available at Wal-Mart or on the shelves of most any auto supply store. Make sure it's white grease as it's chemically neutral. It will not damage cable casing, paint, or anything else. You'll need to remove the cable from the casing. Flush out any dirt with WD-40. Be prepared to push the cable into the casing immediately after spraying white grease from the spray can into the casing. This allows the cable to absorb the white grease before it congeals preventing formation of rust. To lube the casing put the red straw taped to the side of the spray can in the nozzle, stick about a 1/4" of the straw into the casing and squirt in the grease, immediately push the cable into the casing, allow a few moments for the grease to congeal, pull the cable from the casing and reinstall the casing on the bike and thread the cable through it, wipe excess grease from the cable not covered by the casing.
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  11. #11
    JRA. BikEthan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BicycleTutor View Post
    Here is a video that shows how to release and lube the cables quick and easily using Tri-Flow.
    +1 on this method. This is how I always used to it when I was working at a shop. Takes way less time and if your adjustments are already spot on you don't need to re-adjust. That being said I usually lube only the portions of the cable that will remain in the housings and very very lightly. Like... wipe down with oil or grease and then wipe down with a clean rag. Any more lube than that and you're just attracting dirt.

  12. #12
    My bikes became Vintage OLDYELLR's Avatar
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    That video is very good. If you don't have the thin, penetrating, oil they use, make a funnel out of a plastic bag and tape it to the end of the housing, then squirt your oil into it and let it run down overnight. That's how I've always done it.
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  13. #13
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    I always grease the cables before I install them and I have never had a cable/housing corrosion problem ever, and sometimes I have had the same cables for over ten years.

    I learned this when I worked at an LBS. We took out all cables and greased them during assembly of new bikes. Bikes would come back that had been left outdoors forever in the winter, chain so rusted it wouldn't turn, but the brakes worked fine.
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  14. #14
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    Both Shimano and Campagnolo recommend greasing new cables but they don't say what to use. I've been using automotive silicone door lock grease. I think white grease should also be good. I grease the cables when new and they last a long time.

    Al

  15. #15
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Dopolina View Post
    You can't lube the cables from the shifter lever. If you want to lube them you need to unbolt the cables from the derailleurs and brakes and then remove the cables from the housings. If you aren't having shifting issues, don't bother because when you re-attach the cables, you will have to re-adjust your brakes and derailleurs.

    You also need to be careful which lube you use. Some lubes can cause the lining inside the housing to expand which will actually increase the friction.
    Nuhuh! Shift the front and/or rear derailer to a tightened cable position (high gear in front, low gear in back).



    Without pedaling, shift the shifter in the opposite direction (low gear in the front, high gear in the back).


    This will release the tension on the cable

    and allow you to pull the cable housing from the stops...assuming that you have slotted stops and noncontinuous cable housing



    Now you can apply a light coating of lubricant to the cable. Just reverse the process to put it all back together
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