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  1. #1
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    How often do you change shifter cables???

    I do very little preventitive maintenance but I decided to change shifter cables on my Madone. I'm glad I did. When I pulled it out the cable was frayed at the end beside the cap in the shifter-on both cables. I'm guessing the cable was two years old. I opted to go ahead and replace the cables on the 5900 after seeing the frayed ends on the Madone.

    It took less than 15 minutes to replace the cables on the bike and readjust the derailleurs. I also trimmed one side of the cable housing to make it look a little better.

    However, it probably took me another 30 MINUTES to find the darn little screw holding the cover plate on the Shimano shifter that dropped to the garage floor when I was removing the cover to rethread the cable............I finally found it and was really surprised how far it had bounced away from where it fell..........And I thought I was using a magnetic screwdriver.

  2. #2
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    To answer your question, as long as the bike is still shifting fine, I never replace the cables. Not saying it's a good thing, but I'm even lazier than you with preventative maintenance.

  3. #3
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    You changed the cables but not the housings? Those with OCD are not happy about that.

  4. #4
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Rarely, I wait til something breaks.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  5. #5
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    When it gets all jammed up and no longer works.

  6. #6
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I'm considering replacing all of my cables on my almost-new Fuji, because they aren't long enough for a couple of the handlebars that I want to try out. But I'm terrible at stretching and tensioning cables, so I'm hesitant to attempt it. My LBS charges $10 labor per cable, so the total cost to replace a set of still new cables is $60. Paying that much to replace new cables is irritating, so I haven't done it.

    If they were 1" longer, I think that would be enough.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    When I pulled it out the cable was frayed at the end beside the cap in the shifter-on both cables.
    A little dab of grease will help prevent that.

  8. #8
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    A little dab of grease will help prevent that.
    Err . . . "A little dab will do ya!" Brylcreem?

  9. #9
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    An old saying from the world of computers...

    There are two kinds of maintenance: Corrective and preventive. "Corrective" is when you fix problems. "Preventive" is when you create them.

  10. #10
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    Every year, winter overhaul, when racing.
    Now, whenever I feel they need replacing.

  11. #11
    Crashers?? CRASHERS!!! The Van's Avatar
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    I never changed mine until one day I was commuting in traffic and a car made a turn without looking. Grabbed the front brake hard... SNAP... grabbed the rear brake hard.... SNAP. Both cables snapped when I needed them most. Lucky for me I swerved and didn't get hit.

    Here is a picture of what happens without preventive mantainence....


  12. #12
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Van View Post
    I never changed mine until one day I was commuting in traffic and a car made a turn without looking. Grabbed the front brake hard... SNAP... grabbed the rear brake hard.... SNAP. Both cables snapped when I needed them most. Lucky for me I swerved and didn't get hit.

    Here is a picture of what happens without preventive mantainence....
    Both cables failing at the same time is extremely rare.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  13. #13
    Crashers?? CRASHERS!!! The Van's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    Both cables failing at the same time is extremely rare.
    I will be the first to agree with you.

    I commute in heavy traffic so have to brake hard a lot. I had been riding with those cables for two years (both winter and summer), so I'm not all that shocked.

    Having said all that I was running bullhorns with TT brakes. The design I had didn't have the roller stops in the brake handles so every hard stop slightly kinked the wires.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadfix View Post
    Both cables failing at the same time is extremely rare.
    And even less believable.

  15. #15
    Senior Member skiph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    However, it probably took me another 30 MINUTES to find the darn little screw holding the cover plate on the Shimano shifter that dropped to the garage floor when I was removing the cover to rethread the cable...
    If you have the 'standard' Shimano 105/Ultegra 'brifters' for your brake/shift levers (on your Madone?), it is not normal to have to unscrew anything at the brifter end to change either a brake or shift cable.

    Just release the cable at the derailleur or brake end, cut the little thingy off the end of the cable that keeps it from fraying so it can be pulled out through the housing. For a derailleur cable, shift the gears to the small ring on the front and the smallest cog on the back to release any tension in the shift cables before loosening the derailleur end, and to position the shifter cable end in the proper location to pull it out of the shifter.

    Then, for a brake cable, pull the lever towards the handle bar like you would if putting on the brake. It should move very easily all the way to the bar. I hold it there with a 'rubber band' made by cutting an old inner tube cross-wise in a thin width. Then push the inner brake cable out of the brake lever...it should just come out of the brake lever far enough to grab it with your fingers, or a pair of needle nose pliers. Pull it all the way out.

    If you are going to replace the derailleur cables, before re-attaching the brake cables, while the brake lever is slack, against the handlebars, push the derailleur cable out of the shifter lever. This will only work if the shifter was in the slackest cable ‘gear’ before you loosened the derailleur cable, otherwise the little hole in the shifter lever will be blocked and the cable head won’t come out. It is possible to pull the slack out of the shifter cable by hand while shifting the small shift levers to the inner-most ‘clicks’ to get the cable hole to line up. After the derailleur cable has been pulled out, a new one can be pushed in through the small hole in the side of the shifter lever, feed under the bottom bracket, and routed to the corresponding derailleur, and later re-attached and adjusted.

    While the brake levers are slack, against the handlebars, the new brake cables can feed into the hole for them in the brake lever, out the two front cable housings and routed on to the corresponding brake caliper, re-attached and adjusted. This is probably the hardest part, as they always seem to hang up when trying to push them through the shifter housing and into the cable housing burried under the handlebar tape.

    If my explanation makes no sense, check the Shimano Tech Documents web site for your model of shift/brake levers:

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/techdocs/index.jsp

  16. #16
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    I do very little preventitive maintenance but I decided to change shifter cables on my Madone. I'm glad I did. When I pulled it out the cable was frayed at the end beside the cap in the shifter-on both cables. I'm guessing the cable was two years old. I opted to go ahead and replace the cables on the 5900 after seeing the frayed ends on the Madone.

    It took less than 15 minutes to replace the cables on the bike and readjust the derailleurs. I also trimmed one side of the cable housing to make it look a little better.

    However, it probably took me another 30 MINUTES to find the darn little screw holding the cover plate on the Shimano shifter that dropped to the garage floor when I was removing the cover to rethread the cable............I finally found it and was really surprised how far it had bounced away from where it fell..........And I thought I was using a magnetic screwdriver.
    What make of cables did you buy jppe?
    George

  17. #17
    Senior Member DanteB's Avatar
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    Every year just about this time.
    Make mine a double!

  18. #18
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    Every 6K miles. I replace housing at the same time.

  19. #19
    Senior Member vger285's Avatar
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    Single speed-country road bob-so i guess my answer would be, never!

  20. #20
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    Lube about once a month, change when they break.

  21. #21
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Every year as part of the winter maintenance routine.

    The bit about the bullhorn cables breaking has been reported by several different posters over the last year or so. Some posters were using cyclocross levers and some were using TT levers that take road cables but do not have a rotating (self aligning) anchor for the cables. The cables do indeed appear to kink and fray in these situations. The result...you grab brakes....a cable breaks........you grab a lot more of the other brake in surprise and if your really having a bad day, it breaks also.

    Some TT levers take an MTB cable and anchor it the same as an MTB brake lever....ie: it is allowed to pivot in the anchor so the cable does not bend as much. Most of the higher grade TT levers that have the cable exit from the back of the lever directly into the inside of the bar have a rolling anchor that solves the problem.

    In any event, brake cables are not to be ignored. They are all that stands between you and a sudden stop. If you ignore them and one breaks, then remember..............the only brake left for you to use had the same level of ignore applied to it.

    Cables are probably one of the best "first" things for someone who wants to work on a bike to learn about. You can almost always do a better job than OEM and you will also have to learn a lot about derailleur and brake operation/adjustment.
    Just take it

  22. #22
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    Every year or two. Otherwise, moisture gets into them in the winter and they freeze up on cold mornings.

    Paul

  23. #23
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    Don't think I have ever replaced a shifter cable on any bike i have owned.
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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  24. #24
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    When they break. When I'm moving components from one bike to another. When I'm changing the color scheme (handlebar tape and housing SHOULD be the same color if you want the OCP thing going). When shifting gets slower and it's not the chain, dérailleur, or wear on cog teeth.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  25. #25
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Every couple of years or whenever I change handlebars or something that makes me need to remove and/or change the length of my cables and/or housing (especially if they need to be longer). Often I will reuse a rear cable as a front cable if it looks to be in good shape.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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