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Thread: Frozen Cables

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    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    Frozen Cables

    Does anyone have a solution to the frozen cable problem?

    My bike stays inside at home, so the morning commute is not a problem. But, since my bike stays outside at work, the commute home can be a bit troublesome with frozen derailleur/brake cables. In winters past, I have pulled on the cables and/or chipped off the ice. This works, but I thought maybe there would be some other solutions. Maybe a need a small blowtorch.

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    Senior Member bikerider's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Steele-Bike
    Does anyone have a solution to the frozen cable problem?

    My bike stays inside at home, so the morning commute is not a problem. But, since my bike stays outside at work, the commute home can be a bit troublesome with frozen derailleur/brake cables. In winters past, I have pulled on the cables and/or chipped off the ice. This works, but I thought maybe there would be some other solutions. Maybe a need a small blowtorch.
    I think that running full cable housing might help but there's really no way around this. Besides, if you melted it, it would just freeze again! I have never had my front brake cable freeze (thankfully) but if my rear derailleur cable sticks (which it does often) I usually just single speed. Once you work it out initially doesn't it usually function all the way home? If not then maybe shift the back more often to prevent buildup.

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    My bikes stay outside, and I never have trouble with freezing cables. The reason for your trouble is, of course, obvious. Moisture is collecting inside your cables from the condensation when you bring your bike into the warm moist house from the cold outside.

    We had this problem at work when we shipped steel machines via air before we knew what we were doing. The decompressed air at 30,000 feet was freezing. Then, when the planes landed (sometimes in tropical areas), water condensated in absolutely every crack and weird place imaginable. I mean EVERYTHING rusted everywhere. It was quite an expensive lesson.

    In your case, the moisture is probably not causing you trouble in the morning when you bring the warm bike outside, but the moisture freezes inside the cables as it sits outside during the day.

    You think you are having troubles with your cables. Imagine what is going on inside your other steel components. Do you have a steel frame? Watch for condensation running down the inside of your tubes and gathering in your bottom bracket.

    You should lubricate your cables inside the housing with good grease.

    I do this and rarely have any cable problems. In fact, the grease extends the cable life.
    Last edited by mike; 12-17-01 at 05:56 PM.
    Mike

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    Another option is Teflon Coated cables. There are several brands available, but they are a bit more expensive. Jag & Gore Tex are a couple names that come to mind.
    ljbike

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    RAGBRAI. Need I say more? Steele-Bike's Avatar
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    Mike, I had thought about the fact that the condensation freezing on the cables. The bike is a steel framed Spec. Hardrock, so I guess I should keep an eye on the rust. During previous winters I have left this bike outside, and rarely have a problem. But, this year I have a place to store it inside, so I figured I would. Previously, I left this bike outside uncovered for two straight years and rode it year around and never replace a part on it during those two years. The bike now is 8 years old and the only things that have been replace are the BB, the rear derailleur and the crank. Very little rust on the bike, and I should get some touch up paint for that.

    So, with all that said, I think I will be leaving the bike outside for the winter. I do have a tarp that I had put over it when I left it out during the summer. Problem solved. Thank you.

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Glad to be of help.

    You might want to check the inside of the frame just to make sure that you didn't collect condensation.

    A quicky thing to do would be to hang the bike upside-down for awhile to let any water drain out of the post tube.
    Mike

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    Mike says the correct thing about condensation. However, you can keep your bike indoors, if you're sure it's going to dry completely before you bring it outside again.

    Another way to prevent cable freezing is, when the bike is dry, to spray a mist of WD-40 into the levers and the cable housing. Make sure you get the oil all the way through the housing. The oil will repel water that would otherwise freeze inside the housing.

    Sometimes the rear cog and derailler gets iced up when there's snow on the ground. I've found there's not much useful to be done in this case. I just make sure the gear I'm using in the early part of the ride is one I'm happy with, because I'm going to be stuck with it all the way home.

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Merriwether
    Sometimes the rear cog and derailler gets iced up when there's snow on the ground. I've found there's not much useful to be done in this case. I just make sure the gear I'm using in the early part of the ride is one I'm happy with, because I'm going to be stuck with it all the way home.
    In slushy weather above 20 degrees F, I carry household ammonia in a water bottle. When parts get iced up, I rinse them off with the ammonia which usually melts the snow/ice build up.

    At temperatures below around 20 degrees F, the ammonia can freeze in the bottle.
    Mike

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    Donating member Richard D's Avatar
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    Not wishing to lower the conversation too much, but speaking of ammonia I have heard mountain bikers have been known to do a quick well directed (well it involves exposing parts of the male anatomy to the cold ).

    Richard
    Currently riding an MTB with a split personality - commuting, touring, riding for the sake of riding, on or off road :)

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    Not wishing to lower the conversation too much, but speaking of ammonia I have heard mountain bikers have been known to do a quick well directed (well it involves exposing parts of the male anatomy to the cold

    In slushy weather above 20 degrees F, I carry household ammonia in a water bottle. When parts get iced up, I rinse them off with the ammonia which usually melts the snow/ice build up.


    Better living through chemistry...biological and otherwise.

    Ammonia's a good tip. I'll take the industrially produced sort...

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