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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 09-18-09, 06:21 PM   #1
JasonC
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Sealed cable housing for winter riding?

Does anyone have any opinion on whether or not it helps to use fully sealed cable housing for winter riding?

I'm curious because I've been using the SRAM Flak Jacket for shifting cables for a couple of years. They come with a special liner for the normally bare runs of cable. My bike shop recommended replacing the cables this year, so am looking at my options.

The flak jacket stuff is pretty pricey, so I'd prefer just to go the 25-foot "house cable housing" option at half the price. But the winter conditions concern me a little.

How big of a concern is cable freezing? Or isn't it a concern if they are properly lubricated?

Thanks,
Jason
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Old 09-18-09, 10:40 PM   #2
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I've never had a problem with it

I deliver by bike year round in Madison, WI and its never been an issue for me. The bigger issue is the salt from the roads griming up your cables and everything else. If you can keep your bike clean in the winter and keep everything lubed you should be fine without special parts. If you have hydraulic brakes though, forget it, those things stiffen up like crazy in the cold
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Old 09-19-09, 12:48 AM   #3
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Not sure about the need for sealed, but the Jagwire brand is cheaper than Sram, with some/all? of the same spec's. My Surly bike came with Jagwire, works well here.
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Old 09-19-09, 11:38 AM   #4
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According to an REI review of their Novara (house brand) cable housing, it is made by Jagwire. I'd guess it isn't "top of the line", but should be decent.

Also, the last post prompted some searching and it looks like the Jagwire liner for the exposed parts is easy to find sold separately. 30 meters is about $7, so it still comes out cheaper. And 30 meters would probably last me 10 years
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Old 09-20-09, 12:41 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bianchiroad View Post
I deliver by bike year round in Madison, WI and its never been an issue for me. The bigger issue is the salt from the roads griming up your cables and everything else. If you can keep your bike clean in the winter and keep everything lubed you should be fine without special parts. If you have hydraulic brakes though, forget it, those things stiffen up like crazy in the cold
???

I bought hydraulic disc brakes specifically for winter - Shimano Alfine ones. Didn't notice them stiffening up at all - can't think of any reason why they would. I would expect them to be better than non-hydraulic brakes, I would think - since the "cable" is actually housing around a fluid, they're already 100% sealed (or they'd leak and wouldn't work).
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Old 09-20-09, 02:02 PM   #6
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I've ridden in -25F and I've never had cables freeze up, nor have I had a derailleur fail to shift. I think people have these problems because they don't keep up with a good cleaning/lubrication regime. It's not the cold, it's the salt and road grime. Road grime at pivot points will sludge up any lubrication you have there. That's what causes sluggishness in braking and shifting. It's not a bad idea to add a drop or two of oil to your cable housings every once in a while.

I suppose if you get down to -30F or -40F you might start having problems. That is, if you're clothed enough that you're not worrying more about frostbite at the time.

Last edited by shouldberiding; 09-20-09 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 10-11-09, 11:02 AM   #7
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I've been using Nokon cables for over five years. They're expensive and require more than the usual effort to setup but they'll go for a couple years before the inner liners need to replaced. The outer beads can be reused indefinitely.

I've tried Aztec Powerlines as well, but returned to Nokon afterwards.
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Old 10-12-09, 12:22 PM   #8
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The problem I've encountered with sealed systems is when condensate forms. Mind you I was keeping my bike in the boiler room at work.
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Old 10-13-09, 02:53 PM   #9
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cables

I use teflon/tri-flow, works well to keep from gunking up.
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Old 10-14-09, 06:01 PM   #10
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I saw an online video about cable changing that recommended Finish Line Extreme Fluoro. I don't know much about this stuff, but picked some up and seems like a good lube for cables.

http://www.howcast.com/videos/174598...d-Shift-Cables
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Old 10-14-09, 10:28 PM   #11
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I believe that most of the winter riders who have problems with their cables freezing are those who leave their bikes outside all of the time. If the bike gets cleaned and dryed out regularly cables aren't too much of a problem. Most of the new cable housings, even the cheap ones, use a plastic liner. I have never evened lubed the cables on my winter bikes and have had no problems. THe problem with grease is that it can get gummed up with salt and dirt but if the cable is not greased this doesn't happen. The cable will not slide as smoothly without grease but it also does not get clogged up as easy. With the plastic cable liner the cable will slide in the housing even if it is slightly rusty. And the cold will not thicken any grease up to make the sliding difficult. So long as the rust is not too much. I think that it would be more effective for winter to have stainless steel cables unlubed in a plastic lined housing.

Last edited by Hezz; 10-14-09 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 10-15-09, 01:51 PM   #12
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My bike is a Gary Fisher hybrid. Once nice feature is that is has the exposed parts of the cables running on the top tube well away from road grime. So far I've had little if any problems in Winter. My LBS does not like the lined cables. They feel that the lining starts to wear and then causes more problems that good old fasion cables. After two whole winters my cables were fine. I did finally replace them (took a Park Tools Class where we stripped the bikes completely and built them back up and clean with new cables). Just use a lube that doesn't attract dirt. Tri-Flo is excellent. So for me commuting in the Buffalo Snow/Rust belt I can easily get two whole years out of a set of standard cables, so I can't see the need to buy expensive ones. The only reason I have problems shifting every so often is because I'll be riding in a few inches of fresh snow and the rear derailler will be all iced up with snow and ice.

I have never used hydraulic disk brakes. What I do know from cars is that anyone complaining about stiff brakes in the winter it is always due to old brake fluid. Brake fluid is hydroscopic. It absorbs moisture so that the it keeps it away from the brake components. Therefore brake fluid must be changed every two years. If not the moisture that is trapped in the fluid will turn to ice crystals in the fluid at very low temps and therefore cause problems. Silicone fluid is not hydroscopic, but is has some other side affects that may make it less than idea. IT doesn't hold moisture. If moisture enters the brake system it will stay put and can cause severe rust internally in your system. It is hard for little bubble to rise up out of the fluid. Therefore there can be lots of tiny bubble left in the fluid. This will cause the brakes to feel spungy. It I had the money through... I'd love a bike with hydraulic disk brakes... seems like a much nicer solution that rim brakes. V-brakes work find for me, but they do ice up a bit and there is a lot of wear on the brake surface due to all the road grim that you pickup along the way.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 10-15-09, 01:59 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by andrelam View Post
My bike is a Gary Fisher hybrid. Once nice feature is that is has the exposed parts of the cables running on the top tube well away from road grime. So far I've had little if any problems in Winter. My LBS does not like the lined cables. They feel that the lining starts to wear and then causes more problems that good old fasion cables. After two whole winters my cables were fine. I did finally replace them (took a Park Tools Class where we stripped the bikes completely and built them back up and clean with new cables). Just use a lube that doesn't attract dirt. Tri-Flo is excellent. So for me commuting in the Buffalo Snow/Rust belt I can easily get two whole years out of a set of standard cables, so I can't see the need to buy expensive ones. The only reason I have problems shifting every so often is because I'll be riding in a few inches of fresh snow and the rear derailler will be all iced up with snow and ice.

I have never used hydraulic disk brakes. What I do know from cars is that anyone complaining about stiff brakes in the winter it is always due to old brake fluid. Brake fluid is hydroscopic. It absorbs moisture so that the it keeps it away from the brake components. Therefore brake fluid must be changed every two years. If not the moisture that is trapped in the fluid will turn to ice crystals in the fluid at very low temps and therefore cause problems. Silicone fluid is not hydroscopic, but is has some other side affects that may make it less than idea. IT doesn't hold moisture. If moisture enters the brake system it will stay put and can cause severe rust internally in your system. It is hard for little bubble to rise up out of the fluid. Therefore there can be lots of tiny bubble left in the fluid. This will cause the brakes to feel spungy. It I had the money through... I'd love a bike with hydraulic disk brakes... seems like a much nicer solution that rim brakes. V-brakes work find for me, but they do ice up a bit and there is a lot of wear on the brake surface due to all the road grim that you pickup along the way.

Happy riding,
André
This doesn't make sense to me. The hydraulic fluid on a bike is in a plastic cable housing, sealed at both ends. Let's say moisture does, somehow, enter the system - what on earth would the brake fluid come into physical contact with that's even capable of rusting?

Or am I misunderstanding what you wrote maybe?
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Old 10-16-09, 02:24 PM   #14
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This doesn't make sense to me. The hydraulic fluid on a bike is in a plastic cable housing, sealed at both ends. Let's say moisture does, somehow, enter the system - what on earth would the brake fluid come into physical contact with that's even capable of rusting?

Or am I misunderstanding what you wrote maybe?
Moisture will penentrate the system slightly around the piston seals. With plastic hoses, obviously those won't corrode. The calipers however are made of metal and they can rust on the inside if the moisture stays put in one spot. With hyroscopic brake fluid, the moisture is absorbed by the fluid so that it does not stay in contact with the calipers. If enough moisture gets into the fluid, and the temps drop, the the moisture forms ice crystals, and then the brakes will be hard to operate. If you live in a dry climate you might go for a few years without needing to replace the fluid. If your out in the rain, slush, and snow of a Northern winter, you may need to replace it every 1 or 2 winters.

Happy riding,
André
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