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Replace rusted but working cables?

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Replace rusted but working cables?

Old 04-28-18, 02:22 PM
El Gato27
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Replace rusted but working cables?

Picked up an older Raleigh mountain bike. I prepped the wheels and took the bike out for a short ride and to my surprise it shifted and braked very well. Shifts were crisp on both derailleurs, brakes stopped quickly. I was planning to replace the cables because they are rusted but now I am wondering if I should. Older Altus 3x6 SIS thumb shifters.
I normally follow the "if it ain't broke don't mess with it" thought, but I'm on the fence about this one.
Has anyone actually broken a cable because of age?
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Old 04-28-18, 02:49 PM
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Never broke one, but I have had one where a couple strands broke inside the housing and made the shifting quite difficult. The reason to replace the rusted cables is so that you don't get stranded somewhere, unable to shift. $10 at Walmart will get you a whole set of cables. Me, I couldn't tolerate looking at rusted cables any more than I can tolerate looking at rusty spokes.
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Old 04-28-18, 02:59 PM
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Preventive maintenance forestalls failure and injury.
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Old 04-28-18, 06:47 PM
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If they are not frayed they can last many years. I have sanded cables on some used bikes I've bought. That plus blowing through the housings and smearing a little grease on them makes them slide much more easily.
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Old 04-28-18, 07:16 PM
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The cables on my Raleigh Competition had rust on cable where it went around the downtube friction shifter. One strand frayed a year later, another two years and it broke. When I was at the far end of the trail. Didn't enjoy the hills going back to the house. So when the front DR cable started fraying, I replaced it right away.

Still I think PM (preventative maintenance) can be expensive if you fix everything that shows any wear. So it helps to weigh what is and isn't really important to you, or a true safety issue.

If they function and are not frayed. It'd definitely be a toss up for me. Do I want to tinker today or ride longer today?
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Old 04-28-18, 07:17 PM
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Still have the original brake cable on my 88 GT Mach One. Installed by the 15 year old version of me. You’ll be fine.
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Old 04-28-18, 07:49 PM
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I will replace rusty cables as a matter of course on any bike I work on.
Keeping Seattle’s bike shops in business since 1978
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Old 04-29-18, 12:01 AM
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I broke a cable once, although in the cable's defence it didn't entirely snap all at once. A few of the cable strands went at first, and then the whole thing went a ride or two later.

Give the cables a good clean and if it's just surface rust, ride the bike. Might be a good idea to check them regularly to begin with, but I see no reason to replace working parts with plenty of life left in them.
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Old 04-29-18, 03:20 AM
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I'd just disconnect the cables, clean up the grit/rust... squirt WD-40 on steel wool rub the cables down and squirt WD-40 in the housings till you see it dribble on the other end, then fit it back

& ive done that on tight cables, amazing what a bit of service does, works like new again
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