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105 shifter cable keeps breaking

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105 shifter cable keeps breaking

Old 01-25-10, 07:40 AM
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105 shifter cable keeps breaking

well, it broke twice - first over the summer, and then again on saturday.

this is the rear cable.

probably 2000-2500 miles since the first breakage.

it breaks right where it enters the hood on the handlebar, and i'm guessing i have some rough spot that's chafing the cable there, but i don't see it...

both times i began to notice problems shifting in in say the final 100-200 miles before it broke - you would think that the second time i would have known what was going on, but it never occurred to me that i was breaking another cable so soon. i figured i needed to tune it.

i think what happens is that as individual strands of the cable break, the remaining strands experience higher stress, leading to greater and greater elongation (which puts it out of tune), until the remaining strands can't take the load.., and it breaks.

anyway. i will definitely be more sensitive to this in the future, so i don't get caught 15miles from home with only two gears again.

but..., what to do?

should i just replace the shifter, or some part inside it?

should i take it apart and try to find a sharp spot?

is there some known problem with these 105 shifters that leads to breaking cables?

i'm thinking they should last more than 2500 miles, but am i wrong? maybe i just need to replace them on a regular schedule. i'm riding 125-150 miles per week, so that would be pretty a pretty frequent replacement schedule.

thanks.
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Old 01-25-10, 07:43 AM
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When you changed the first broken cable, did you also change the housing? If not, it is worth a try. Be sure to change the end cap, too.
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Old 01-25-10, 08:28 AM
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I started a thread on this a couple of days ago, after breaking the RD cable on my 105 with about 3,500 miles. Apparently, it's a common problem with 10 speed 105 drivetrains caused by the design of the shifter, not something you're doing wrong. Bottom line--more shifting = shorter cable life. I live in a hilly area, so I do a lot of shifting. From now on, I'm going to start inspecting my cables at about 2K miles. It's not worth wrecking a good ride for a lousy $3 part.
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Old 01-25-10, 08:29 AM
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There's no rough spot, it's the drum that the cable bends over inside the lever that does it. New housings won't hurt but they won't fix it. The only solution is to replace cables more frequently. As the OP noted, when the cable starts breaking the shifting starts going off.

You can also inspect the cable where it goes over the drum. Shift into the large cog, apply the brake, and shine a light in the cable insertion hole on the lever top. You can see the cable bending over the drum. If there's any broken strands, replace the cable.
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Old 01-25-10, 08:42 AM
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I had that happen to me a lot as well, although with 9 speed 105. The fix was simple... SRAM
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Old 01-25-10, 08:46 AM
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It's a pretty common problem across the entire line of the old style (shifter cable looping across the front of the bars) shimano shifters. It's happened to me twice and I have ultegra. Both time it evidenced itself during a race, which was annoying. The first time the cable didn't break completely, but the shifting was really bad. The second time was during a stage race before the third stage crit. On this occasion the cable snapped completely and I couldn't fix it before the race. I ended up racing in the 39/12 (I bring a spare bike to stage races now). I've also seen it happen to at least one of my teammates.

The solution is to just disassemble the cable and inspect it regularly. Once one of the cable strands breaks, it munches itself pretty fast.

A lot of the reason has to do simply with frequent shifting. With 10 speeds and finely spaced cassettes, we shift a lot. That fatigues the cable right at the sharpest bend. As a design matter, the solution for Shimano is to make the drum a larger diameter. But that would lead to a heavier lever draw (like SRAM), which Shimano doesn't want.
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Old 01-25-10, 09:10 AM
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Standard problem with 105 10s. A rep was talking about it in the LBS the other day.

Tip: Use "Campy" head cables, which have a smaller diameter head. Makes it easier to remove a decapitated cable.

cdr
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Old 01-25-10, 12:09 PM
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Carry a spare cable with you .
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Old 01-25-10, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by idcruiserman
Carry a spare cable with you .
Hmmm...I have 105 10sp...wonder if a cable will fit in the seat bag
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Old 01-25-10, 12:54 PM
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We old guys remember the VWs of the 50s & 60s -- nearly everyone carried a spare clutch cable and spare accelerator cable. Even my darling wife could replace one in less than 10 minutes!

At the Hemet double century a couple months ago I worked two rest stops and we had two different riders come in with broken cables -- one FD & one RD.
Naturally, we joked about the old VWs....

For such a small, lightweight part it seems like a great idea -- especially for long rides.

Originally Posted by idcruiserman
Carry a spare cable with you .
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Old 01-25-10, 04:14 PM
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I got some new end caps when I got the replacement cable today. on one of the end caps, the hole was a bit worn.

One thing I was wondering, is: why is wire still used for cables on race bikes?

I would have guessed that some type of hi-tech fiber could be used for a reasonably significant weight savings, when all the cables are considered.

Mu other main activity is sailing,. and everything that was wire years ago, is now fiber. It is much stronger, and has much less stretch than wire.

Small radius turns are handled much better by fiber than by wire.
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Old 01-25-10, 04:50 PM
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Just change your rear cable when you change your chain. Cables are cheap, getting stuck in 39-11 going home with 40 miles to go is going to suck
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Old 01-25-10, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by umd
I had that happen to me a lot as well, although with 9 speed 105. The fix was simple... SRAM
I'm using Gore Ride-On cables with Red. No problems at ca. 5000 mi in the slightest. Are you using Yokozuna?
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Old 01-25-10, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by jgf310
I got some new end caps when I got the replacement cable today. on one of the end caps, the hole was a bit worn.

One thing I was wondering, is: why is wire still used for cables on race bikes?

I would have guessed that some type of hi-tech fiber could be used for a reasonably significant weight savings, when all the cables are considered.

Mu other main activity is sailing,. and everything that was wire years ago, is now fiber. It is much stronger, and has much less stretch than wire.

Small radius turns are handled much better by fiber than by wire.
I am certain that stainless steel cable has much, much less stretch than polymer fiber. You can look at the material properties of steel vs. any polymer (kevlar, etc.) and see this directly.
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Old 01-25-10, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
I am certain that stainless steel cable has much, much less stretch than polymer fiber. You can look at the material properties of steel vs. any polymer (kevlar, etc.) and see this directly.

You first need to decide on what basis, you will make your comparison.

If you choose to compare fiber vs. steel of equal diameter, then you are probably correct.

But in any weight-sensitive use, the best basis of comparison is by weight..., and there, it's not even close. modern fibers are _much_ stronger, and stretch _much_ less than steel.

Standing rigging (the stuff that holds the mast up) on racing sailboats is under enormous load, and it is extremely important that the stretch be minimized. Old tech was braided wire. Then we had steel rod, and now on high performance boats, carbon, PBO, and other fibers have taken over, resulting in huge weight savings.

In some cases, the diameters are increased, but it's actually not that much.

Last edited by jgf310; 01-25-10 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 01-25-10, 05:42 PM
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Are you using a new grommet where the cable enters the brifters?
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Old 01-25-10, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jgf310
I got some new end caps when I got the replacement cable today. on one of the end caps, the hole was a bit worn.

One thing I was wondering, is: why is wire still used for cables on race bikes?

I would have guessed that some type of hi-tech fiber could be used for a reasonably significant weight savings, when all the cables are considered.

Mu other main activity is sailing,. and everything that was wire years ago, is now fiber. It is much stronger, and has much less stretch than wire.

Small radius turns are handled much better by fiber than by wire.
I should of read the full thread.The problem may be fixed.
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Old 01-25-10, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Eclectus
I'm using Gore Ride-On cables with Red. No problems at ca. 5000 mi in the slightest. Are you using Yokozuna?
I use nokons, they work great. I was using whatever standard housing the shop had with my 105, I didn't do much of my own work back then.
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Old 01-26-10, 12:57 AM
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I rode my Nokon (blue to match my old bike), Ultegra to my LBS, dropped if off while I did a test ride on a new bike. The owner said, "That's a beautiful bike."

Nokon is reallly an eyecatcher, and it's smooth to me. Can it solve OP's 105 problem? I dunno, I don't ride 105.
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Old 01-26-10, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Eclectus
I rode my Nokon (blue to match my old bike), Ultegra to my LBS, dropped if off while I did a test ride on a new bike. The owner said, "That's a beautiful bike."

Nokon is reallly an eyecatcher, and it's smooth to me. Can it solve OP's 105 problem? I dunno, I don't ride 105.
I don't think it would help the OP, the problem is in the shifters.
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Old 01-26-10, 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by umd
I don't think it would help the OP, the problem is in the shifters.
That might be right. Why did Sheldon Brown die soo young? He gave such really cool advisement.

For premature cablewear, figure it out. I personally like Sram on my road bike, but am really satisfied with Shimano LX/XT on my MTB. If you have to spend more money to get Ultergra, DA, or Sram or Campy do it.
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Old 01-26-10, 06:57 AM
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My Ergos shift like new after 12000 km, never replaced cables.
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