important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Replace an Inner Shift Cable

Remove the old inner shift wire and install a new one.

Shift cable inner wires wear out over time. Other than obvious fraying, rust or visual wear, you can tell your cables are worn when your shifting starts to feel sluggish. If lubricating the housings or shift levers doesn’t help, they’ll likely need replacing.

Tools

For this job, you’ll need a replacement shift cable inner wire. Shift cable ends have a cylinder barrel shape as shown here. I recommend stainless steel cables if you’re riding regularly in a wet climate, as they won’t rust. You’ll need a good set of wire cutters, some bicycle specific cable cutters if you’ll be replacing the outer cable housing, and some triflow or light lubricant. You’ll need either a 9 or 10mm metric open end wrench or a 5 or 6mm hex key for the derailleur’s cable pinch bolt. You’ll also need to know how to adjust your front or rear derailleur, as explained in previous tutorials.

Shift Cable Removal

The first step is to relieve cable tension by shifting your derailleur so the chain is on the smallest sprocket on either your front or rear derailleur.

Carefully observe how your cable is presently routed from the shift lever to your derailleur. A misrouted cable can cause many problems. It may help to photograph each section of the cable from the shifter to the derailleur so you can use it for reference. Your derailleur may not look exactly like the one pictured here, but the concepts will be the same.

Now disconnect the cable at the derailleur’s pinch bolt. Notice how the cable is flattened where it was pinched. I like to cut the cable just before this part so it is easier to remove by sliding through the outer cable housings. I recommend replacing the outer cable housings at the same time. See the tutorial titled “How to Replace Cable Housings”.

Shift Cable Installation

Once you have nothing but the shift lever and the cable left, push the cable gently until you see the head poke out of the lever. Now you can pull it the rest of the way until it is completely removed. Depending on what type of shifters you have, reinserting the new cable can be tricky. I like to give the end of the cable a slight bend to help guide it through. If it meets resistance, try rotating the cable a little bit and gently pushing until it slides all the way through.

If your shifter has a barrel adjuster, turn it clockwise all the way and then back it off one full turn. Drop some light oil into your cable housings and make sure the outer housing’s cable ferrules are firmly in place before carefully sliding the new cable through the housing. If your derailleur has a barrel adjuster, tighten it all the way clockwise and then back it off one full turn. Then route your cable the same way it was before and thread the inner cable under the derailleur’s pinch bolt washer. Often there is a groove on the derailleur where the cable is meant to sit. Pull the cable tight and tighten the pinch bolt. The cable will flatten when tightened. Always tighten bolts to the manufacturer’s torque specifications. Adjust the derailleur as needed. See the related tutorials for tips on adjusting derailleurs.

Once installed and adjusted, cut the wire about 2 inches further along the cable. Your new cable should have come with a cable end that can be gently crimped on using wire cutters or pliers. This will prevent fraying.

Related Links

Recommended Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

  Screenshot 2022-08-23 at 09.36.29.png (Size: 651.91 KB / Downloads: 75)   IMG_2187.png (Size: 520.28 KB / Downloads: 76)   IMG_2193.jpeg (Size: 56.84 KB / Downloads: 77) Dura Ace 9000 compact crank set (2016 done 12000km) Large chain ring collapsed inwards/sideways behind crank. Never heard of this happening before. Noticed a slight wobble early in the rid...

Read more

Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...

Read more

Schwinn 3rd Avenue 700C hybrid

Latest post 3 weeks ago

The bike, new, was $199 from an Amazon dealer, and it came with a load of great reviews and very few negative ones. That should be a warning to anyone looking for a new bike; the shills are out there. If anyone buys one with the idea of putting it together and going for a ride, they would be disappointed. Walmart bikes are better. Seriously! I knew that it would need some work because you do...

Read more

Cannot get tire off wheel

Latest post 4 weeks ago

How can I get my Eliminator Grid T9 tire off my rim? I've been at it for about an hour and it just doesn't want to come off....

Read more

  20D37CE7-EFD6-4AC6-A691-7A42F82E7D07.jpeg (Size: 31.14 KB / Downloads: 41) As the photo shows, cable is exposed. Is there an easy fix?...

Read more

hello I, I just bought a e-trike that has a shimano derailer: Tourney RD-FT35A , is there a higher quality replacement ? thanks tee...

Read more

New to forum, just signed-up, after reading an entry about constantly loosening crank-arm fixing BOLTS. In my case, my original BB, uses crank-arm fixing NUTS (original equipment, not jury-rigged), instead of BOLTS. I’m “dating” myself, but I’ve had this bike since new. I’m constantly re-tightening the nuts, every other ride, or worse, at times after a long ride. I have had difficult...

Read more

The most common bikes with gears use a freewheel hub. Some bikes with gears have other types of hubs. Axles may bend and break in freewheel hubs. Heavy riders are more likely to bend and break axles than light riders. People riding on rough tracks are more likely to bend and break axles than people riding on smooth roads. Axles are more likely to bend and break in hard tails, than bikes with r...

Read more

So I'm totally "new" to biking in a sense, I used to bike as a kid and picked it back up when I was around 20-23 or so (I'm 30 now). I had a Schwinn I bought from target back in 2011 or so. Took a fall once and I didn't want to spend money at a bike shop to fix it, so it just rode weird from then on. Then it got flooded in a hurricane and has just rotted in my backyard ever since. I just picked u...

Read more

Make a freewheel removal tool

Latest post 1 month ago

Make your own strong, inexpensive, freewheel removal tool, using a car wheel nut. The most common bikes with gears, use freewheels. There are other gear systems for bikes, but they are used on less bikes. The tool I will describe is for the most common type of freewheel, as shown in the picture. There are freewheels which require different tools, particularly on older bikes.   free...

Read more

On one bike I have either the bottom of the range Shimano rear derailleur, or an imitation copy of the bottom of the range Shimano rear derailleur. The spring tension is weaker than many other rear derailleurs. The chain sags more than it should. With a derailleur like this, the chain rides up on the sprockets more than it does with a derailleur with stronger spring tension. This results in the s...

Read more

New Stator For My Ride1up Core 5

Latest post 1 month ago

Hi Folks, Posted this on another forum as well. Hope to get the assistance here. I'm not a very handy ebike enthusiast. Don‘t really know the inner workings of an ebike, I just like riding them. Anyway, was riding my Core-5 that has around 1200 miles on it, and suddenly it made this strange grinding sound every time I engaged the throttle or PAS. Visited Ride1up’s support page and read...

Read more

Jumps a Gear

Latest post 2 months ago

We have just changed a gear twist grip as previous broke. Have fitted a shimano 7 speed But now it jumps a gear in the middle. 1st fine 2nd fine 3rd fine But when change to 4th it jumps to the fifth sprocket so then twist gear just goes to 6th But is actually 7th on sprocket. It does the same going down gears, If you just turn twist half way through clicks 3rd / 4th it will go onto 4th. But a...

Read more

Lock ring clearance

Latest post 2 months ago

  20220806_113536.jpg (Size: 33.21 KB / Downloads: 61) Hello To Everyone. Need a help! Is this enough clearance between the lock ring and the fork. Some bike shops say Yes some of them No. The Lock ring was tighten to the specs. I would really appreciate your opinions. Thank you...

Read more

Derailleur causing issues

Latest post 2 months ago

Hello there, I had managed to replace my inner tube and outer tyre successfully, however since then I have been trying to re-fit my rear tyre back onto the frame to no avail. Initially I thought the axel was at an angle. I have undone the nuts and bolts many times, rode the bike, then either the tyre starts rubbing with the frame, or the pedals become really stiff to rotate. But today I have r...

Read more