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

How to Lubricate Brake and Shift Cables

Cable lubrication is recommended, especially if you ride in the rain or have old cable housings.

Most brake and shift cables these days have a plastic lining built into the housing, therefore eliminating the need for lubrication. However, if you ride a lot in wet weather, or have an older bike without the plastic lining, you’ll want to lubricate the cables to prevent rust. I personally believe that well-lubricated cables also improve braking and shifting.

Lubricant

I use Tri-flow to lubricate cables, as it is very effective at distributing itself evenly, and lasts a long time. Most bike shops carry it, or they may have a similar product that will work just as well. Make sure you shake the bottle before use, and have a rag handy to wipe off any excess.

Brake Cable Lubrication

Most brake and derailleur systems have some sort of quick release system that allow you to release the cable from it’s stop. Here it is demonstrated on a cantilever brake, but other systems like sidepull, U-brakes, and V-brakes have similar quick release mechanisms.

Once the brake is released, compress the lever, pull on the housing, and slide it through the barrel adjuster until the inner wire is exposed. Now carefully squeeze a few drops of oil onto the inner cable just above where it runs down into the housing. If the cable is vertical, the oil will penetrate the housing on its own.

Slide the cable housing back into the barrel adjuster and re-connect the brake.

Shifter Cable Lubrication

Rear Shift Cable

To lube the rear shift cable, first shift the gears until the chain is on the largest sprocket, and then stop the wheel from rotating.

With the freewheel stopped from moving, shift your shifter all the way in the opposite direction, as if you were going to shift to the smallest sprocket. The rear derailleur should now be stuck on the largest sprocket, which will give you enough slack to fully release the cable from the frame. Pull the upper section of the outer cable down leaving a section of inner cable exposed. Lube the cable the same way as the brake cable, and then reconnect the outer housing.

Now pull the lower section of housing free from the frame, and slide it away from the derailleur. Repeat the lubrication process and reconnect the housing. Don’t forget to move your rear shifter back to the largest sprocket before rotating the rear wheel.

Front Shift Cable

To lube the front shift cable, shift the front derailleur to the largest sprocket, and then stop the crank from rotating and move the shift lever all the way in the opposite direction. Disconnect and lube the upper housing of the front shift cable the same way as the rear. Reconnect the cable and once again make sure to shift the lever back where it was before rotating the crank.

Related Links

Recommended Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

NordicTrack U300 Knocking

Lastest post 7 hours ago

I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what is causing the knocking sound on my NordicTrack U300 stationary bike. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Here is a video of the knocking sound: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AnBkAt1Ty5oGiGDlEifMjPDihGr7?e=08qsm9...

Read more

1962 Varsity - Move Stem Shifters Ok?

Lastest post 22 hours ago

  varsity.jpg (Size: 152.97 KB / Downloads: 106)   varsity2.jpg (Size: 77.64 KB / Downloads: 107) Hi. This is my first post. I have a 1962 Varsity that I've enjoyed riding since I was 10. I'm in my 60's now and just want to putz around the neighborhood. In order to make the bike more comfortable I put a super big seat on it and 12" high handlebars. It's my Lazy-Boy on w...

Read more

Horrendous noises when pedalling

Lastest post 2 days ago

I have just started hearing horrendous noises when pedalling my 7 week old Trek Powerfly 4 ebike. The sound is worse than clicking and clunking and I can’t tell exactly where it is coming from. So have uploaded a video here: https://youtu.be/G3X2tLHk4Bk. Has anyone had similar or know what if could be? I’ve not heard these types of noises before....

Read more

Gear shift is stuck!

Lastest post 2 days ago

On both my bike handles, the gear shifts are stuck and I can’t move them. They’re currently stuck on gear 5 now (the highest). How do I fix it without needing a new gear shift?...

Read more

Brake wire

Lastest post 2 days ago

Took my bike out after a couple of years only to remember that my left brake broke off while using it last and there is an unusual cable hanging from my bike that gets in the way sometimes, is it okay for me to cut it off? Will it affect the right brake?...

Read more

I bought a can of mineral oil from motorex and it came in 250ml aluminium can with big cap, and I need to fill my brake lever with that oil but I don't have syringe or bleed kit. How could I fill it up without syringe or bleed kit and tips? Anything similar to syringe that would work?   54e2f371.jpg (Size: 152.52 KB / Downloads: 49) ...

Read more

Freehub body change compatibility

Lastest post 5 days ago

I have a single speed kona unit with a formula dc52 hub (only single speed drive) and was wondering if anyone knew what freehub bodies were compatible so I can switch is to more then just a single. I would prefer not to have to buy a whole new wheel or rebuilding with a new hub. Thanks...

Read more

Hi, I'm new here. Just need some help right now for my grandson's Shocker 20 bike. The cable holder has come loose at the gripper handle and having trouble getting it back in. Any suggestions or where to get another 7 speed shifter for his bike? Thanks a lot. Sorry for not filling in any other "newbe" message, I'm currently baby sitting my other grandchild . That probably explains it all. 2...

Read more

Also if you guys know the code for the bearings and bearing size, I have a shimano 105 crank   B735B1FC-9997-4A08-9590-3B4A5798E21D.jpeg (Size: 79.89 KB / Downloads: 16) ...

Read more

I need to know what bottom bracket I have but I can fin a number or code on it to read it. Any experts in here, this is my first post.   006BA1F3-FE4D-4D22-85F0-095E72284B3D.jpeg (Size: 46.12 KB / Downloads: 19) ...

Read more

I've read other threads and lots of info online, and I'm still stuck. My son is unable to shift the gears on his new 6-gear bike. We tried adjusting the derailer to release some tension and tinkered with adjustments here and there, and nothing seems to be working. Is there anything that we can do? I really want him to be able to shift his own gears. Going uphill today we had to stop several t...

Read more

Hello everyone. After many winter rides, my 29er MTB began to throw out creaking sounds last week. It's nothing too loud, just a gentle yet annoying creak that happens on every other stroke but not constantly. Could it simply be the case of pedals (I have clipless Shimano MTB pedals) being "tired" and not the bottom bracket? Where should I look first?...

Read more

  IMG-0104.JPG (Size: 69.13 KB / Downloads: 14) Hi I was in the process of putting upright handle bars on an old mountain bike frame.. ( help take the pinching out of my neck when i ride) I noticed a small hairline crack in the headset (i guess that is what they are called ?) I am only looking for something i can go out and ride simple flat probably paved trails.. to keep my c...

Read more

Hey guys I was recommended to post here to see if I could get any additional opinions. Would be great if you guys could help me out. Images: https://imgur.com/a/HvH98By I bought a second-hand carbon bike that looked mostly fine on inspection but when I took it apart to put in the car I noticed that the carbon around the dropouts might've been cracked? This is my first time seeing these 'enclos...

Read more

Hi... I bought 2 second hand wheels for my Gary Fisher bike.. The rear wheel came with a new 8 speed cassette marked... Shimano Hypergluide HG. After reading the spec. list of the bike it lists the chain as Shimano CN-IG51, 1/2 x 3/32" ..and the front gear chain as SR XCC-150 42/34/24 crank.. The original cassette was SRAM PG830 11-32 8spd My question ...is the new cassette OK with the original c...

Read more