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.
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.
- Tri-Flow Superior Lube
- Hozan 4th Hand Cable Puller
- Park Tool HXS-1.2 Hex Wrench Set
- Park Tool Wrench Combo Set
- Park Tool SK-3 Starter Mechanic Tool Kit
- Park Tool PK-3 Professional Tool Kit
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Went to fix the slow leak on my gravel bike's rear tyre. Found the culprit: a small cut near the middle of the tyre. The good news is it gave me an excuse to order a pair of Panaracer 43c semi-slick GravelKings (most of my local rides are more road-focused) to try out. Meanwhile, I was considering ye olde vulcanised patch repair to the inside of the tyre and superglue to the outside, but I'm thi...Read more
My hydraulic brake failed, and I replaced it with a cable brake. The brake is internally routed through the frame. The challenge is, how to get the new brake cable in through the frame, and out the other end. Here is what I did. 1. I pushed the internal brake cable through the hydraulic brake hose, while it was still in the frame. 2. I slid the hydraulic brake hose out, leaving the internal br...Read more
Any updates on the recall? The last I saw was this from CPSR. https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2023/Shimano-Recalls-Cranksets-for-Bicycles-Due-to-Crash-Hazard...Read more
Hi, So I bought a used Schwinn Meridian sight unseen online auction for $59 & drove 8 hours round trip to get it. It appears to be brand new actually. When I got it home, the next day I checked out my score. When I sat on it and pressed on the pedals, they moved but the bike did not. I inspected the bike and realized that whoever put this trike together, forgot to put what appears to be ...Read more
I spotted this great mod on YouTube yesterday. In nutshell: " XT cage installed on a GRX 812 11-speed derailleur lets you shift through an 11-51T cassette" I quickly priced it up in the UK. Via shrewd online shopping, you could do this with new parts for around £80. Less, obviously, if you have the 812 already on the shelf/buried in a box of crap. Seems like an excellent, easy upgrade to me. T...Read more
Hi, I search posts but no luck. I just got my wife a used LIV tempt MTB. We want to make it more of a comfort bike. Looking to Handlebar upgrade recommendations. Thanks in advance....Read more
Hi I have a trek domane 2.3, and I have changed the rear tyre to 28 (it was 25 originally) The tyre rubs with the brake arm (v brake), I fear it doesn’t seem to be compatible Is there any way to adjust the position of the brake arm? I just need it to ne around 2mm higher Thanks...Read more
good afternoon, i have spent the last week cleaning and changing parts on my old 2009 Schwinn Meridian Trike . The rear axle is in need of lubrication. Where is this done? do I just remove the axle retention nuts on each side and lube the bearings? What is a good brand of bearing grease available at Oreilleys? Thank you...Read more
What causes the brakes to lock-up i have only rear foot brake on my cruiser im sure it has to do with the hub but was wondering if its an ez fix or major overhaul?...Read more
Can I replace the MF-TZ500-7 SHIMANO on the rear wheel (Formula DC-31 hub, alloy, 6-bolt, 6/7/8-speed freewheel) with this FALCON FW-842 8 Speed 13-42T Freewheel for my Trek Marlin 4?...Read more
Hi everyone. A bit repetitive from my intro in GF, but this is the correct section for this post. I’m new to vintage bikes, but I’ve been eyeing a vintage Colnago to restore for a long time. Finally found one and the timing was right to pull the trigger. I’m still trying to identify the exact year, but from my research it’s 1991-1993 Colnago Super PiU. Mostly original, I think, apart from ...Read more
I thought I would do a thread about how to do a quality refurbish on a bicycle that will be a good user trouble free for quite a while. The scope of this refurb will not contain content about dealing with battle scars it may have endured in its lifetime, primarily because the bicycle is merely an example of a solid platform to build from (vintage lugged frame circa 1990). Purchased for $15us ...Read more
Hello, I have some stock wheels that came with my bike (Spesh DT swiss ones), they have Thru-Axles; is it possible to convert to QR for a different bike? I have the kit for another set of Prime wheels, currently used as QR but allowing it to be TA - can you swap between wheel types?...Read more
I am a little taller than the average cyclist, and a little fatter. Which makes me heavier than a lot of cyclists. I ride longer distances than many cyclists, and a lot of my riding is on rough tracks. When I started riding fat bikes, I would bend or break the axles in the back wheels. The hubs had cup and cone bearings, with freewheels. I am not really that heavy. Many people are heavier than me...Read more
I've been having fun shopping on AliExpress lately and came across a ton of TPU tube with lots of positive ratings. So, I'm planning to try them out. I love the idea of being able to pack a spare tube or two in a fraction of the space taken up by a butyl tube. There's also the chance to save a lot of weight, especially at the wheels. Current tubes: Continental. Weight 105g each. 2x in the wheels...Read more