How to Replace Cable Housings
Measure, cut, lubricate and replace your old seized or damaged cable housings.
If your cable housing is old and stiff, or damaged, it’s a good idea to replace them to improve your braking and shifting. So how do you know how much length you will need? It’s easy if your old cables are still attached as you can simply measure them, but sometimes you’ll need to measure them manually.
It’s quite difficult to evenly cut cable housings with regular pliers, so I’d recommend picking up a proper cable cutter before you begin. However, you will need some regular cutters on hand to cut off any sheared spiral housings, and a scribe or some kind of sharp poking device is handy to poke out the inner lining clear. You’ll also need to install ferrules on each end of your housing, so you’ll need two for each section of housing.
Types of Housing
It’s also very important to know that there is a big difference between brake and shift housings. Brake cable housings have a coiled metal spiral embedded in them, while compressionless shift cables have a series of tiny round wires running parallel along the length of housing. If you were to use brake cable housings on shift cables the result would be very poor shifting.
As I mentioned before, if your old housings are intact you can simply take them off and measure them for the exact replacement length. However, if there are no existing housings, you’ll have to buy more than you think you’ll need and then trim it down. For example, if I needed to replace the rear derailleur housing, I would take a ruler and move it along the estimated path and then add another few inches just to be safe.
Housings should make a smooth curve, with no sharp bends. For example, the length shown here is ideal. This would be too short, and this would be too long. The sections that run from your handlebar to your frame shouldn’t be too long, but there should be enough room to turn the handlebar all the way in both directions.
Once you’ve measured twice, cut the housing clean across using the cable cutter. The inner spiral on brake housings will sometimes shear leaving some metal poking out. Trim this with your wire cutters until the end is flush. Then clear a hole in the plastic lining with your poker. Shift cables usually cut clean and just need the lining poked through.
Once all of your housing sections are cut and trimmed, slide a ferrule on the end of each. I like to also squirt a drop of Tri-Flow into the housings to keep them operating smoothly. Now you’re ready to install the housings and reinstall the inner cables. I’ll demonstrate how to replace your inner cables in an upcoming tutorial.
- Shimano TL-CT10 Cable Cutter
- Tri-Flow Superior Lube
- Park Tool HBH-2 Handlebar Holder
- Park Tool SA-3 Heavy Duty Shop Apron
- 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
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'm sure there will be lots of discussion on the recall just announced. How will it be handled? Anyone have any insight to the recall?...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
I came across two riders with flats on yesterday's ride. The usual response as I roll by and ask, "Do you need anything?" is, "No, I'm good," but today, someone was in need. The first guy, fit, full kit, nice Colnago, was good to go. Then, about seven miles later, on the opposite side of the road, a guy sitting on the side of the road with a wheel between his legs and with his wife, I presumed, st...Read more
Hi everyone. The young one has been on his bike steering right with the handle bars, the person steering with the safety steering has forced the safety steering bar the opposite way and now the safety steering will not turn in any direction and everything from the outside appears fine. I’m not sure if it goes into anything inside the bike that may have broke. I’m just wondering if anyone has a...Read more
I recently bought a mountain bike with hydraulic brakes. When the brake fluid gets low, more needs to be added. There are a number of tutorials on Youtube, and other places on the internet. They involve bleeding the brakes.. That is having brake fluid flow through the brakes lines, to remove the air. The process is a bit involved. I did it an easier way. I put the funnel in the brake lever, and ...Read more
We bleed hydraulic brakes to remove air from the lines. With car and truck brakes, we only bleed them when they have air in the lines. Is there any benefit in bleeding bicycle brakes, other than removing air from the lines?...Read more
Hi folks. My 2004 or 2005? Specialized stumpjumper FSR elite? Comp? has been very neglected, but recently my situation and lifestyle have changed for the better, and I am trying to get it trail ready. I bought a chain cleaner kit, and I've degreased the rear cogs, and lubed the chain. All of the hardware mentioned is original and stock, and came with my bike. I was hoping the maintenance would sol...Read more
Two weeks ago I bought a new Trek Checkpoint ALR5 bicycle. Bike rides pretty well. It has aluminium frame. I bought it primaraly for bike packing trips as it has ton of mounting points. After riding it for 2 weeks and hitting some easy gravel roads I found two relatively small dents on bicycle's frame. I don't know when I got them. Maybe they are caused by flying rocks from the wheels. Maybe this ...Read more
I apologize in advance if I mix-up some lingo, I have almost no experience in fixing bicycle drivetrain. Previously I had Comet CKM-7159 as crankset (I managed to find this datasheet that seem to describe it pretty good - datasheet) Long story short, pedal track on the left crank got completely destroyed. Since it's two-piece crankset (or I just have not enough muscles to detach left crank from ...Read more
coming at you guys with another newbie question. I noticed the other day while pedaling up hill that I was getting some wheel was rubbing my brakes. I only noticed it when I was really pedaling hard. My bike is a single speed so I have to really get on it when I go up hill. I noticed that my wheels do have a little side to side motion when I apply pressure with my hands. I'm wondering if the wheel...Read more
I inherited an old Schwinn world tourist from my father who has since passed away. Decided to fix it up and make it a little more me. It was completely stock when I bought it. Pretty happy with how it turned out. Upgrades: Single speed conversion 44x17 Tektro 559 brakes with Kool stop pads and 750 levers. Swift Sand canyon 27x 1 3/8 tires Flat bars with vans grips Charge seat PXL_...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
The bolt that feeds into the headset is striped. I have the ability to put the Allen key into the head of the bolt and spin it but it won't come out. I believe the star nut and the bolt are striped from each other. Can anyone help? There is no hexnuts on the stem and the bolt just keeps spinning. I can feel as though there is pressure when I spin it but the bolt does not rise out of the headset w...Read more