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

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.

Materials

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.

Calculating Length

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.

Cutting Cables

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.

Installation

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.

Related Links

Related Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

Chris King

Lastest post 3 hours ago

I am building my dream bike and I want to put a Chris King bottom bracket in it. It is just very hard to figure out which one is the right one. I plan on getting a Sram DUB crankset because it has the look I´m going for, with a decent price tag. I have a Cinelli Vigorell disc frame. I believe that in order to put the DUB crankset on I would need the King Threadfit 30. I don't know what the differ...

Read more

Rear V-Brake leaning to one side

Lastest post 2 days ago

All, Just had my brakes replaced and repaired. I noticed that my rear v-brakes were skewed to one side. Not sure how to fix or reconfigure this. Any help is appreciated. The attachment shows the skewed v-brakes leaning to one side.   rear-v-brakes.jpg (Size: 57.44 KB / Downloads: 53) Thanks....

Read more

Hi, I followed the park tool instruction for the front and rear derailer alignment but the Front Derailer moves to the bigger cog only when I'm not riding the bike. On the stand, it moves to the bigger cog just fine but whenever I ride it doesn't move. It shifts perfectly on the stand but seems to hit the h limit screw when sitting and actually riding (the cables are not being clamped in any way ...

Read more

I've watched the Park Tool video on removing and installing a new crank. I've completed the removal/install and torqued to 45Nm (hoping this is correct for a cheap SR Suntour XCT since I can't find manufacturer guidance). I used a tiny bit of grease (but let's not go down that rabbit hole for this question). Here's where I'm starting to find conflicting info. This document on Sheldon's siteexpla...

Read more

Wobbling freewheel

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

Hi! I recently got a cheapie old mountain bike. A few minor thing had to be done to it to get it into a good usable condition. The old thing thats still up with it is a slight wobble in the rear freewheel. It makes the rear gears slip a bit. I don't know much about freewheel mechanisms... is there user serviceable bearing in then or is replacing that the only option? i've uploaded a video to sh...

Read more

Drivetrain Problem!

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I am having a problem with my chain sagging in the small chainring to small cog combination. I am aware that it is inadvisable to use this or the big chainring to big cog. I have a triple chainset with 46-36-24 and my cassette is an 11-32. I have put a new chain on and checked the length required using a calculator and also manually over big chainring, big cog according to advice on Park tools we...

Read more

Rear Shifting Not Working

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I bought a new gravel bike last week and noticed that the shifting seemed to jump around in the higher gears. I watched a park tool video on how to adjust the rear derailleur and adjusted the limit screws and indexing it seemed that everything was working normal. Just went on a quick ride on my trainer, didn't notice any problems with the shifting, then when I took the bike off and put the rear wh...

Read more

1983 Raleigh Super Course 12-speed

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

I have a 1983 Raleigh Super Course 12-speed bike. I'd like to replace certain parts and to 'clean up' certain other parts depending on how they have survived the passing of time. From 1983 until this past April, this bike has seen very limited use, so, much of it is in excellent condition. I though I'd start with tires and tubes, but even in that category, I'm a little confused. The tires show 27X...

Read more

FRONT WHEEL PROBLEM

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

Hi I hope someone can help. I removed the front wheel on my ebike to fix a puncture which has disc brake. When trying to replace the wheel it was difficult to get in the forks And when I finally got it in the wheel is stiff with no play at all. hope you can help.?...

Read more

Squeeling Brakes!

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

My new-ish disk bikes brakes squeel like you would not beleive! Any advice on how to deal with this? Thanks!...

Read more

Replace rear wheel

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

Hello there, this is my first post here so i'm sorry in advance if this is in the wrong category. I bought a foldable ebike to repair it, (i don't want to use it as electrical, just normal bike, so i'm about to strip all the electric cables off) but the rear wheel (20x1.75) is missing 6 spokes, they are 130mm in lenght and i can't find anywhere to buy them because of their short lenght. So i was ...

Read more

I have an original 2010 Trek District 1st edition. I need the rear cog 22t 9 spline replaced, I've stripped out my original one. I can not find this part anywhere and if I go to trek website or even gates, they say the part does not exist. When I contacted gates they informed me that they do not have any and that I could maybe find it through a 3rd party source. I really do not want to change it ...

Read more

Hi, I am new to working on bicycle gears and am hoping to get some help determining if my new shifter has failed or if I just need to make some more adjustments. On the left side shifter, I am able to shift easily from 1st to 2nd, but when I tried to get it to go to 3rd, the chain would go up, but the shifter wouldn't lock into place. It would be great thumb exercise, but I prefer to fix it. I...

Read more

Incorrect brake bedding

Lastest post 4 weeks ago

So,when i first got my bike i didn't know much about bedding in and all of that so i rode it normally. At first it was great,loved the new bike with mechanical disk brakes until the rear one wasn't breaking evenly. I took it to the shop and he changed my pads. Apparently he changed them into semi metallic pads and they produce a horrible metal on metal sound when braking at low speeds,and they did...

Read more

Chain slippage

Lastest post 4 weeks ago

I'm riding an old Specialized Crossroads for fitness. Love this old bike but am having gear slippage problems. The bike always had a crisp, no-lag change of gears. About a month ago, shifting mid-range gears got clunky. When I say clunky, I mean a lag before the gears changed and then clunked into gear. Nothing crisp or positive about it. My local bike shop adjusted things & cleaned/lube...

Read more