Cable Lubrication

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
I've lubricated cables on bikes that have sat for a while like a spare bike for visitors and it has helped the cables move freely again. . but when replacing cables I haven't been lubing them at the time of install.
Does anyone lube cables as a preventative maintenance step?
 

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
I do, at least on an annual basis. Bikes with manual disk brakes, where the barrel on the end of the cable that fastens to the brake lever, is a high wear point, so I like to keep that lubed. The cables themselves (all of them) at each end, and the spiral thing that pushes in on the outer disk brake pad gets a drop as well. Kick stand, where it swivels, derailleur is blown off with compressed air and tiny amounts of oil on all those moving parts. Focus is to get a drop, no more, on the moving parts. Drowning them in oil is just going to drip on to the ground, and what doesn't drip off is going to be a dirt/dust magnet.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
The cable sleeve is a slippery plastic material. Cables should need no lubrication. Putting oil inside the cable sleeve produces an initial benefit but over time, the oil also collects particles that can act as an abrasive to the cable cover/sleeve. Cables and sleeves are inexpensive and relatively easy to replace. Granted internal routing makes the process more complicated but the best solution is replacement rather than lubication.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I oil the upper end every two weeks. I ride in the rain a lot. When I buy replacement cables I buy coated stainless steel ones. Lots of useless bicycles at the Salvation Army resale with rusted up cables, chains, derailleurs.
 
Last edited:

AHicks

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Snow Bird - Summer S.E. Michigan, Winter Gulf Coast North Central Fl.
The cable sleeve is a slippery plastic material. Cables should need no lubrication. Putting oil inside the cable sleeve produces an initial benefit but over time, the oil also collects particles that can act as an abrasive to the cable cover/sleeve. Cables and sleeves are inexpensive and relatively easy to replace. Granted internal routing makes the process more complicated but the best solution is replacement rather than lubication.
I agree mostly, but where the cable enters the outer sleeve/jacket, is often a wear point. Where the cable isn't perfectly lined up anyway.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
I do, at least on an annual basis. Bikes with manual disk brakes, where the barrel on the end of the cable that fastens to the brake lever, is a high wear point, so I like to keep that lubed. The cables themselves (all of them) at each end, and the spiral thing that pushes in on the outer disk brake pad gets a drop as well. Kick stand, where it swivels, derailleur is blown off with compressed air and tiny amounts of oil on all those moving parts. Focus is to get a drop, no more, on the moving parts. Drowning them in oil is just going to drip on to the ground, and what doesn't drip off is going to be a dirt/dust magnet.
I do the same for most moving parts that are exposed and I agree. . .a drop is all that's needed.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
The cable sleeve is a slippery plastic material. Cables should need no lubrication. Putting oil inside the cable sleeve produces an initial benefit but over time, the oil also collects particles that can act as an abrasive to the cable cover/sleeve. Cables and sleeves are inexpensive and relatively easy to replace. Granted internal routing makes the process more complicated but the best solution is replacement rather than lubication.
That's kinda been my feeling about it. In situations when replacing isn't always practical a clean and lube can extend life. . . but in the time it takes to do that you can replace them as well.
Park Tool does recommend that you lube at install if you watch their videos. . just wondering what others do
 

Coolbob

Active Member
My dad used to do his own maintenance on his motorcycles and he used one of these Cable Luber tools to lube the cables on his bikes. I inherited the tool and have used it on my bicycles for many years. Just last week I noticed the rear derailleur on my wife's 20-year-old Specialized bike wasn't shifting properly and traced the problem down to the cable hanging up when tension was released on the cable. A few squirts of aerosol dry lube from both ends of the cable using the cable luber was all it needed to fix the problem. I prefer to use dry lube since it won't attract dirt or grit.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
My dad used to do his own maintenance on his motorcycles and he used one of these Cable Luber tools to lube the cables on his bikes. I inherited the tool and have used it on my bicycles for many years. Just last week I noticed the rear derailleur on my wife's 20-year-old Specialized bike wasn't shifting properly and traced the problem down to the cable hanging up when tension was released on the cable. A few squirts of aerosol dry lube from both ends of the cable using the cable luber was all it needed to fix the problem. I prefer to use dry lube since it won't attract dirt or grit.
They make a tool to do it so I guess it's a thing 🙃
As originally posted I've done the same with older bikes that aren't used often and it definitely works.
And I concur. . A dry wax or Teflon based lube is probably best. 👍
 

Lightning P38

Active Member
My dad used to do his own maintenance on his motorcycles and he used one of these Cable Luber tools to lube the cables on his bikes. I inherited the tool and have used it on my bicycles for many years. Just last week I noticed the rear derailleur on my wife's 20-year-old Specialized bike wasn't shifting properly and traced the problem down to the cable hanging up when tension was released on the cable. A few squirts of aerosol dry lube from both ends of the cable using the cable luber was all it needed to fix the problem. I prefer to use dry lube since it won't attract dirt or grit.
I just ordered one. I fix bikes for a bike co-op and lots of them need a bit of lube to let the brake lever return properly.
 

Lightning P38

Active Member
I just ordered one. I fix bikes for a bike co-op and lots of them need a bit of lube to let the brake lever return properly.
I have a third hand brake cable puller for brakes that are stubborn to adjust, but it is faster to just use a pliers to pull the cable tight while holding the brake pads against the wheel. It is a nice tool, but since purchasing it, I just don’t use it anymore. I like any excuse to buy a new tool! My tire tool is the best, as I can leverage any tire onto a rim with it....it was one of my better purchases. I use it on 90% of the tires I mount.
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
The cable sleeve is a slippery plastic material. Cables should need no lubrication.
You would think that, but you can actually buy housing that is pre-lubricated, and Shimano also sells special cable grease. It definitely helps with the basic galvanized cables that come stock on most bikes; these tend to rust over time.

When you replace your cables, I recommend replacing them with "slick" stainless steel cables. Unlike basic cables, slick ones are run though a die to make the surface of the cable smoother.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
As of late I have been using polished stainless cables and probably the main reason I haven't seen cables start to become sticky inside the sleeve. That and the bike is used almost every day. I guess the advertising claims are accurate.

No one has addressed shifting cables.
I'm assuming the same holds true.
 
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rich c

Well-Known Member
I was getting a stiff shifter cable on my Full Seven. Not wanting to pull it at that time, I put it in the service stand upside down and angled the front end down. Dripped in a few drops back where the cable came out of the sheath at the derailleur. Let it sit overnight and the next day it took about half the effort to shift. I'll need some fairly heavy maintenance work on it this winter, and will pull the cable to see where it's dry or if there is a bigger issue.
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
My earlier generation bikes all had at least partially exposed cables. I would regularly lube these with Tri-flow as recommended by my sons' MTB team.

My current generation of bIkes have all internally routed cables. These are so well protected from the elements, dust, grit, etc, that I don't bother with periodic lubes. I'll just replace them when they wear through the housing sleeves.
 

Gionnirocket

Well-Known Member
Last week or so I've been riding through slush and melting snow and I started having poor shifting. On inspection I found a little salt/road grime build up on my cable where it enters the rear derailleur.
I cleaned it up with a polishing scotchbrite with a little WD 40 on it and then lubed it with some Boeshield.
So far the issue has not returned