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Externally routed cable - no problem, a few quid, 20 minutes, job done. Internally routed cables? PITA, but a bigger PITA if they snap.  My good bike rarely gets wet, and has just crossed the 5,000 mile mark. When should the inners be replaced, and I guess equally important, what about the outer sheath?

19 comments

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Welsh boy [567 posts] 4 weeks ago
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I have ridden for 47 years in all conditions and can say I have never had a cable snap.  For your own safety I think you should seriously question whether you should be working on your own bike but 5000 miles on a set of cables is fine.

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 4 weeks ago
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The only place I’ve ever even heard of cables snapping is inside the shifter body. Certain shifters have been known for it in the past. That’s a problem whichever way the cable is routed around the frame. I can’t think of any reason a cable would snap inside a frame where there’s nothing for it to rub against or snag on.

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hawkinspeter [2662 posts] 3 weeks ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

The only place I’ve ever even heard of cables snapping is inside the shifter body. Certain shifters have been known for it in the past. That’s a problem whichever way the cable is routed around the frame. I can’t think of any reason a cable would snap inside a frame where there’s nothing for it to rub against or snag on.

Yep, I've only ever had a gear cable break inside the shifter.

I'd recommend changing inners every 2 years if you want them to be operating at their best. I wouldn't bother changing the outers unless there was a specific reason for it (e.g. poor performance or you want to change their colour).

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Griff500 [300 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I appreciate the feedback chaps.  The reason I posted the question was that a Google search on the same subject came up with a very different answer, with annual or  circa 3,000 mile changes widely recommended, with many changing every 6 months! 

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mike the bike [1119 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Griff500 wrote:

I appreciate the feedback chaps.  The reason I posted the question was that a Google search on the same subject came up with a very different answer, with annual or  circa 3,000 mile changes widely recommended, with many changing every 6 months! 

 

I once read an article that recommended we all change our handlebars at 2 years.  I took it seriously, obviously.

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fenix [1108 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I'd only consider it if my gear changing was getting tricky and thought that new cables would help.

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Rapha Nadal [921 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Whenever you want.

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harragan [253 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

  For your own safety I think you should seriously question whether you should be working on your own bike.

Really?  Even changing cables?  This seems overly cautious.  Perhaps it's a joke and I don't get it...

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mike the bike [1119 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

......  For your own safety I think you should seriously question whether you should be working on your own bike but 5000 miles on a set of cables is fine.    

 

Don't work on your own bike?  What kind of heresy is this?  What would replace the complete satisfaction you get from a Sunday morning session of fettling and fixing and generally getting oily?  There's nothing like it, man versus broken bike, man emerges victorious, bike running like buttered silk.  Couldn't do without it, just not possible.

I suppose at a push I could hand my proudest possession over to the semi-trained halfwit at my LBS.  He'll do the job to the minimum standard, using parts that don't quite fit, chip the paint in three places, leave grease on the levers and charge me for the privilege.  Or maybe I won't.

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Welsh boy [567 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I am all for working on your own bike, it is an integral part of cycling but I do wonder about (and I wasn't joking) people working on their own brakes if the result is broken cables.  Re-tape your bars, oil your chain and clean your spokes by all means but leave the life and death bits alone if you are so hamfisted as to snap stainless steel cables.

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 weeks ago
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He didn’t say he snaps cables, he said he’s worried about whether an internally routed frame is more prone to snapped cables. The two are entirely different.

The truth is neither is at all prone to snapped cables, but he didn’t know that, so he asked.

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racingcondor [240 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I used to do inners annually and outers every 2 years riding around 6,000 miles a year and in all conditions (a lot of grimy weather and road salt).  That was after leaving one on and having it snap inside the shifter at about 18 months.

Probably excessive but I never had a problem again.

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 weeks ago
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The worst I had was the rear shifting getting progressively worse until it didn’t work at all. It turned out the outer had been installed (not by me!) with no ferrule so it eventually gave up and just got crushed up on the entry port of the shifter. I had to ride the 10 miles home with two gears depending on which ring I chose up front.

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ianking [17 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I've had gear cables break on me several times - both 501 and ultegra - always inside the shifter. On multi-day journeys I carry a spare and tweezers for extracting the broken end.

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SpikeBike [124 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I have had a cable snap in a shifter after about 8000 miles (all conditions 105). Had to pay the LBS to extract the piece inside the shifter as I had no idea how to get it out. So my own personal experience is going change them within 2 years (with me doing 4000 miles a year on my commuter ).

Also think they should be changed when you replace cassette and chain as a sort of allover job

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froze [81 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I've been riding for over 40 years myself and never broke cable, however my first road bike I got when I was 14 was a used bike that had internal cabling, what I didn't know was there was suppose to be a plastic sleeve in the frame holes to protect the cables, those were gone, and the cables would rub against the bare frame metal and eventually cut the cables at a rate of 3 a year.

I do believe that cable replacement by LBS's is oversold, this stuff about replacing every season is nonsense.  The bike I ride most of the time (I ride others) I bought in 2013, it came with DA9000 cables, after about 18,000 miles those cables are still good to go for at least another season and probably more from how they look.  Even when I use to race in the late 70's into the mid 80's and putting on 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year in mountainous areas of S Calif. which means a lot of shifting and braking my cables lasted 10 years and more; in fact my racing bike that I still have has over 150,000 miles on it and I only replaced the cables 3 times.  Granted where I lived when I raced had a drier climate then where I live today, so rain and gunk "should" shorten the cables life, I'll have to see about that because that bike I bought in 2013 was bought when I lived in the wetter climate of NE Indiana, but so far the weather hasn't been an issue.

I did replace cables on my touring bike that was made in 1985 that only had 250 miles on the bike when I got it because the brakes were on the stiff side, so part of the equation to get the brakes to work freeer was to put modern slicker cables on.

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Griff500 [300 posts] 3 weeks ago
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vonhelmet wrote:

He didn’t say he snaps cables, he said he’s worried about whether an internally routed frame is more prone to snapped cables. The two are entirely different.

The truth is neither is at all prone to snapped cables, but he didn’t know that, so he asked.

Not even that! I was just puzzled about all the online advice to change cables annually, so I thought I would ask some real world riders what thay do. Tbh I didnt take Welshboy seriously, and I've no idea where he got the idea that I had ever snapped a cable. I've done brakes, drivetrain and suspension on several of my cars and survived, so I think I can handle changing a bike cable (should it be necessary).

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huntswheelers [145 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I always advise customers on 105/Ultegra to swap out cables annually (obvs I know who put the miles in) to save the Shifter snap issue... always these 2 japanses shifters... 

As for internal cables.... apart from the above caveat, it's bike dependent... a certain manufacturer/online retailer in Sheffield has some routing issues under the Bottom Bracket to derailleurs but I only see it as I have the bikes stripped out... most only need new cables when the old ones (if galvanised) break out and drag inside the housing (common on some of the so called "brands") ...other than that.... it's owners preference or what is seen at service and customer advised before replacing

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I think shimano fixed the shifter snapping issue. It was a major problem with 5700 / 6700 but they changed things up for 5800 / 6800 and I think that sorted it.