How to Change Bike Gear Cables

Written by aaron smith
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How to Change Bike Gear Cables
The rear derailleur and cassette of a road bike. (elements image by Sergey Goruppa from Fotolia.com)

Bicycle cables need to be replaced every few months or more if you ride a lot. The effectiveness of a bike's shifting depends on the shifters, but also the condition of the cables. Cables are subject to rust and constant stretching due to the nature of how the mechanism works. This abuse can lead to broken cables and poor shifting ability. Some bike manufactures have started using internal cable routing in order to improve the life of the cable and for looks.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Hex tool
  • Cable cutters

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the left-hand shifter as if you were in a riding position. Shift down to the lowest chain ring on the crankset. Locate the front derailleur. Using the crimp section of the cable cutters, remove the metal cable end. Loosen the bolt holding the shifting cable on the front derailleur with a hex tool. Fold the shifter hood up away from the handlebar to expose the shifter. Pull the shifting cable out of the shifter and remove it.

  2. 2

    Insert the new shifting cable into the shifter and run it through the cable housing. One end of the cable should have a barrel end which stops the cable at the shifter and allows the shifter to pull on the cable when being shifted. Pull the cable firmly and, using a hex tool, secure it to the front derailleur. Be sure not to mash the cable too hard, causing it to fray or break. Cut off any excess shifting cable with the cable cutters; leaving about 2 to 3 inches remaining above the clamp on the front derailleur. Use the crimp section of the cable cutters to crimp the metal cable end to the end of the shifting cable. Fold the shifter hood back down toward the handlebar.

  3. 3

    Locate the right-hand shifter as if you were in the riding position. Shift to the smallest cog on the rear cassette. Locate the rear derailleur and use the crimp section of the cable cutters to remove the metal cable end. Loosen the bolt holding the cable on the rear derailleur. Fold the shifter hood up away from the handlebar; exposing the shifter. Pull out and remove the old shifting cable. Insert the new shifting cable into the shifter and run it through the cable housing. Repeat the same steps as you would to replace the front derailleur cable.

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