How to Replace a Gear Shifting Cable on a Road Bike

How to Replace a Gear Shifting Cable on a Road Bike
If your road bike is shifting sluggishly, and adjustments fail to reverse the problem, it may be time to replace the shifter cable. Each time you shift a gear, tension is placed on the cable. Over time, the cable stretches, lessening its effectiveness. While tightening the cable will work in the short term, "Bicycle Maintenance & Repair for Road and Mountain Bikes" recommends that cables get replaced at least once a year. Maintaining this schedule will help ensure crisp response from your shifters.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Removing

Things You’ll Need:
  • 5mm Allen key
  • Needle-nose pliers
 
Step 1
Make a mental note, or even take a photograph, of the way your present shifter cables are routed on your bike. If you've never replaced shifter cables before, a picture will ensure you route the new cables properly.
Step 2
Loosen the cable anchor bolt. Each shifter has a cable, and one end of each cable terminates at its respective derailleur. The anchor bolt secures the cable to the derailleur.
Step 3
Cut the end of the cable with a pair of wire cutters. You're cutting the metal crimp attached to the end of the cable. These crimps are mashed in place around the end of the cable and keep the cable from fraying. They need to be removed when replacing the cable.
Step 4
Move the right and left shifters until each of their cables is given the maximum amount of slack. This action positions the cable heads in the shifter so the cable heads can be accessed.
Step 5
Squeeze the brake lever on the shifter. The cable head will be visible on the inside of the lever. Either grab the cable head with a pair of needle-nose pliers or force the cable out of the shifter by pushing it from the other end.
Step 6
Remove each shifter cable fully from the bike.

Replacing

Step 1
Insert the end of the new cable through the same hole in the shifter from which you removed the old cable. Push the cable all the way through until it emerges from the cable housing.
Step 2
Route each cable to its respective derailleur. Each cable passes beneath the bike, through the cable guide on the underside, and finally to its derailleur anchor bolt.
Step 3
Pull the end of the cable taut with needle-nose pliers. Tighten the anchor bolt over the cable.
Step 4
Cut the end of the cable 1 to 1½ inches from the anchor bolt.
Step 5
Squeeze a new metal crimp on the end of the cable, using needle-nose pliers.
 

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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