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I know some people recommend changing houses and cables every year or season, but I think that might be a little over kill. What does everyone else go with?
 

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I change mine whenever they're frayed or when they break. My 1995 DeRosa still has all the original cables. I inspect them often. They're fine.
 

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johndengler said:
I know some people recommend changing houses and cables every year or season, but I think that might be a little over kill. What does everyone else go with?
I'm going with the 'every time I need to pull the cable out of the housing' for $200 Alex. If I don't pull the cable out of the housing for years, so be it. If I'm in the 'upgrading mode' could be weekly.

The thing I do to make it not hurt so much is just reuse the rear cable as a front, just replacing the rear with new. After all, the front's shorter, AND the shifting's not quite as critical.

M
 

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Personally, I think replacing good quality cables every season is a waste for most recreational riders. I try to keep my cables clean (esp. after ride in mud or wet) & inspect often. Never had a failure (knock on wood). I have some that have lasted 3 yrs on my MTB (inc. mech disc cables), and current roadie is less than 1 yr old so it doesn't count. Depends on quality of cable, use pattern, and upkeep. Low grade non-stainless steel cables ridden in winter salt & never cleaned may not last 2-3 mo before rusting out. Personally, I replace cables for any signs of corrosion, fraying, or stretch (after initial settling-in). Also- I have replaced older cables prior to a major event (long tour, century). Cannot argue with those who choose to replace every year since you really can't inspect the whole cable unless you remove it. Heck- if you're going to the trouble to remove cables for inspection- just replace 'em.
As for housings- I've only replaced when damaged (e.g. crash or me slipping with a wrench;)).
 

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johndengler said:
I know some people recommend changing houses and cables every year or season, but I think that might be a little over kill. What does everyone else go with?
Zero times per bike. Start with top-end OEM Shimano or Campy housing, do it right the first time, use a good synthetic grease - not too thick, not too thin - and forget about them. Of course, if you change derailleurs, shifters, etc, there's no reason not to also change the cables.
 

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As needed

Most of my cable replacement issues have come from the ends getting too gnarly to thread back through the housings after the winter tear down, or from the housings getting rusty or the housing plastic casing wearing through. I have had a few times where the cable starts to fray at the head, and that means immediate replacement. I'm guessing I replace cables every 3-5 years, which means 25-45K miles. IMO, you can see whether you have a problem by inspecting closely, and you can get good life by proper cleaning and lubrication on at least an annual basis. I live on the flats, so there's not that much shifting or braking on my rides. As alwasy, YMMV.
 

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I'm w/Kerry--Seldom to never, and usually just because

Kerry's doing a LOT more miles than I am, but I've used cables for at least five years, probably longer, and I don't remember ever seeing a set that wouldn't work acceptably with just a general cleaning and lube no matter how badly they were trashed. I probably replace them on average every three to five years, and normally it's when the ends get too frayed to go back through the housing or when I have the bike torn down, I'm in the LBS buying bearings and I think, "Might as well get cables, too--they're cheap."
It may be relevant that I'm still friction-shifting my two road bikes, so a little drag isn't an issue. But the cables in my indexed MB have been there at least four years, and it worked fine today. I do lube the cables once a season, too.
 

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Depends

I think it depends on what kind of components you have and what your riding conditions are. It's been my experience that Shimano STI cables and housings need to be replaced somewhere between once a year and once in five years. I've not had a complete failure but I have had significant improvement in shifting performance after replacing cables and housings, and I think the housings are at least as important as the cables.
On the other hand I have a 1980 Trek with Shimano 600 components that still has the original cables and housings. I've had Campy for only two years with no changes.
If your shifting seems to drag or hesitate then new cables and housings can help a lot.

Al
 

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Juanmoretime
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I'm with the once a year camp.

The performance of cables slowly deteriorate and the feel great before I replace them and better after. I'm always tweaking this or that or adding or modifying my components so why not. Winter is for preparing your bike for a trouble free season.

I also replace handlebar tape annually.
 

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JuanmoretimeI also replace handlebar tape annually.[/QUOTE said:
I ride white tape. My replacement schedule's more like every 6-8 weeks.

Yeah, I know if I switched to black it'd last longer, but I LIKE the look of the white tape (when its white!)

M
 

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Each week, along with bar tape.

Just kidding, but I'm going to have to disagree completely with the tone of this thread and proclaim that, IMO, the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to make your bike feel new is throw on new shift cables and housing. Brakes, more like a couple times a season- only when they feel sticky, this is much easier to overlook than imprecise shifting. I use shimano 10 and I'll admit, campy housing and ferrules are much nicer and tend to last a lot longer than SIS. Most times when people bring their bikes into the shop because of shifting issues new cables and housing is the fix. On my bike, as soon as I can notice that the shifting doesn't feel like new I'll clean and lube the cables if I'm feeling lazy, but usually it's just snip, snip, snip. Lubing them is only a quick fix, lasts a couple rides or less in the rain, and you can never really get all the dirt out from inside the housing. And yes, I buy cables and housing by the box/roll and I use alloy ferrules. I'm getting better about bar tape, I like it white and I've found it can be cleaned 2-3 times with simple green before it looks dingy. So, more like every 2 weeks.
 

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Try Aztec (sp) cables

I used a set for years on my MTB before converting to road. They are teflon coated and the housing must be cut with a die grinder and a cut off wheel. They are by far superior to SIS cables. When my stockers go bad I use these to replace them. Der. cables can be purchased thru Sram and like the Aztecs they are teflon coated and such but a smidge smaller diameter. The more you use the teflon coated ones the smoother they get. They are expensive as far as cables go but well woth the investment.
 

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bar tape: approx. 3 or 4 times a year - always black
rubber ergo hoods: approx. once per year
cables and housings: approx. once per year or when a housing cracks/cable frays - which ever comes first

i do new cables, housing, tape and hoods all at one time.
 

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Argentius said:
too much

time

on your hands.

:)
Not so! I'm very busy, but having a bike that looks perfect and functions perfectly is critically important to me as a bike racer. Also, for me it's very quick to slap on new cables and housing- a 10 minute job start to finish for shift, front and rear. Same with bar tape.
 

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Grease & oil

scico said:
Wich is the best way to lube cables?
I slide out enough cable to expose the amount of cable that normally is in casing. I put a thin layer of grease on the cable, and then add oil and mix them together. If the casing ends are showing any rust, I put a drop or two of oil on the end of the casing. Slide the cable back in and wipe off any surface lube. Good to go.
 
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