Main­te­nance

Ac­tu­ally, its ca­bles do to en­sure the best shift­ing and brak­ing

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Nick Di Cristo­faro

Your bike needs to stretch be­fore a ride, too

What key com­po­nents do most bi­cy­cles have in com­mon that are also some of the cheap­est to re­place? Ca­bles, of course. Re­mark­ably, these steel-braided lengths of wire do a lot of work. With­out them, you woudln’t be able to shift gears or slow down.

One thing that can af­fect the per­for­mance of those in­ex­pen­sive and es­sen­tial com­po­nents is ca­ble stretch. What is that? A ca­ble elon­gates slightly with use. Shift­ing to larger cogs and rings and brak­ing ap­plies ten­sion to the ca­bles. Over time, per­for­mance suf­fers as the ca­bles get longer. Also, the hous­ing set­tles into the fer­rules, while the fer­rule ends set­tle into frame stops, shift lever bod­ies, and bar­rel and in­line ad­justers. The hous­ing it­self will also com­press slightly. All of the above will con­trib­ute to de­creased brak­ing and shift­ing per­for­mance.

Have you ever bought a new bike only to have it jump gears af­ter the first ride? The cause is almost al­ways the stretch­ing and set­tling I men­tioned. The shop didn’t prop­erly “pre-stretch” the ca­bling sys­tems. Most of the time, when a new bike is built at a fac­tory, it is slapped to­gether with­out care taken to en­sure last­ing shift and brake per­for­mance. When I build a new bike or re­place any ca­ble, I will al­ways pre-stretch, re-ad­just, and then do a fi­nal test ride.

top left Stretch­ing ca­bles on an ex­ter­nally ca­bled bike

top right

Stretch­ing ca­bles on an in­ter­nally ca­bled bike

left

Cam­pag­nolo shifter ca­ble end on left, Shi­mano on right

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