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Mick's Tips - Quick Cable Lube.
Brake and gear cable deteriation is so slow that we are often unaware of the drop off in performance which results in sticky shifting and loss of braking power. Save money by prolonging the working life of your cables and optimise their performance by lubing them regularly.
On many bikes this is super easy to do - in a very few minutes, and without tools.
Ok, start with the brakes. Unhook your brake quick releases, V brake noodles (or 'lead pipes') or cantilever straddle cable nipple. By doing so you've generated some slack in the cable to allow you to work your way along the cable releasing the outer casing from the slotted cable guides which are brazed/welded on to your frame. With some brake levers it's now possible to remove the cable nipple from the brake lever easily too.
So what you now have is the cable still attached to the business end but (depending on the bike) in various states of unattachednes. It's now possible, you will notice, to slide the outer cable along the inner. Grab some chain lube and apply it to the inner before sliding it to and fro within the outer casing. Capillary action combined with your frantic hand movements will draw the lube inside the cables. Simply reverse the process to reattach, give the exposed section of inner cables a wipe with a rag and away you go.
On-the-bike gear cable lubing is just the same - but you have to be a bit tricky to get the housing released. First set the chain in the largest sprocker - front or rear, whichever one you are working one - then, without turning the pedals, shift - click, click click - into the highest gear. If you've done it right the cable will be slack and the derailler will be held by the chain. The rear is easiest to do than the front so do it first. Lube your cables in the same way as you did your brakes, reinstall and you're done.
The benefits to doing it this way are - primarily, that you don't have to release the cable so can avoid having to reset everything. That you aren't clamping and unclamping cables, which inevitably leads to fraying and their eventual demise. It also gives you an opportunity to check that the cables aren't kinked, frayed etc. You'll get a feel for the condition of your cables doing it this way which is impossible to do by merely pulling on the the lever - so you'll have a much better idea of when your cables need to be replaced.
Once you get the hang of it it's super quick.
nb. The unfortunate owners of bikes without slotted cable guides, with down tube shifters or full length outers will have to undo the cable retaining nut/bolt.