Bicycle Cable Guide
Good quality brake and shift cables are made from stainless steel. The cable is drawn through a die to give it a smooth outer surface. Brake cable housing consists of a wound steel coil covered with plastic and lined with plastic or Teflon. Shift cables are thinner than brake cables. The shift housing contains thin strands of steel wire running parallel to the cable. The strands of wire are sandwiched in plastic to prevent the housing from compressing during shifting.
Cables and housings should be checked, cleaned, and lubricated routinely, because rust and dirt will have a large effect on shifting and braking performance. If a cable becomes frayed, kinked, or the housing is damaged, it is best to replace it. New cables should be cut about one and a half inches past the binding bolts on either the brakes or the derailleurs to allow for future adjustment and maintenance.
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