Cable Housing – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Bicycle Components Glossary

I. What is Cable Housing?

Cable housing, also known as outer cable or outer housing, is a protective covering for the inner cable on a bicycle. It is typically made of plastic or metal and serves to protect the inner cable from dirt, moisture, and other external elements. Cable housing is an essential component of the bicycle’s braking and shifting systems, as it helps to ensure smooth and reliable operation.

II. What are the Types of Cable Housing?

There are several types of cable housing available for bicycles, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Some common types include:

1. Plastic Housing: Plastic cable housing is lightweight, flexible, and affordable. It is suitable for most recreational and commuter bicycles.

2. Metal Housing: Metal cable housing, often made of stainless steel or aluminum, is more durable and provides better protection for the inner cable. It is commonly used in high-performance bicycles and in harsh riding conditions.

3. Compressionless Housing: Compressionless housing, also known as linear housing, is designed to minimize cable compression and provide more precise shifting and braking. It is ideal for bicycles with indexed shifting systems.

4. Sealed Housing: Sealed cable housing features a protective liner that prevents moisture and dirt from entering the housing. It is commonly used in mountain bikes and other off-road bicycles.

III. How is Cable Housing Installed on a Bicycle?

Installing cable housing on a bicycle is a relatively straightforward process that can be done with basic tools. Here are the general steps involved:

1. Measure and Cut: Measure the length of cable housing needed for the specific component (brakes or shifters) and cut it to the appropriate length using cable cutters.

2. Prepare the Ends: Use a cable ferrule to cap the ends of the cable housing to prevent fraying. Slide the ferrule onto the housing before inserting the inner cable.

3. Insert the Inner Cable: Thread the inner cable through the housing, ensuring that it is properly aligned and seated in the cable stops or adjusters on the bicycle frame.

4. Secure the Housing: Use cable housing clips or zip ties to secure the housing to the frame and prevent it from moving or rattling during riding.

5. Test and Adjust: After installing the cable housing, test the shifting or braking system to ensure smooth operation. Make any necessary adjustments to the cable tension or housing length as needed.

IV. What are the Benefits of Using Cable Housing?

Using cable housing on a bicycle offers several benefits, including:

1. Protection: Cable housing protects the inner cable from dirt, moisture, and other external elements, prolonging its lifespan and ensuring reliable performance.

2. Smooth Operation: Cable housing helps to reduce friction and cable compression, resulting in smoother and more precise shifting and braking.

3. Durability: Cable housing adds an extra layer of durability to the cable system, especially in high-stress areas such as the handlebars and derailleurs.

4. Noise Reduction: Cable housing can help reduce noise and vibration caused by cable movement, providing a quieter and more comfortable riding experience.

V. How to Maintain and Replace Cable Housing?

To maintain cable housing and ensure optimal performance, follow these tips:

1. Regular Inspection: Check the cable housing for signs of wear, fraying, or damage. Replace any damaged housing immediately to prevent cable failure.

2. Lubrication: Apply a small amount of cable lubricant to the inner cable before inserting it into the housing. This will help reduce friction and ensure smooth operation.

3. Cleaning: Periodically clean the cable housing with a mild detergent and water to remove dirt and debris. Avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents that could damage the housing material.

4. Replacement: If the cable housing is worn or damaged beyond repair, replace it with a new piece of housing of the same type and length. Be sure to cut the housing to the correct length and install it properly.

VI. What are Common Issues with Cable Housing?

Some common issues that may arise with cable housing include:

1. Fraying: Over time, cable housing can become frayed or worn, leading to decreased performance and potential cable failure. Replace any frayed housing immediately.

2. Compression: Compression in the cable housing can cause sluggish shifting or braking. Use compressionless housing for precise shifting and braking performance.

3. Moisture and Dirt: Moisture and dirt can enter the cable housing, causing corrosion and affecting cable movement. Use sealed housing to prevent moisture and dirt from entering.

4. Rattling: Improperly secured cable housing can rattle against the frame or other components, causing noise and vibration. Use cable clips or zip ties to secure the housing in place.

In conclusion, cable housing is an essential component of a bicycle’s braking and shifting systems, providing protection, smooth operation, and durability. By choosing the right type of housing, installing it correctly, and maintaining it regularly, cyclists can ensure optimal performance and reliability from their cable systems.