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Are expensive cables/cable housings worth upgrading to on an entry-level bike?

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Are expensive cables/cable housings worth upgrading to on an entry-level bike?

Old 04-17-21, 10:28 PM
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djdelarosa25
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Are expensive cables/cable housings worth upgrading to on an entry-level bike?

My Giant road bike with a Claris came with pretty basic Jagwire stuff. I noticed that even when properly adjusted, the front derailleur is pretty hard to shift (turns out my shifter housing at the ferrule end has started fraying). There's also some noticeable friction on the rear brake (noticeably not as smooth as the front one). I've already decided not to spend money on things that won't give a noticeable performance improvement. So far, I've only planned on replacing the saddle, the tires when they wear out, and maybe even the wheels in the future. Should quality cables/ cable housings be added to the list? Or are inexpensive cables and/or cable housings good enough for a low-end bike like this? If I do upgrade, I found a complete kit of Jagwire Pros for 40 USD. Are they worth it?
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Old 04-17-21, 10:52 PM
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yes...good clean housing and good cables are always a good thing.
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Old 04-17-21, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by djdelarosa25 View Post
My Giant road bike with a Claris came with pretty basic Jagwire stuff. I noticed that even when properly adjusted, the front derailleur is pretty hard to shift (turns out my shifter housing at the ferrule end has started fraying). There's also some noticeable friction on the rear brake (noticeably not as smooth as the front one). I've already decided not to spend money on things that won't give a noticeable performance improvement. So far, I've only planned on replacing the saddle, the tires when they wear out, and maybe even the wheels in the future. Should quality cables/ cable housings be added to the list? Or are inexpensive cables and/or cable housings good enough for a low-end bike like this? If I do upgrade, I found a complete kit of Jagwire Pros for 40 USD. Are they worth it?
Only $40 to correct shifting and upgrade at the same time and you need us to tell you to do it?
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Old 04-18-21, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
Only $40 to correct shifting and upgrade at the same time and you need us to tell you to do it?
If you try a little harder, you might be able to achieve the level of Obnoxiously Condescending. I'm sure that would impress the OP.
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Old 04-18-21, 04:26 AM
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I personally would not replace anything until it needs replacing. If something does not work properly, then I would do something about it. Otherwise I might wait until it breaks or becomes a problem.

Since I have not seen your bike, I can't say for sure what I would do.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

There are some on this forum who will tell you you should spend thousands on a bike, and anything cheaper is just not good enough. Then you should upgrade the already good parts on the bike. Some of us are not as rich as them, and need to live economically.

Last edited by alo; 04-18-21 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 04-18-21, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa View Post
If you try a little harder, you might be able to achieve the level of Obnoxiously Condescending. I'm sure that would impress the OP.
Is there something that I have ever posted that makes you think Iím trying to impress anyone on BF?
You should go back to creeping peeps out by fantasizing about riding on their bikes.
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Old 04-18-21, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by djdelarosa25 View Post
My Giant road bike with a Claris came with pretty basic Jagwire stuff. I noticed that even when properly adjusted, the front derailleur is pretty hard to shift (turns out my shifter housing at the ferrule end has started fraying). There's also some noticeable friction on the rear brake (noticeably not as smooth as the front one). I've already decided not to spend money on things that won't give a noticeable performance improvement. So far, I've only planned on replacing the saddle, the tires when they wear out, and maybe even the wheels in the future. Should quality cables/ cable housings be added to the list? Or are inexpensive cables and/or cable housings good enough for a low-end bike like this? If I do upgrade, I found a complete kit of Jagwire Pros for 40 USD. Are they worth it?
Donít know from the info given if your issues are due to worn cables or bad setup (you did not even say if the bike is new or how old the cables are). But I doubt they are due to the quality of the cables.

If you do go with replacing cables and housing.....

I never found a difference between standard vs higher end shifting cables and housing.

I do notice a real difference in brake cables and housing (more specifically the housing). Compressionless housing (such as the Jagwire Pro) make for more solid feeling braking over standard brake housing. Jagwire Pro is my go-to for brake cables and housing sets.

Last edited by Kapusta; 04-18-21 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 04-18-21, 05:33 AM
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I have the same dilemma with an older Giant bike. I won't get much selling the bike so I decided to fix it up a bit relative to cost/benefit. I'd go with the cable upgrade in your case. What are some good brand cables to order out there if I see a deal?
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Old 04-18-21, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by djdelarosa25 View Post
I noticed that even when properly adjusted, the front derailleur is pretty hard to shift
If you're heavy, you probably do need better cables, especially for the brakes. But shifter cables/housing can be cheap.....Shifter cables have nothing to do with butter-smooth shifting unless they're damaged or have accummulated lots of miles without maintenance.

Tight spring tension on the FD can shorten the life of the cable and make shifting difficult no matter what cable you use.. One way to solve this is replace the FD with a different model that has lower spring tension

Also, you can lubricate stainless steel cable with the same oil you use on the chain. Apply oil and wipe off excess. But honestly, lubricating does little to improve shifting. Butter smooth shifting is usually achieved by proper indexing, aligned derailleur hanger, aligned FD, and correctly adjusted limiter screws.

Lubricating the cable does more difference in feel for the brakes than the shifters. They definitely improve things for braking if you have already properly routed the cables for the brakes and aligned the calipers.

Last edited by cubewheels; 04-18-21 at 05:53 AM.
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Old 04-18-21, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by downhillmaster View Post
Is there something that I have ever posted that makes you think Iím trying to impress anyone on BF?
You should go back to creeping peeps out by fantasizing about riding on their bikes.
There you go; you proved my point. Congratulations.
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Old 04-18-21, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by djdelarosa25 View Post
I found a complete kit of Jagwire Pros for 40 USD. Are they worth it?
That's a good price. You'll also need something to cut the housing cleanly (bike-specific cable cutter, dremel tool, or grinder/cutting wheel), so factor that into the cost.

Last edited by tyrion; 04-18-21 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 04-18-21, 11:03 AM
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I think that the most important factor isn't the quality of the cables and housings as much as the installation. Mainly, make sure you don't have any burrs where you've cut the housing.

If your front derailleur seems harder to shift up than you think it should, look at where the cable attaches. Often there is a little finger right in cable route. It's important the cable is routed OVER that finger. It changes the angle of leverage and makes a huge difference.
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Old 04-18-21, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by djdelarosa25 View Post
I found a complete kit of Jagwire Pros for 40 USD. Are they worth it?
Not for me. I buy Shimano brake cable kits (with grey housing) on eBay for under $10 shipped. And derailleur cables are $1/ea.
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Old 04-18-21, 01:11 PM
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I don't think it's worth on expensive bikes let alone cheap bikes. Using normal Shimano or SRAM cables/housing, installing it correctly and replacing them in a timely fashion are more important.
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Old 04-18-21, 01:22 PM
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On the handful of bikes I've maintained, over the years, I have generally found good-quality cables and housings to be an improvement. Definitely keeping them clean and well-lubed is a major factor, too. As is proper install and routing (ie, no tight bends, "clean" cuts to the housing).

Currently using JagWire Pro for both brake and shifting, on a rebuilt '90s Trek 970. Like them. Definitely smoother and easier to shift/brake than with the older cabling, derailleurs, brakes.
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Old 04-18-21, 03:02 PM
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on the other hand, you can always go di2, eTap and forego the cables altogether
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Old 04-18-21, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
on the other hand, you can always go di2, eTap and forego the cables altogether
How long before we get Jagwire Super Pro Elite Competition Nano-coated Di1 electrical wire?

(full disclosure: back in the 80s I bought Monster Cable $90 wires for my stereo speakers.)
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Old 04-18-21, 03:36 PM
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is it worth putting a good liability insurance policy on a clunker vehicle? Is it worth the extra cost for toilet paper that doesn't rough you up like a bouncer at the club?

Answer: Definitely!
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Old 04-18-21, 05:36 PM
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You state the cable is fraying at the housing end?

If that is the case, no amount of money on a cable will solve a poorly cut housing.

First step is to square off the housing ends and make sure there are no burrs that can catch on the cable. I dress mine with a bench grinder and make sure liner is open.

I use Jagwire kits, not Pro, off eBay without any issues. I have started buying Jagwire slick cables also off eBay pretty cheap.

I have experience with Claris shifters and brakes, but not the derailleurs. Shifters seem fine, but mated to higher level derailleurs. Brakes are worse than 20 year old 105’s.

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Old 04-18-21, 07:10 PM
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He posted that the housing was fraying. Maybe the OP can clarify as I am not sure he's using the correct terminology.
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Old 04-18-21, 07:56 PM
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I can’t recall ever experiencing that.

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Old 04-18-21, 08:17 PM
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I wouldn't put a ton of money into that bike certainly cables and housing and pads and shoes are the best low cost upgrade but the problems you are experiencing might not be the cables and housing. Certainly yes if your cables are fraying that is bad and I would replace that if that is the case. But it just sounds like the quality of components aren't up to your riding. They certainly cost less initially but tend to have issues like this more often in the long term.

Tthe longer housing run you have the more friction you will have. Front brakes also have most of your power so they will always feel better when adjusted properly.
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Old 04-18-21, 08:20 PM
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I saw "entry level" in the thread title and assumed it would be a question about a Kent bicycle.... GMC Denali, etc.

On a Giant (any Giant) I don't think I'd upgrade the cables unless they're truly in need of replacement (fraying, damaged etc).
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Old 04-18-21, 09:24 PM
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The only way I'd consider expensive cable housing is if I had shifting problems with the inexpensive housing. Which frankly I don't see happening.
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Old 04-19-21, 08:10 AM
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I've been using the "normal" level of Shimano or Jagwire stuff on my bikes. Bikes mostly with mixes of 105/Ultegra. So long as I use a nice pair of sharp cable cutters, run the cables properly, assemble all properly, etc........it works out well.

I've always found that the shift performance should only really "get great" if you move between group sets with different cassette/ring ramps and different RD/shifter dynamics. Not really from cables. Cables are kind of a "base condition" thing to me. If done right, they should allow the group set to perform as intended. Not really improve it.

If the group set won't shift how you like, maybe other things need a return to "base" condition. Like getting shavings of cable out of 105 shifters that chew up cables over time. Chain/sprocket conditions. Etc....

I was in problems back in the day trying to not buy the nice set of cutters and by being a smarty pants trying to run cables "neater"........aka.....too tight of bends. Then I went down the "nicer housing/cable" path for a while. No improvement. Back to proper cuts, proper bends, proper assembly......all fine.
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