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When internal cable routing sucks

Old 07-19-21, 05:07 PM
  #1  
jayp410
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When internal cable routing sucks

Just had to replace a broken shifter cable on my externally-routed road bike. (Luckily, the cable broke on the bike stand when I was adjusting the shifting, which had gotten bad...and now I know why). Being externally routed, it was easy: pull the cable through and replace. On the road, I could install a spare cable, or, if not carrying a spare, could at least anchor the broken cable to a downtube cage bolt, adjust, and ride home.

This got me thinking that with an interally-routed cable, that wouldn't work so well. It probably wouldn't be easy to pull it through out the bottom bracket to anchor the cable to the frame, and after doing so, it might require taking out the fork and/or bottom bracket to route the new one. If you carry a spare cable and some thin Spectra fishing line, could tie the line to the old and new cables and pull the new one through. I did this on my new internally-routed bike build, after accidentally cutting the new RD cable too short. However, my bike also has internal plastic sleeves that run through the plastic BB cable guide, which are barely larger than the cable itself, and even with a cleanly-cut cable and the very thin fishing line, it was not easy to pull it through. If the cable end was frayed, the end would be considerably larger and might be almost impossible to pull through. So to fix this on the road, I'd have to also carry one of those heavy cable cutters to get a clean cut. Yeah, that's not happening.

So it seems that I'll either need to remember replace the shifter cables regularly (before they show symptoms of fraying). When I inevitably forget to do that, it will mean a call to the wife to come pick me up.

How do you deal with this?
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Old 07-19-21, 05:32 PM
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I have 2 road bikes. One is externally routed, easy peasy. One is internal.

The internally routed one requires more time and patience. How do I deal? Let’s say it invokes a lot of words I can’t say here.
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Old 07-19-21, 06:08 PM
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Probably easier to describe when it doesn't suck.
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Old 07-19-21, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jayp410 View Post

How do you deal with this?
Preventive maintenance.
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Old 07-19-21, 06:14 PM
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In the plus column, internal cable routing is an iron-clad excuse to buy yet another tool.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:17 AM
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I had the same situation. It's annoying
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Old 07-20-21, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Probably easier to describe when it doesn't suck.
When looking at the bike.

And at no other time.

--Shannon

PS: I have always had a soft spot for the rear derailleur cable routing on the late 80s steel Treks. Love the look, even though replacing one (1) of them gave me PTSD... so sanitary.
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Old 07-20-21, 07:43 PM
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Sram eTap... problem solved.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:18 PM
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I've been cycling for 45 years and have never had to replace a cable. Keep your bikes dry and properly lubricated to reduce the chances of a broken cable.
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Old 07-20-21, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jackb View Post
I've been cycling for 45 years and have never had to replace a cable. Keep your bikes dry and properly lubricated to reduce the chances of a broken cable.
This reminds me of an episode of Car Talk, when some dude called in and told Tom & Ray that he and his wife had a Honda Accord, (early 1990s, IIRC,) with like 245,000 miles on it.

They'd never changed the oil. Just checked it every so often and added some when it got a bit low.

Dude's question was "so, should I do an oil change?" To which Click and Clack both responded with some version of "Dear God, No!!! If you do, your car will be dead in a week!", followed by much existential angst about "everything we know is wrong" and "have we been ripping off our customers for all these years?"

Seriously, you've been riding the same cables for 45 years??? Man, I ain't been livin' right!

--Shannon
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Old 07-21-21, 02:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jayp410 View Post
This got me thinking that with an interally-routed cable, that wouldn't work so well. It probably wouldn't be easy to pull it through out the bottom bracket to anchor the cable to the frame

How do you deal with this?
I have a Diamondback Podium and both shifter cables come out under the BB. What I do is bend the last inch or so of the tip of the cables a little less than a 90 degree angle. When I push the cable through and it contacts the BB area I twist and push the cable and can fish it out pretty easy. I also do it on my frames with an internal rear brake cable. It's kind of hard to explain it but when you do it you'll see what I'm talking about.

But I prefer external routing.
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Old 07-21-21, 02:35 AM
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It's one of those things which sounds like a much bigger problem than it is.

The first time I was replacing cables on my internally routed bike which did involve a fair bit of swearing, I put in these thin cable liners and left them there, and subsequent cable changes were an absolute breeze. If you don't want to leave them in the bike, you could carry the cable liners to make the job easier (they're lighter than a cable) if you wanted to do it in the field, but I never carry a spare cable anyway.

I change the cables preventively once a year or two, though. My preference is for internal cables, overall.

​​​​​​
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Last edited by Branko D; 07-21-21 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 07-21-21, 05:53 AM
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Had to route rear brake line from the caliper to the lever completely internally routed. Could not have done it alone as it required two people, one to guide the hose to the opening in head tube and the other person twisting the hose to get it past the internally routed rear derailleur cable where the hose was getting hung up. Complete bulls**t.

Internally routed cables and hoses are for boy racer wannabes. They solve nothing and add a level of complexity not necessary for one of the simplest transit machines.
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Old 07-21-21, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM View Post
This reminds me of an episode of Car Talk, when some dude called in and told Tom & Ray that he and his wife had a Honda Accord, (early 1990s, IIRC,) with like 245,000 miles on it.

They'd never changed the oil. Just checked it every so often and added some when it got a bit low.

Dude's question was "so, should I do an oil change?" To which Click and Clack both responded with some version of "Dear God, No!!! If you do, your car will be dead in a week!", followed by much existential angst about "everything we know is wrong" and "have we been ripping off our customers for all these years?"

Seriously, you've been riding the same cables for 45 years??? Man, I ain't been livin' right!

--Shannon
Sorry, I don't believe that a car with 245,000 miles has never had an oil change, unless it kept burning off the old oil and they replaced it with fresh oil. I've changed the oil in a car which was 30,000 miles (!) overdue for an oil change, and the oil just totally glopped out of the drain pan in chunks. The owner kept driving it without changing the oil and it eventually burnt up on the side of the road. Did another oil change on a truck which I don't know how far overdue it was, and the "oil" was pretty much all sludge. It's really a surprise when you remove the drain plug and nothing comes out. And the oil filter was pretty much full of solid sludge. How it was still running, I have no idea. But we put some oil system cleaner in it and got most of the sludge out, fresh oil and it's back on the road.

In that Honda Accord, I'm guessing that the drain pan and oil filter are just totally full of solid sludge. Keep cooking the oil for 245,000 miles and that's what happens.
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Old 07-21-21, 07:32 AM
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You expect me to deal with ugly-ass, plebeian external cables because there's the possibility that, once in a decade or two, I might pop a cable mid-ride? Nah.
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Old 07-21-21, 08:27 AM
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Cables become a schedule interval service for replacement when they are internally routed, for any of my bicycles.
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Old 07-21-21, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Internally routed cables and hoses are for boy racer wannabes..
I have a bike with internal cables, and I'm definitely not a boy racer wannabe. The bike just came like that. And frankly, it is a cleaner look though I hope I don't ever have to replace the cable.
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Old 07-21-21, 11:27 AM
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Broken Cable... So what? Take Steps to Prevent this problem and Quit Whining...

No... Honestly it can be hard to route those little buggers but its just a thing ya gotta do and even if you have done it allot... Its still a thing...
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Old 07-21-21, 11:30 AM
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Internally routed cables are a "feature" that reduces the functionality of the bicycle and are something I like to avoid when purchasing a new frame. Hard to install, hard to fix, no apparent practical benefit.
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Old 07-21-21, 11:50 AM
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I question the mechanical aptitude and creativity of anyone that kvetches about the difficulty of internally routed cables and brake lines. It's not that difficult to get some thread or dental floss through the frame. Once a lead is in place, it's trivial to pull cables and brake lines through. If you're not starting from a bare frame, even easier - just use the existing cable as the lead.

Given the (in)frequency of need, and the low level of difficulty, it's really not a big deal, IMO. ​​​
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Old 07-21-21, 01:49 PM
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Let me get this straight. You're bashing a feature based on something that may happen to you someday that might involve you calling for a ride.
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Old 07-21-21, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jayp410 View Post
How do you deal with this?
By riding externally routed bikes. Its easy to not have to deal with something that isnt applicable.
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Old 07-21-21, 03:52 PM
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Brakeless fixie.

Problem solved?

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Old 07-21-21, 07:03 PM
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"I question the mechanical aptitude and creativity of anyone that kvetches about the difficulty of internally routed cables and brake lines. It's not that difficult to get some thread or dental floss through the frame. Once a lead is in place, it's trivial to pull cables and brake lines through..."

Question no more!
Externally routed cables are easily replaced in a few minutes, same with some, but certainly not all internally routed cables. Internally routed brake hose is whole other animal and a total PIA to deal with because externally routed housing is simply simple to deal with and goes quickly in comparison. Creativity and aptitude has zero to do with it. I have routed ebrake cables on autos in less time than some internally routed brake hose.

For what it is worth, which ain't much, I am a trained bike wrench, motorcycle wrench and car wrench. Was certified ASE long ago. Been wrenching my whole life and certainly have seen my share of creative moments!
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Old 07-21-21, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
"I question the mechanical aptitude and creativity of anyone that kvetches about the difficulty of internally routed cables and brake lines. It's not that difficult to get some thread or dental floss through the frame. Once a lead is in place, it's trivial to pull cables and brake lines through..."

Question no more!
Externally routed cables are easily replaced in a few minutes, same with some, but certainly not all internally routed cables. Internally routed brake hose is whole other animal and a total PIA to deal with because externally routed housing is simply simple to deal with and goes quickly in comparison. Creativity and aptitude has zero to do with it. I have routed ebrake cables on autos in less time than some internally routed brake hose.

For what it is worth, which ain't much, I am a trained bike wrench, motorcycle wrench and car wrench. Was certified ASE long ago. Been wrenching my whole life and certainly have seen my share of creative moments!
You kvetch about internally routed frames and can't figure out the "Quote" button, but you want me to accept your competence? Okay.
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