Expert Cable Routing Tips for Streamlined Performance

Expert Cable Routing Tips for Streamlined Performance

Proper cable tension and precise routing from levers to derailleurs keep your bike responsive and reduce wear. Not all frames offer straightforward cable paths; this is where your skill with hacks matters. Master these tricks to maintain a smooth ride and sharp look, because well-routed cables are crucial for a top-notch cycling experience.

Table of Contents

Fundamentals of Bike Cable Routing
Advanced Techniques and Clever Hacks

Fundamentals of Bike Cable Routing

Types of Cables and Housing

Brake Cables:

  • Outer Casing: Usually comprises a coiled steel wire wrapped in plastic.
  • Inner Wire: Made from stainless steel or coated alloy for smooth operation.

Gear Cables:

  • Outer Casing: Often has a linear or compressionless structure for precise shifting.
  • Inner Wire: Typically thinner than brake cables with less stretch over time.

Tools Required for Cable Routing

Cable Cutters: For clean and precise cuts on cable housing and wires.

Allen Keys: For clamping the cable at the derailleurs and brake callipers.

Cable Routing Tool: Assists in threading cables through frames with internal routing.


  • Needle-Nose Pliers
  • Cable Tension Tools
  • Wire Cutters

Basic Cable Routing Techniques

External Routing:

  • Step 1: Measure the housing length keeping the path as direct as possible without impeding handlebar movement.
  • Step 2: Cut housing to length, ensuring the ends are square.
  • Step 3: Thread the inner cable through the housing and secure at the clamping point.

Internal Routing:

  • Step 1: Use the cable routing tool to feed the guide wire through the frame.
  • Step 2: Attach the cable to the guide wire before pulling it back through the frame.
  • Step 3: Secure the cable at the exit point and test for smooth operation.

Ensure that each segment of the cable is seated properly in its designated stop and that the housing ends fit snugly into cable ferrules or frame ports.


Advanced Techniques and Clever Hacks

This section covers some seasoned techniques and nifty hacks to take your bike's cable routing to the next level.

Customising Cable Lengths

Precise Measurement: Measure twice, cut once. Use a dedicated cable tool or a high-quality tape measure to determine the exact length required for each cable. When cutting brake cables, factor in an additional centimetre to account for the inner compression when the brake is applied.

Setting the correct length:

        • Front derailleur: Leave enough cable to allow the handlebars to turn fully without pulling on the cable.
        • Rear derailleur: Ensure there is just enough slack for the cable to move through its full range of gears without excess.

Internal Cable Routing Solutions

Guiding Wires: Thread an electrician's fish tape or a bespoke internal cable routing tool through the frame to guide the cables. If using an old cable as a guide, secure the end of the new cable to it with electrical tape before pulling through.

Dealing with frame stops:

        • Magnets: Use strong rare-earth magnets to guide cables through tricky spots.
        • Vacuum: Attach a small, lightweight object to a string and use a vacuum to suck it through the frame, then use the string to pull the cable through.

Tips for Flawless Cable Performance

Lubrication: A drop of light oil or a silicone-based lubricant inside the cable housing reduces friction and protects against corrosion. Avoid greases that can gum up in colder temperatures.

Maintenance schedule:

      • Monthly: Inspect cables for fraying, kinks, or rust and replace if necessary.
      • Annually: Replace all cables and housings as preventive maintenance, regardless of visible wear.
                  Back to blog