How to change your shifter cable/housing (easy task for beginners!)
Hi PEARLiZUMi crew! My name is Syd Schulz and I've…
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Hi PEARLiZUMi crew! My name is Syd Schulz and I’ve been a PEARLiZUMi athlete since 2018. Unfortunately, in 2020 I suffered a major injury that kept me off the bike for the entire year. This plus COVID made for some pretty rough times. One of the ways I coped was by learning to wrench on my own bike. Previously, I could barely change a flat tire, but I had a good teacher (my husband, Macky), and working on bikes gave me a way to keep my sanity and to stay involved with bikes. Also, my bike maintenance lessons were pretty hilarious, and I found myself making a LOT of dumb mistakes — the kind of mistakes you don’t usually see in bike maintenance tutorials on YouTube. So, in October, we started publishing these lessons online, so that others could learn alongside me and create a space for pressure-free, beginner-friendly bike maintenance tutorials. And our channel SYD FIXES BIKES was born.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of our videos here on the PEARLiZUMi blog. If you’re just starting to ride or just starting to do your own bike maintenance, you’re in the right place!

In this video, we learn how to change shifter cable and housing. This task, along with swapping tires and fixing flats, is one of the first things that I would recommend new mechanics learn. Why? Well, cables wear out, fray, or get gunky, especially if you are riding in wet, muddy climates. And it’s way cheaper to replace cable and housing yourself rather than take it to a shop. And it really isn’t that hard, I promise!

For this task, you will need:

  1. New housing (cable, ferrules, etc.)
  2. Cable cutters
  3. Screwdriver
  4. Needle nose pliers

Step 1: Shift into your hardest gear (unless you have a rapid rise derailleur like we do in this video), so that when you cut the cable there is no tension on it.

Step 2: Use your cable cutters to cut the cable behind the cable fixing bolt.

Step 3: Use the screwdriver to undo the bolt on the outside of your shifter lever. Pull out the cable. If you have internal cable routing, DO NOT PULL OUT YOUR HOUSING. First, go watch our video about internal cable routing here for the safest method of getting the new housing in and measuring your housing, to avoid ending up in an internal cable routing nightmare!

Step 4: Cut your new housing to the same length as your previous housing. If you have multiple pieces of housing, line them up so you don’t get confused about where they go.

Step 5: Run your new cable back through the shifter. If you are in your hardest gear, you should be able to see light through the hole. If you are having trouble getting the cable through, confirm you are in the correct gear! Then, replace the screw in the back of your shifter. Do it now because it’s easy to forget if you wait!

Step 6: Add a ferrule and run the cable through the housing. If you have multiple pieces of housing make sure each piece has a ferrule on both sides.

Step 7: Pull the cable tight and fasten it with the cable fixing bolt.

Step 8: Cut the cable about 1.5 cm from the bolt. Add your cable end and crimp.

Step 9: Adjust your derailleur so that it is shifting properly. If you’re not sure how to do this, click here!

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