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I commute about 3600 miles a year and I am able to keep my gears adjusted pretty well. I do find that I get a lot of grime from rainy, muddy conditions, and I think I might be replacing my shift cables and housing more frequently than I should, probably twice a year. Would squirting some soapy water thru the housing and letting it dry before adding light oil to the cable housing increase lifetime, or is this not worth the effort?

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If you are VERY environmentally aware, perhaps stretching the lifetime of cable housings by relubing them would be an option. But for performance and comfort, I would say "No way, replace 'em. Unfortunately". –  heltonbiker Nov 7 '11 at 13:12
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Sad to say, not worth the effort!

However, if you are a bulk user of cable outer then you can invest in a big reel of the stuff (obviously genuine Shimano) and some Shimano cable cutters (TL-CT-10).

Note the price is wrong:

http://www.madison.co.uk/productinfo.aspx?catref=6Y1+9801

However, order by Madison part code from your LBS and get the brake cable outers whilst you are at it.

The inners are easy to clean up, the outer liner erodes over time and no amount of blowing soapy water through shifts the detritus.

That part is the 'XTR' version, there is also a cheaper one that should work fine. enter image description here

These are good, just so long as you don't cut mudguard stays with them:

enter image description here

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Good point about ordering housing in bulk, I re-cable my domestic fleet with enough frequency that investing in a reel of bulk housing would be worthwhile. –  memnoch_proxy Nov 6 '11 at 21:27
    
I love my Park Tool cable snips. I still keep them in the bag and box they were originally packaged in, as part of the ceremony of limiting their work to cables and housing. –  memnoch_proxy Nov 6 '11 at 21:28
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I do not feel the need to use Shimano, there are some other generic brands worth using (and some not). Also, since most the friction occur at entry points, check if the housing endings are clear from bent wire after cutting. It helps to widen the inner plastic sleeve spinning a fork tooth inside, so that the cable runs free. –  heltonbiker Nov 7 '11 at 13:09
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I'd guess that running soapy water through the housing would cause it to corrode faster, since you'd never be able to rinse it out well. (Very) light oiling will help.

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I would guess the same, that water of any sort would attract dirt and encourage rust, soapy or not - but I don't know this for a fact. –  Neil Fein Nov 6 '11 at 13:55
    
Soap tends to be corrosive. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 6 '11 at 14:32
    
Would not have assumed soap to be corrosive. Is this particular to the teflon or other housing liners? –  memnoch_proxy Nov 6 '11 at 21:22
    
getting the housing dry in a timely manner might be a time waster as well, good point, compressed air might not do a good enough job. –  memnoch_proxy Nov 6 '11 at 21:24
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Soap is naturally a bit alkaline, and is technically a "salt". It will cause the steel housing to corrode. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 6 '11 at 23:24
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