I perform maintenance on 3 personal bikes, and often friend's bikes (a few per year, usually). One of the most common tasks is replacing shift/brake cables and housing. I live in Boston, winter is brutal, and the bikes I maintain are used in terrible conditions as a means of transportation, so they must be reliable.

I'm interested in finding the cheapest, most effective way to have bulk housing that is fully lined or sealed. It would be incredible if there was a type of housing that could be bought for cheap enough that could be used for both brake AND shifting, such as Jagwire's 5mm compressionless brake housing. Right now I just use cheap bulk/shifting cable rolls, unlined, and I'm tired of having to replace the cables so much.

Any suggestions welcome!


Jagwire and some other companies make a 5mm compressionless brake housing. Since it's compressionless, but strong, I was sort of hoping that there was a cheap alternative, and that it would work with both brake and shifter cables, even if the shifter cables have an internal extra 1mm to move around.

It seems that the best way to weatherproof the system is to just use full length housing. I have seen cable setups before where the cable in between the housing stops has a liner as well, implying that the housing inner liner is separate and meant to be run through the housing like the cable. I was basically wondering how those work, and if you can get that setup in bulk, but they seem to be pretty complicated and have a bunch of different cable housing ends for different.

I think I will buy some bulk lined cables to do full length housing runs. I may try getting some jagwire 5mm compressionless brake housing and try to use it with shifters, and will report back with results.

Thanks for all the input!

  • Probably off topic as any answers will go out of date quickly, but here's what I found in 3 minutes on google.
    – Kibbee
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:09
  • I have come across the same bulk rolls, but I guess I'm trying to figure out how to line the entire length of cable for any bike with bulk materials. Most bikes don't use full length housing, which means there will be sections of cable run that are exposed, even if the housing comes with an inner liner. I have also found that it's possible to purchase an inner liner separately, so maybe the answer is to buy some cheap unlined bulk cable and then some bulk inner liner, and use the liner for the whole run?
    – chris c
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:18
  • I am not entirely sure now what you mean by "lined" housing, because the rolls I buy seem to be lined. You could look for Clarke's "hybrid" housing by the roll, since that's explicitly teflon lined, as are the rolls @Kibbee found.
    – Móż
    Feb 2, 2016 at 21:38
  • 2
    There is nothing to stop you using a full length housing on bikes that normally don't. Use zip ties to hold the cable to the frame. Won't look as nice, and when new will have a bit more friction, but no exposed sections means only points for ingress of gunk is the ends of the cables.
    – mattnz
    Feb 2, 2016 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


You can buy 30 meter rolls of cable housing such as http://www.wiggle.co.uk/transfil-gear-casing-30m-box/ . I would opt for Shimano or Transfil, as have seen problems with the much cheaper Clarkes.

Brake cable housings have a completely different construction to shifters. The housing is a coiled sheath , compared to the axial strands in shifter housing. And brake housing is larger diameter. So different housing for different purposes.


If I understand your question your concern is the area of cable that is normally exposed.. The sections that run along the top tube or the rear stays. I bought a 300 meter coil of 1/8" id plastic tubing. Look on E bay or Amazon or similar.

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