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I noticed today that my the cable controlling my front derailleur is beginning to fray. Hoping to get this great group's thoughts on the situation.

It's a Shimano 105 2x11. Bike has about 150 miles on it.

Q1: Does it seem surprising that it's happening so soon? Could I be doing anything in my riding or maintenance to bring on this problem?

Q2: How close is it to failing? If I continue to ride till it fails could I cause more damage (other than a long walk home), or should I get it fixed right away?

Thanks very much for your opinions. Picture below.frayed cable

UPDATE: a few people asked for additional pictures of the assembly. Adding 2 more. Thanks.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Generally a failure like this is gradual, with shifting getting worse until it breaks and leaves you in the hardest gear/smallest cog. Riding home in an 11 tooth may be okay depending on gradients. – Criggie Jul 6 at 3:44
  • No long walk home, you'll just end up in your smallest front ring, which according to the gradients and your effort may well be where you want to be anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . I guess you may end up with a loose cable to deal with, but just coil it up and snick it out of harms way. – Lamar Latrell Jul 6 at 5:34
  • But that curve as it sits unsupported like that seems odd (and a reason why a cable may wear prematurely), could be as simple that it's a newer design feature I haven't come across, but could you please show the full surrounding context? – Lamar Latrell Jul 6 at 5:37
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    Isn’t this the loose end of the cable? Fraying there shouldn’t matter. – Michael Jul 6 at 6:24
  • That cable was most certainly damaged when it was installed. The lose strand could make a very painful encounter with a fingertip. – Carel Jul 6 at 7:15
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If you are still in your warranty period bring it in to the dealer your bought the bike from and ask them to replace the cable. It is unlikely that anything you have done in normal use would have caused this. At this point it is a relatively easy fix. I have worked on shifters where the cable has been used breaking a single strand at a time until complete failure. It left a birds nest of cable ends that wouldn't pull out in either direction. If they aren't willing to fix it under warranty still have it repaired.

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    If this is the most recent version of 105, the cable isn't correctly installed. Also, is that a cut off end of cable at the very bottom of the picture, shouldn't be there. Cable routing on the new Shimano FDs is quite different from the past ones. This looks like a bungled job. Take the bike back to the shop and have them fix it. – Carel Jul 6 at 7:22
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Front derailleur cables generally last a lot longer than rear ones so it shouldn't have gone yet. I've snapped several rear cables and replaced a couple more, but never snapped a front one and only replaced it once - so the front probably lasts 4-6x as long for me (or at the very least 15 000km).

If it snaps riding the bike will still be possible. Check for loose ends trailing anywhere (including working loose as you keep riding, so maybe remove the broken cable), and accept the gears you've got. It's possible to use the limit screws, barrel adjusters, and/or tying off the cable to select gears, but you don't need to: at the front, you'll end up in your smallest chainring, so low gears - you'll lose some top speed but still be able to get up hills.

Snapping in the shifter makes replacing the cable a little harder, but has never damaged anything for me, nor can I see how it easily could.

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  • Depends on the shifter - its possible for the sprues of wire to wedge somewhere in the mechanism and make it hard to get the stub out. Replacing the wire before it fails is always easier than afterward. – Criggie Jul 6 at 3:36
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    @Criggie it's certainly a better idea to fix it first. Mine breaks in a similar place to where the OP's is fraying (common to shimano, where it bends sharply). Theirs actually looks like it might be easier to extract than mine, which can be done with basic roadside tools – Chris H Jul 6 at 6:31

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