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Tech – Lubing cables

This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #20

Cables are fast disappearing from modern bikes, but there are still plenty around and most riders ignore them until they break or cause a problem.

This is partly because modern Teflon-coated cables have an amazing lifespan and need very little maintenance.

But there’s still a substantial gain in performance and durability available from steel-wound cables if they’re lubed regularly, and there’s still plenty of steel-wound cables in use. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter a throttle or clutch will feel if it’s given a good dose of lube, especially if it’s been allowed to gunk up.

Just to cover our bases, check your owners’ manual for advice on whether or not the cables on your bike need lubing.

We see plenty of people using WD40 for lubing cables and it isn’t ideal for the purpose. We like to purge any crud with WD40, then lube the cable with a purpose-specific cable lubricant. You can get one of those from the bike shop, too.

Here’s how it’s done…

Disconnect the cable from both ends. If there are protective rubber boots, pull them back so you can see the end of the cable outer. If it’s a carby, remove the cable/s from the throttle slide. We’re doing a clutch so we’ve disconnected the levers at both ends.

Attach a cable-lubing tool. These are available just about everywhere. We’re using a Bikeservice Cable Wire Lubrication Tool from Loosen the grub screws and slip the cable end into the tool. The cable will only fit properly one way. The wide end of the tool should seal around the cable outer while the cable inner should protrude, and be clamped until it seals, by the other end. Tighten up those grub screws.

Insert the flexible nozzle of your aerosol-can lube into the open gland on the tool. There should only be one place that nozzle can go.

Gently, using very short bursts, squirt the lubricant into the tool. Continue until you see the lubricant drooling out the other end of the cable (that’s why you disconnected both ends).

Remove the tool, work that cable back and forth in the inner a few times, then reconnect the cable and adjust to manufacturer spec.

Go riding

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