Clutch cable: to lube or not to lube?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by tshelver, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. tshelver

    tshelver Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    Beween here (SE Asia) and there (NH/VT)
    Just had a seized cable as a result of corrosion. Only 6 months on the bike.

    It could have been a sea crossing where the whole bike was liberally doused by the waves, or standing in the rain, or it could have been slightly corroded from delivery, as the clutch and shift action after replacement is much better than it's ever been.

    I have a lube tool, another question is whether to use the supplied cable lube or a really good corrosion inhibitor I have (ACF-50).

    No WD40 thanks, I've proved that the ACF-50 works a lot better already.


    Sent from my Android chinaphone, please excuse the spelling
    #1
  2. usgser

    usgser Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,322
    Location:
    Westside WA
    Lube.
    #2
  3. Strawdog

    Strawdog Strawdog

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    128
    Location:
    Fannystelle
    I been using transmission fluid on my throttle cables and clutch cable on all my bikes never had a broken cable yet in 600000 KM.

    I think as long as your using something to lube it its better then nothing .
    #3
  4. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,039
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    Once you start lubing, you have to do it regularly. Dust gets stuck to the lubed cable and you have reoil to flush it out. I prefer not to lube and just replace the cable when it gets sticky.
    #4
  5. tshelver

    tshelver Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    Beween here (SE Asia) and there (NH/VT)
    Thanks for the info guys. About what I expected.
    Apart from my old Guzzi in the early 80s which had very stiff controls, I've never had an issue until now, at least on a motorcycle, and never lubed them.

    I've had cables freeze up in winter on my bicycle, due to moisture, but solved that with sealed and lined Gore Ride-on cables. Lubing worked a bit to solve that problem but wasn't a permanent solution, at least for sub 20F riding.

    It could also be that I'm in a much hotter, moist climate with no real garage, and I guess a few doses of salt water doesn't help either.

    I'll do a spray test with the cable lube to see how sticky it is, but my guess is that the ACF-50 or maybe 3M Teflon lube will be the way to go, as neither leave much sticky residue to trap dirt.


    Sent from my Android chinaphone, please excuse the spelling
    #5
  6. yooperbikemike

    yooperbikemike high, wide and handsome

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    12,754
    Location:
    The blue groove
    Yes, but use a moly/graphite based lubricant.
    #6
  7. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    291
    Location:
    Florida
    I second that and add that some grease on both heads of the cables help avoid bending the wire at each control input, which is the main reason of failure.
    #7
  8. greywolf

    greywolf Unpaved road avoider

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,014
    Location:
    Evanston IL
    If you have an uncoated steel cable, lube it. If you have a Teflon coated cable, don't lube it. Always grease the cable ends.
    #8
  9. Motomantra

    Motomantra Registered Lurker

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,413
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    I'd have to agree with this. I've seen the lined cables start dragging because the inner cable eventually saws its way through the lining, creating drag. "Modern" cables seem to last a long time. Unless they get doused with salt water.
    #9
  10. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    11,528
    Location:
    New(er) Mexico
    I would use a lube made for cables -- most of them have a solvent carrier that distributes the dry graphite lube where it needs to be, then evaporates. Nothing left to attract dust and grit.
    #10
  11. Navin

    Navin Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,476
    Bel Ray 6 in 1 is awesome cable lube.
    #11
  12. Geoff

    Geoff Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,155
    Location:
    Illinois
    Lube the cable with Dri-Slide.
    #12
  13. tshelver

    tshelver Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    568
    Location:
    Beween here (SE Asia) and there (NH/VT)
    How are they on corrosion? That was my problem on the cable I replaced.

    Sent from my Android chinaphone, please excuse the spelling
    #13
  14. Bogfarth

    Bogfarth Fridge Magnet Safety Tester

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    The Northwet
    :nod

    Dri-Slide Bike Aid is great stuff. Moly and graphite powders suspended in kerosene, and it comes with a needle to get between the cable sheath and cable. No spray getting everywhere, no rags, no leaky little gizmo or disconnecting the cables.Needle between the cable and sheath, squeeze gently, work the throttle or clutch a few times and yer done. :1drink
    #14
  15. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    11,528
    Location:
    New(er) Mexico
    I don't know. Probably not great, but if you grease the cable ends, it acts as a barrier to keep moisture out of the cable sheath and let the dry lube continue to keep things smooth.
    #15
  16. yooperbikemike

    yooperbikemike high, wide and handsome

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    12,754
    Location:
    The blue groove
    Bike Aid creeps into the smallest spaces including the pins on the chain and cures to leave behind a dry film of moly. This unique dry film won't attract dirt or dust, is highly resistant to water, and prevents rust and corrosion It is the perfect lubricant to use on brake and gear cables, derailleurs, front and rear brake pivot points, shift controls, chains quick release nuts. Prevents cable freeze up. It functions properly in temperatures from -20* F to 1000* F.

    Dri-Slide* Multi-Purpose Lubricant,

    A versatile penetrating formula of Technical Fine grade moly and Graphite with rust and corrosion inhibitors.
    Broad range of uses makes this our largest-selling lubricant. One of the easiest ways to apply drislide. It is the most widely specified dry film lubricant in aviation maintenance manuals and for general industrial MRO applications, for tractor-trailers, motorcycles, bicycles, and even weapons. Effective temperature range of -20* F to 1000* F (7* C to 537* C). Agitation required. Drislide Multi-Purpose dries to a dry moly film, that bonds to the metal service, staying in place, to lubricate longer than other lubricants. Does not collect dust & dirt and repels moisture.
    #16