Can You Reuse Bike Cable Housing? (Quick Guide + Tips)

There are chances that your cables need to be changed because of wear, cracks, and fraying.

It is necessary to protect the cables from the sun, moisture, mud, etc., and make them last longer. And for this, you need cable housing. While you can always buy new cable housing to replace the old one, you can re-use it in many instances.

In this article, we’ll be discussing these cable housings; whether they can be reused. If they can, then when to do it. We’ll shed light upon other issues relating to cable housings that you may need clarification on.

Copy of Why Is My Bike Brake Stiff

Can You Reuse Bike Cable Housing?

Yes, you can reuse bike cable housing. While changing your bike cables, whether shifter or brake, if you inspect the cable housings and discover they are still in good condition, there’s no reason why you can’t reuse them.

Cable housings (when damaged) always show signs of wear, rust, or fray, if it isn’t the case with yours, then reuse them.

To be sure it is reusable, slide a new cable into the cable housing, if it goes in easily and smoothly, then you can reuse it. If you notice that the new cable finds it difficult to go through the cable housing, then the housing needs replacement.

When reusing old cable housings that you have, ensure you use the correct cable housing for the correct cable. Don’t use brake cable housing for shifter cables or shifter cable housing for brake cables. They come in different sizes and use different housings.

Do Bike Cables Need Housing?

Yes, bike cables need housing. Cable housing makes it possible for cables to be routed around bends and for handlebars to be turned fully in both directions without problems.

So cable housing is especially needed for cables that do not go in a straight line; cables around frames and handlebars. Inadequate or short cable housing can also be a problem. It can cause friction, kinks, improper shifting, and handlebars won’t turn fully to the left or right.

Cables also need housing to protect them from getting rusted or dirty. Cable housings keep the cables from the outer conditions.

When Should I Replace My Bike Cable Housing?

We have established that bike cable housings, which are also called outer cables, are equally as important as inner cables. Knowing when to replace them is important, to keep them functioning properly and continue to have a smooth ride.

There are physical signs to look out for in cable housings, to know when they should be replaced.

Let’s look at a few…….

1- Fraying

Cable housing, especially the shifter cable housing that goes into the rear derailleur often gets frayed at the ends. This can cause shifting problems and friction.

When you notice your cable housing fraying, then it’s time to replace them.

2- Rusting

Cable housings are especially exposed to moisture, mud, rain, etc. and this can cause them to discolor or rust.

Rusted cable housings disintegrate and wear out fast. Riding with rusted cable housings can make them snap or crack unexpectedly which could cause an accident.

It is best to replace the cable housing immediately you notice rust.

Mountain bike cable housing is more prone to rust than road bikes. This is because of the condition that mountain bikes are ridden in. They are more exposed to these elements that cause rust.

3- Cracks & Sharp Bends

Cables often unwind inside the housing and puncture it to have sharp bends and cracks.

This is common with brake cables because of the transfer of force and power that is associated with braking.

When this is noticed, both the cable and cable housing should be replaced.

4- Cable Housing Often Gets Gunked up & Clogged

This can happen when cables wear into housing and the wear products accumulate. This can cause sluggish shifting or hinder it.

Try cleaning and lubricating it.

If new cables don’t thread easily through it even after cleaning, then it’s time to replace them.

5- Liner Wear

Modern cable housing often comes with Teflon-coated liners. These liners can often wear out after miles of riding, and this can cause friction.

This wear in the liner can’t be seen, since you can’t see the inside of your cable housings, but the friction caused will affect shifting.

If your cables and shifters are in good condition and you still have problems shifting, then your cable housing might have worn and become dry inside. You should either lubricate or replace them immediately.

Can I Reuse Cable End Caps?

Yes, you can reuse cable end caps.

Cables are changed often but that doesn’t mean you have to change your cable end caps all the time. Cable end caps can be reused if they aren’t rusted or damaged. You just have to be careful while removing the old cables from the cable ends.

Importance of Cable End Caps

Bike cable ends are necessary on your cables because they prevent them from water, dirt, and debris. They also make your cables neat and keep the frays in place. Frayed cable ends can scratch your frames and other components on your bike, so cable ends are quite important for your bikes to look tidy and scratch-free.

STEPS To Change Cable End Caps

1- Get a pair of pliers and use it to dislodge the cable end caps from the cables you want to replace. Use the pliers to squeeze them off.

2- Then gently use the pliers to open up the flattened part.

3- After doing this, slide the cable end cap onto the new cable and use the pliers to re-crimp it, so it doesn’t slide off the cable.

It’s as simple as that!

How Do I Clean My Bike Cable Housing?

Cleaning your bike cable housing makes it more reusable. This ensures that dirt, dust, and grime that may have found their way into it are eliminated. You should also lubricate the cable housings before sliding new cables into them, to make them last longer.

Note: You can clean your cable housings without removing them from your bike. Just clean them while they are still fixed on your bike. It saves you the time you would have used to reassemble them and also saves you from stress.


1- Air gun
2- Lubricant


STEP 1: Use the air gun to blast air into the cable housing you want to reuse. This will flush dirt out.

STEP 2: Shoot some lubricant of your choice into the cable housing until it runs out at the other end. WD-40 is a good choice for this. It will clean, as well as lubricate the cable housing.

Simple! Isn’t it?

As a bonus, let’s also look at how you can make use of your Bike Cables themselves…….

How Do You Reuse Bike Cables?

You can use and reuse your bike cables as long as they aren’t damaged or worn out. This however entails knowing what to do to make your bike cables reusable and how to reuse them.

Let’s look at a few tips…….

1- Maintenance

The first way to make sure that your cables remain reusable is to maintain them. Bike cables can’t be reused if they are frayed, rusted, bent, or cracked.

If you plan on reusing your cables, whether shifter or brake, you should protect them from moisture, sun, and mud. Leaving your bike in the outside conditions overnight or riding in the rain is going to cause damage in the long run.

You may have to replace them all the time.

2- Lubrication

Lubrication is also important if you plan on reusing those bike cables in the future. It is also necessary to have frictionless riding. Non-lubricated cables will be dry, cause a lot of friction and wear out fast.

3- Careful! (When You Change the Cable Housing)

You can also keep the bike cables in good condition by making sure they don’t get damaged while changing the housings.

Cable housings often need to be changed and you may need to cut your cables to get them out of the cable end caps, to free your housings. This can make your cables too short to reuse even when they’re still in a good condition.

Tip: You can avoid this by carefully removing cable end caps from cables without cutting them. Use pliers to turn the cable end cap gently to unscrew it and then pull it off.

shifter cables will get out of the rear derailleur easily this way, and the housing can be replaced without causing damage to the cables.

Final Thoughts!

Cables and cable housings are important parts of your bikes. They last longer when maintained and can be reused. You just need to lubricate and clean them often.

You should however note, not always can you reuse your cables or their housings. Sometimes you need to replace them as they can’t be salvaged. We’ve discussed signs you should look out for, to know when they need to be replaced. Watch out for those signs.

Cable ends are equally important and can be reused if you squeeze them off old cables gently.


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