What is Shifter (Derailleur) Cable Housing?
Shifter cables and housing are among the vital part of a bike because they connect the shift levers to their respective derailleurs. A typical shifter comprises of a 1.2mm diameter shift cable with a 4mm diameter compressionless shift housing. Although this might not look interesting at first, you should keep in mind that the type of housing and cable that you use will affect the shifting performance of your bike.
Different materials are used for making shift cables, and it features different coatings, which helps the cables to glide smoothly through the shift housing. Derailleur shift housing is very rigid, and it features support wires inside it that runs in line with the shifting load. You are going to see shifter housing in different colors, which gives bikers the chance to add styles to their ride.
Difference Between a Shifter and Brake Cable Housing
Many problems with poor braking or shifting while biking is usually caused by using incorrect components. Many bikers, both inexperienced and experienced, have issues with determining whether a cable is a shifter cable or brake cable. Some of the differences between a shifter and brake cable housing are listed below.
Shifter (Derailleur) Cable and Brake Cable Standards
Shifter cables come in two standards, which are the Campagnolo standard and other standards like Shimano, SRAM, etc. The main difference between the two standards is the end barrel and the cable thickness.
The brake cables come in three standards, which are MTB, Road Campagnolo, and Road Shimano compatible. The main difference between the three standards is the size and shape of the end barrel of the cable.
Note: The 5mm outer diameter shifter housing has the same diameter as brake housing, but they are not of the same type.
Shifter and Brake Housing Functionality
The shifter housing is built in a way that it can compress and elongate as little as possible with shifter cable tension change. The shifting housing is not built for taking large force, and if you pull the cable hard enough, it will split.
The brake housing is built in a way that it can sustain very high cable tension forces without splitting, and slight compression does not have a detrimental effect.
How to Cut Shifter Cable Housing- Recommended Cable Cutter Tools and Brands
Always wear eye protection when you want to cut shifting housing just like with all cutting tools. You will put the cable at the jaw of cable cutters, which will then surround and shear the material. If you are planning to use a plain diagonal cutter, it will flatten and smash the cable.
When you want to cut shifter housing, try to grab and hold the housing close to the jaws. You should be careful not to cut your fingers when cutting the cable. For a clean-cut, hold the housing perpendicular to the jaws and then squeeze the levers quickly.
You can then inspect the end to see if it flattened after you have cut the gear housing. Before you install an end cap and cable, you should use the crimper section of the CN-10 cable cutter for the opening of the housing and inner liner.
Besides the CN-10 cable cutter, other recommended cable cutters in the market are the Knipex 9511200 cable shears, Felco, and Pedros. Some bikers may also choose to cut shifter cables using other tools, such as diagonal pliers as seen in this video (credits to Know How Now on YouTube):
Regardless of the tool you go for, always make sure that you know what you are doing, as misuse could lead to injury or accidents!