Anatomy of a cable replacement.

Well one of the flaws on the trike, is that it does tend to fray cables for the rear derailleur at the leaver end. This combined with my excessive gear changes means that I need to replace the rear gear cable about every 3,000 km. Normally I wait until it becomes painful to change gears for the small bits of frayed wire sticking into my hand. But this time I decided on immediate action. Some time ago I purchased a pack of rear gear cables as I knew I was going to need to constantly replace them. But this simple task turned out to be quite a fraught one over two days. Here is the sequence of events.

  • Sunday evening. Remove the old cable. This turned out to be very hard. Normally it just comes out. But this one I had to use the pliers to get enough force. I was worried that the outer sheath had started to rust. Even though there was no proof on the removed cable.
  • I cannot thread the new cable into the outer. Even using the pliers it will only go in 10 cm and I put some kinks in the cable.
  • I ride to work with a 9 speed trike. Not impossible. But well short of my normal 81 speeds.
  • Monday Lunch I purchase a new outer sheath from wooly’s wheels and some cable ties from Miter 10. The latter did not have the size I wanted so I purchased the smaller size.
  • Going home I got up the 30% gradient of the car park in 5th rather than 1st gear but I needed a run-up.
  • At home I remove the old outer sheath. This turns out to be very easy.
  • I put in the new sheath, which also turns out to be easy. It is about 10 cm too long. But it turns out I do not have anything strong enough to cut it.
  • The cable ties are way too short to be of use. But I am able to thread the cable sheath though the old cable ties.
  • I put in the new  cable anyway. But it does not come out of the end of the sheath.
  • It also turns out that I have the wrong ends on my cables. There are two arrangements and I have the wrong one with the barrel normal to the cable where as the trike needs one with the barrel parallel to the cable.
  • I am about to give up when I notice a bit of inner cable sticking out of the old outer sheath.
  • It turns out that when I removed the inner sheath, I had left behind one strand. The stand coming off was what made the inner hard to remove and prevented the new cable from going in.
  • Using some pliers I extracted the single strand of wire.
  • A quick test shows that the new cable fitted easily into the outer.
  • I went upstairs and got a new cable to replace my kinked cable.
  • I put the old sheath back on the trike.
  • I put the new cable, even with the wrong barrel, on the trike.
  • I trued up the rear derailleur. Here I found that it was easier to do this with the trike on it’s side.
  • The gears are working again. (Fingers crossed. They did on a short test ride.)
  • I need to get gear cables with the correct barrel end.


  1. This relates to another post on another site, but seeing as this is more recent I thought it advisable to post here. Thomas Francis, according to your other post died 3 September 1820. I have this day, 5th August 2011 returned from Castlereagh Cemetery having visited the grave of this person. Date on footstone is clearly 1821. I have photographed the grave and the headstone which is lying down and broken (sadly across the name, which is nonetheless legible). Beside the grave and within the confines of the same fenced plot is a second unmarked grave, but clearly a grave, some evidence of a broken headstone. There is a small eucalypt tree growing beside the grave, I took 2 cuttings, one for myself and the other for my daughter.
    Kind regards
    Stephen Hay

  2. Stephen, No harm in putting the comment back where it belongs, if there is such a place. The search engines pick them up pretty well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *