Technical Tuesday: SRAM Shifter Cable Replacement

Jun 15, 2010 at 0:30
Jun 15, 2010
by Mike Levy  
 
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Today's Tech Tuesday will show you how to quickly and easily change the shift cable on your SRAM shifter. Inside you'll find both step by step instructions and a great How-To video to guide you through the process.

Read on...

If your rear shifting is off, there is a good chance that the shift cable itself is the culprit. The steel wire that moves your rear derailleur up and down your cassette can be the weak link in an otherwise dialed system. Your shift cable is susceptible to contaminants like moisture and dirt that can quickly render it useless. It doesn't take much to send the performance South, and once that happens a can of spray lube can only help so much. The bad news is that replacing the cable is the only solution a lot of the time, but the good news is that a new cable is relatively cheap and installing it should only take a few minutes.

Learn how to quickly change the cable in your SRAM shifter:
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Step by step instructions

Tools needed: 5 mm allen key or folding allen key set, cable cutters


The instructions below guide you through replacing a shift cable on your rear SRAM shifter. The same basic steps apply to the front shifter as well, with only a few differences. When changing the cable on a front shifter, you'll want to shift to the smallest chainring/easiest gear before undoing the cable anchor bolt. Also, the internals of the front shifter are visually different to the rear unit. Take note of the path that the cable takes before removing it.

This Tech Tuesday does not cover making shift adjustments that you'll most likely have to perform soon after installing a new cable. To find out how to dial in your shifting have a look at a previous Technical Tuesday that will guide you though this setup.


Step 1. Shift your rear derailleur to the smallest cog/hardest gear. Trim the old cable end off and use a 5 mm allen key to loosen the cable anchor bolt. Take note of where the cable is clamped (above or below the bolt) as this can greatly effect the shifting
Step 1. Shift your rear derailleur to the smallest cog/hardest gear. Trim the old cable end off and use a 5 mm allen key to loosen the cable anchor bolt. Take note of where the cable is clamped (above or below the bolt) as this can greatly effect the shifting

Step 2. Using a 5 mm allen key, remove the SRAM shifter from its perch to allow you to access the silver dial that holds the cover on
Step 2. Using a 5 mm allen key, remove the SRAM shifter from its perch to allow you to access the silver dial that holds the cover on

Step 3. Turn the dial counterclockwise to remove it, be sure to put it somewhere safe where it won't roll away. You can now remove the shift cover to access the shift cable within the shifter
Step 3. Turn the dial counterclockwise to remove it, be sure to put it somewhere safe where it won't roll away. You can now remove the shift cover to access the shift cable within the shifter

Step 4. With the cover off you should be able to spot the end of the cable just underneath the large spring. Take note of where it sits and the path that it takes to exit the shifter. You should be able to dislodge the head of the cable by gently pushing the cable into the shifter through the barrel adjuster. Completely remove it from the shifter.
Step 4. With the cover off you should be able to spot the end of the cable just underneath the large spring. Take note of where it sits and the path that it takes to exit the shifter. You should be able to dislodge the head of the cable by gently pushing the cable into the shifter through the barrel adjuster. Completely remove it from the shifter.

Step 5. You may have to gently pull aside the large spring to allow the cable end to exit the shifter. It only needs a few mm's of extra clearance. You might have to do the same thing when installing the new cable
Step 5. You may have to gently pull aside the large spring to allow the cable end to exit the shifter. It only needs a few mm's of extra clearance. You might have to do the same thing when installing the new cable

Step 6. Now it's time to install your new cable. Thread it in using the same path as the old cable. If you are having trouble lining up the cable to feed it though, you can use pointy spoke or even the end of a pen to help guide it through. Be sure that the cable end is fully seated in its home position
Step 6. Now it's time to install your new cable. Thread it in using the same path as the old cable. If you are having trouble lining up the cable to feed it though, you can use pointy spoke or even the end of a pen to help guide it through. Be sure that the cable end is fully seated in its home position

Step 7. Reinstall the shift cover and lightly snug down the silver dial by turning it clockwise.
Step 7. Reinstall the shift cover and lightly snug down the silver dial by turning it clockwise.

Step 8. Reinstall the shifter onto its perch before feeding the new cable though the housing
Step 8. Reinstall the shifter onto its perch before feeding the new cable though the housing

Step 9. Gently push the new cable though the housing until it exits at the derailleur. If the new cable doesn't slide smoothly though the housing, you may need to replace some or all of it. We'll cover this job in an upcoming Tech Tuesday
Step 9. Gently push the new cable though the housing until it exits at the derailleur. If the new cable doesn't slide smoothly though the housing, you may need to replace some or all of it. We'll cover this job in an upcoming Tech Tuesday

Step 10. With the derailleur still inline with the smallest cog (hardest gear), guide the cable though the correct path and tighten the anchor bolt as you pull the new cable snug
Step 10. With the derailleur still inline with the smallest cog (hardest gear), guide the cable though the correct path and tighten the anchor bolt as you pull the new cable snug

Step 11. Use your cable cutters to trim the new cable, leaving about an inch of extra cable. Crimp on your new cable end
Step 11. Use your cable cutters to trim the new cable, leaving about an inch of extra cable. Crimp on your new cable end

Check your shifting before you hit the trails and make any adjustments as needed. Remember that shifting performance on the rack can vary greatly from actually test riding the bike
Check your shifting before you hit the trails and make any adjustments as needed. Remember that shifting performance on the rack can vary greatly from actually test riding the bike



Past Tech Tuesdays:

Technical Tuesday #1 - How to change a tube.
Technical Tuesday #2 - How to set up your SRAM rear derailleur
Technical Tuesday #3 - How to remove and install pedals
Technical Tuesday #4 - How To Bleed Your Avid Elixir Brakes
Technical Tuesday #5 - How To Check And Adjust Your Headset
Technical Tuesday #6 - How To Fix A Broken Chain
Technical Tuesday #7 - Tubeless Conversion
Technical Tuesday #8 - Chain Wear

Have you found this tutorial helpful? Share any of your hints or tips below!

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102 Comments

  • + 56
 Cant belive how many poeple are saying that this helped, not because its bad. But you should know alreday.
  • + 34
 maybe people dont have the spare time to experiment and learn them selfs so this will save alot of time and money for people DIY.
  • - 6
flag summit800 (Jun 16, 2010 at 7:55) (Below Threshold)
 yeah you shouldn't have this quality of bike products in your hands if your that clueless.
  • + 2
 It isn't for X0, but for all SRAM products.
  • + 8
 this helpled me Big Grin
  • + 36
 i like the tech tuesdays, except for all the damn bitching people doFrown
  • + 26
 i dont understand what is wrong with pinkbike and transworld mx and their tips.
they give you common sense "tips". c'mon, give us something worthwhile.
  • + 17
 hey, i didn't know how to dothis, so i, for one, am happy that this was just covered
  • + 20
 Well in an ideal world everyone would be just as perfect as you vilneff33. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who don't know how to do this stuff because they're new to the sport or they just never bothered learning. Please do forgive them your highness.
  • + 4
 yeah this is something alot of people don't know how to do. Its also something not alot of people don't want to even try since 1) there is basically no decent guide on how to do it (except for this), and 2) if you don't know what your doing your probably going to dissemble your shifter, and everyone knows you have to be a swiss watchmaker to figure out how to put a shifter back together. and 3) its still a pain in the ass even if you do know what your doing.
  • - 11
flag vilneff33 (Jun 15, 2010 at 18:49) (Below Threshold)
 hey, i never knew how to change a cable in my shifter before, but it was one of the first things i learned. I taught myself all the things i know. it's just some people are too lazy to do things themselves and have to have other people hold their hand through simple tasks.
  • + 9
 Uh.... Isn't that the point of Tech Tuesdays? To help people who didn't know how to do things....um...learn? You know, the thing you said people don't do? Is this bizarro world?
  • + 11
 Well if your so damn smart vilneff33 why did you even bother watching it? This clearly not aimed at someone experienced like you. Its good shit thats aimed towards noobs who dont have a clue about what lays under the shells of their derailleurs. Give them a f*cking break you prick.
  • + 22
 Is it just me or are peeps on here bitching about the dumbest shit? Regardless of what you ride, SHIMANO or SRAM, you will at some point need to replace the cables and housing. So DO IT, Shut up, and go ride!
  • + 2
 The point is metal mike.........you should be able to change a cable with EASE! with no danger of losing parts or getting dirt in your shifter housing, ON THE TRAIL. I cannot believe you actually have to take this shifter apart to change a cable. Its not that its hard, its just annoying!
  • + 3
 Broseph; I've been doing this for years now and it's NO BIG DEAL!!!! Also, After 15 years of MTB I've NEVER changed a cable "on the trail!" Come to my house and we'll go ride bikes!!!
  • + 1
 darkstar: on shimano barkes you have to open a cover and expose the fluid to potential dust and dirt. i much rather have shit in my shifter than my brakes....
  • + 1
 Understood. And Im quite capable, but that cant be designed out of hydraulic brakes. This doesnt need to be this way, I know its not a big deal, blah, blah, blah, I still lose respect for SRAM for designing this shifter like this. Not a big deal, Im just sayin.
  • + 2
 sram is still better than shimano...just sayin
  • + 1
 Lol, why do you say that?
  • + 1
 I dont subscribe to one being better than the other, they both make good stuff, they both make not so good stuff........except Shimano, cuz they are better Smile It all just comes down to preferance and what works well on your setup, I like Shimano. Their stuff never lets me down.
  • + 1
 everyone's personal preference should be sram cause they're better
  • + 1
 With a SRAM X9 or X0 there is zero slack in the trigger. As soon as the trigger start moving the shifter start pulling cable and you can change 5 speed in one push ant the feeling of the 1:1 ratio is the best...
  • + 10
 Wow, I thought SRAM had a more thought out product where opening the shifter wasn't necessary. For a top end piece of hardware I'm actually disgusted that they couldn't use the age old hole in the side of shifter technique that make Shimano shifters a million times better when replacing a cable. Well at least now I know I'll have to take shit apart to fix it and won't look dumb when I get there.
  • + 4
 I agree. I love my X9. 4 years on and not had to touch them but this is a lot of hassel for a cable change.
But with shimano having a great big hole to change the cable this does let a load crap in to the shifter and screwing it up!!!
BUT what would your prefer?? easy cable change but rubbish shifting or britiant shifting with a little bit of hassel changing the cable once in a blue moon??
  • + 9
 When stuff is a hassle to service I tend to get really annoyed. I don't mind working on my bike but changing one of the most basic elements of my bike shouldn't require a complete removal and disassembly of the piece it goes with.
  • + 11
 'But with shimano having a great big hole to change the cable this does let a load crap in' Not if you put the wee screw back on it doesnt.
  • + 3
 Yeah no s*it, there is no good reason whatsoever that a shifter should have to be rebuilt just to change a damn cable.
  • + 2
 I don't with my sram shifter, I don't know which model it is though, and i lost the screw and it still runs fine, if you lube your cables regularly you shouldn't need to replace them.
  • + 1
 The Shimano shifters have a little rubber screw that seals the hole . . .
  • + 2
 I have a 2010 X9 which I just replaced the cable using the hole. No need to take the back cover off, just a little screw cap.
  • + 1
 well, this was my worst cable replacement experience so far. A complete XO trigger disassemble to replace a simple cable.?!?! who is the moron that designed this.
  • + 10
 WTF! why isnt that blue x-0 in aftermarket! so lame on the small colour options, and boom, that trek has a custom one! Thanks for the tips, just replaced mine thanks to this! made it alot easier!
  • + 1
 damn i wished i checked pinkbike earlier cos i changed mine about 2 hours and had my shifter explode in my face! However, take note people without x-0 shifters it looks quite a lot different inside and mine had a hole in the side (is a sram x-4 shifter with x7 mech) so i can just push the cable through and pull out the other side then thread the new one through
  • + 1
 Yeah cuz I know quite a few people who would get those parts in a blue and purple colors.
  • + 1
 I just dont know how pink and green made the cut before blue as a colour option. As I swung by today looks like pink went out the door to shops initially and hasnt moved much since.
  • + 8
 Good stuff, when I first tried replacing my derailleur cable on a old X5 I managed to have it explode to little bits on my shop floor, lesson learned eh? Great vids!
  • + 2
 that must've sucked, good thing it was with a lower end derailleur.
  • + 4
 don't worry your not the only one :/, took me hours to put it all back together!
  • + 2
 One thing tho, dont over shorten your gear cable. If you get a new frame/need to change the routing it can be handy to have that extra wee bit of length Smile
  • + 2
 ye my shifter always blows up when i open it
  • + 2
 Oh I left a little extra before, maybe a little too much but that extra got stuck in the pullys n snap the carbon arm in a second. I even heard a odd noise and stop cranking But it was too late. I gave it to a shop here in September and they still have not fix it yet. Does anybody know were I can get a carbon arm?
  • + 3
 it takes like a few seconds with a shimano shifter.
  • + 3
 yeah... but it is still a shimano shifter.
  • + 5
 Dunno what you mean my that? I'm running a saint derrailluer with deore shifter and its crisp! Still shifts like the day I fitted it 6 months ago despite being put away wet and muddy most days. I'm running a Goodridge braided gear housing kit btw (which is amazing I might add - deffo check that one out).
  • + 3
 Saint shifter with XT derail. , couldnt be happier, crisp, precise, durable, shadow XT stays out of trouble. LOVE IT!!!
  • + 1
 you take you cable out, you put your cable in . . . DONE! haha
  • + 3
 i am a bike mechanic and SRAM is a big bunch of crap. they look cool but dont last of shift worth a sh*t. Shimano is way BETTER.
  • + 1
 I want to know were you can get that Sram stuff in that color!
  • + 1
 i want that X0 set
  • + 3
 yeah ? serious..? after seeing this >> what a hussle /.. and with seeing this i truly never want sram.. gimme shimano with the direct cable input.. dont need to open the shifter unit..
LMFAO
  • + 2
 ok for those people blasting about how hard it is to change the cable in a SRAM X9 or X0 you dont know what is going on inside a shifter!!!
Have you ever notice how there is always a slack in you shimano trigger??? During the first par of the travel nothing happen and only then the shifter engage and start pulling the cable. And with a shimano shifter you can change 3 or 4 speed at most in one push... With a SRAM X9 or X0 there is zero slack in the trigger. As soon as the trigger start moving the shifter start pulling cable and you can change 5 speed in one push...

If you want a smooth trigger feeling and be able to change the cable in a sec, go for shimano i don't blame you, but don't say that SRAM is a big bunch of crap.

I am a bike mechanic and a rider and i ride SRAM and i think that SRAM is the best.
  • + 4
 thats a huge LIE dude, i have sram on my session and it has about 1.5cm of free movement before it engages the cable! and dont pull that "im a bike mechanic" crap, im a bike mechanic too but doesnt make a difference to wether sram is good or bad, maybe people dont care what goes on in the shifter they just wanna ride??? basically everyone has their opinions and their experiences with sram, currently i have sram on my DH bike and shimano on my 4X bike and at the minute they both function fine so im not going to bias towards either.
  • + 1
 Yeah that generalization about Shimano being "sloppy" is mis-information. You should cite what shimano shifter you are talking about because I do not have issues with my Saint, and If you are comparing X.0 you should be comparing to Saint or XTR.
  • + 2
 i have a shimano deore shifter and a xt mech, there absolutly spot on.
  • + 2
 I'm not a bike mechanic, yet i can still pull it apart and put it back together no problem. I think Sram is not better. But nor is it worse. It is merely a different design which does the same job a different way. I ride Sram because i prefer it. I dont hate on Shimano. My X9 set-up is, oh lets see, crisp and perfect. Doesn't mean that any other Shimano set-up isn't. If it's adjusted and cleaned properly, anything will shift like a god.
  • + 1
 SHADOWcranks for the i am a bike mechanic crap I was thinking about msdownhiller's post freely blasting SRAM with no arguments. And if you have a a new X9 or X0 shifter with a 1.5cm of free movement in the trigger send it back on warranty there is probably a manufacturing defect because they should both have the Zero Loss Travel technology... I never said anything bad about shimano it just that i like the feeling of sram... I am running shimano on my road bike and sram on my mountain bikes... it all ab out the feeling...
  • + 3
 fair play dude sorry i misunderstood. i have an x.7 so yeah its not the best but it came standard, i will upgrade when it breaks or i get bored of it haha, yeah i agree that people shouldnt slate products with no comparison or reasoning, to be honest they both shift fine, srame X.0 is a bit more pimpy and shimano saint or xtr is a bit more subtle and maybe less tacky looking at times?

at the end of the day no one will ever finish this debate, they both work fine with proper adjustment so each to their own!
  • + 1
 aww yeah anybody gettin super chuffed over their shimano shifter with the whole in it.. so has my x9. just sayin'
  • + 3
 Wish I had seen this 3 days ago!

What the photos don't show is that you need to make sure you hang on to the shifter tightly and not allow the other side of the shifter to get loose. If the actual shifter lever comes out, even slightly, or un-wound you are in for a fun time getting the shifter back to working order. So, when you take off the carbon cover, just make sure you push-in on the bolt/shifter lever on the other side of the carbon cover.
I spent about 4 hours fixing both of my XO shifters, not knowing these things would just spring apart, if you didn't hang on to them.

I would also suggest adding some quality grease inside, to keep things shifting/working well, there are also small cartridge bearings on both sides of the shifter.
  • + 3
 pop a cap off, move a spring, remove cable, install a new one, and pop the cap back how is that a pain in the ass?! seriously! its not rocket science! good vid though for people who arent aware of the internal layout of their SRAM hardware.
  • + 5
 Seriously, I can'T believe they don't have a cable port. Onew more reason why I'll never touch a SRAM shifter/derailleur again
  • + 6
 Anyone miss the old shimano shifters? They were easy as hell to change!
  • + 1
 Anyone having trouble with their x9 RD sticking and not being able to reach the smallest cog? I'm a little bummed that this just cropped up. I had two great rides and on the third I couldn't get into the smallest two cogs. Now, I have changed and lubed the cable and I'm still getting the same problem. Anyone else?
  • + 1
 Now I know why this place is called Pinkbike, what s load of bitches! I grew up in a place were the nearest bike shop didn't exsist and so I was forever cannibalising my sisters bikes to get parts for mine. There isn't much I haven't done with bikes from an early age, I found the article very helpful especially as a refresher 'cos I spend that much time enjoying the ride I tend to forget about the boring maintenance stuff, but having a refresh is great as you say oh yes I remember that? shit hasn't changed too much either you still require a bit of cable with a nipple on the end after all.
  • + 1
 I like changing my cable like this. Now I know how the shifter works and not just where to stick a cable. The lazy asses that wont figure it out themselves pay me 30 bucks a shifter to fix the tension spring or replace a cable.
  • + 1
 Im not sayin its a big deal broseppi, its just kinda stupid when it can easily be designed in another manner. I have only broken a shifter cable once on the trail, but I still always carry a spare, and like the fact that its easy to do. I would love to come ride, its just a bit of a haul from CT!!
  • + 1
 Wish i'd watched this 24 hours earlier! last night I took the wrong covers off trying to figure out where the cable came out.... springs and little fiddly bits all over the garage floor! ..... Off to buy a new shifter at lunch time now as I need to get the bike built before Ft William tomorrow. Arse!!
  • + 4
 Could any one show me the Tech Tuesday were he shows how to tightens your gears
  • + 3
 At the bottom of this article it lists all of the past Tech Tuesdays with links. You want #2 how to set up your rear derailleur. It specifies SRAM but the technique is the same for any brand.
  • + 3
 All that for a friggin cable change..........sheesh, Ill stick with Shimano Smile
  • + 1
 Careful with that spring when opening the shifter! On first time you may find it other side of the room! It´s good now when you can check at picture witch way spring goes to shifter.
  • + 2
 I have an X.7, it has a bolt aside, so you just unbolt it and change the cable, it is simple and seals the shifter
  • + 1
 Didn't address the difference between cable widths 1.2mm vs 1.4mm vs 1.5mm? Any difference in performance or just buy whatever is cheapest?
  • + 3
 BLUE X.0 HOW THE F@CK TO I GET!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 trek custom job ....
  • + 1
 the cyan bike set up is super sexy. Is that a command post from specialized?
  • + 1
 crank bro's joplin in custom cyan too!
  • + 1
 ya. I heard the command post is better. ha i dont care thought id never use either. but the color is amazing!
  • + 2
 ok Shimano it's easier than SRAM. But X.O is the best!
  • + 1
 but you cant knock saint for its value and performance!!! (compared to sram X-0)
  • + 1
 or you could undo the little screw underneath the lever take out the cable put it back in screw it back up and hey presto!
  • + 1
 No you couldn't. It was possible on the 2007 (and older) X.9 trigger shifters, but not on the 2008 and later models.
  • + 2
 my sram has the screw on the side..
  • + 1
 ya i do that ,saves alot of time and is much simpler than taking apart the shifter
  • + 1
 Wow that's soo annoying just yesteday I had to do this without a clue using my park tool book and geussing half the stuf
  • + 2
 www.google.com - theres alot of these "technical tuesday" style write-ups on many other sites
  • + 1
 yeh i couldnt really be asked coz i managed to do it fine anyway
  • + 1
 those components are sweet
  • + 1
 what kind of stem is that?? and size????
  • + 1
 Bontrager on the new Trek Scratch, don't have a tape on me, but 45mm looks correct.
  • + 1
 bontrager rhythm to be presice Razz not 100% on the size but its around the 50mm mark
  • + 1
 good stuff, another good tech tuesday
  • + 1
 oh my daisy...this bike is looking sweet!
  • + 1
 I just love my XTR setup a little more after watching this..
  • + 1
 what, how did you get blue xo?!?!? I want it!
  • + 0
 no offence but if you need a run down how to do this you shouldn't even own an xo.....
  • + 1
 good vid, better parts.im guessing you got all that stuff custom anodized?
  • + 1
 Nice, I really like the blue groupo.
  • + 1
 very useful
  • + 0
 I Like Drugz Smile
  • + 0
 u even know what they are

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