Poll: How Do You Actually Feel About Cable Routing?

Nov 8, 2022 at 14:40
by Brian Park  
Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox
Photo: Merida/PaulBox

After Seb Stott's recent Burning Question article about why so many bike manufacturers are putting cables through their headsets, I've had several brand-side industry folks share their opinions. While some acknowledged that routing cables through the headset could have some small benefits, they all painted a picture of engineers and product managers battling marketing and sales departments about practicality and aesthetics.

Either way, I thought it'd be good to get some feedback from the people who actually, you know, buy the products. I've heard this poll we ran on aesthetics gets referenced by product departments pretty regularly, so who knows, maybe the results of these polls will sway brands one way or the other.





What kind of cable routing would you like on your next bike?



Hyper Spark
Dangerholm has some of the cleanest builds ever.

What kind of cable routing do you think looks best?

Regardless of performance.



Scott Genius headset cable routing
Scott's new Genius has headset cable routing.

What kinds of cable routings are dealbreakers for you?

Check all that apply.



Are minor weight savings and less cable movement compelling reasons for routing through the headset or stem?

Assume the various claims about headset/stem routing are accurate.



Levy showing you how it's done back in 2010.



If you have a bike with through-the-headset cable routing, how reliable has it been?

Please only answer if you've got a bike with through-the-headset cable routing.







To acknowledge my own biases, I'm generally an external cable routing kind of person, but I do love the look of an ultra-clean bike and would absolutely buy the right routed-through-the-headset bike. I feel like once you've accepted an internal cable, it's not the literal end of the world to have it go through the headset.

This poll is all about what you all think, but Levy, Henry, Kaz, and I have got a podcast recording scheduled for tomorrow for us to all argue about this and tell you what we think. Probably in excruciating detail. Sorry in advance.


346 Comments

  • 691 6
 Way to feed the internet outrage engagement economy, @brianpark. For your next poll, I'd suggest:

"Puppy-kicking: Shoes, Boots, or Bare Feet?"
  • 12 0
 This is great Smile
  • 80 0
 You forgot clipless shoes.
  • 83 3
 Barefoot, so you can feel the puppy fat squidge between your toes.
  • 256 8
 I prefer bare feet for a more a more authentic experience.
  • 6 1
 barefoot of course
  • 53 0
 5.10s or nothing
  • 119 0
 Steel toe boots for sure. With bare feet you get super sore feet after only about 50 puppies.
  • 4 1
 Socks!
  • 5 0
 @RonSauce: sounds like you have some experience in this department!
  • 29 1
 Mankind evolved before shoes were common...we were designed to kick puppies barefooted. End of argument.
  • 11 0
 @mab411: Yeah, but back in the day, the puppies were wolves.
  • 37 0
 @brianpark: “THIS JUST IN: Brain Park of Canadas leading mountain bike website PinkBike likes to kick puppies!”
  • 10 2
 @riderofcanfield: Only pre-Adidas stealth rubber though!
  • 4 1
 Footwear (or lack thereof) doesn't matter, you're supposed to make contact with your shin anyway for the best baseball bat effect.
  • 3 0
 Bare Feet, with or without socks and new flat 3D printerd and CNC machineg pedals with 18 pins on each side…. What do you prefer?
  • 38 0
 All these people saying barefoot are idiots, and have little to no actual experience with kicking puppies. I’ve got years of hard worn experience, and can tell you it’s boots or you’re just not doing it correctly.
Anyone who says barefoot is just an amateur, and is only doing it for the Insta likes, get real and get yourself some good quality leather boots.

Barefoot is the scourge of the traditional puppy kicking movement, and should be banned from international competition….

#Leatherboots4life
  • 3 0
 No, apparently the REAL outrage engagement is: "If your hosts ask you to, do you take your shoes off when you go into someone's home as a guest?"

That's like kicking a hornet's nest in the USA from what I understand.
  • 3 3
 @RonSauce: gawd damn you’re a dark mutha f*cka!
  • 4 3
 I selected fully integrate through the stem and spacers, just to watch the world burn.
  • 88 2
 On a side note,
There must have been some high level meetings about consumer engagement recently. Polls and articles similar to this, the fuc&kin autoplay nonsense, Outside+ complimentary memberships, there must be a push to drive up numbers and engagement.

No judgment, we all need to get paid.

Couple of suggestions,
1. I appreciate the inclusion of the RSD and Evil bikes in the recent DC field test, to really drive people over the edge, maybe compare all the bikes to the latest Enduro field test winner in the impossible climb, continue to relate everything back to bikes that are not on test.

2. Include a commuter e-bike (cheap and cheerful, with jailbroken 1000watt hub motor) in the efficiency test of all upcoming field tests, do not provide any direct comparison with bikes on test.

3. In the upcoming DH bike field test, only ride blue flow trails, compare how the bikes fare in hike-a-bike situations

4. Have Braydon Bringhurst or Chris Akrigg perform all impossible climbs, then once they’ve gotten to the top on the most inappropriate bikes, have them criticize the viewership about how easy it was

5. Bring back budget vs baller,

6. Stop field test videos halfway through for Outside+ membership drives similar to public TV drives of the 80’s

7. Advertise turning off autoplay on videos for Outside+ members, but don’t detail how to accomplish it, then once it’s been figured out by enough members, reset the memberships

Like, follow, and subscribe for more details
  • 8 1
 It depends, are the puppies in burlap bags? Those bags are rough on my toesies.
  • 3 12
flag Compositepro (Nov 9, 2022 at 13:03) (Below Threshold)
 Use me as the dislike button
  • 4 0
 @kcy4130: I've got size 16uk (17us) steelies. The ultimate pro choice.
  • 6 0
 @Compositepro: is that some wierd new kink?
  • 5 0
 @geephlow Followed by "Cancer, good or bad?".
  • 6 0
 Hush puppies ftw
  • 2 11
flag carlwheezer69 (Nov 9, 2022 at 13:54) (Below Threshold)
 Puppy kicking should NOT be condoned under ANY circumstances! You monster! You Neanderthal. And excuse my French, but bon appetit! How's that for an answer!
  • 5 4
 My dachshunds are coming for you. You will have NO ANKLEs left to attach said foot to her body. Then the questions will be moot. Unless you are then throwing your severed foot a said dog……

By the way. This is sarcasm for those that think I am actually threatening someone.
  • 5 1
 @Dogl0rd: socks with Birkenstocks or Tevas.
  • 1 2
 @dldewar: You didn't respond to my comment, you ignoring the truth or are you just ignoring the truth? Thank you and good morning.
  • 2 1
 @Dogl0rd: with sandals?
  • 10 0
 @brianpark: how about a poll on auto play videos now?????
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: you can feel Smirnoff taped to them barefoot
  • 1 1
 @sancho-ramerez: with flip flops
  • 2 0
 more of a steel toe boot kind of guy.
  • 1 0
 @SimEd4: well played sir
  • 2 0
 @riderofcanfield: 5.10s don't hold up to the pit bulls like they used to. Gotta go soft and focus on retrievers.
  • 3 0
 @inked-up-metalhead: wow dude. Do you have a nose that honks and the wheels and doors regularly fall off your car? That's some feet!
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: acoustic puppy kicking if you will. Every one knows e assisted kicking is cheating.
  • 1 0
 @Dogl0rd: In sandals..
  • 1 0
 nothing beat the grip of a stealth's sole on the ass of your puppy
  • 1 0
 Super short pins with Vibram FiveFingers must be incredibly grippy. Does count as kindofa sock, doesn't it?
  • 1 0
 I’ll await the worlds first cable with Q uick release couplings on each end outside the frame ,
  • 1 0
 @Compositepro: Doesn't Magura have quick release hose couplings for their brake that goes inside the handlebar? For shifter cables it is probably quite doable but not worth the hassle. One complexity (special couplings) on top of another complexity (internal routing) when you could just have omitted both (external routing)... The scene has to grow even sillier than it is already. Plus, replacing three pieces of cable during your regular overhaul instead of just one is beyond daft and doesn't serve the customer, the mechanic nor the production line.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: formula have them too for hydraulics we use them in moto GP and F1 it was actually the mechanical cables i was poking fun at , maybe around april someone will release some
  • 1 0
 @Compositepro: Ah yeah, whoosh again. Early April is always a good time for the exiting tech we've been waiting for. I was more expecting hoses weaving in and out of unexpected places. Can't wait already.
  • 2 0
 Wearing Hush Puppies, surely?
  • 1 0
 flip-flop, I'm kicking bare-feet but not feeling the ground beneath my feet...
  • 3 0
 @ericls: rawdog or no-dog.
  • 3 0
 It's interesting to see what riders actually want vs what the industry thinks we want.
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: Acoustic
  • 2 0
 Crampons
  • 1 0
 @Hellchops: cmon man your assumption of riders? id be interested to see riders vs keyboard entertainers ratio
  • 2 0
 Correct answer is clipless sandals.
  • 1 0
 @Dogl0rd: below the ankle?
  • 2 0
 I didn't want to like your comment because it was at +666 but then someone moved it to +667...there you go! Get out there and start kicking.
  • 228 4
 Cables through the headset is just like a black car - they look awesome..... in someone else's driveway.
  • 42 0
 I've only ever owned black cars, im glad im keeping up appearances for my neighborhood.
  • 4 0
 The most accurate of statements.
  • 4 27
flag JSTootell (Nov 9, 2022 at 12:44) (Below Threshold)
 My last car was black. I replaced it with a black car (well, Jeep), and I ORDERED it in that color.
  • 96 0
 "The customer can have any cable routing he wants, so long as it's internal."

- Henry Ford
  • 28 0
 @MTBrent: “The customer can have any cable routing he wants, so long as it’s through the headset.”

- Scott
  • 22 0
 I have a guerrilla gravity and really like their cable routing system. This past summer I ended up replacing a rear brake twice, and in both instances putting new zip ties on was the part of the process that took the longest. Great idea.
  • 1 0
 whats the equivalent of a white car?
  • 2 0
 @shred-harder: I love everything about my GG external/covered routing except the dropper post cable onto the left side of the bike - I can never seem to get that cable the right length or it rubs or it hangs up on other cables or just generally looks like a bit of a rat's nest. Not the end of the world, but about as annoying as a little pebble in your shoe..
  • 7 0
 I own a blue truck. Not because I wanted a blue truck, because it was the most reliable available with my budget. Fortunately, I don't have to bleed the brakes everytime I need to change the oil. Because that would be insane. And blue isn't the worst color.
  • 6 6
 @shred-harder: we really need to get past wasting 6 zip ties every time we change a cable.
  • 1 0
 @MTBrent: Do you think some customers would have preferred external cable routing back then, for ease of maintenance?
  • 3 4
 @louiefriesen: *slow clap* you Sir have won the Comment if the Day award!
  • 2 0
 @maffein: I've also had a few little snags with that bit of routing too. Seems like it's very sensitive to cable length, changing seat height when I swap from clips to flats can bung it up.
  • 1 0
 @shred-harder: Yeah, I always thought that is a major downside of internal dropper routing compared to external dropper routing (where the cable connects at the collar). Seems like it is harder to play with saddle height if the cable is inside.
  • 2 0
 Note that black cars, although better looking, are not significantly more difficult or expensive to service than other car colours.
  • 4 0
 @FredFreeRideGang: I used to have a red car. Now I have a black car. The tires of the black car are considerably more expensive than the tires of the red car were. Funny fact, both cars had black tires so it must definitely have been in the paint.
  • 108 9
 The question assumes that minor weight savings/ less cable moment are true things that internal provides, which is false. If anything you have more movement around sharper curves, which is a bad thing. Internal routing in general has only disadvantages, no real life advantages.
  • 50 2
 We can look at the road world to see how many problems this has caused. Recalls and safety problems are happening left and right with broken steerers and broken handlebars.

Do we really trust these same designers to do the same thing on a bike that’ll see more abuse, more steering cycles, more corrosion, more dirt, & more crashes!?
  • 6 0
 I cannot see any advantage at all, perhaps preventing cable snags or damage? But just use canyons cover and you're set
  • 27 1
 @bogey: I wouldn't draw that conclusion - I'm been a mechanic since the mid-90s, and bikes aren't breaking any more than they ever have before. If anything, recalls and significant strength issues are much less common than they were when alloy and carbon were new tech and weight was the #1 priority. We also have much better testing and design abilities now. I haven't seen any breakage issues that were specifically caused by internal routing.
IT'S STILL DUMB THOUGH
  • 6 0
 That Scott pic looks like there will be a lot of friction internally between the cables and the steer tube. Not sure how much impact that will have, but it is additional wear that didn't exist before.
  • 17 0
 I have internal routing on my Tri-Bike, but every little bit of aero reduction adds up when your racing 112 miles. On an MTB? Looks clean but definitely not worth the hassle, at least not for someone like me who does their own maintenance! Though I do love to wear my Lycra Tri Suit to the DH park for added speed on the blue flow trails!!
  • 6 0
 @Chippps: absolutely, if you've ever had a cable get in the way of a wheel, you've seen the wear marks, can't see this is anything different
  • 2 7
flag chubby5000 (Nov 9, 2022 at 13:29) (Below Threshold)
 @RIOTT: WRONG!!! @bogey just told you: LEFT AND RIGHT!!!!!!
That's this way, AND the other way!
  • 4 5
 @RIOTT: so just because you haven’t seen bikes breaking more often, then it’s ok for them to break even though we have better testing, better manufacturing, and better materials? Not. We should se far fewer issues these days but instead we’re seeing rashes of recalls on road bikes.

Recent recalls by BMC, Specialized, Trek, Merida, Cannondale, … tell us the truth. Recalls happen because of safety issues. Every one of these brands (and more) have had recalls due lousy designs running hoses and cables through the stem & headset.
  • 2 1
 Amen!
  • 8 0
 One additional thing that bugs me is the sharp bends the cable/housing needs to take. That third (or turd) photo with the translucent head tube shows what I mean. You're just going to have more friction and exacerbated wear on your nice PTFE coated derailleur cable and housing liner at those points. Or are they banking on everyone moving away from cable-actuated shifting maybe? Seems counter-productive given the talk I hear about rear mech's with more speeds getting more finicky these days.
  • 4 2
 Not having cables in the way of my lights for night riding... not sure it outweighs the cons but that was one pro I thought of last night. Cable shadows are annoying.
  • 2 0
 Was going to post this exact thing. Gaslighting in the mountainbike world, whats next.
  • 1 0
 The only advantage I can think of is less chance of a wayward branch on a trail snagging your cables either while riding on a trail or while crashing into the bushes. Not that I've ever had that happen to me yet in all my years of riding (and crashing).
  • 88 5
 #rigged

It's evident that Scott is forcing their employees to vote in their favor on these polls. There's no way anybody actually prefers the monstrosity that is headset routing.
  • 38 50
flag crowaan (Nov 9, 2022 at 12:19) (Below Threshold)
 Tons of people do. Not everyone works on their own bike, and our customers gravitate towards the Sparks over anything else we have on the floor.

The verdict is out, people do want this. As a mechanic I find it frustrating to work on at times, but it's nowhere near as bad as people are making it out to be.

If nobody wants this, why is it selling so well? Because people want it.
  • 20 6
 @crowaan: because the world is filled with ignoramus'. That doesn't make me one.
  • 33 5
 @crowaan: I think this is a bit of a correlation = causation statement. These bikes are absolutely NOT selling because people WANT the routing, they are selling because they are a better bike option. I cant imaging that when you ask a customer what they are looking for that their first answer is "through the headset cable routing, what do you have that has that"
  • 18 1
 @crowaan: so people gravitate towards the spark. Bit if that’s the only bike of that type you have then of course they will.

Also do Scott do a spark without headset routing at the same spec? People who want a spark might go for that but we don’t know because it’s not available.
  • 22 23
 I honestly just don't care.

From experience I can say that headset routing is reliable enough and generally not even nearly as much of a bother as people think it is. It adds like a total of 30 minutes to the annual amount of time spent on maintaining your bike.

I get it, new = scary, but people really need to stop getting their panties in a bunch over headset routing.
  • 19 0
 There are gradations of terrible here tho: Just through the headset bearing is bad but way better than through the stem and/or headset spacers.

I could MAYBE live with headset bearing routing (but would strongly prefer not to.) But if I have to bleed my brake to change stem or stack height that's 100% a dealbreaker.

Scott posted one of those sped up "dream bike build" videos for their new Genius and about half of it is the dude faffing with cables. F that.
  • 6 1
 @crowaan: you’ve got what we call a lack of external validity to your data set there. You could say that “people who want a Scott Spark want this”, but you’ve got a real selection issue with your data if you plan to generalize your findings beyond that group of people.
  • 11 4
 I genuinely want to fight the creator of the god d*mn piece of sh*t called headset cable routing. I'm willing to go up and down a weight class. I WANT MY TIME BACK @SCOTT-Sports
  • 12 0
 @crowaan: Personally, it’s not for me. Function >> fashion. But if people want to buy it, fine. Just as long as other bike manufacturers are dedicated to riding over beauty queens.
  • 10 0
 @crowaan: Out of all the features on the bikes you're selling, you think the headset routing is the deciding factor...?
  • 3 6
 @Snowrydr01: its pretty obvious to me that the average customer (ie - not you), looking at 2 identical bikes, one internal, one external, will choose internal every single time. These are the majority of their buyers, not you, and they bring in the majority of the cash
  • 1 6
flag Mngnt (Nov 9, 2022 at 15:23) (Below Threshold)
 @Hayek: not at all, a bike sales person of any value will have direct knowledge on why customers like which bikes. It's not just about the bare data, but his experience on the floor.
  • 9 1
 @crowaan: I 100% believe it, people want to buy bikes like Apple iSomthing products, they need to look good and work ok. When anything goes wrong they just bring it to a service and voila, after a few weeks they have their bike back. Most of them are also ok with the fact they they need to pay and wait for the simplest mechanical tasks, because they bike only occasionally, they bought the bike because it looked ok and the neighbor had one and their wife started making some implications about their fitness. But for people who ride bikes for real self servicing is a must, why would you waste many hours to delver the bike to a service, wait for it and gather it back when you can have a few beers and do it in the evening in 1/10th of the time. So we have two tiers of customers and for sure you can make much more money on a occasional bike rider. The effect will be a market split, niche brands will care for the enthusiasts market and big brands will focus on an Apple-style products.
  • 4 3
 @krka73: I prefer the word 'ignoranus'. Not only are they ignorant, but they are an a-hole too.
  • 3 1
 @crowaan: It sells because people are gullible and stupid.
  • 80 1
 I just think it's super hilarious how the other day Scott justified thru headset routing by stating that small holes in high stress areas on the frame compromise strength, while simultaneously hiding the shock in the frame that's accessible only by a huge, gaping hole by the bottom bracket / downtube junction.

Cables through the headset won't be the death of mountain biking per se, but putting aesthetics way over function, and then using faux engineering speak and marketing jargon to defend it just might.
  • 9 2
 I AGREE 110%. These so-called engineers should spend a summer at a shop level and have to do a cable and housing replacement on the spot and then see how ridiculous things are.
  • 21 0
 @gatogordo2: pretty sure the actual engineers had beef with it. engineers are very practical people, and usually aesthetics isn't their realm of expertise. it's usually industrial designers that are tasked with aesthetics by marketing teams, but the mtb industry shouldn't be prioritizing aesthetics over function. great designers can achieve aesthetics AND function; these concepts aren't mutually exclusive.
  • 1 0
 Ha! I thought that same exact thing!
  • 5 0
 Design over engineering-the path to lousy products.
  • 5 7
 What Scott claimed wasn't necessarily incorrect; small holes do cause a concentration of stress much moreso than large holes. If necessary, the large hole will have reinforcing surrounding it. It's why convertible cars don't snap in half...

Whether those small holes around the junction of the head tube result in enough of a stress concentration to cause cracking is a different question.
  • 10 0
 @boozed: And it’s why convertible cars often are heavier than their siblings with a fixed roof. If Scott were actually doing headset routing in order to save a meager 60 grams I’m sure hiding the shock in the frame would not be an option for them.
  • 10 0
 @gatogordo2: I don't think engineers had anything to do with it. It's so often that the design and marketing departments sketch something up, and tell the engineering department to "make it happen".
  • 3 0
 Right on. I'm wondering what the contents of that shock cave might look like after a season of riding & bike washing.
  • 1 1
 @FuzzyL: That's true enough. Perhaps Scott considers "headset routing in the head tube" and "hidden shock with access port" to be different design components, and one's not trying to compensate for the other. But I'm just trying to be as charitable as possible here...
  • 1 0
 @boozed: its also qhy convertible versions of a car are always heavier and still heavier than their coupe counterparts
  • 75 0
 I like external cables so that I can show off my Jagwire elite link cables.
  • 12 2
 Hell yeah, like my fluorescent blue cables and anodized ferrules.
  • 9 1
 Zip ties are a cheap way to add colour too
  • 13 0
 Could we have an option for «don’t care about how the cables look»? Seriously, having survived all the wierd routing schemes in the 90s I just don’t care as long as they are easily serviced and reliable.
  • 2 1
 Yeah, I also like the looks of my cables. I've got a green bike with white fork lowers and white decals. I've got a white shifter outer cable and a white rear brake hose. There are some red details on my bike. Red top cap, red pedals, red Middleburn cable oiler in the rear brake outer (near the mech). I think it really does add to the looks and it would have been a shame to hide the cable, hose and cable oiler. Sure, you can make things look less nice but similarly you can use the hose and outer color to make your bike look nicer too. Some big brands (Cube comes to mind) really put in quite some effort to make sure the cable colors match the decals and the looks don't hurt.
  • 68 1
 I want AXS routed thru the headset.
  • 23 0
 I want an AXS headset
  • 15 0
 Be careful what you wish for. AXS wireless braking with Bosch ABS, next thing you know there are $16k Yeti SB150s in top spec with 4 separate batteries you have to charge.
  • 7 0
 @8a71b4: Yes but With extra batteries I will be able to licence my patent pending 18650 air fork volume reducer and become rich!
  • 2 0
 @8a71b4: 24k with flight attendent, the new s works specialized enduro is already 18k......
  • 49 1
 I used to be all about carbon frames and cool cable routing, slick looks. Now idc as much and would prefer a good geo alu frame with good components, that is easy to work on.
  • 28 1
 Karlheinz Nicolai has entered the chat
  • 4 0
 Exactly like Brian's Raaw that he linked.
  • 16 1
 I feel like if you wanna dangerholm your cockpit there should be aftermarket options. If you wanna nerd out about your cable routing more power to you, but I dont want mine to come from the factory pre-nerded.
  • 4 3
 Steel frame over aluminum all the way. Forces you to stop giving a shit about weight, which your wallet will appreciate, and you get fitter along the way, never once thinking if the frame is going to snap. Bonus points if its single pivot, bearing swaps take all of 15 mins at most.
  • 7 0
 @8a71b4: But then I have to think about rust. I wish stainless steel dual suspension bikes were commonplace, I love the thin steel tubes look and feel (and the advantage this provides with dual crown turning radius) but am too paranoid about rust.

Raw alloy 4 life
  • 3 0
 @mariomtblt: #thisistheway
  • 2 5
 @RonSauce: If we want to grow the sport, and not have it be a white boy's club the bikes need to just work, and when they don't be easy to work on at home. (and be cheaper, but that's a different talk show) The nerdy shit has got to go.
  • 3 0
 @gravitybass: I like having my setup looking clean. I'm not going fully internal, or crazy integrated into bars and stems or anything but I like it to be tidy to my standards. When I do my cable swapping you better believe I measure and cut everything to fit just the way I like. At the same time my trail bike cam from the factory with cables looking sloppy as hell and internally routed and its gonna stay that way until something needs to be changed.

Under the hood of my car is kept super clean looking show quality too, some of us are just into different things. I promise I dont care if you have a rats nest hanging off your handlebars, that ain't me though.
  • 2 0
 @gravitybass: p.s. I never said anything about wanting grow the sport, we're talking about cable routing over here.
  • 1 1
 @wburnes: you absolutely will never need to worry about rust
  • 2 1
 @wburnes: The rust can only really happen if water gets in the seatpost, headtube, or bottom bracket, all of which should be greased. The small amount of water that makes it past the grease won't matter at all.
  • 1 1
 @8a71b4: or if you scratch the paint, which often happens on an mtb
  • 1 0
 @wburnes: You can touch it up quite easily.
  • 30 0
 I am personally more worried about the noise of my cables over the look. My external Cotic is quieter than the Ripmo AF's internal rattle and that is enough for me. Wouldn't mind something with guide tubes though.
  • 14 0
 This 100%. I don't care what my next bikes cables look like, they just better be quiet.
  • 30 1
 >How often has someone removed your frame's upper bearing race in the last 5 years? Be honest.

It's not clear to me that this is the only time you need to pull cables. Is this true for all headset routing schemes? What about sending fork out for service (the only way many of us can get seasonal fork service done), swapping travel or airsprings? What about swapping dropper posts or sending droppers out for service? Is there truly no impact for all headset routing schemes to these common maintenance events? As someone who learns everything from the park tool video series, maybe what I need is some detailed mechanic videos that show me how much easier all these things are with headset cable routing. If someone can show me how easy it will be every 6 months to pull my fork on my Focus internal-headset bike, that would go a long way to persuading me. Because I look at it and it looks like I have to drain my brakes every 6 months, which... I'd rather ride a fixie single speed.
  • 10 1
 Finally an honest comment. With real life concerns. I think that's exactly the problem with this whole topic. Nobody has actually any clue about what integrated cable routing really means. But everybody has an opinion anyway.

But to answer your question: There are two cases in which you will have to open cables.

1. When the upper bearing wears out. You can prevent that by opening up your headset before the first ride (no cables need to be touched for that) and put grease into the headset, the more the better. When your upper bearing is done eventually you switch to a stainless steel one with all the available sealings, which the bike brand originally didn't want to pay for. And if you happen to own an aluminium frame, you could also re-cut your head tube to make sure tolerances are right, just to be safe. If your give your headset some love from time to time and don't directly abuse it with Muc-Off and the high pressure washer, then you should be good for a long time.

2. When you want to tinker with your cockpit (mainly stem. That does not include all bikes, but most of them. They use special headset covers shaped to fit the brands stems. So if you want to swap stems you have to buy a universal headset cover, which is mostly available for a few bucks and probably features more sealings than the original one. To change that you have to open your brake cables once. Then you can use whatever stem you want, just like you are used to. You could also use the opportunity follow through with the things listed in "1." and be good for a long time as well.

What would actually be of great help for consumers is a database of bikes explaining and rating the cable integration (ease of use, level of sealing, looks,...), so people can make educated buying decisions. I've seen quite a lot of different bikes and solutions in the shop and it's nowhere near as bad as the picture is painted online. Maybe somebody (looking at you Pinkbike) wants to carry out some real journalism to educate people and move the industry towards actual change for better products?
  • 6 4
 @Mtmw the process for removing a fork for a Scott is exactly the same with or with headset cable routing. It takes maybe 30 seconds more to remove it, about a minute more to install it. Swapping air springs, dampers or travel can often be done without even removing the fork from the bike, Routing/ removing a seatpost is actually easier than it was on the previous model Scott Genius.
  • 7 5
 You don’t have to disconnect any lines to remove your fork, just do it the same way as you would on any other bike. For dropper posts, there is never a reason to do anything to the line at all to remove it unless you are changing cable and housing. Just disconnect the cable at the post.
The only thing that you need to mess with any lines to do is REPLACE your upper headset bearing. Which is so rare. To clean and regrease your headset you don’t need to disconnect anything.
If that gives you so much trouble that you would complain about it on forums and refuse to buy the bike, and you think this is some horrible thing that is worth this much uproar, maybe you shouldn’t be working on your multi thousand dollar machine that you trust your life with
  • 11 0
 @Xaelber93 @Verg @olafthemoose: I hear all of you, but then I look at the diagram:

www.focus-bikes.com/au_en/cis

And I don't believe you. It looks to me like I'm stuck with a proprietary stem, that it's going to limit my ability to use my collection of existing stems to dial in cockpit, that the stem is inherently weaker in its design due to that stem cap, that I'm going to have limited length options AND limited rise options, that it's going to get in the way of installing in-headset tools like the OneUp EDC, that it's going to be in the way every time I pull the fork and put it back in, that I'm even going to be dealing with cable mess when I swap bars.

I think maybe a video series on this would help a lot.
  • 3 0
 @Mtmw: yup these are a pain. I just had it routed normally right after I got the bike as I knew I wanted a shorter stem and the focus one is super ugly anyways.
  • 1 0
 @iridedj: How did you get it routed normally? Did you drill the frame?
  • 1 0
 Doesn’t the upper race just pop out every time you pull the steerer tube through?
  • 1 0
 @8a71b4: I don’t have all the answers, but air spring swaps and services on forks are pretty easy to do with leaving fork on bike. Have some straps in garage and hang bike to service. Need the fork upside down? Place bike on floor upside down.
  • 3 0
 I don't refer to anything in a head set called a frame upper bearing race. Can you tell me what they're talking about? thanks mate.
  • 2 1
 @Mtmw: There's a video explaining it. It's in German though. youtu.be/dqW4J7x6bt4
  • 22 1
 I had to replace my upper headset bearing once this year cause it was sticky. Then I managed to break my upper headset cup. Then I switch back to a different older used headset while I waited for a replacement to arrive. Then I had to put in the new headset cups and bearing. If I had headset routed cables, that is three needless brake bleeds.... Not to mention the fact I need to clean and grease my headset bearings about once per month. Any cables would only add to the fiddle-fucking required there.
  • 1 0
 I agree, having to bleed to change headset, or even just a spacer is not what i would want either, but i think it is what some people a willing to put up with for that more refined look.
  • 6 0
 If it's so damn wonderful to have cables entering the frame at the top of the head tube, surely the answer is to go down the outside of 1 1/8" bearing. That way you get all the 'benefits' of headset cable routing but none of the hassles?
  • 19 0
 At least external routing for rear brake so you don’t have to cut or replace if you swap parts multiple times.
  • 20 0
 Or, ya know, just holes big enough for an olive and bolt to go through. I think big cable insert is lobbying the hole manufacturers.
  • 3 1
 @wburnes: Its an interesting idea for sure but there's no way that's fitting through the tiny cable ports on most frames.
  • 2 2
 @spicysparkes: it does fit, any hole big enough for a normal brake line
  • 1 0
 @wburnes: I followed the link and found the item for sale but I'm not clear on how he made it work with a non-Formula brake caliper. Most calipers have an OEM specific banjo or other swaged fitting on the caliper. In the picture on the ModernBike website it just shows a roll of cable with two of the special ends.

Do you splice this in with a quick connect at the front and rear of the brake line ?
  • 19 0
 Mountain biking is dead if such questions have to be asked.
  • 15 0
 MAYBE there is a execution of internally routed cables that's working well and isn't a nightmare to maintain.
But you know what's working FOR SURE? External routing.

I'm just heading out to a three-day trip of riding and the fact that I can easily work on my bike with a minimal set of standard tools is just too good to give away.
  • 8 0
 Keep the fully internal boug-tique headset and stem routing in the top part of the market where it belongs. Where people make decisions primarily based on how it looks, and don't care about the price of service.

Stop trickling it down to the pleb-priced and race level bikes where we have to work (or enjoy working) on our own stuff. I am sure the market can accommodate both needs.

This is only becoming an issue because the enthusiasts and plebs don't want it, and it's trickling down. We see it for what it is. I don't care if the boomer market e-bikes and halo x/c bikes have it. Keep it upmarket along with all the other bougie stuff. Flight Attendant, 5Dev cranks, all that other stuff that looks good, touts performance gains, but doesn't really move the needle much based on what it costs.
  • 11 0
 They solved another problem I've never had.
  • 7 0
 I get it. There is little to be reinvented. Longer, lower, slacker, internal storage, batteries and motors, colors, so there is this internal versus external debate right now. Bikes should be easy to repair, so we can stay longer on the trails. Thats it.
  • 7 0
 I’d come to a place of acceptance over internal cables the last few years. It’s just how bikes are nowadays.

Then I bought a Chromag frame. All external. Building it up was so fast and easy. Like, ready to ride in under half an hour. The cables don’t even look bad.

Now I’m conflicted.
  • 7 0
 too expand on my answers, i have had two bikes with routing through the headset, and they were paired with the WORST quality bearings you can imagine from FSA/ACROS. i ride every weekend in all conditons so within a month there was signs of bearings starting to feel rough. unfortunately there also isnt many companies offering sound replacements for these so you're forced to buy the same crap again and again. so far, two headsets in 4 months, first one was "under warranty" so they sent me a replacement ith individual holes to guide the cables with the hope it would seal better. that was not the case. so twice ive had to remove all the cables, brake lines. also, the current setup i have doesnt even alloy me to run my stem all the way down where id like (bike has a high stack) because it puts the cables at a ridiculous angle which makes shifting a little more sluggish than usual. im not alone in this either, my friend group with e bikes are having similar issues, one of which (nukeproof megawatt) is allowing water to enter the downtube and get to the electronics causing some starting issues. we did meet a guy at bike park wales so frustrated with this, that he actually just got glue on guides and run it all externally, although he was threatening to just drill a hole in the side of his frame haha. ill be honest, i wont be buying another, its just a royal pain in the arse for little to no gain.
  • 3 0
 Love hearing these real user stories to contrast what marketing is telling us. Sounds like a 3d printing startup to create external carriers for cables on headset routed frames could make bank.
  • 3 0
 @Mtmw: You know these are already cheap as chips on AliExpress right? Here is just one example among many:
www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002129315804.html
  • 1 0
 @dsut4392: I did not know but I shouldn't be surprised! Should be the first post in every headset-routing conversation.
  • 8 0
 With through-the-headset routing, maintenance will increase because it's much easier to wash away or contaminate the headset bearings (both upper and lower).
  • 6 0
 I'm a mechanic, workshop manager and in to sales and quite a long time in the business. Startet MTB biking 1986. I guess I have seen all of those grand invetions and also some of the more funny and evolutions as well. I have to say I hate those things. It's not only internal cable routing or cable routing inside the headset. Yes, its terrible , but not the end of the world. For me it's just the tip of the iceberg. Too much ugly design ideas, bad ingeneering and low quality building in a very disgusting way of so many frames, parts and components. The quality of highprice bikes very poor, WHY?
The whole package is difficult to swallow.
  • 7 1
 Personally, as a mechanic too, I don't see the point of an incremental upgrade (if we're calling it that) for something that will increase the cost exponentially after buying that bike. To use the bike isn't the issue, although I find the housing stiffens the steering sometimes. The problem is instead of paying 40 - 50$ for a headset to be replaced I've now incurred up to 100$ in other work because I need to disassemble half the cockpit to even think about doing this. What person would buy a car where every time you need your bearings replaced in a hub you had to pay to have your perfectly functional brakes bled? It's complete non-sense and a MASSIVE waste on the post manufacturing side of the bikes lifespan. I get this is some fancy stuff and we want performance but it also isn't F1... you're average Joe just wants to ride, not leave his bike in a shop because we can't just drop your fork and swap bearings.
  • 1 4
 Most drivers never need a wheel bearing replaced in the time they own a car, just as most riders never replace a headset in the life of their bike. It's a crappy solution if you have to replace the bearing, but won't be a real life problem for most people.
  • 1 0
 @dsut4392: If that's true, I'm moving to Australia. In the northeast US, wheel bearings survive about 5 years, maybe. Come to think of it, so did my last headset bearings.

I am confused though, does this silly design mean you have to press out the headset CUPS, or just remove the bearing from the cup? The latter is trivial, the former... Seems totally insane. Those really do last the life of the bike.
  • 8 0
 Big shoutout to the Deviate Cycles cable gutter, that is a great solution to this sort of thing
  • 1 0
 Just built up a Claymore and gutter is great, but the whole setup would really be improved with a bigger hole out of the head tube with a screw down cover. Getting the foam housing in there was by far the worst part of building the bike.
  • 6 0
 I owned the 2022 Scott spark for 2 months and sold is because I hated the cable routing so much. The headset was always getting stuff in it from the gaping hole and the cable rattle from it back as also horrible.
  • 4 0
 I once worked attempted to find a creak near the front of my bike (ended up being dirt in my headset) and had a few too many while doing so.
Managed to put a headset part in upside down, which I only noticed trailside.

Got it all fixed with my multi-tool and some creative ways to hold things.

Silly story, but if it saves my ride once in 5 years, its worth it. Thus, headset cable routing is a no no Smile
  • 2 0
 sounds like maybe you didn't have enough beers lol
  • 1 1
 I'm not sure thru-HS routing would be your actual issue here...
  • 4 0
 If your cables and hoses were routed through the headset bearing you probably wouldn't have bothered to disconnect them, so you would never have been able to take it apart enough to put it back together the wrong way. Many a crap mechanic has been saved from themselves by being foiled by difficult disassembly!
  • 2 1
 @Lookinforit: Similar experience here. I did it with a new Chris King...I just left it. It functions exactly the same upside down. It's been working just fine for 10 years now...
  • 4 0
 This is a ton of high quality consumer marketing information that NOBODY WILL PAY ATTENTION TO.
You're more interested than the MFGs are. They already have a plan and it involves telling you what you're going to like next year.
PS, its not bearing race problems that make this a catastrophic PITA. Any time any of your cheezeball headset bearings fail, esp the $10 set that come with your scott/bmc/trek/etc....the whole thing comes apart, and ALL the cables and the hydraulic brake lines come out, not just for race issues. If your R brake hose was super close before you took it apart it may need a new hydraulic line as well to trim it and install a new insert and olive, weather your brakes needed it or not.

If you don't care you either don't work on your bike, don't pay for labor or both.
  • 6 2
 It seems NUTS to me that poll three lumps in through the stem with through the headset.

Through the stem requires a brake bleed for a regular setup change most MTBers SHOULD be experimenting with.

Through a headset bearing only means one (hopefully long lasting) service part should be checked and changed at the time of a brake bleed.

WHY are you putting these in the same poll the options have VERY different outcomes
  • 1 1
 THIS! Through the stem is stupid and is a deal breaker for me. Through headset, I dunno yet. I don't see much advantage. Disadvantage seems small. All depends on the quality of the sealing. If that is compromised to allow for the cables, it's a no-no for me.
  • 3 1
 yes! I'm not against headset routing, though I would pause for thought and it is definitely a tick in the negative column if I couldn't decide between two bikes. That through the stem thing though... No chance.
  • 3 0
 I like the cables/hoses external except for the dropper. No matter what you do you're going to have housing visible between the handlebar and cable entry at the frame, so trying to hide it in the frame at the detriment of serviceability seems a bit pointless. I guess my feeling is that if you're going to go through a bunch of trouble to hide cables and housings, make sure you hide the entire thing, end-to-end.
  • 3 0
 I've been mostly working on Acros headsets, which seem to have a lifespan of a very little (talking about the bearings or the plastics that hold them in place)

Besides this, the way the routing is done, and if you are a little OCD on your cablelengths and cockpit setup, it adds a whole lot of extra tinkering to the whole for very little gain it seems. Working with even less margins or strange folds - its gets annoying to place things around, cut it at correct length etc. let along getting eye-pleasing curves that roll along the bars. It just fuzzes up a lot of straight forward procedures upto a point you wonder why they invented this whole jigsaw puzzle.

If I would have to explain how to do an easy clean and lube your fork / headset region of your bike looks, it kinda scares the heck of out the everyday Joe.

I'm not talking about your sub 10kg XC machine, where every weightsaving might be worth 10K in the eyes of the customer. No, it's mostly found on 27+kg E-bikes.
  • 3 0
 I am more concerned with the reliability. Given the location where I live, my maintenance needs are in the opposite direction of most people. Nothing gets ruined from the elements, everything is broken from wear and tear. Am I going to have a brake failure at the bike park INSIDE the head tube by a broken brake line that fatigued?

If the fancy new thing was proven MORE reliable, then I would be fine with it. But I have my doubts.
  • 3 0
 Can you just accept that people don't want it? Stop trying to make headset routing HAPPEN... It's not gonna HAPPEN. It's not revolutionary compared to the internal routing almost all of us are using right now. It's not even a "its so bad" its moreso a "it does NOTHING for you... nothing".

Meanwhile we still use derailleurs that hang like 5-6 inches off the ground... Fix the f*ckin drivetrain MTB industry. You woulda thought e-bikers inspired MTB-optimal gearboxes by this point. And if not that at least that radical horizontal derailleur system that kinda sits between the tubing stays.
  • 3 0
 I do all my own bike maintenance, and have come to really appreciate simplicity. My Ibis mojo hd4 has what I would call “pseudo internal” routing, which is awesome. It’s protected and fairly well hidden retaining the bike’s clean lines. but every cable is extremely easy to replace if needed… Just cut a few zip ties or remove the two bolts holding the frame protector in place. On the other end of the spectrum is my son’s Scott ransom, where you need to remove the press fit bottom bracket to replace the dropper post cable housing. Not a repair I expect to make often, but a PITA nonetheless.
  • 3 0
 The only good rhing about internal routing is i can charge double to work on your bike. What are you going to do? Change your housing yourself? Like i have always said "theres stuff mechanics buy, and theres stuff chumps buy"
  • 3 0
 Good luck getting smooth shifting with a shifter cable routed through the headset. Seems like once you go down that road you also need to have electronic (or hydraulic) shifting. Otherwise all those tight bends in the cables will make add a lot of friction and screw up the shifting.
  • 3 0
 I don't get why no one (including Canyon) are doing external cables inside the down tube protection anymore. First off all it's easy to maintain, it looks good and you get full down tube protection. I would imagine it's cheap to manufacture as well. More of this please!

singletrackworld.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2017/12/Spectral-AL-6-Cable-Channel.jpg
  • 3 0
 It hasn't happened yet but if at some point in the future I am "forced" to buy a frame with internal routing (for example because all other aspects beat all alternatives) I would consider just improvising external routing with zip ties or stick-on cable guides. Stick it to the man!
  • 2 0
 Most vocal Pinkers do their own cable maintenance, so the results are gonna be towards ease of said maintenance. But, there's no denying that the lay-person, aka a huge majority of buyers, is looking at the prettiest bike and pinching their pennies to afford it. The best-looking bikes, sadly, are the ones with headset or through-the-stem routing.
  • 2 0
 Their should not be a battle between PM's/Engineering and marketing/sales for this kind of stuff. The process is simple, get out to races with your note pad, observe the pro racer setups and speak to the mechanics. Create a data set to work from. The direction will be clear.
  • 2 0
 My 2cents is that if you care enough to have funnily routing for a clean look then buy AXS. The rear brake can be routed either internally or externally pretty easy, but the seeing 3 cables or more in Scott’s case going into the head tube looks super weird
  • 3 1
 First off, I have no "Feelings" about it.
As to what I think about it?
In short, Needless Over Complication.
As for the cable holes weaken the frame argument?
Horsehockey!
Scott Spark Shock hatch, Specialized SWAT access holes, etc.
This is a trend that needs to die just like proprietary parts did.
  • 4 0
 I ride an over biked setup with Cush core front and rear, but hang on, you’re saying I can save some grams, we’ll sign me up… for not caring.
  • 2 0
 I have fully internal cable routing on my road bike which make sense. On my mountain bike I have frame internal cable routing which is fine but I would rather have cable routing hidden under top tube. Seems it would be easy when designing frames. My old mountain bike was Kona Satori that had this and it was fantastic.
  • 2 0
 I get it that Scott does it for the looks, but I like being able to remove my shock/fork on my own easily to send for service or swap my bar/stem without dealing with the cables or bleeding my brakes, it's just plain stupid.
  • 3 0
 I'm cackling like an idiot because the "see results" option on the last poll has dwarfed everything else to the point where the difference between the first three bars is indiscernible
  • 5 0
 Bearing race? Never. Headset bearing? Yeah-that gets checked and cleaned 1-2 times a year. Poorly worded question.
  • 2 0
 Truly. I run sealed cartridge headset bearings (as does everyone not on a Walmart bike, presumably) - removing the races would require an angle grinder or something. Do they mean the headset cups, or the headset bearings? I'm guessing...hoping...the bearings...
  • 4 2
 车架内走线是可以接受的范围,但是线路在头管内部实在是多此一举,我不需要看似花哨漂亮的外形,需要更方便的维护成本。这个举动显然受到公路车的影响,那些更漂亮的外观可以卖更多价钱,我们似乎忘记了骑行的初衷。
  • 10 1
 preach, Alan.
  • 2 0
 Can anyone comment on how much cheaper/simpler it is to manufacture carbon frames without cable ports into the frame at the headtube? Aesthetics are one thing, but this feels like manufacture cost cutting masquerading as consumer benefit.
  • 2 0
 Man! Let's get past all this tech talk and get back to the real subject at hand, puppy kicking.

All this barefoot talk is just so much nonsense. How are you going to get any kinda distance like that?

I'm sure there must be specialized puppy kicking kicks that we can import from one of those former Soviet block countries. They've probably been making them by hand for forty generations in secret workshops, refining the finest details in search of ultimate distance.

I'm gonna hit the internet and find out if there's a Kanye collaboration going yet...
  • 2 0
 Just bumped into one of my colleages at the RnD dept, and he just had to replact the top headset bearing in his Spark he got this July. I think that tells a lot. Water gets in fairly ease and damage is done. And for what reason?
  • 2 0
 There's only one reason mountain bikes are seeing internally routed headsets, It's cheaper/easier to produce carbon frames without a hole and cable routing in the head tube.

This savings equals profit for the manufacturer. This is about money plain and simple.
  • 2 0
 I call BS on the weight savings. The Scott Spark, for example, needs to run a larger and heavier ZS56 upper headset bearing to make room for the internal routing. Whatever they save by eliminating a couple of tiny ports in the frame will be lost with that heavier chunk of steel in the headset.
  • 4 0
 i’ld go wireless shifting/dropper before running cables threw the stem/headset. I hope it never comes to that
  • 1 0
 Multiple bikes. Dj is outside frame. BMX outside, enduro is internal but it is a dick to change brakes etc. That's the only part I don't like. Full bleed to remove or change brakes. Shifters and droppers give no issue in the frame.
  • 2 0
 All my bikes have fully external routing with the exception of the dropper cable coming out of the seat tube. I'll never buy anything with more cables that go into the frame than that.
  • 2 1
 My biggest gripe with cable routing is that there is rarely neat cable routing option for a left handed rear brake lever. The brake line has to double back on itself as opposed to the neat sweep you would get if the rear brake lever was mounted on the right side. @brianpark Ambidextrous rear brake hose routing would be lovely, internal or external I'm not fussed, just not through the headset because that is just silly and lives on the same same shelf as push fit bottom brackets.
  • 1 0
 I was going to comment something similar, most current internally routed frames don't allow for good cable routing for left handed brake levers which puts me off buying certain bikes. I'm not massively against headset routing if it enables ambidextrous routing as I pretty much never remove brake hoses and it's years since I last replaced an upper headset bearing. Fully external obviously makes everything so much easier and it's not like I am looking at my cables as I'm pinning it down a trail.
  • 3 0
 How many bikes actually have headset routed cables or is this just getting blown out of proportion like most things on the web?

Full disclosure. I’m not for it.
  • 3 0
 Is the cable rubbing the steerer tube an issue? That’s what really puts me off, along with creating a channel for water to run into the frame.
  • 2 0
 I’ve seen road bikes with carbon steerers where it definitely was an issue…
  • 4 0
 Q: "How often...?"
A: "none"
It wouldn't be a PB poll without some grammatically incorrect answers.
  • 4 0
 Proof the MTB industry has run out of things to innovate on now that cable routing is getting over engineered.
  • 4 0
 When quick connect brake hoses are functional and available we can talk about this more...
  • 2 0
 I'm an internal frame but not through the headset guy but FFS make the frame symmetrical so you can run the brake line on either side. As a left hand rear rider, that is actually a deal breaker for me!
  • 1 0
 I've never wanted it, nor needed it. Just like the frame storage in my current frame, didn't want it, nor need it, just came with the deal. Still don't think internally routed cable designs are entirely refined on most offerings.
  • 1 0
 My ancient 05 Cannondale Prophet has the derailleur cable routed through the swingarm with no guides. It can be a pain but I've replaced the cable and housing enough times that it's no big deal.

So if that's the case then I feel like it wouldn't be hard at all to learn and do full internal routing with guides. The rear brake would be the only one that would annoy me there.

Through the headset? No thankee. I can think of a couple of other places that routing things might be more fun for some depending on what they're into.
  • 4 0
 Wow I can't believe approximately 4500 out of the 7000 respondents already have a bike with headset routed cables...
  • 1 0
 Not that anyone will ever read this, but IMO, through headset/etc routing *could* make sense I just don't like the current implementations:
- they're ugly
- they seem less convenient than through-frame routing (with tubing, that is)

If it was clean and simple without interfering with anything during maintenance i would just buy it. Right now though, that's what internal routing provide. The improvement with the headset/etc routing is really minor so it has to have zero drawback.

Also I find internal routing with tubing to be easier than external, dont have to put clips or zip ties or anything - granted that the frame is well made. Many aren't fully using inner tubing for example (eg no routing in the rear triangle).
  • 3 0
 Just came here to say I like the polls. Please do more polls. Could even be a totally inane topic; I'll always answer so I can see the data.
  • 3 1
 Who here remembers when the sky was falling in over wheel sizes? If your current bike isn't on 26" wheels, think twice about "I won't buy a bike that's routed through the headset or stem", because you probably will.
  • 1 0
 Idk about falling sky but I do remember all the sudden everything being a 29’er so you’re probably right, soon every bike will be internal. They both suck.
  • 3 0
 Wheel sizes serve an actual purpose though.
  • 1 0
 Just to consider whether it really is a factor for me I went through my list of bikes to see whether I do as I say. Number of internal cables:

MTB 1 (dropper)
Gravel/Commuter 1 (front brake thru fork)
Road 0
Dirt 0
BMX 0

I do swap out the dropper for a standard post/saddle for park trips a couple times a year, but hard to do without internal given where the dropper actuator sits.

I already regret the internal brake thru the gravel fork, had to jump through some hoops to face the brake mounts without redoing the bar tape.

I used to have a MTB with internal through the frame, it probably needed the cable housing replaced more often than I was willing to mess with.

If dirt+BMX frames start coming with internal routing I'll know it's time to quit and take up tic-tac-toe as a sport.
  • 1 0
 Actually that's something missing from the poll, if you have internal routing, how often have you replaced your shift cable housing?
  • 1 0
 The problem with the current in frame routing is that on most bikes it’s truly awful if you ride moto with a left hand rear break. It means a cable mess as the rear brake hose ports or mount points on external routing are on the left hand side of the frame but the dropper ports are on the right hand side. Virtually no one gives you the choice of routing so you have to live with it.
  • 1 0
 On bikes I've owned in the last 5 years: I've removed the POS FSA headset and installed cane creek (2 bikes) and then removed that and installed an angleset (1 bike). On my last frame build I did my own headset installation, and a bike I sold I did a full bearing strip/regrease. So 4 with race removal, and 1 without. On 2 of the bikes mentioned I also did seasonal fork swaps so headset disassembly/reassembly, crown race swaps, minus the bearing races.
  • 1 0
 I’m sure other bicycle mechanics will have different opinions, but I am not about internal routing through the bars/headset. For one, you have about a centimeter of wiggle room when cutting brake lines so if you have to swap bars, levers, etc. more than once you’ll have to run new brake hoses. Furthermore, with the new generation of “aero” road bikes as well as the few mountain bikes that have brake hoses and shift cables through the headset bearings, having to explain to a customer that it is going to cost upwards of $200-300 to change a $25 headset bearing because we also have to bleed your brakes, run new shift/dropper cables, and adjust everything again is always a miserable conversation.
  • 1 0
 I'd be curious how this poll lays out with "age"(older riders knew only external routing while newer riders are used to the clean lines of internal), AND...how many people wrench on their bikes(if you only give your bike to a mechanic then routing is a non issue for you)
  • 1 0
 Please add in the poll how many of you have actually had to work on or build a bike that has fully internal routing? I work on all of my own (and friend's) bikes and other than ascetics, do not see the reason for it. I think it is one of the worst trends. Especially the dropper post. Every time an adjustment to the saddle height is made, the cable must be dealt with routing through the frame.
  • 1 0
 Marketing people have noticed that amateur customers are more likely to buy a bike that looks better than one that rides better. And one way to improve appearance is to hide the cables and shock absorber. The occasional biker does not know how complicated the construction is, how much work to service. He does not repair his bike himself. Perhaps it will appeal to some when the service shops have separate price lists for bikes with integrated cables or shock. Let them have the nice bikes. But let the whole market not go that way. For advanced mtb riders, this is unnecessary and even bad because it makes quick, self-service difficult. I want to have a choice.
  • 6 5
 If you all would stop being so poor and upgrade to AXS then this wouldnt be an issue. I doubt manufactures would put this bullshit in place if the only cable to deal with was the rear brake.
  • 2 0
 I have AXS on exactly 1 bike, the bike I use the least. I want cables on my other bikes.
  • 4 0
 A good wireless shifting system would be worth it, but AXS (and others) are sort of a scam.

The shifter is way cheaper to produce compared to a mechanical one, since its pretty much a chip with 2 buttons in a plastic shell without all the cams and gears of the mechanical one, but yet its sold at a way higher price because of the perceived "high tech" of wireless.

Secondly, if you have a wireless system, it should have more buttons on the shifter and be more programmable in terms of what each button does, especially if if is going to be sold at a higher price.
  • 2 0
 @8a71b4: just think if somebody built a nice road/mtb programmable shifters that would shift any number of gears across whatever cassette spacing just by selecting what you want in an app.
  • 1 1
 @OnTheRivet: you mean exactly like the AXS app does? lol
  • 1 0
 @dkidd: The hate for electric shifting is f*cking hilarious.
  • 1 0
 @dkidd: so the axs app let's you use the shifter on a 10 speed shimano cassette, wow you'll have let me know how it does that.
  • 1 0
 @OnTheRivet: why would you ever want to do that?
  • 1 1
 @warmerdamj: let's say I want to run a SRAM AXS derailleur with a 13 speed Campagnolo cassette on my gravel bike. Or you are a DH racer who doesn't need a lot of gears or a huge cassette, run a 10 speed road cassette.
  • 1 1
 @dkidd: AXS doesn't let you do things like shift to x cog with 1 button press, or run through a preprogrammed sequence of shifts. All of this is incredibly easy to implement.
  • 1 0
 @8a71b4 @OnTheRivet I dont know, I dont think any of that is really the point of it. It's simple and it works. You can't do any of that with mechanical shifting either. I like it, so you must be wrong. That's how bikes work, the other person is always wrong.
  • 1 0
 @warmerdamj: I have Di2 on my road bike and AXS on my Gravel bike. Purposely went cable on my new mtb because I cratered too many mtb derailluers and thats too much $$$$
  • 1 0
 @OnTheRivet: I have AXS on my gravel bike and di2 on two mtbs. Surprisingly I have destroyed 2 AXS deraulliers and 1 di2. But Ive had di2 since it came out and AXS for less then a year.
  • 1 0
 @warmerdamj: It can be simple and work but it should be priced accordingly to what you are actually getting. Servos, wireless chips, and buttons aren't expensive.
  • 1 0
 @8a71b4: Nothing is priced according to what you are getting, what planet do you live on man.
  • 3 0
 The only topic that folks hate more then autoplay, not a single autoplay complaint until.....now....
  • 3 0
 Autoplay is the headset cable routing of the internet.
  • 1 0
 My last bike was a carbon frame with external routing done right. My current bike has a carbon frame with internal routing done right. Neither influenced my decision to buy said bike.
  • 1 0
 It's two brakes and a gear cable.
If the gears can be routed, good, if not, it's alright.
If the rear brake comes routed, good, if not, it's alright.
Seatpost => Hope clamp
  • 1 0
 As long as its organized and quiet, I don't care if my cables are inside or outside.... With the exception of the Dropper post cable, that needs to be at least partially internal.
  • 1 1
 My Cannondale SuperSix and SystemSix road bike takes cable in front of the top bearing. So the bearings can be replaced without removing any cable. But the top bearing is still a little more exposed to elements through the opening hole for cables than a traditional set-up. So far, no issue yet. Based on this experience. I wouldn't mind cable through head tube but not through top bearing. Not so sure what I'd feel about the through top bearing cable routing though.
  • 2 2
 Internal routing is stoopid, even for a seat post BECAUSE they increase the amount of work needed to build, maintain, and swap parts, AND the seat post cable routing nealry always leads to binding issue or failure at some point.

If I wanted a "clean" bike, cable routing is not how I'd keep my bike clean.

I'm about to build a new bike, swapping parts, and I will have to cut brake lines which will likely require a new brake line.

This ^ is stoopid!

Now if you're a dentist, then clearly you don't work on your bike and probably care more about appearance, so eff you!
  • 2 0
 I wonder if this is all a big scheme to get us to buy electronic shifting and Bluetooth-activated droppers and maybe brakes in the future? =)
  • 3 0
 It is not creating controversy, it is just market research for the bike companies.
  • 1 0
 Seems like a great idea for the bike manufacturers. 1 crash and the stem breaks or the handle bars crack. Bad idea for the people so we half to keep replacing parts with every crash/bump
  • 2 0
 @brianpark - several articles on headset routing? I bet you were a right little trouble maker at school.

Keep up the good work.
  • 1 0
 A lot of hand wringing about cable routing. I get it, I have my preferences too but in the meantime we are still using inferior road bike presta valves in our mountain bikes and nobody is saying a word. Where is the outrage!
  • 1 1
 ok.... So I'm someone who likes full internal routing... I work on my own bikes, and fully acknowledge the implications of this preference.

I honestly was starting to think I was 100% alone in this opinion so this was a great set of poles because I know feel vindicated. I don't expect 100% of people to agree with me, hell I was not even under any illusion that the majority of people would agree.... but knowing I'm not alone makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: I'd love to hear more level-headed discussion on headset routing vs internal routing. There's a lot of anger in these threads directed at Scott, but now having owned one for a year, I'd argue it's *easier* to work on than a regular internally routed bike.
- The giant downtube hole means I don't need to spend any time "fishing" for cables.
- Unlike what some folks claim, I don't need to touch any cables to swap the stem, adjust spacers, adjust the head angle, or drop the fork
- The headset is actually just drop in, so if I need to replace it (haven't yet and unlike some of my other bikes it's a sealed bearing) it's actually easier for me as a home mechanic since I don't need a headset removal tool, at the expense of an extra 20-30 minutes every couple of years.
- At this rate, my brakes are going to need bleeding more often than my head set needs replacing... an enforced bleed every once in a while seems fine

All that said, I would prefer external with a nice cover but I guess I'm confused why the hatred for headset routing isn't equaled by hatred for regular internal routing.

Maybe pb commenters are just skewed towards PNWers who ride exclusively in the rain, go through a headset a month, and ride hardtails because they can't stand to replace another bearing! (That was a joke)

I look forward to the responses.

PS Tube in tube is easier to work on, but definitely is another thing driving the cost of our bikes up.
  • 1 0
 why is outside pushing this topic so hard? people actually want to have a circle jerk around cable routing?

I am DEFINITELY not EVER subscribing with swamp like content such as this.
  • 1 0
 Internal with guides, no headset routing. Continue to R&D wireless so the price can come down and product improve. I rode a few bikes with AXS and the shifting was crisp and mostly smooth under load.
  • 1 1
 Internal through the frame preferred if it’s like Specialized’s version. Wouldn’t mind having the brake routed externally for ease of replacement but since that’s rare I’d prefer internal for the clean looks.
  • 8 6
 All the complaining is slowly getting more annoying than the actual frakking cable routing
  • 3 4
 Here's an idea for those that think headset routing is the worst idea ever. Plan ahead and replace your headset bearing during your routine brake bleeds. I recently installed brakes on my internally routed frame and I agree, it kind of sucks. But with just a little planning ahead, you can minimize the pain. At least with bearing replacement, you won't have to cut hose and replace the barb and olive.
  • 2 0
 Well, the only question that leaves is, why would I intentionally spend my money on something that then forces me to follow certain procedures in order to “minimize the pain”?
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: No one says you have to. I'm not defending headset routing, just throwing out ideas for people that might be interested.
  • 7 6
 I mean, if you think that routing cables through your headset is "The death of mountain biking," you must have a very difficult time coping with day to day life.
  • 8 0
 HA! If life was easier to cope with I wouldn't need to mountain bike.
  • 2 3
 Here's the deal, it's all about usability, durability and reliability. If you can make a headset routed frame that doesn't self destruct your bike and isn't a nightmare to use, then I'm fine with it.

Biggest worry about the current systems is the cable hack-sawing through the steer tube. Cable even touching the steer tube is a deal breaker for me. (Though lets be honest, CSUs only last a year max, so maybe this whole thing is moot) I've had cables, heels, etc saw through stuff shockingly fast. Make this a non-issue, and deal with water ingress, then fine, I'll buy whatever works. The top headset bearing removal worries is a red herring, and there's ways around that.

I really like the trend to geo-adjust headsets, which are probably mutually exclusive with headset routed cables. I predict a future where bikes are split between pretty bikes and hard charging bikes.
  • 1 0
 So much truth in that comment! But don't the latest Scott and Focus bikes do feature both integrated cable routing and angel adjust headsets? Do those bikes allow riders to charge pretty hard then?
  • 3 1
 I'm sure this comment section is going to be full of calm and well reasoned arguments
  • 3 0
 Thinking of internal cable routing goes right through me...
  • 3 0
 I've only owned one frame with internal cables. It rattled.
  • 1 0
 2018 SC Blur V3- Best system. Internal Routing except for rear brake. Best for home mechanic. Can swap from 2 piston 160's to 4 piston 180's in minutes, no bleeding required.
  • 1 2
 I went AXS three years ago and haven't looked back since. The only thing left would be for a company to produce a reliable and functional wireless brake set. I don't need electronic suspension, but I do want wireless brakes. Gimme dat.
  • 3 0
 I am hoping this is sarcasm.
  • 1 0
 I've been swapping frames on the same bike (well, brakes) for literally 20 years now and fear the day I have to route them through a frame.
  • 1 2
 Cables through the headset.... .... All the 26 ain't dead, never gonna buy a 29er boys who now own a 29er and swear by how fast it is have something new to moan about. Stick a bunch of folk on the spectrum on a forum and ask them about change.... Sit back and watch carnage
  • 2 0
 So tell me, how do you feel about the cable routing on your downcountry mountain bicycle? Man mtb used to be cool.
  • 1 2
 Do not give a f*, as long as the bike suits my needs, and is a blast to ride, I prefer internal routing for a nice look and feel, and brakes could be bled without removing them from the bike/ fork lowers as well;

all other work is done by LBS.

It looks like half of the commenters work on their bikes 24/7, when do u ride? and why do u need to change brakes every other ride so internal routing bothers u?
  • 1 1
 There’s no need to work on your bike 24/7, keeping your bike running well just requires routine maintenance, maybe 30-60 minutes every few weeks.

I ride three to four times a week, other than lubing the chain, airing up tires, and checking suspension pressures, my last maintenance was changing rear brake pads.

I bet you spend more time getting your bike to and from the shop than I spend doing the same maintenance your shop does for you Wink

Dentist?
  • 1 0
 I'm very familiar with head sets and do all my own work, but I'm not sure what you're referring to when you call it a frame upper bearing race.... thx,
  • 2 0
 Upper bearing race and lower bearing race ….. is your headset.
  • 2 0
 @NZRalphy: So they just mean the bearings then... We just call them bearings and they sit inside the bearing cups. Cheers.
  • 1 0
 What about a choice.
I like internal routing but only if it’s done right. If it’s not tubed internally, give me external.
  • 1 0
 As long as its one cable and outer from beginning to end. Any splits and gaps with the bare cable going in and out for sections are nothing but noisy unreliable trouble.
  • 2 0
 You can never have too much money or too many externally routed cables.
  • 1 2
 Personally, I think that an internal cable port on a frame without a cable going in or out of it looks way worse aesthetically. AXS has only fueled my feelings about this. Anyone else agree?
  • 1 0
 I think cable routed headsets could honestly be on half-life after this poll, one more and they're finished, done.
  • 1 0
 Racing privateers need all external, spares are ready, use to have a spare derailleur to shifter alteady bedded inn in 72
  • 3 0
 Zipties.
  • 1 0
 I just want to be able to install a Chris King headset. If that’s possible with headset cable routing, it’s fine by me.
  • 2 0
 Can’t ride brake cable wore through steer tube
  • 2 1
 when this site stops using terms like "downcountry" "upcountry". I might take this poles seriously.
  • 1 0
 There's no way you can shove all those cables into a headset for an e-bike. And who cares about weight! So, this is moot!
  • 2 0
 Disc brake rotors can slice your hands. V-brakes need to come back.
  • 2 1
 No stem no headset routing!! External rear brake.
Why is this so hard for you people?
  • 1 0
 This is a press fit bottom bracket moment and Scott is Cannondale. Its going to be a painful journey for them.
  • 1 0
 bike mechanic of 8 years here, just here to say I will go out of my way to never own a bike with headset routing ever.
  • 1 0
 I have neither words nor poll options to express how little I care about how cables look.
  • 1 0
 I mean once Shimano comes out with the new di2 system.. It is kind of going to be a moot point
  • 2 1
 My next bike will be all external apart from the stealth dropper.. Or there won't be a next bike
  • 2 0
 An it'll be mini mullet too
  • 1 0
 No bike looks better than the externally routed, hidden cables on an NS define
  • 1 0
 external routing is dope. Every technician has lost their shit working on some internal routing.
  • 1 1
 You got us - all this bitching in the comment section about headset cable routing was just for show!
  • 2 0
 Silly questions!
  • 1 2
 I had to send back the last 2 forks I bought (this year) and got a third one, so yeah, that would have been an even shittier summer with headset routing.
  • 1 0
 Nope, there would be no impact on changing your fork. The cables and brake hose are only going through the headset, not through the fork steerer. Just unbolt the stem and the fork would still come right out
  • 1 0
 @dsut4392: yes, having your bike for weeks in the stand while you wait for warranty and all the pieces from the headset are flying around and you have to keep it together…
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: if you’re waiting for warranty on your fork, the bike is already in the stand. The upper headset bearing is captive in the cables so that’s not going anywhere. Keeping the bottom bearing in the frame is as simple as a few zip ties joined together to be long enough to connect through the head tube.
There are valid reasons not to want this kind of cable routing, but the example you gave isn’t one of them because the problem you have isn’t the cable routing but really that you have no idea what you’re doing.
  • 2 0
 Wired poll!
  • 2 2
 You internal routing prefer-ers started this shit, and now you’re all upset. Sleep in the bed you made.
  • 1 0
 external brake and dropper.... interior gears....No covers.
  • 2 1
 Pinkbike creating controversy, lame.
  • 2 3
 all Im gonna say is f*** dangerholm and his stupid looking bikes...it's because of him bikes are now coming with through headset routing
  • 1 1
 The real benefits of hidden cables is aerodynamics, and maybe less chance of catching on stuff and ripping
  • 1 0
 Internal unless it is a steel hardtail lol
  • 2 0
 I have no feelings
  • 2 0
 External with zip ties
  • 2 0
 Hmmm, fuck this noise.
  • 1 0
 GT FURY does it best
  • 1 0
 Say no to Shitsets
  • 1 1
 I dont care how its routed. I just want it to be quiet.
  • 1 2
 We'll probably get to a point where everything is wireless, even brakes.
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