Stainless steel-v-galvanised steel cables

Stainless steel  gear cables

Through the work we’ve done in updating Becky’s vintage Argos bike, the cables are being replaced.  We found that stainless steel cables seemed to feel a bit smoother than the (slightly) cheaper galvanised cables which is helpful for applications such as the rear brake.

These were new to me and worth looking into:

  • Galvanised cables are cheaper and more commonly used on mass produced bikes, including the complete heaps of garbage that some supermarkets sell for £99
  • Galvanising is really a zinc coating applied often by using a “hot dip” method and is a form of rust proofing
  • Stainless steel is a little more expensive
  • Stainless steel is smoother with less friction.  This means less drag from any casing the cable is running in, or from any guides the cable runs against
  • Stainless steel is slightly less pliable or bendy.  Therefore the routing should have gradual crurves, not sharp bends
  • Stainless steel may still corrode a little but it will be less obvious.  I imagine that when a cable is installed, a little dry lube could be applied and this may help with some protection
On balance we have decided to use on stainless steel from this point onwards and we’ll take care to use lined casing (the outer cable) just to make sure the cables run as smoothly as possible,
Both types need sharp cutters and I mean really sharp cutters to ensure a clean cut.  The wire cutters we have are not up to the job, so I am going to look into improving my bike tool box.   It goes without saying a newly installed cable (gear or brake) must be finished off with a crimp-on cap, to prevent fraying.
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