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  1. #1
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    Full length housing - mushy feeling

    I started running full length housing for my BB7 not too long ago using XTR cables. Mainly i wanted the benefit of protection from dirt, mud etc. but i would expect it too feel good also. They did feel awesome at the start, both the front/rear felt the same, but now the lever pull for the rear brake feels a bit mushy, or maybe you could say sticky.

    Can this be preventable, are there any remedies, setup tips? It even crossed my mind to go back to interrupted housing. My brother in law has the same setup on his bike - same cables, levers, except he has BB5 and uses interrupted housing, and both levers feel exactly the same, as well as feeling nice and responsive, and he hasn't changed his cables in ages. Would it be worth looking into getting better cable ends/ferrules to keep the dirt out and use interrupted housing?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by peternguyen
    I started running full length housing for my BB7 not too long ago using XTR cables. Mainly i wanted the benefit of protection from dirt, mud etc. but i would expect it too feel good also. They did feel awesome at the start, both the front/rear felt the same, but now the lever pull for the rear brake feels a bit mushy, or maybe you could say sticky.

    Can this be preventable, are there any remedies, setup tips? It even crossed my mind to go back to interrupted housing. My brother in law has the same setup on his bike - same cables, levers, except he has BB5 and uses interrupted housing, and both levers feel exactly the same, as well as feeling nice and responsive, and he hasn't changed his cables in ages. Would it be worth looking into getting better cable ends/ferrules to keep the dirt out and use interrupted housing?
    Most likely, you have too many/too tight of bends in the housing (bypass the stock routing if necessary), have not filed the housing ends square, made sure the housing liner ends are open and/or are not using ferrules.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    Most likely, you have too many/too tight of bends in the housing (bypass the stock routing if necessary), have not filed the housing ends square, made sure the housing liner ends are open and/or are not using ferrules.
    In addition to the excellent points Shiggy points out, I would add lubrication. I am partial to Rock-N-Roll Cable Magic but others have had good service from spray silicon. Good luck.
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  4. #4
    ride like you stole it
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    don't underestimate the value of lube in your cables. Also make sure the ends are cut and finished nice I like to use a old spoke to clean the ends up. Also it sounds stupid but make sure that the cables a pulled tight because if they aren't the end will slip out and then have to re-set itself when you pull the lever.
    I lubed my disc brakes because they squeaked.
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  5. #5
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    Don't know what's the mistake with your rear cable. Important for setup:
    - choose the most direct way for the cable run with the fewest bendings - and avoid tight bendings
    - flood the housing inside with lubrication before inserting the cable
    - check the cable tension; the caliper arm should react at once when pulling the lever
    - if you want to surpass many hydros use the FMJ housing. After 2500 km in all conditions it feels unchanged and butter-smooth as in the beginning.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the advice guys. Just with the things you've pointed out, I didn't cut any part of the housing so its left from how it was from the factory - nicely cut and faced. The cables came pre-lubed already and i'm using the ferrules that came with the kit on both ends.

    It could be due to the bends, however i used all the cable that came with the kit so i guess if it needs to be longer then i'd have to get a kit with longer housing.

    Although it feels mushy as i have described, i should clarify that its not all too drastic, but its noticeable compared to the front cable, and could be influencing the responsiveness of the pull. I'm wondering if it's achievable to have the rear cable perform just as good as the front in cable actuated brakes, or is the rear always going to be just behind due to the inevitable extra bends?
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  7. #7
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    Cut out all that extra cable! the more cable and housing you have the mushier it's gonna feel.
    I lubed my disc brakes because they squeaked.
    Man was that fun to work out

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by spcarter
    Cut out all that extra cable! the more cable and housing you have the mushier it's gonna feel.
    Be careful not to cut too much cable if you do trim it. The handlebars should be able to fully turn left and right.
    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is.

  9. #9
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    Some great advice here, one other thought to consider...

    I have a BB7/XTR lever setup, but use different cables and housing that did make a difference for me for eliminating any mushy feel at the lever.

    The cable set I'm using is Alligator "Bulletproof", with a compressionless kevlar lined housing. The housing is much harder to bend when fitting to the bike than the XTR ones I had on previously, but also doesn't move when applying the brake, making the lever feel less mushy. I picked it up cheap on ebay and have been very impressed.

    Here's a link to their website

    Al

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the link.

    In terms of compressionless and non compressionless cables, doesn't this just influence the feel at the end of the lever stroke, or is it throughout the stroke? What i mean is, doesn't the housing only compress when the lever is at the end of its pull, and when you pull it tighter it becomes spongy because of the housing compression?

  11. #11
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
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    Quote Originally Posted by MudInMyEars
    In addition to the excellent points Shiggy points out, I would add lubrication. I am partial to Rock-N-Roll Cable Magic but others have had good service from spray silicon. Good luck.
    I have not lubed a cable/housing in 10 years. Lube just attracts dirt that gums up the system. I usually run teflon coated cables but not always.
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  12. #12
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    How long have you been running that particular set of cables? You said it did awesome at the start but the lever doesn't return like it used to anymore? Sure sign of dirt and crap getting in your cables/kinks in the cable...it's a very normal and unavoidable side effect of mountain biking...If you ride just regular trails with not much muddy sections, you should still replace cables and housing about every 3 months, or when it becomes necessary...riding in more extreme conditions might make your housing last but a few weeks...California mudslide conditions will make it last maybe a whole ride.

    Housing will compress more the harder you pull the lever...the moment your pads contact the rotor, the housing is already compressing...even on "compressionless" housing...it's not really compressionless...it just deforms a lot less than regular housing.

    Take the brake cable out of the housing, and check for kinks and crap that got in there...the answer is there somewhere hiding under that housing...

    And yes, the rear brake will ALWAYS perform worse than the front assuming equal brake setup...more cable run=more flex and more friction=worse brake performance.

    Tim
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibug
    How long have you been running that particular set of cables? You said it did awesome at the start but the lever doesn't return like it used to anymore? Sure sign of dirt and crap getting in your cables/kinks in the cable...it's a very normal and unavoidable side effect of mountain biking...If you ride just regular trails with not much muddy sections, you should still replace cables and housing about every 3 months, or when it becomes necessary...riding in more extreme conditions might make your housing last but a few weeks...California mudslide conditions will make it last maybe a whole ride.

    Housing will compress more the harder you pull the lever...the moment your pads contact the rotor, the housing is already compressing...even on "compressionless" housing...it's not really compressionless...it just deforms a lot less than regular housing.

    Take the brake cable out of the housing, and check for kinks and crap that got in there...the answer is there somewhere hiding under that housing...

    And yes, the rear brake will ALWAYS perform worse than the front assuming equal brake setup...more cable run=more flex and more friction=worse brake performance.

    Tim
    Thanks for the clarification. Well i installed the cables about a few weeks ago. Can much dirt still get in the cables with full length housing? I'm thinking that the grease that was pre-injected is probably spread out from underneath the inner cable around the bendy parts, so now theres less grease in between the inner cable and inner liner. But yeah, i guess it makes sense that the rear will never be the same under the circumstances. But i thought it might have been possible to do and not too hard to setup.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibug
    How long have you been running that particular set of cables? You said it did awesome at the start but the lever doesn't return like it used to anymore? Sure sign of dirt and crap getting in your cables/kinks in the cable...it's a very normal and unavoidable side effect of mountain biking...If you ride just regular trails with not much muddy sections, you should still replace cables and housing about every 3 months, or when it becomes necessary...riding in more extreme conditions might make your housing last but a few weeks...California mudslide conditions will make it last maybe a whole ride.

    Housing will compress more the harder you pull the lever...the moment your pads contact the rotor, the housing is already compressing...even on "compressionless" housing...it's not really compressionless...it just deforms a lot less than regular housing.

    Take the brake cable out of the housing, and check for kinks and crap that got in there...the answer is there somewhere hiding under that housing...

    And yes, the rear brake will ALWAYS perform worse than the front assuming equal brake setup...more cable run=more flex and more friction=worse brake performance.

    Tim

    And that is what you do? I get a full season mud and all out of rear der cable and housing but brake I just leave connected and remove ends from frame mounts and wipe and lube monthly. I have my race mtb that has 3 seasons on the rear housing and cable and it runs fine, near 30 races and over 5000km (prob 20 really muddy and insane days in there). Wow the cost of the above would add up a bit if you are using good stuff.

    I suggest that you not run full housing, it seems like the smart idea but never really works out. It only ever makes brakes feel squishy and when you do it to rear shifters its worse than ever before.
    Clean it when it needs it and lube it with a dry lube (I use a teflon based but whatever works) use only Stainless Steel cables (they last almost forever).. Where ever there is an arc you will lose brake feel but when the arc has a definite end (ie a frame mount) the loss ends there, when it does not it carries that and tries to make the arc straighten for longer. Try it, pull your lever hard and watch the spot where the housing is first tied to the frame. If you want to never clean it that is great, if you want good feeling brakes then lose some housing, its a trade off.
    Another option (just remembered you have the XTR levers) is to adjust the pull (can't tell if yours is the adjustable with blocks or dial. It think yours has the pitch fixing bolt, move it more outward (to the front of the bike) and see if that helps, there is a chance that its already out there.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by peternguyen
    Thanks for the clarification. Well i installed the cables about a few weeks ago. Can much dirt still get in the cables with full length housing? I'm thinking that the grease that was pre-injected is probably spread out from underneath the inner cable around the bendy parts, so now theres less grease in between the inner cable and inner liner. But yeah, i guess it makes sense that the rear will never be the same under the circumstances. But i thought it might have been possible to do and not too hard to setup.
    Grease? There shouldn't be any grease in there...that might be your problem..
    I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibug
    Grease? There shouldn't be any grease in there...that might be your problem..
    Sorry, i mean lube, it comes pre-lubed, i didnt put anything extra in it.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KINBOY
    And that is what you do? I get a full season mud and all out of rear der cable and housing but brake I just leave connected and remove ends from frame mounts and wipe and lube monthly. I have my race mtb that has 3 seasons on the rear housing and cable and it runs fine, near 30 races and over 5000km (prob 20 really muddy and insane days in there). Wow the cost of the above would add up a bit if you are using good stuff.
    Congratulations.

    I use regular old housing and cables that I get free from the shop where I work...and no, I don't do every 3 months...the bike I built in February (see my thread in Urban/DJ/Park if you wanna see my MTB) has been running the same full length brake cables and housing for about 7 months, I only just replaced it when the lever would no longer return fully...I really don't care that much about my brakes, but I gave the 3 month suggestion because some people do care more about their brakes than I do. It's just a general rule...you can't possibly tell me that your braking performance has stayed even close to what it once was with those cables and housing on your bike...or you can...but I wouldn't believe you...

    I don't understand this lubing cables business...for shifters it's a good idea, but for brakes...even dry teflon lube is overkill IMO...whatever works though...

    Tim
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by peternguyen
    Sorry, i mean lube, it comes pre-lubed, i didnt put anything extra in it.
    Ok..well if they used a wetter lube on the cable, that would result in great initial performance, but quickly attract dirt and stuff, and even though you're running full housing, it would explain the dirt getting in there...

    Either way, you need new cables and housing bro...don't spend a lot of money...you'll get good performance with generic cables set up properly...XTR is great cables and housing for the money...can't go wrong there...
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  19. #19
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    XTR stuff comes pre-injected with a silicone based grease... or something.

    If you're using coated cables, it may be gumming up because of the grease. Coated cables are black in color.

    Using a lube can significantly improve the feel of a brake.

    "I don't understand this lubing cables business...for shifters it's a good idea, but for brakes...even dry teflon lube is overkill IMO...whatever works though..."
    This doesn't make sense. They work on the same principal. Both pull cable. Lube helps to reduce friction. The right kind of lube won't attract dirt. Boeshield T9 is fantastic.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by XSL_WiLL
    XTR stuff comes pre-injected with a silicone based grease... or something.

    If you're using coated cables, it may be gumming up because of the grease. Coated cables are black in color.

    Using a lube can significantly improve the feel of a brake.

    "I don't understand this lubing cables business...for shifters it's a good idea, but for brakes...even dry teflon lube is overkill IMO...whatever works though..."
    This doesn't make sense. They work on the same principal. Both pull cable. Lube helps to reduce friction. The right kind of lube won't attract dirt. Boeshield T9 is fantastic.
    Oh jeez...an argument with XSL_WiLL already??? I know I'm going to lose...but I won't go down without a fight...

    I didn't know that XTR was preinjected with anything...I actually have never used it on my bikes...only seen it on bikes that I work on...sorry for spreading false info...

    Shifters have much tighter tolerances than brakes. The shifter cables/housing must be replaced more often than brake cables/housing anyway. And you can gain a great deal of shifting performance from lube. However, I can't imagine gaining that much performance out of a cable brake by lubing it...all lubes that I have used (wet and dry teflon finish line lube, pedros ice wax, pedros road rage...white lightning..etc...) have attracted dirt faster than just a bare cable would...I will try out Boeshield some day...see how that goes...

    I don't know why I'm even trying...XSL_WiLL always wins...
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  21. #21
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    Peter, another thought...

    Your cable routing doesn't look awful, but nor is it optimal.

    I'd play with straightening it out with a TT to rear-triangle run, just to see the difference. In the photo, the housing has the appearance of being under tension along the home run to the caliper. Make sure it's not under any tension and is not being pinched by the cable tie at the front of the rear triangle.

    Today's sprial wound housing is very good; nearly compresionless. But whenever you bend sprial housing, a small gap is created between the windings, and this is where compression will occur under tension. This *may* be contributing to the problem you're observing -- though again, your routing isn't flawed, but neither is it perfect.
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  22. #22
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    I don't know what inner wires you're running, but I was grossly disappointed with the XTR housing. Inexpensive lined Jagwire stuff is smoother, IME.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibug
    Oh jeez...an argument with XSL_WiLL already??? I know I'm going to lose...but I won't go down without a fight...

    I didn't know that XTR was preinjected with anything...I actually have never used it on my bikes...only seen it on bikes that I work on...sorry for spreading false info...

    Shifters have much tighter tolerances than brakes. The shifter cables/housing must be replaced more often than brake cables/housing anyway. And you can gain a great deal of shifting performance from lube. However, I can't imagine gaining that much performance out of a cable brake by lubing it...all lubes that I have used (wet and dry teflon finish line lube, pedros ice wax, pedros road rage...white lightning..etc...) have attracted dirt faster than just a bare cable would...I will try out Boeshield some day...see how that goes...

    I don't know why I'm even trying...XSL_WiLL always wins...
    Why recommend a produce that you don't use?

    Your inexperience shows.

    It makes a big difference... especially those inexpensive bikes with less than ideal cable routing (such as women's frames). I've built some bikes where the lever is very difficult to pull and the will not return on it's own.

    What does tolerancing have to do with anything? They both work on the same principal. A mechanism pulls or releases cable and actuates another mechanism. A return spring helps the mechanism (be it derailleur or brake) return to it's neutral position. Your hand has to overcome friction to pull the cable. Then the spring has to overcome friction to return. Less friction results in less work. If there is too much friction, the spring may not be strong enough.

    Shifting does not suffer as much because of the way the housing is wound. Linear housing compresses less. Ever ridden linear vs spiral wound housing on a BMX bike? Also shifting is a much lighter action than brakes.

    I do not lube my shift cables. Nor do I replace them any more often than my brake cables/housing. I replace them all at the same time. I do it once a year.

    I've used several lubes that do not attract dirt. Those Dry lubes you have described dry to a paste like consistency. They usually don't have too much of a problem with dirt. And they will still help prevent corrosion. Corroded cables/housing do not work well. So it cuts down on friction and prevents corrosion. It helps to prolong cable life.

    I agree. The XTR stuff is good, but not great. The Jagwire stuff works just as well at a lower cost. And the XTR shift housing likes to blow up on me.
    Last edited by XSL_WiLL; 10-14-2008 at 05:23 PM.

  24. #24
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    I have used XTR cables and housing...just not on my bikes, so I haven't ever installed it/looked at it in depth, shouldn't have said anything about it. That's not inexperience (I admit to that too)...that's spreading information that I know little about, I was wrong.

    And I didn't mean that I lube my shifter housing/cables...I was talking about the teflon coated cables that offer increased performance...

    Sorry...thanks for correcting me...I'm gonna stop trying to give advice on stuff I obviously don't know enough about and start paying more attention to people like XSL_WiLL...hopefully I'll learn something...
    Quote Originally Posted by XSL_WiLL
    Why recommend a produce that you don't use?

    Your inexperience shows.

    It makes a big difference... especially those inexpensive bikes with less than ideal cable routing (such as women's frames). I've built some bikes where the lever is very difficult to pull and the will not return on it's own.

    What does tolerancing have to do with anything? They both work on the same principal. A mechanism pulls or releases cable and actuates another mechanism.

    Shifting does not suffer as much because of the way the housing is wound. Linear housing compresses less. Ever ridden linear vs spiral wound housing on a BMX bike? I do not lube my shift cables. Nor do I replace them any more often than my brake cables/housing. I replace them all at the same time. I do it once a year.

    I've used several lubes that do not attract dirt. Those Dry lubes you have described dry to a paste like consistency. They usually don't have too much of a problem with dirt.
    I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Peter, another thought...

    Your cable routing doesn't look awful, but nor is it optimal.

    I'd play with straightening it out with a TT to rear-triangle run, just to see the difference. In the photo, the housing has the appearance of being under tension along the home run to the caliper. Make sure it's not under any tension and is not being pinched by the cable tie at the front of the rear triangle.

    Today's sprial wound housing is very good; nearly compresionless. But whenever you bend sprial housing, a small gap is created between the windings, and this is where compression will occur under tension. This *may* be contributing to the problem you're observing -- though again, your routing isn't flawed, but neither is it perfect.
    Hey i took your advice and played around with the housing positioning. I cut off the zip ties and moved the middle part along the frame up and down to give more slack to the front or back to compare the difference. It actually makes a noticeable difference, i didnt realize that the small change in angles would influence the feel as much as it did, but then i wan't aware that compressionless housing and cutting sections off it would influence it too, so i'm glad i'm learning a lot here.

    I've made both lever throw feel quite similar now, but i realized that theres not enough housing to give the front AND back a good amount of slack, to eliminate tight curves, but its pretty good now, and at least i know that it may even be better with longer/different housing, so i'll keep that in mind next time i'll replace.

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