MO Wrenching: How To Lube Cables

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

A simple 15-minute maintenance tip

Lubing your motorcycle’s cables should only take a few minutes, but it pays dividends every time you operate a control. For the throttle cables, unscrew the throttle housing on the grip and adjust the cables for maximum slack. After you release one of the cables, the other will slip right off. For the clutch cable, screw the adjuster all the way in for maximum slack but line up the slot in the adjuster with the slot of the lever holder. You should be able to pull the end of the cable free of the adjuster and release the cable.

The cable luber forces the lubricant through the cable, making sure the entire length of the cable is protected. Do not use chain lube on cables.

For quick work on the cables, nothing beats a pressure cable luber from accessory companies like Motion Pro. Basically, you clamp a rubber stopper over one end of the cable, insert a tube from a can of silicone-based cable lubricant into a little hole, and give the nozzle a squeeze. The can’s pressure forces the lubricant through the cable. Apply the lubricant in short bursts until the bottom end of the cable begins to bubble or drip. A well placed rag will catch the drips before they make a mess of the engine.

Apply a protective coat of grease to all exposed sections of cables. Don’t forget to lube the fittings so they will move freely within their mounts.

Before you reassemble each cable, be sure to apply a dab of grease to all the places the cable might rub. The fittings at the cable ends need grease, and any exposed sections of the cable should receive a protective coating, too. A small paint brush will help you grease parts in tight places.

Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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Join the conversation
  • Jon Jones Jon Jones on Jun 05, 2017

    Motion Pro's new V3 cable luber(08-0609) is awesome. It works on well on large/odd cable ends, something the pictured cable luber doesn't do.

    That said, I've lubed many a cable with the depicted cable luber. Play it safe: Get both.

  • Gruf Rude Gruf Rude on Jun 05, 2017

    Just a note of caution: some cables should not be lubed. I know some BMW cables had a liner which did not require lubrication and which reacted to some lubes by swelling up, turning to goo and seizing the cable.