Tech Tips

How to Lube the Cables on Your Bike

Written by  August 31, 2005

Through the year we have talked about many different maintenance items. Some of these have been hard, and some are preventative and can be performed quite easily.

Cables have a nasty habit of getting sticky, and when this happens they perform very poorly. So what’s a person to do! You lube them! Most cables do tend to rust because they are exposed to the environment and are usually covered and will hold water. When this happens, movement will be decreased, and the throttle, clutch or choke will not properly come back under tension.
Control cables are made of these two styles:
Multi-stranded wire surrounded by a spring steel-cover-style cable that has been around for years.
Teflon lined plastic that is generally maintenance free.

When it comes to lubrication of cables I prefer the forced injection method; this works well for me. However, if time is on your side, you can take a plastic bag with a rubber band tied just below the exposed cable end and fill with WD40 and a mixture of graphite. After this has set for a while, you will notice that oil is present through the entire length of the cable. You also need to inspect the nipple at the end of the cable wire and adjacent cable area for any signs of damage and give the nipple a dab of grease to prevent it from binding before you reinstall it. I do not recommend engine oil because this will tend to attract dirt, and cable movement will be reduced quicker than a graphite mixture.
Forced lubrication is the preferred method of most techs and is much faster. Simply place the cable luber over the exposed end and tighten the locking screw. Add the plastic pipe on most aerosol cans like WD40 and place pipe in the grommet of luber. The only thing left is to spray the lubricant and wait for this to come out the other end. If you see fluid on the other end, you’re finished!
I personally lube all of the cables on any bike that I work on. It simply is a great way to have smooth operating cables and precise throttle and clutch movement.
This is very quick scheduled maintenance item that ALL bikes do require. The beginner may require a little more patience, but that’s okay! One other item when lubing the throttle cables is it may require the removal of the right hand control box to undo the ball ends from the throttle itself. You will be able to remove the cables and lube each one. Also add a little lubricant to the throttle that is on the handlebar--you have the box open and it’s right there. Once you have completed this step you can reassemble the cables and the control box. I guarantee that the cables and throttle will be very smooth and trouble free.
So, that is about the low down on cable maintenance. I am rating this a “1” on the tough-o-meter scale because the cable luber can be purchased at virtually any motorcycle shop and your choice of cable lube is well…your choice. This needs to be done a minimum of two times per year. If you follow the pictures and instructions on the label of the cable luber, you will be a pro after the first time.
Please look for the best cables on the market at: This will also help guide you for tools that you may need.

B-Safe out there!
By Dave Miller