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Technical FAQ: Installing shifter cables

How can I route the Ergopower shift cable without kinking it?

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Dear Lennard,
In your June 2nd column , you mentioned to a reader that he might use new Campagnolo Centaur shifters with his existing Campy 10-speed group to have the new ergonomics without replacing most of his drivetrain.

That inspired me, and I ordered a set and installed them today. I had a very hard time installing the shift cables without bending them. I finally got them installed, but the right shift cable was bent, and I will have to replace it as soon as I can buy another one.

How on earth do you get the cable up from the bottom and bend it to go into the beige cable guide without damaging it? I tried to bend just the end, but couldn’t get it to work.

Dear Mike,
This is the instruction on how to get the cable through an Ultra-Shift lever that I just included in the soon-to-be-released 3rd edition of Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance :

On post-2008 Ultra-Shift Ergopower levers, the cable will pop up out of its passageway and continue in one of two grooves in a light-colored, low-friction material before passing through another hole back into the black lever body before exiting it.

One groove routes the cable in front of the handlebar and the other routes it behind the bar, so choose the one you wish (I recommend routing the cable in front of the handlebar). The cable will not want to follow either groove and pass through that hole without some coaxing. First, push the cable out so it extends above the two grooves and put a little bend in the end of the cable. Pull it back in a bit until that bend is just visible. Now push the cable forward again, and push down on the end of the cable with a 2mm hex key or other thin implement to get the cable to pass through the little hole at the end of whichever groove you chose and exit the lever.

This method has worked great for me and for the other mechanic in my shop who does the assemblies on Zinn bikes.

Dear Lennard,
I recently bought my wife a Guru Chron-alu. It is outfitted with an FSA standard crankset that, I believe, has an ISIS bottom bracket. I have a Ritchey WCS Compact Cranset that does not have a bottom bracket with it but is an Octalink compatible set.

Will the Ritchey crank work with the bottom bracket on the bike now or am I going to have to by a new bottom bracket or find an Isis compact crank somewhere.

I am very new to trying to work on my bikes as I have always just had my local bike shop do it.

Dear Jeff,
Yes, if you want a compact crank, you’ll have to buy a new bottom bracket or a new crankset. ISIS and Octalink are not compatible.