Upgrade your bike’s drivetrain with new cables and housing for improved shift performance and efficiency. While drivetrain technology and advancements often focus around the shifters and derailleurs, replacing your bike’s cables is an easy and affordable way to improve shifting performance. Shimano offers a range of shift cables including its top of the line Polymer Coated Cables and long-lasting OPTISLICK Cables that deliver crisp and reliable shifting.
How Important Are Cables To Mechanical Shifting?
Mechanical drivetrain components are connected by a cable that runs from the shifters back to the derailleurs. When you shift your bike to a new gear, the shift lever pulls or releases the cable by a specific amount, which moves the front or rear derailleur to actuate the shift.
Shift cables run through cable housing, which is a semi-flexible tube that guides and protects the inner cable. For smooth shift quality, friction must be minimized between the housing and the inner shift cable. Shimano's OPTISLICK and Polymer Coated Cable technologies optimize this interface to reduce friction, for unparalleled shifting consistency and performance.
What's the Difference Between OPTISLICK and Polymer Coated Cables?
Shimano OPTISLICK shift cables offer outstanding shift performance and impressive cable longevity for a wide range of components. From Shimano 105 groups down to entry-level ALTUS and CLARIS components, OPTISLICK technology provides smooth and reliable shifting for riders of all levels. While low-end cables are made of steel, Shimano’s OPTISLICK cables are produced from corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Then, the cables are electrically coated to reduce friction and extend the lifespan considerably. OPTISLICK cables are Shimano’s longest-lasting option, designed to ensure the best possible value and user experience.
Polymer Coated Cables
Shimano delivers the fastest shifting possible with its premium Polymer Coated Cables. Paired with Shimano's race-level XTR, DURA-ACE, and ULTEGRA component groups, these low friction cables deliver top of the line shifting performance.
The Polymer Coated Cables feature inner stainless steel wires that are wrapped with ultra-slick polymer tubes. This polymer coating creates a series of tiny ridges, which reduces the surface area that is in contact with the outer cable housing – resulting in the fastest, lowest-friction shifting possible.
The polymer strands on these cables wear out slightly faster than the cables themselves and can increase friction as they age. That's why Shimano includes the premium Polymer Coated Cables with its race-oriented groups, where riders typically replace their cables more frequently.
Upgrade Your Bike
While cables and housing are included in new shifter purchases, they are also sold in aftermarket kits. So, when it comes time to replace your cables, you can tune the performance specifically for your needs. If you originally bought DURA-ACE components but would prefer the longest cable life (at the expense of a small friction increase), you can switch to OPTISLICK. If your bike came with Shimano 105 components, but you want the lowest possible friction for race season, upgrade to Polymer Coated Cables. In either case, you'll experience crisper, more reliable shifting in all riding conditions.