Brake housing consists of an inner liner, spirally wound stainless steel wire, and an outer plastic sheath. This design makes for good, consistent braking performance. Shift housing, similar to brake housing, uses steel surrounding an inner liner, and then coated in plastic to impede moisture infiltration.
|Brake on the left. Shift on the right.|
You don't want to use shift housing for brake housing as it simply isn't designed to take the amount of force that a brake levers requires. Your housing will split and you'll have a bad time. You can use brake housing with friction shifting, but why would you when there is a better option?
shift and brake housing. Mind you, the shift housing is only compatible with friction shifting for the aforementioned reasons. On vintage, steel racing bikes this housing looks so good.
A few tips if you're installing cables and housing for the first time:
- Your housing should have gradual, natural bends. If it's too long, you'll introduce more friction than necessary. And if it's too short, you'll have poor performance and potentially limit the range of handlebar movement.
- Use a file on the housing end to get rid of burrs prior to using ferrules to ensure proper, flush interface.
- Modern cables don't stretch like older cables did. Today, they come pre-stretched from the factory. Any slop you experience soon after installation is most likely the ferrules settling onto the end of the housing by getting pressed against your cable stops. Release the cable from the pinch bolt, pull a bit more cable, and re-adjust.
- When you cut housing, the inner liner might close up. Use a dental pick, wooden tooth pick, or your trusty "Pokey-Spoke®" (a spoke that has been sharpened to a point) to open it back up.