Giant TCX SLR frame: Cable routing overview

Home mechanics may balk at two features more frequently appearing in bikes: a press-fit bottom bracket shell, and internal cable routing.

Regarding the former, I had a little trepidation with the risks of a press-fit bottom bracket system on my 2014 Giant TCX SLR 2. Naysayers complain about the potential for creaks and bearing cups walking themselves out of the frame. It turns out I need not have worried. In my two years with the bike, I haven’t had any real problems with BB86 – apart from the prohibitive prices of relevant tools.

DIY cable replacement on the TCX, on the other hand…

REQUIRED TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

First, let’s go over everything you’ll need for this job. Let’s start with the cables.

2100 mm worth of Shimano’s shift inner cable.

Anything from Shimano, SRAM or Jagwire should suffice, as far as shift inner cables are concerned. More expensive cables sport a coating for reduced friction within the cable housing, or outer cable.

When it comes to shift cable housing, many mechanics swear by Shimano’s SP-41. It’s cheap, and it just works beautifully. Jagwire makes its own LEX shift outer cables as well; since it’s what my bike came with, I can say it’s pretty good too.

It’s a similar story with brake inner cables: anything should suffice. What I would recommend, though, is to shoot for compressionless brake cable housing. TRP themselves recommend it for maximum performance out of their Spyre disc brake calipers.

Jagwire Road Pro DIY cable kit and Park Tool CN-10 cable cutters. Good cable kit, but you will need the extra length of the “XL” version for a cyclocross bike.

As far as cables go, I would suggest avoiding pre-cut cable kits on the TCX, unless they’re specifically meant for bikes that require full-length housing. It’s better to have more inner cable and housing on hand than what you need, instead of too little.

While we’re talking about supplies, don’t forget about cable end caps and ferrules. The latter prevent the inner cables from mushrooming inside their housings; the former prevent the sharp, exposed ends of inner cables from stabbing you. You may also want to take the opportunity to replace your handlebar tape, since removal is required to access the cables.

Finally, you’ll need some cable cutters – and it’s highly recommended that you get yourself purpose-made items. These will stay sharp and actually cut through inner cables and housing, instead of crushing them. I got myself Park Tool’s CN-10 cable cutters.

You may also want to employ some other tools, like long-nose pliers, a flashlight for peeking through the routing holes, and side cutters. If you’re running conventional spiral-wound brake cable housing, side cutters will do a slightly better job of cutting that to size.

CABLE ROUTING THROUGH A TCX SLR FRAME

Cable routing at the fork and downtube of the TCX. Note the in-line cable adjusters.

Around the handlebar area, cable routing on the TCX is identical to any contemporary road bike.

The front brake is simplest: all the cable is run externally. The bottom edge of the fork crown has a little retaining clip that holds the cable housing close to the fork. If you run fenders, you will have to remove them first to loosen the little bolt that holds this clip.

The three remaining cables have their own in-line barrel adjusters before eventually feeding into the downtube.

You’ll notice that there are a couple of holes. The one on the non-drive side contains a lone cable, and that’s for the rear brake. Both derailleur cables feed into the central hole.

The shift and rear brake cables exit the downtube around the bottom bracket shell through holes with rubber grommets. The two cables coming out of the left hole are for derailleurs. The lone cable on the right hole is for the rear brake.

The underside of the TCX’s bottom bracket shell. Top cable with the ferrule going into the chainstay grommet is for the rear derailleur. Middle cable is for the front derailleur. Bottom cable is for the rear brake – note the absence of ferrules. Removing the grommets exposes the full cable routing holes.

The rear brake cable housing is a full-length run, reappearing around the bottom bracket area, then going under again until eventually it pops out of the inboard side of the non-driveside chainstay. From here it’s a short distance away from the disc brake caliper, where it ends at the barrel adjuster.

Both derailleur cables pop out at the bottom bracket shell. The middle run is for the front derailleur, where the housing meets a cable stop behind the seat tube.

The remaining run of shift cable housing dips into a hole underneath the drive-side chainstay where it terminates in a ferrule. Once the inner cable gets out of the housing, it goes into a special liner that Giant runs through the length of the drive-side chainstay.

Close to the bottom bracket shell, there is an internal U-shaped hook that keeps this liner in place…or at least is supposed to. The other end is a round “cable stop” port that is seated at the dropout, preventing the liner from getting lost inside the chainstay. Pull this port, and you can pull out the entire internal liner.

The round hole is the anchor port of Giant’s internal liner that routes the shift inner cable through the chainstay. Pull this anchor port, and you can pull out the whole internal liner.

From there, it’s standard road bike shift cable routing. Ferrules at both ends, a second piece of cable housing connects the cable routing hole at the drive-side dropout and the rear derailleur’s barrel adjuster.

In the next post I’ll talk about the process of replacing a rear shift cable, since it’s one of the most involved maintenance processes on this generation of TCX.

Advertisements

Field repair: Fixing a broken rear shift cable

My riding style revolves around anticipation and smart use of gears, regularly using the shifters as I go. So you can imagine how irritating it can be to have shift cables fray or break on me mid-ride.

With no cable tension working on your front or rear derailleur, the spring tension will naturally pull them toward the smallest chainring or cassette cog, respectively. While it’s not such a big problem losing the use of your front shifter this way, as you can get home comfortably on your small chainring, it’s far more challenging to break a rear shift cable, as you’re effectively stuck in top gear. If your ride route involves any sort of climbs or your bike is loaded with panniers, that can be very hard to deal with.

Fortunately it need not be a catastrophe. Depending on the situation, you can usually bodge a fix to get you home. Here’s Dan Lloyd of GCN demonstrating how to do it with the remnants of your broken gear cable…and a multi-tool that you should always carry with you.

Not too long ago I’ve had the misfortune of my rear gear cable dying on me and snapping inside the body of my Shimano 105 STI levers. While unfortunate, it was a good time to test out the effectivity of this emergency fix, as the prospect of pedaling to my destination in either a 34×12 or 50×12 gear wasn’t very appealing to me.

Here’s the result:

I managed to stick the rear derailleur into the 21T cog quite cleanly, without the ticking noise of a chain wanting to move up or down the cassette. With this field repair, effectively I was riding a single-speed. I could ride in the big 50T chainring most of the time, only needing the 34T when going really slowly. It’s amazing how usable a 50×21 gear is; I’d even say perhaps I should have tried the next smaller 50×19 gear instead.

Why I passed on BGC Cycle Philippines 2016

The original mass-participation cycling event will be celebrating its fourth running on November 20, 2016…and I won’t be there. Why? I’ve got a few reasons.

VALUE?

I always signed up as an early bird entry into these events and took the group rate (of four participants) to take advantage of the lower price of entry. The registration fee and ride pack used to represent good value. You got F2P’s excellent event jerseys, your race number and timing chip, and a bunch of extras. 2013 by far was the best year, offering a decent canvas sling bag (I used it long enough that it wore out on me), some off-brand shades, and a high-visibility yellow leg band from the Firefly Brigade that I still use today.

The ride pack from the very first running of BGC Cycle Philippines in 2013. I joined the Community Ride, so I got a shirt instead of a jersey.

The 2013 ride pack came in this canvas sling body bag – excellent for bike commuting. I used it so frequently that I wore a hole through it.

Very very useful

These shades came with the 2013 ride pack and with two lens options too. Sadly they got lost.

These days, however, even adopting this strategy, I can’t deny that participation is getting expensive. Had I signed up with three others this year during the early bird period, the PhP6,300 fee would have worked out to PhP1,575 per head. This is an okay price for me…but it no longer corresponds to the value that previous runnings of this event had. The 2015 edition offered a ride pack with changing bags for triathletes and packets of MSG-laden crisps – really?

The 2014 ride pack came in this knapsack. Decently useful, I guess, but the narrow strings make it painful to ride with for long periods.

2014 also saw this Rudy Project branded pouch bag. Erm, okay. Not as useful as the knapsack as it’s too darn small.

2015’s ride kit. Disappointing.

THE ROUTE IS RIPE FOR AN OVERHAUL

Sunrise Events is reusing the exact same route as last year.

I find it mildly amusing that an event called “BGC Cycle Philippines” sports a 40 km route that barely even uses its host, Bonifacio Global City, at all. Seriously – the meat and potatoes of the route is Gil Puyat Avenue and a bit of Roxas Boulevard.

The original 2013 edition was the only difference in this regard because it used C5. I have my pet theory about this route decision – largely revolving around the territorial dispute as to whether Taguig City or Makati City owns BGC.

Even if the organizers are justified by local government jurisdiction that Makati owns BGC, there has to be a much better place for running an event like this than Gil Puyat Avenue, which runs across three major thoroughfares of Metro Manila: Roxas Boulevard, Osmeña Highway, and EDSA via the Kalayaan Flyover. Gil Puyat Avenue itself is a busy drain pan collecting vehicular traffic – one with a patchy road surface the closer it gets to Pasay City.

Okay, EDSA traffic isn’t impacted, but I can remember lots of irate motorists plying Gil Puyat and Osmeña Highway inconvenienced by the BGC Cycle Philippines route in the past two editions.

Alaska Cycle Philippines route for 2015. You had to focus on counting how many loops you did of the course, but otherwise this was really good.

Its sister event, Alaska Cycle Philippines, has consistently used a much more compact course layout contained within Roxas Boulevard and the SM Mall of Asia area – one with much less disruptive impact. Maybe Sunrise ought to look at adopting the same. I would not mind running the entire 40 km Challenge route within Bonifacio Global City and Kalayaan Flyover as a criterium of sorts – they’ve already shown that it can work.

THE FALSE PROMISE OF “CLOSED ROADS”

It is very, very hard for event marshals and local government police to patrol the length of Gil Puyat Avenue and ensure road closure for participants. Perhaps some of it is their fault, but to be fair to them, Gil Puyat is simply a nightmare for traffic control.

Approaching the Gil Puyat – Taft Avenue intersection. Screen still taken from Timothy Lacbay’s onboard footage of BGC Cycle Philippines 2015.

There are U-turns, lots of intersecting streets, and a railway crossing, as well as the infamously poor self-control of Pinoy pedestrians and drivers. Back in 2014 I distinctly remember having to come to a stop at the railway crossing because a train had to make its way through. And while it’s easy to point fingers at pedestrians, Gil Puyat Avenue simply does not have the infrastructure to avoid disruption between pedestrian and vehicular traffic – a fancy way of saying it doesn’t have enough elevated walkways.

Nice promise, but execution has been disappointing. I would suggest getting rid of Gil Puyat Avenue altogether because any promise of “riding on closed roads” when it is factored in is hot air at best.

And just when the event finally got rid of white on its jerseys…

CONCLUSION

Sunrise Events has to be applauded for their commitment to hosting these events year on year. That said, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. Gorgeous F2P event jersey aside, BGC Cycle Philippines has gotten somewhat stale. I am sincerely hoping that Sunrise takes these criticisms into account when it plans its next edition of BGC Cycle Philippines.