Brucey wrote: Also Silicone greases don't, as a rule contain any chemical anti-corrosion additives; they confer corrosion protection (such as it is) simply by being a barrier
Sure, but silicone grease are generally considered very hydrophobic and very good at maintaining such barriers, hence its use as a water repellent barrier in various seals like underwater torch lights, plumbing etc. Together with stainless cables the Shimano silicone grease seems very good at keeping rust and corrosion at bay.
Silicone grease also seems to be very ice phobic and doesn't become sluggish when cold. While being purely anecdotal, I haven't had stuck or sluggish braking or shifting action after freeze-thaw-freeze cycles like I occasionally had before using silicone grease. I guess the silicone grease acts like a release mold against the ice.
Brucey wrote:So AIUI shimano use Si grease with 'sealed ferrules' (which are always slightly more draggy than unsealed types) but with other ferrule types it is less clear that using Si grease is a good idea.
Both Shimano SIS-SP41 and the newer OT-SP41 and OT-RS900 cable housing comes with pre-applied silicone grease. The hard to get SIS-SP40 cable housing doesn't, but that seems to be caused by price and product differentiation, not anything technical.
Jagwire does the same; the only difference between Jagwire "LEX" and "LEX-SL" cable housing is the pre-applied silicone grease. One vendor has a 30% mark up difference between these two products for 50 meter factory rolls. Sure, silicone grease doesn't work so well with metal wire sliding directly against metal, but neither does oil or regular grease in that scenario.
I can't see any technical reason why silicone grease wouldn't be beneficial to all common cable housings, after all, major cable housing vendors like Shimano and Jagwire use silicone grease (I also strongly suspect that Campagnolo and Sram does too). As I understand it, the automotive industry also strongly favour silicone grease for wire lubrication.
The list of benefits of silicone grease is long: it repels water, ice, road salt, dirt, it lubricates and works over a wide temperature range without stiffening up, doesn't form an abrasive mix like oil and dirt does, doesn't oxidise or dry out or decompose (at realistic temperatures), is non-toxic, doesn't attack cable housing or seals and make them swell up*, doesn't easily wash away, it protects against rust and corrosion etc., and that is without any special additives like PFTE.
*In theory a vendor may make ferrule seals that aren't silicone grease safe, but it would be pretty insane to do considering the dominance of silicone grease, and I have never seen or heard of such products on the actual market.
The only real downsides to silicone grease as cable lubricant seems to be cost, and that it is hard to get silicone grease with good data sheets that aren't in industrial sized barrels.