High end brake and derailleur cables: Nokon vs Alligator iLink
This winter my cross bike will need a fairly significant maintenance overhaul with new cables for brakes and shifting, new chain, bar tape, etc. I am considering trying the high end cables like Nokon and/or Alligator iLink. Has anyone installed these on your bike? If so, how was your experience with installation? Riding? Etc......
Depending on how you use the bike I might look into a sealed cable system like Gore Ride-On instead, which will help keep the gunk off the cables when you're in the mud and grit.
I've used Nokon cables/housing and generally stopped unless I'm forced to. I bought Nokon cables/housing for two bikes that I wanted to be extremely light. That is something that it does very, very well. Nokon housing is a little less than 1/2 the weight of conventional housing. The Nokon carbon housing is about 1/3 the weight. When counting grams, that is a pretty big deal.
Unfortunately Nokon housing is a pain to install and though the cables last a long time, you need to replace the housing lining fairly regularly often or they do not run smoothly. Replacing the lining is even more of a pain than the initial installation.
The only time I find Nokon cables work well is if you have a bike with cable routing that require that the housing make a very tight bend. Nokon housing can make sharp turns that no other housing can come close to.
1) Yokozuna makes compressionless housing and smooth cable sets that are truly amazing! It costs less than half the cost of Nokon. It lasts 3x as long.
There is a down-side to them. You need to be VERY precise in your installation and getting the housing lengths just right. The housing is extremely stiff, so having the cable housing lengths off can make it so that your front wheel wants to rest a little to the left or right. When the bike is in the stand, you can feel the housing stiffness when you turn the bars. On the bike I've never noticed it when attempting to turn or ride no-hands. If your wheel is canted to one side, however, riding with no hands gets a lot more "interesting"... and not in a good way.
2) Jagwire bulk housing and cables. For less than what you'd pay for Nokon cables and housing for your bike, you can get a box of bulk brake and derailleur housing made by Jagwire. This stuff won't feel better than the Yokozuna, but when it is new, it feels and shifts GREAT! Since you have a huge box of new housing, when the old stuff starts feeling bad, replace it with new. I do this for most of my bikes. This avoids the trap that many people fall into.... "I paid $130 for these damn cables/housing. I'm not going to replace them after only 8 months." If it costs you under $10 to change cables AND housing, you're a lot more likely to do so often.
The only problem is that the bulk housing is hard to get in pink.
I hope that helps.
Dirt and DaveK,
Thanks for the info. Good stuff there.
So upon thinking a little more, I am planning to try the Jagwire Racer kit and install it myself (my first time recabling a bike). I figure its best to start doing my own maintenance and starting with cheaper cable is a good idea. If I like the Jagwire, then I will buy in bulk. Probably going to wait and see what Santa brings me. In the meantime, if a great deal on higher end cable comes around maybe I will jump. I do like Dirt's theory: use the cheap stuff and change it more often rather than hold on for dear life with worn cables just because they were so expensive to start with. However, I do like the look of those Alligator iLink cables.
I change cables about every 5000 miles and change housing every 10,000 miles on road bikes. Mountain bikes get it more often. If the cables are binding, then I change the housing when I change the cables.
When shifting feels like you are pulling an anchor through a slurry of sand and oil, it is probably time to change the cables.
What an awesome example of putting something quite technical into terms Liberal Arts majors can understand.
Originally Posted by pfunkallstar
Thanks again to forum participants who are so gracious in sharing their technical expertise.