Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Curious Case of Nokon Cables

A rainbow of frustration?
"Misunderstood" is not a common term in the cycling wrench's vocabulary. For the most part, we get it... and of the things we don't get, we have the LBS (and the internet!) to help us out. Being a bit of a hobbyist in addition to avid rider, I sometimes get a stern look or two when I voice what I plan to do to my bike (Aero Brakes!? Adjustable Stems? A Zipp 2001 frame???!) but nothing has ever brought straight fear to eyes of people like the mention of Nokon Cables did. Some stuff you'll probably run into if you search up info on them on the web.

"They are impossible to install!"
"They Squeak!"
"They are expensive!"

...and on and on and on...

So first, let's get the hypothetical stuff out of the way. WHY do you want/need Nokon cables? Well, looks always come into play when we're talking about items like this, but personally... I actually NEED them on my TT bikes. Regular cables end up with massive bends at bad angles  due to the extremely low front end position I ride. That is what ended up pushing me to try these guys out. They'd also be extremely functional for a winter bike, since everything is pretty well protected by the liner. (they are a lot more popular on Mtn bikes it seems) Anyways... let's assume you want some and, being the savvy internet guy (or gal) that you are, you order some. (They are expensive... or at least expensive to me. They are VERY expensive if you have to pay your LBS to order them for you! :O But you didn't hear me say that.)

Here's an easy guide to what you've set yourself up for.

Straight out of the UPS box!

Everything unpacked. Left to right - Liner (extra) Liner+Links, Cables, Noodles and spare parts

So, that's what you've got. That's enough stuff to cable either the shifters or the brakes (but not both) so to do a bike you need to sets. That's going to run somewhere in the realm of $110 - $150 (depending on what color you want and how much scouring you do on the net) new. (Not sure about the used market on these)

Lets quickly go over the stuff.
- Liner - I just use what comes with the set, but a lot of people like to run the Jagwire liner instead... I dunno, never caused me any trouble but whatever does it for you.

- Links - This is the bling. It comes out of the pack already on some liner (probably long enough)  so you don't have to go through too much tedious work getting them on the liner.

- Cables - each pack comes with a set of brake cables and a set of derailleur cables.

- Noodles - These guys go at the end of your liner and under your bar tape (into the shifter/brake) super flexy so you can get some really nice bends out of them.

- Spares - Well, spares and connector pieces. You'll probably need a couple more links out of the bag to finish off all the cabling. DO NOT SPILL IT! I made that mistake and spent another hour searching for tiny blue links on the floor.

Alright, now then. Here's where we're starting.
Felt S32 with 3T Mistrals... retrofit. Yes I know, I have too many bikes
My S32 was my first "Real" bike, and I still love to ride it. That said, it has been disassembled for the last year or so, and it's time to get it back up and running and ready to race.

Sadly my 3T Brake levers are on back order... so I'll only be showing the cable install on the shifters... but it's basically the same. (The main difference being that I would be running the cables through the base bar)

Ready to start the install
The first thing to do is get the cable ready to install. Just slide the noodle onto the end of the liner (You can also cut the liner a little shorter... I never have though... just flush has always worked perfectly for me.) and then slide the links to meet up with it...  you should end up with something like this

How everything should look before you start the install.
Note that the liner runs all the way through to the end of the noodle.

Something I need to stress (for the first time) at this point is that the links MUST BE TIGHT.  99% of the troubles people have is being lazy about this and not getting them tightly linking. Now it's basically a matter of installing it.

I tape my noodles twice, but use as much or little as you see fit.
Now just like installing regular housing you have ever done. The only big difference is that you can make some pretty tight bends with this stuff. Back when Dura Ace 7800 was top of the line, I remember at least one pro team running there's back in under the bar tape (pretty extreme) like so

Great example of how crazy you can get the bends.

Once you've got the length determined you need to finish off the end pieces. Now's the time to dig in the bag of extra's and find the two little ends. One is the small black "bead." It sits right after your last link, followed by one of the longer black "end" links. It'll look like the below.

How the end that plugs into the frame/stops should look.
One small round bead, then the black end bead.
Now you've got to make some choices.
1.) Are you going to run the liner all the way? If this is going to be out in the rough weather, it might be a good idea just to run the liner the whole length. (also you'd want to run the liner if you've got internal routing - considering your bike doesn't have it's own internal lining)

2.) If not, are you going to cut the liner off flush with the link, or a little shorter. Like I said, I always cut mine off flush (mainly because it's infinitely easier and I'm lazy) but I've read that it's "ideal" to cut it just a bit short.

Now it's just a matter of taking your time and getting everything set up right the rest of the way. I still have no idea why installing these causes headaches... so long as you don't rush it I've never had any hassle at all.

Use your own discretion here. You can go pretty short if you want to, but I like a little flair.

So there you go, your expensive flashy bling bling cables are ready to roll. Now, get out there and ride the thing!

Thanks greatly for reading!
* Don't kill anyone who doesn't agree with your opinion of Lance... he has finally entered my group with religion and politics on topics I don't talk about :)

-Christopher Morelock

1 comment:

  1. A) I'm a newbie cyclist so I'm still getting used to the fact that bicycles have something called a "noodle" as a part. It makes me giggle and I like it. lol B) Nice Felt. I love that color. I'm thinking of getting a Z95 and love that blue that the Z100 comes in. C) Agreed about Lance.