PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Nokon Cables: Smooth Operators

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Nokon Cables: Smooth Operators
Not hard to notice the custom rigs from Crumpton, Seven, Serotta and others that roll round for test, but once you’ve found the perfect frame fork and wheels, you might not want to stick with the same old rope that Campy and Shimano toss in with their group sets… Nokon are not hard to miss as they grace lots of rigs in the pro peloton, and there’s a reason.

So let’s say you’re a Pro Tour team and the guys at group set companies just handed you a wad of green (or parts and green) so that they can tell the paying public how you’re riders “prefer” their stuff. Is it gonna be in your best interest to pull off some of the pieces of the puzzle and risk getting them ticked if it’s not for some benefit?

Click the little Nokon at the top for a big picture

You started seeing Nokon cables on pro bikes a while back. I remember one of the first Nokon equipped pro bikes I saw from Team ONCE, from way back when Manolo Saiz was more famous for spending sacks of money on bike parts… Forward to today, and little has changed about this sweet looking kit…

Most of you have seen Nokon’s in photo or up close, but I still get questions about the cables when rolling around on the custom Crumpton that we tested a few weeks back.

Nokon are a German company that produce and distribute these cables world wide. It might seem like Euro Kit, but the North American Distributors, Promologic USA, can have sets to your local retailer without much fuss. The lack of stock on the shelves boils down to these being a little specialized, and unless you work with a fairly high end shop, they probably just don’t stock em. That’s a shame, as anyone selling you a 4-5-8 thousand dollar bike should offer you a transmission upgrade…

Anyway, the cables themselves are not what some folks think. It’s not a solid unit, but a very slick Fiberglass reinforced Teflon tube that acts as your cable housing… That allows extremely low friction.

And this housing rests in individual alloy links.

Once these links are strung together and capped, you have your Nokon system, ready for your cable.

The Kit comes complete with everything you’ll need, except tools, which are limited to scissors and something to fasten a cable cap, as nothing solid needs cutting. One of the more common misconceptions with this system is that it’s hard to install because you cut metal, which is not the case…

Some would argue that Nokon’s are far harder to install, but would say it just takes a little longer, but is no more “difficult”. You may want to string a few more links on if you have a longer cable run, but other than that, getting the system together pretty much mirrors other cable installs. You determine your length, string your beads and you’re ready to roll. The bar sections have a solid housing to make that first bend and sit in your hoods…

There are a couple of little things…

First, I would run a smidge of extra inner housing past the last links (see below) to allow for a bit of extra weather protection, and it should fit through the cable guides on your frame with no trouble. (If not, don’t do it…)

Next I would take special care to use frame protection. The easiest way to use the clear tube protectors that come with the kit is to carefully cut down the side so that you can wrap the tube around the cables instead of trying to feed the cable through a waaay tight fit. The links are finished well, but you’re still rubbing metal on your frame, so wrap it up…

Note that you can make some tighter turns with Nikon cables as well, meaning you Shimano guys can tuck all of your cables under your bar tape after making a little loop, rather than having the bug antennae look. You can also run a little shorter rear Mech cable (again leaving a bit of extra housing to keep out the crud).

And of course, you can do what I did in most of these shots and buy two colored kits and string some accent color… They come in single color only and are black, silver, gold, red and blue.

So What?
Sure you can shave a few grams using these cables. Sure they look way way cooler (a better reason than weight if you’re me). Sure you get to brag about the further inflated retail value of your bike…

But for those that want a performance benefit, it’s here as well. NO, I don’t think shifting with the cables that come with your bike is what anyone calls “difficult” or “hard”. I also don’t find a 16 pound bike “heavy”, but I don’t mind cutting a pound or more out either, as is the case with the test Crumpton…

The shifting with standard cable sets is a bit clunkier than these, even when new. It’s just a lighter effort to shift using Nokon’s system… The performance over time is also very good, as stock systems get worse while these have seemed to wear on pretty well. I am a cheater by nature, so I also saw fit to use Jagwire’s Teflon cables inside the Nokon. That made for an even smoother shifting system requiring noticeably less effort to change single gears (sticky stockers have me going a little too far or not far enough). It’s simply a lighter touch required to move the levers…

The thing is that when you pull the cables, the housing doesn’t squeeze / compress, as the metal links hold a static distance… That’s why they call em “compression free”. all your effort goes to moving cable rather than housing.

As braking goes, I like these as well, especially on the newer light brakes from Zero Gravity…

Having a housing with very little inside friction and that does not compress and distort when you’re modulating the brakes gives you better feel than standard cables. That gives a bit more bite and feel to all brakes.

Taking care of these brakes is not a big deal, but needs doing, especially in wet climates. Nokon suggest oiling the outside, and it’s not a big deal to wet a rag with oil and wipe down the cables from the outside (wiggle em a bit to get the oil between the links). Then wipe again with a clean rag. A bit of lube around the openings (especially if you leave a bit of tube out the end of the links) should be all you need for the cables themselves.

You can get these by having your local shop call Promologic and ordering a set. You might also find them at Glory Cycles and ProBikeOutlet. The retail changes a bit from place to place, but the shift kit will run you 50 – 75 bucks and the Brakes some place near there. That’s not cheap, but when you consider the shifting performance difference between Dura Ace and Ultegra, or Record and Chorus is hardly noticeable, but the cost gap is huge, this might not seem like so much cash…

Have Fun.
Charles Manantan

Note: If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limits that may limit their use.

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