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Nokon/Elite/Bamboo Cable Housing on Folders?

Old 09-24-19, 10:19 PM
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2_i 
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Nokon/Elite/Bamboo Cable Housing on Folders?

Has anybody had significant experiences with Nokon, Jagwire Elite Link or equivalent segmented cable housing on folders? Sure such housing can save weight, but I estimate that the total saving on a folder would be around 100g only. However, I am worried about damage to the linings, on which the links are beaded, due to loosened links during transport of a folded bike and about impaired shifting. When you customize gears on a folder, there can be way more sensitivity to any snags along the shift cable than in case of a regular gearing on a regular bike. In the reviews of such housing you encounter both claims of improved and deteriorated shifting. Unfortunately the latter sound more specific. Thanks.
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Old 09-24-19, 11:58 PM
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I don't see the benefit in segmented housing for folders. There are enough low-friction cables and housings out today that they really aren't necessary unless you want or need that look.

The other question is segment wear just from the folding process. Since the segments were not necessarily designed to function well in a moving environment (folding/unfolding), they might not take well to cable grooving.

Of course, having said this, there will numerous testimonials from folder owners who are happily running segmented housing with nary a problem.
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Old 09-25-19, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Has anybody had significant experiences with Nokon, Jagwire Elite Link or equivalent segmented cable housing on folders? Sure such housing can save weight, but I estimate that the total saving on a folder would be around 100g only. However, I am worried about damage to the linings, on which the links are beaded, due to loosened links during transport of a folded bike and about impaired shifting. When you customize gears on a folder, there can be way more sensitivity to any snags along the shift cable than in case of a regular gearing on a regular bike. In the reviews of such housing you encounter both claims of improved and deteriorated shifting. Unfortunately the latter sound more specific. Thanks.

I have used basically every linked cable housings out there (Nokon, elite link, i-link, aican etc) and end up using cheap elite link clones. They are super cheap ($30 for two packs of 1.8m housing), looks good (much better than i-link personally) and lighter than nokon. Linked cable housings can make tighter loop than typical steel outer housings, and generally have less friction (with some lubrication) and better shifting performance (due to compressionless nature of them) in my experience. Oh and you can keep using old housings, which is great if you maintain multiple bikes and keep swapping parts like me. And weight saving is a bonus. Brompton uses ~3.3m of housing, and you can save ~90gr with cheap elite link clone, a bit more with lighter options (i-link or aican cables)

In short, just invest $30-40 and try yourself. Personally I only use linked housings and never look back.

Last edited by Raxel; 09-25-19 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 09-25-19, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Raxel View Post
In short, just invest $30-40 and try yourself. Personally I only use linked housings and never look back.
Thanks, I actually got myself a set, but looking at it I have serious reservations about putting it on. In transport the cables will undoubtedly get caught here and there. The links will separate exposing the lining between the links. Then the lining will get pinched, cut or whatever and I will end up limping while away from my base without parts or tools. Am I seeing it too dark?
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Old 09-26-19, 11:25 AM
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I bought my Downtube 8FH off a seller who was selling it because he couldn't get the S-A 8-speed rear IGH to shift properly. Said he took it to three different bike shops. The problem is that folders have tight bends for, well, folding! The solution was a Jagwire Elite link kit. Simple physics means individual links allow bending whilst keeping the interior round - and hence less chance of friction. Now it shifts crisply. In fact, I've taken pictures, but have been too lazy to post them. (Hint: do NOT try to change the cable on a Sturmey-Archer trigger shifter. You need three hands to do it...)

The lines are not going to get pinched, because of the housing's tension - the links are made to bend and still have contact - that's the whole idea!

However, I agree with Raxel. On my (recently acquired) Xootr I'll be ordering clones from China, but still use Jagwire inner liner and cables.

I found it helpful to pre-calculate how many links you need before starting. Draw it out first. Also, check ahead of time that you have enough links, as folding bikes often have much longer housings than other bikes. I had to order extra links.
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Old 09-28-19, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Numerozero View Post
However, I agree with Raxel. On my (recently acquired) Xootr I'll be ordering clones from China, but still use Jagwire inner liner and cables.
Thanks for the tip. In reviews it has been more common to encountered opinions of improved shifting with Jagwire and deteriorated with no-name. With this I was thinking myself about using Jagwire linings with no-name links. However, is there a standard for lining diameters and corresponding link diameters? I bought 2 sets of minor brand housings, from 2 different vendors. In one the outer diameter of the lining seems to be 2.2mm and in the other 2.8mm. I am at a loss where to go from here (if at all). Since I am away from my base for most of the next 6 weeks I cannot even investigate it any further - the measurement was on the way out of the door.
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Old 09-28-19, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Thanks for the tip. In reviews it has been more common to encountered opinions of improved shifting with Jagwire and deteriorated with no-name. With this I was thinking myself about using Jagwire linings with no-name links. However, is there a standard for lining diameters and corresponding link diameters? I bought 2 sets of minor brand housings, from 2 different vendors. In one the outer diameter of the lining seems to be 2.2mm and in the other 2.8mm. I am at a loss where to go from here (if at all). Since I am away from my base for most of the next 6 weeks I cannot even investigate it any further - the measurement was on the way out of the door.
Most inner housings (sheaths) are interchangeable - but I have found the elite link clones are using slightly thinner housings. If you lubricate them properly and don't make a too tight loop they should be fine.
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Old 09-29-19, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Raxel View Post
If you lubricate them properly and don't make a too tight loop they should be fine.
What sort of lubricants are you using? Anything plastic dedicated or run of the mill? Is lubrication more important for this type of housing than for traditional. I gave up on lubricating cables long time ago, with the premise that lubricants help in the short run but hinder in the long by inducing grime accumulation inside the housing. However, obviously, when tackling different challenges at once, you often shift the compromise compared to before. Also average lubricants can age plastic quickly.
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Old 10-06-19, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
What sort of lubricants are you using? Anything plastic dedicated or run of the mill? Is lubrication more important for this type of housing than for traditional. I gave up on lubricating cables long time ago, with the premise that lubricants help in the short run but hinder in the long by inducing grime accumulation inside the housing. However, obviously, when tackling different challenges at once, you often shift the compromise compared to before. Also average lubricants can age plastic quickly.
I apply a bit of teflon spray inside the housing. They work without lubrication (Old nokon sheath was made of Teflon, not sure of recent ones) but works even better with lubrication. Had no issue with plastic aging.
And as those cables are completely sealed inside I don't think grime can accumulate.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Thanks for the tip. In reviews it has been more common to encountered opinions of improved shifting with Jagwire and deteriorated with no-name. With this I was thinking myself about using Jagwire linings with no-name links. However, is there a standard for lining diameters and corresponding link diameters? I bought 2 sets of minor brand housings, from 2 different vendors. In one the outer diameter of the lining seems to be 2.2mm and in the other 2.8mm. I am at a loss where to go from here (if at all). Since I am away from my base for most of the next 6 weeks I cannot even investigate it any further - the measurement was on the way out of the door.
I measure 2.62 mm for genuine Jagwire lube liner (purchased from Bike 24 in Germany). However, since the liner flexes, take that as only an approximation.
Diameter of genuine Jagwire slick-lube liner for their Elite Link kits.
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Old 10-20-19, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Numerozero View Post
Diameter of genuine Jagwire slick-lube liner for their Elite Link kits.
Thanks, I think I ordered the same from Amazon. Is it OK to combine segments of the liner when tweaking the cable length and cutting the liner too short at some point, or does one need to start from scratch?
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Old 10-20-19, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Thanks, I think I ordered the same from Amazon. Is it OK to combine segments of the liner when tweaking the cable length and cutting the liner too short at some point, or does one need to start from scratch?
Having a full length inner liner should be better (no chance of contamination), and they usually provide 2x length of outer housing, but it does not matter too much from my experience.
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Old 10-26-19, 07:07 PM
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I don't fold my bikes too often so have been OK with Alligator ilinks on the Brompton and Birdy.
Aican Bangarus isn't very good even on my road bike since the segment liners overlap links. I have split some liners snagging the housing when the rear derailleur had low tension.
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Old 11-04-19, 06:49 PM
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I bought about 8 meters of some generic linked housing on Aliexpress. It was very close to the Jagwire Links. The quality of the links and the inner liners all appeared to be quite good, except the red wasn't really red, it was more like purple, but that is purely cosmetic.
I could get 3 of the 4 cables to work well, but the rear derailleur was a major problem. I couldn't get it to shift well at all and I spent a lot of time on it. Yes, the liner was very adequately lubed.
For starters, on a folder the distance between the shifter and the rear derailleur is quite long and requires a lot of housing. More specifically, the problem is that under tension, the housing deforms substantially. By that I mean the cable tension induces a bunch of curves/bends into the housing and this in turn affects the length of cable pulled by the shifter relative to the housing and the shifting goes to crap. I tried covering the entire length of the housing in clear heat shrink tubing hoping that it would prevent the housing from deforming under tension, but it didn't help. I suppose I could have put zip ties every 1/2 inch. That would have probably kept the housing straight, but it would have looked ridiculous and would have defeated the purpose of the housing altogether.
The Alligator linked housing looks promising because each link overlaps the next link, thus preventing or minimizing the deformation under tension, at least in theory. I haven't tried it. It's quite a bit more expensive than the stuff I bought.
I would love for this housing to work, but I had to throw in the towel. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.
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Old 11-11-19, 04:17 AM
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How are they to keep water out? When off-road, I tend to go through water brook, deep puddles etc. and I was wondering if the links would let water in which could be a pro or a con depending of the flow.
if tight, water may get in a stay in...
if loose, water will get in but will flush out...
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Old 11-15-19, 01:30 PM
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I wonder if that could be due to the design of the links. Do you mind telling us which model/vendor you bought from? I’m about to order some so it seems it’ll be better to not order the one that you have.
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Old 11-15-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz View Post
How are they to keep water out? When off-road, I tend to go through water brook, deep puddles etc. and I was wondering if the links would let water in which could be a pro or a con depending of the flow.
if tight, water may get in a stay in...
if loose, water will get in but will flush out...
The inner plastic liner is what keeps the water out, not the outside links.
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Old 12-07-19, 11:22 PM
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Thanks for all the comments. I went ahead and converted most of my Brompton to the linked cable housing. Things look good so far: the weight reduction is by more than a factor of two, gear shifting seems smoother and I could actually shorten the front derailleur cable that was running over sharp angles. I still have the cog derailleur left for conversion, as I ran out of the Jagwire liner. While I am a novice with this system, I thought that I would still describe some findings, since a novice might highlight some issues of the general interest that a practitioner might consider obvious, not worth talking about.

I bought ZTTO and TRLREQ link housing sets and Jagwire liners.
  • The liners are fragile. It is easy to produce produce a permanent kink on them if you bend them at a too sharp angle when there is no cable inside. Once you put the links on it gets better and adequate resilience is reached only when either the links are fully pushed against each other or the cable is inside.
  • TRLREQ is slightly more expensive than ZTTO, but it is of a better quality. Every tenth ZTTO link had a more narrow inner diameter than other, choking the liner and cable - I had to drill their inside to open them up. Also TRLREQ provides better cable endings, if you need to use them. Overall this system requires you to use far fewer endings than with the traditional housing, though.
  • Jagwire liner is far better than either ZTTO or TRLREQ. The plastic is sturdier and withstands higher temperatures. Heating with a heat gun can be used to remove any kinks you make in the Jagwire liner and heating of the end of that liner allows you to produce a nice end funnel that keeps the links put on the liner. In the end you produce pieces of housing matching your needs.
  • Spilling of the links on the floor is similar to that for beads on a necklace. The esthetics is similar to that for the Mardi Gras necklaces, a bit dubious, but allows to mark different cables with different patterns.
  • While the linked housing is great for routing along a difficult path, on long stretches it struggles to keep straight direction. If you grab it, it will remember the shape of your hand, in spite of the tension in the cable inside.


Old Rear Brake Cable Housing


New Rear Brake Cable Housing


Heating the End of Jagwire Liner


End Finished by Pushing the Softened End In, Locking the Links



Cables Struggling to Keep Straight Direction

Last edited by 2_i; 12-08-19 at 10:14 AM. Reason: Extra Photo
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Old 12-10-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Numerozero View Post
I wonder if that could be due to the design of the links. Do you mind telling us which model/vendor you bought from? Iím about to order some so it seems itíll be better to not order the one that you have.
Sorry to respond so late. I bought TRLREQ links from this aliexpress seller. Great price but the red is more like purple and I had real problems getting it to shift with any degree of reliability after multiple attempts.
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Old 12-10-19, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
  • While the linked housing is great for routing along a difficult path, on long stretches it struggles to keep straight direction. If you grab it, it will remember the shape of your hand, in spite of the tension in the cable inside.
Great write-up and nice work. Your experience sounds similar to mine. The deformation you showed in your last picture is exactly why I couldn't get my rear derailleur to work well.

What is your rear shifting setup?
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Old 12-10-19, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Hinge View Post
Your experience sounds similar to mine. The deformation you showed in your last picture is exactly why I couldn't get my rear derailleur to work well.
This is what I suspected that you meant.

Originally Posted by Hinge View Post
What is your rear shifting setup?
Given your experiences and those others posted here and there, I progressed carefully, first converting just one brake, then another, reasoning that the brakes need no precision. After I rode with the converted brakes for a week+, I turned to the gears and started with those coarser on my bike, IGH and front derailleur. The front derailleur was a pleasant surprise. Its shift cable travels an awkward route, as common for a folder, turning back more than 90 degrees. With the linked housing the route got a bit more straightforward and the shifting requires now less force. With IGH there is this impression too, but more subtle.

The last set of gears are the 3 cogs in the rear and shifting over them has always been the trickiest, with the shift not taking place now and then. I ran out of the new housing hardware, though, at this point and I also wanted to see how the setup so far holds. For now I keep everything reversible. So I will turn to the rear cog gears only in a week or so from now and will report how it goes.

I suspect that you might have a better experience when using the Jagwire liner rather than TRLREQ. In my case the TRLREQ liner has a green tint, so I think they make it match the color of the links. The Jagwire liner costs $10-13/8m S/H included.
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Old 12-11-19, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
I suspect that you might have a better experience when using the Jagwire liner rather than TRLREQ. In my case the TRLREQ liner has a green tint, so I think they make it match the color of the links. The Jagwire liner costs $10-13/8m S/H included.
Thanks for the input.

Do you think the Jagwire liner would help to reduce some of the deformation? Is it that rigid?
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Old 12-11-19, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Hinge View Post
Do you think the Jagwire liner would help to reduce some of the deformation? Is it that rigid?
in my expectation the tendency towards crooked cables is inherent in the technology. The crookedness is due to the friction forces acting between subsequent links. The tendency to get a straight is due to the tension in the cable, but the liner rigidity helps too. However the cable tension lacks sufficient components in the friction directions to bring the housing to a perfect straight line - the closer you get to that straight line the smaller these components, so the straightening must stop somewhere before you reach that straight line. To make things worse, the more you increase the tension in the cable, the larger the friction forces become between the links as they are pressed harder against each other. If anything, I suspect that you could help the housing to keep a straighter line by lubing the linked housing from the outside.

With all this, I still think that the Jagwire liner can help in that its plastic is more rigid. In my suspicion, the joint between the adjacent links that are at an angle to each other acts as a rib pushing against the liner. When the liner is soft. this can choke the the cable inside. When the liner is hard, it gets less deformed at just one place and lets the cable slide. This is a speculation and the proof is in the pudding.

Last edited by 2_i; 12-11-19 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 12-14-19, 04:46 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Hinge View Post
Do you think the Jagwire liner would help to reduce some of the deformation? Is it that rigid?
More Jagwire liner came in the mail. Using leftover links I managed to put together a cable for my most tricky Brompton derailleur, shifting over the rear cogs. The shifting with the new housing is OK, not worse than with the regular housing, but not improved in any essential way either. Usually the shift is accurate, but every once in a while it sticks. However, in a careful examination of the operation, it seems that the sticking is tied to the interaction of the pusher and tensioner interaction on Brompton, not the cable operation - the latter seems fine. So for now I can fully endorse using linked housing on a folder when Jagwire liner is used.

After more links come in, I will presumably start working on the Bike Friday NW Tourist that is exceptionally cable challenged - I hope the linked housing eases the situation there.

On the occasion of working with the cables maybe I can advertise a few useful items ranging from non-brand to Brompton specific. One is TSG/Litepro flexible guide with tension adjustment that allows you to conquer a sharp turn while providing a generous amount of adjustment. Second is the Shimano In-Line Quick Release SM CB90 that allows to release tension in a brake cable, if quick release is otherwise missing, to allow for taking the wheel off or putting it on without tire deflation. Final is the replacement dogleg for Brompton that is equipped with a screw for securing shift cable end when the nipple is by the shifter. Its for the cable is tight but may be drilled to a larger size.



Flexible Cable Guide w/Adjustment



Shimano SM BC90


Brompton Replacement Dogleg
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Old 06-01-20, 12:46 PM
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And now the greatest conquest: rear brake in Bike Friday New World Tourist. Pulling that brake seemed like pulling a nail and the result was barely noticeable, in effect of the cable winding at sharp angles. After swapping the housing to the segmented, see the photo, pulling the rear brake is about as easy as front! Thanks Raxel and thanks Pine Cone for the Tern Cargo Rack tip.


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