$2 Cables vs. $5 cables and 5mm vs 4mm housing
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  1. #1
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    $2 Cables vs. $5 cables and 5mm vs 4mm housing

    Anyone have experience with very cheap cables? I'm looking at biketoolsetc.com:
    Galvanized universal slick der. cable: $2
    SS slick universal der. cable: $3

    Worth it to pinch pennies on these, if I am replacing them 2-3 times a cross season? Do cheaper cables fray quicker?

    Now housing. Any opinions on 4mm vs. 5mm? 4mm is what shimano cables are, right? All shifters, housing stops, and derailleurs are 5mm diameter, correct?

    Thanks!

    P.S. I am asking this on the cross forum rather than the Components/Wrenching forum since I feel this forum is a little less gear-snobby and a bit more practical...

  2. #2
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    It's not the inner cable that causes most of the friction( although worn or cheap cables will cause some).
    It's the outer housing that causes the big drag.
    I just put new XTR cables (they have nice sealing boots on the ends of the housing)on my bikes every year and they are great for the season.
    I have had good luck with Jagwire RipCords also. Not as smooth as the XTR...but I got a couple sets for free.
    I have tried a few of the big buck sealed/gore/whatever cable sets and they aren't worth it to me.

  3. #3
    Fat aging guy on a bike..
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    Seems like penny pinching gone too far to me....
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  4. #4
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    it might have something to do with stretch too. seems like the galvanized cables might stretch more but I dont know. I've been running powercordz lately and really like them because they don't stretch at all.

  5. #5
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    plain stainless and cheap housing works fine if you lube it and replace it reguarly, the nice stuff works well for longer. avoid galvanized like the plague

  6. #6
    Old, slow, and fat.
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    I've had great success over the years running QBP's Slick Cables.

    AFA 4mm vs 5mm, I've gone to 4mm and haven't noticed any degradation in shifting performance.

    HTH

    M
    I've moved back to NoVA. PLEASE change the weather!

  7. #7
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    Any stainless cable works as well as any other stainless cable. Teflon runs smoother and longer sometimes. Don't let anyone online sell you a 5 dollar cable. The bike shop pays anywhere from $.70 to 1.40 wholesale, depending on the cable, and quite a bit less direct (online stores buy direct).

  8. #8
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    I'm with kbiker, pull cables are 19th century technology, they got good at it long ago and the machinery has been paid for. Nothing wrong with the cheap ones - these are consumables. I think you're better off buying 5 of the $2 cables and using them instead of 2 of the $5 ones. Do get the stainless, it won't gunk up the housings with corrosion products and abrade it as badly.

    The housings are something else entirely, those are modern technology and need to be good. I've had good results with Shimano, Campagnolo and the ProBikeKit sets. The bulk stuff at the LBS, I'm not sure where it came from, has been less good to me. Probably okay if you are sure to replace everything at least once a year.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjanson
    Anyone have experience with very cheap cables? I'm looking at biketoolsetc.com:
    Galvanized universal slick der. cable: $2
    SS slick universal der. cable: $3

    Worth it to pinch pennies on these, if I am replacing them 2-3 times a cross season? Do cheaper cables fray quicker?

    Now housing. Any opinions on 4mm vs. 5mm? 4mm is what shimano cables are, right? All shifters, housing stops, and derailleurs are 5mm diameter, correct?

    Thanks!

    P.S. I am asking this on the cross forum rather than the Components/Wrenching forum since I feel this forum is a little less gear-snobby and a bit more practical...
    For a cross bike, I'm more picky about derailleur cables/housing than brakes. I wouldn't use cheap universal housing for derailleurs, especially for 9-10 speed. Shimano or the regular Jagwire-nothing fancy- these are 4mm, I've never felt the need for the expensive stuff. For canti brakes though, whatever works- 5mm. There's relatively little cable housing for canti brakes anyway, and as long as your stops are slotted, it's really easy to clean and lube it- one set of cables per year is fine for me if I clean after every messy race/ride. The non-stainless cable I've used has not been braided as tightly as stainless cable, so it might not be as smooth- I'd use stainless for any performance oriented bike. I've used the teflon-coated cables, can't say I can tell the difference with Shimano housing which is also teflon coated. I've read that some teflon cables can flake off and actually gum up the housing- maybe, never seen it. For me, stainless cables any brand, name-brand derailleur housing and any brand of brake housing for cantis. For road brakes though, name brand housing- but nothing exotic. Proper cable length and setup, no sharp bends and clean cuts, no burrs are much more important than anything though.

  10. #10
    Frites en Mayo Velo Club
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    You could get gore cables off of ebay for like 18 dollars a set for der and brakes. never have to change anything since it is a fully sealed system.

    If you change out your current setup 3 times a year, you have spent more time and money on cables and housing than if you bought the gore setup.

    Plus with the gore setup, you dont have to worry about relubing after cleaning your bike after a muddy ride. Just wipe it down and call it good
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  11. #11
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    My experience has been that if there is a lot of fine silt in your mud (and your mud may very) then even expensive cables/housing get contaminated and then are crap. I have no experience with sealed or full length systems.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Good info!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cx_fan
    You could get gore cables off of ebay for like 18 dollars a set for der and brakes. never have to change anything since it is a fully sealed system.

    If you change out your current setup 3 times a year, you have spent more time and money on cables and housing than if you bought the gore setup.

    Plus with the gore setup, you dont have to worry about relubing after cleaning your bike after a muddy ride. Just wipe it down and call it good
    I actually have 2 sets of Gore brake housing/ cables- got them as a gift. Supposed to be der and brake, but the boxes were mislabeled. Anyhow, I haven't been able to put them on my bikes since I feel like it is a huge commitment. Maybe I will put them on. I never relube my cables after washes anyways, I think it just attracts more dirt. Maybe not?

  14. #14
    MTBR Member
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    I suggest using a system with some sort of sealing. Once a bunch of dirt gets into the housing, shifting performance goes downhill. Just the simple ferrules with rubber seals in them make a difference IME. I also prefer lubed/greased housing such as Shimano SP41.

  15. #15
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    I used Gore shift cables last season. They were a little tricky to set up, but it was the first season I was able to go the entire season without changing my shift cables. Never noticed any change in performance.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nighabi
    I used Gore shift cables last season. They were a little tricky to set up, but it was the first season I was able to go the entire season without changing my shift cables. Never noticed any change in performance.
    Where do you race? And were you in any real mud baths? I've found in the PNW, nothing seems to keep the mud out.
    Pro rep, yo!

  17. #17
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    I race mostly PWN, Oregon specifically. Although I have been known to make a foray into Washington on occasion. Last year didn't have too many super muddy events but there were a couple (State comes to mind, that corral still gives me nightmares). I put them on because I normally have to change the rear cable every 2-3 races unless it's really a soup, then I change it even if they were put on the day before.

  18. #18
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    They take about an extra 10 minutes per brake to setup

    Quote Originally Posted by tjanson
    I actually have 2 sets of Gore brake housing/ cables- got them as a gift. Supposed to be der and brake, but the boxes were mislabeled. Anyhow, I haven't been able to put them on my bikes since I feel like it is a huge commitment. Maybe I will put them on. I never relube my cables after washes anyways, I think it just attracts more dirt. Maybe not?
    I would take the time and install them on the brakes. Takes about 10 minutes per brake but you never have to worry about it again.

    The worst thing is knowing that you need to do a bunch of work on your bike during the week and then you get caught up with other stuff and you get to the next weekends race and nothing works quite right.

    You spent all the money/time on equipment, coaches, travelling and race fee's and then something like a dirty der cable or your brakes dont work and it has ruined your race day.

    It is only August..take the time and install them. You will be happy with the decision come November.
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