I want to take a few Jagwire Ultra Slick cables and tie up the engineering department at Shimano, Campy, Rotor and SRAM. With cables this good, the only reason to use electronic or hydraulic shifting is because you are a sponsored racer who has to use it. The shifting and braking action with these cables is lighter than aerogel and slicker than a Jaco Pastorius bassline. Jagwire runs these thru a mandrel a few times to flatten out the wound steel strands, then polishes the cable to a glowing, smooth finish that pairs well with fish.
Why should you spend a ton of money on a cable?
Shifting and braking systems are increasingly taxed as they become more advanced.
- More cogs on the cassette mean the shifter and derailleur have to move more precisely. Friction does not help with precision. Think about cutting really thin slices of tomato with a sharp knife and a dull knife.
- Clutch derailleurs add friction to every down shift. A slicker cable minimizes the effort at the shifter.
- Cables now often run through pulleys on the derailleur and sometimes even pulleys mounted in the middle of a housing run. That adds friction.
- Full length housing is all but ubiquitous on touring and mountain bikes these days. That adds friction.
- Disc brakes have much tighter tolerances than rim brakes, and they need a very slick cable to fine tune their adjustment. They all feel more powerful when there is less friction.
- Slicker cables don’t lodge dirt in their rough surfaces, like a normal cable. That means the cable won’t drag as much dirt into the housing everytime a shift is made or braking force is applied. Less crud in the cable surface and less crud in the housing means both last longer. I put Ultraslicks on my bike packing bike 3 years go. They’ve outlasted my bottom bracket bearings, rear hub bearings and a drivetrain. Still feel great. Zero maintenance.
Ultraslick cables are spendy, but they pay ya back with great shifting and braking and long life. Pair with Jagwire housing and brass ferrules.
These cables come in 2 lengths, Long and short. Here’s our rough guide to that:
- If you are running disc brakes, get one long, one short brake cable. If you are running caliper brakes, get two shorts, unless your bike is really big and you have high bars.
- If you are running flat bars or drops, play it safe and get one long and one short shifter cable. The short might be long enough for the rear derailleur, but it’s just a few bucks more, and you have way more cable to play with if you like to run your housing long. Why run your housing long? It’s easier to smoosh it out of the way when you mount a bag up front. Short ‘perfect length’ cable housing tends to crimp when you jam a bag on or over load a basket. Go maybe 2-3 inches longer, and you won’t have that problem.
- If you have drop bars and road brake levers, get the road brake cables. These work with any road brake lever except Campy stuff.
- The shift cables work with any shifter except Rohloff and Campy. Mountain and road are the same.