Monday, January 28, 2008


Last week I swapped out my moustache bars -- moment of silence please -- for more normal-ish drop bars on my 'cross bike. The moustache were hurting my wrists lately. You'd think that after a few thousand miles it wouldn't be a problem, but in the last few months they've been giving me enough grief that they had to go.

I decided to get these:

So far, I like them. However, setting up the bike with B-levers -- also called bar-top levers -- proved to be a chore. You see, Cannondale, in their infinite wisdom, put the cable stops on the wrong side of the bike. I guess in Europe, racers often run the brakes moto-style -- left lever actuating the rear brake -- so cable guides on the top tube are canted to the right, facilitating the rear brake cable coming from the left lever, around the head tube, then into the guide. There are two problems with this, 1) the bike is disc equiped and cannot be legally raced in UCI 'cross races and B) this isn't Europe.

Consequently I have a serious bend in the rear brake cable right after the B-lever since I can no longer go around the head tube. Thanks Cannondale. So... what to do? Fortunately I had some Nokon housing lying around that I was going to use on the wife's mountain bike, but have never gotten around to installing. Sorry, Honey. And, since the Nokon housing can handle tighter bends, I thought that this would be the cure.

Side note: If you aren't familiar with the Nokon housing, head HERE and read the review we did a couple of years ago about the shifter housing. The stuff is good, light weight and costly. Oh, and it takes a while to install.

Back to my tale.

Once I got the Nokon housing installed -- and I only had enough for the rear brake since this was the rim brake housing kit, not the longer disc brake housing kit -- all was well with my brakes.

Here is where it gets interesting, though. Normally, the front brake feels firmer -- shorter cable and all that -- but this time, the rear brake is absolutely firm, while the front one feels oh-so-mushy in comparison. The difference is the housing. When we did that review, we only looked at the shifter housing. I think, though, that the benefit is even greater on the brake side of things. This stuff is awesome. It really is. Sure, it's expensive, but it works very, very well. It has made my rear brake feel more powerful. I cannot recommend the Nokon's enough.

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