Tag Archives: Things I Like

Things I Like: Jagwire Cables & Housing

Let’s face it, cables and housing generally don’t top the list of sexiest bike parts.  People either buy what’s cheapest, or they opt for the color that best matches their frame, handlebar tape, or sunglasses.  Now, I’ll admit that I’m both thrifty and a fan of color-coordination (in moderation), but what I really like are parts that I can essentially ignore.  That’s especially true when it comes to cables and housing, and that’s why you’ll find Jagwire cables and housing on all of my bikes.

Jagwire is one of the largest producers of cables and housings, and as you can imagine, the company offers products for nearly every type of bicycle control system.  For smooth braking and shifting (and minimal maintenance), I run Jagwire’s Teflon coated inner wires with their compression-free cable housing.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel bike gravelbike salsa vaya avid bb7 jagwire cable housing
Jagwire housing on the author’s Salsa Vaya.

New cables and housing always feel great when you first install them, but what about six months later?  Well, approximately nine months ago I built up my Salsa Vaya with Jagwire’s Racer kit, and I can’t detect any noticeable degradation in braking or shifting performance.  Even more impressive are the two year-old Ripcord cables and housings on my full-suspension mountain bike that are still going strong (and are smoother than many new bikes on the showroom floor).  This is definitely a testament to the quality of the materials used, but some of the credit to the system’s longevity is due to the sealed end caps and nosed ferrules.  These fittings–unlike cheaper stamped units–do a superior job of keeping crud and water out, and reducing friction (and wear) at cable stops and guides.

For more information, including installation videos, visit Jagwire’s website.

Striking A Balance

Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.
Keith Bontrager

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve started gathering parts for the rSogn.  Some of the choices have been harder to make than others, and some have been no-brainers.  Like every other bike in my stable, the Rawland will see duty on pavement, gravel roads, and dirt trails.  Aiming towards versatility, I’ve been invoking Mr Bontrager’s holy trinity when making my component choices. Keeping my inner weight weenie in check has been a struggle at times, but my wallet almost always steers me in the right direction.

The best is the enemy of the good.
Voltaire

Spec’ing a bike is fun, and everyone wants to end up with that mythical, perfect bicycle. It’s important to remember, however, is that riding any bicycle is–or at least, should be–more fun than trying to pick the best components. Campagnolo, Shimano, and SRAM all make good stuff, and everyone has their favorites, but don’t make the mistake of falling into the “analysis paralysis” trap. Make your own choices, and form your own opinions. Internet message boards (or bloggers) aren’t riding your bike–you are.

Nothing exceeds like excess.
Al Jourgensen

The media and marketing folks spend lots of time money trying to convince us that we absolutely must have a separate bike for every possible terrain or discipline. Pavement can only be ridden on skinny, rock-hard tires. Dirt roads require suspension with at least 5″ of travel. Only a Dutch bike will do for commuting or errands.  Bicycles are versatile machines. People have been riding the wrong bikes in the wrong conditions for over one hundred years (whether they know it or not).

Ride lots!
Eddy Merckx

Eddy knows what’s up. We should all try to follow his advice.

Things I Like: Kool-Stop Salmon Brake Pads

Over the past 15-20 years, bicycle rim-brake technology has grown by leaps and bounds.  In that same time frame, my personal bicycles have been equipped with brakes that included single- and dual-pivot calipers, cantilevers, and v-brakes.  Eventually, every single one of those brakes sported Kool-Stop’s salmon compound brake pads (some, sooner than later).

The salmon-colored formula has been around for quite some time, and was originally sold under the Scott-Matthauser name (and manufactured by Kool-Stop).  As a young teenager, I remember upgrading my Motobecane’s Universal Super 68 sidepulls’ stock pads with Scott-Matthausers, and being blown away by the salmon pads’ incredible stopping power (even with the flexy, Italian calipers).

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Kool-Stop Dura2 inserts.

When trouble-shooting brake problems, Kool-Stop salmon pads are usually the first solution that I try.  Whether it’s brake squeal or shudder, poor wet-weather stopping, or stock pads that eat rim braking surfaces, the salmon-colored Kool-Stop pads put a stop to the problem (bad pun intended).  Additionally, I’ve found that the salmon pads perform better in sub-freezing temps, and require less (hand) force than conventional pads (regardless of which type of brake they’re on).

Kool-Stop offers salmon pads in dedicated pad/holder combos, or as inserts for existing shoes/holders.  For more information, visit the Kool-Stop website.

Things I Like: Descente Coldout Beanie

For the past year, the Descente Coldout beanie has been a staple in my cycling wardrobe.  It does exactly what it’s supposed to do–namely, keep my head warm–and it does it better than any other beanie/skull cap that I’ve tried.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel bike descente coldout beanie

What’s so great about this one, you ask?  For one, it actually fits my large-ish head.  One size really does fit all–or at least, me–in this case.  I can pull it down and completely cover my ears without it feeling like it’s going to fly off the moment I remove my helmet.  Secondly, it’s soft.  There are no nasty seams to press into your forehead, and it doesn’t turn to sandpaper if you’ve been sweating for a couple of hours.  And lastly, it can handle a pretty wide range of temperatures.  I’ve worn it in the mid-40’s, and down to the high-20’s (below that I layer it with a lycra balaclava).

I give it two thumbs (ears?) up.