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Verdict: 
Improves braking performance to unheard-of levels
Weight: 
300g
Yokozuna Reaction Brake Cable System
9 10

The Japanese firm Yokozuna (from Wikipedia: Yokozuna (横綱) is the highest rank in sumo. The name literally means "horizontal rope") has been supplying high-end cable systems to pro road teams and manufacturers for decades. Available to consumers since 2005, the Reaction Brake Cable System will give your cable-actuated rim or disc brakes a reputation that they frankly don't deserve. Almost like they are attached to a rope being pulled by a sumo wrestler, if you will.

Yokozuna cables come as a brake set (£35.99), a shifter set (£25.99 ), or a combination of the two (£59.99). Their proprietary 'jet lubed' process fills the outer with just the right amount of special grease, to keep things ultra-slick.

> Buy this online here

I'm the first to admit that it's nigh-on impossible to get a truly accurate like-for-like comparison between cable systems, so all I can offer you is what can be observed from one person's experience over a few months of installation then use.

Under pressure

For the uninitiated, there are two types of cable outer on your bike – gear and brake. Gear cable needs high accuracy through low compression loss, but is subject to tiny forces. Brake cable is more tolerant of compression loss, but must withstand comparatively enormous forces. Therefore the cables are built differently.

Gear cable has lots of thin wires running the length of the outer (longitudinally), so in theory when you shift gears the outer does not compress, keeping things accurate as all the tension put on the cable end at the shifter is transmitted to the derailleur. Brake outer is spiral-bound, making it impossible for the inner wire to burst through the outer under hard braking, but the trade-off is that there is room for the spirals to compress together – there's a tiny amount of space between them, otherwise they wouldn't be able to flex around the bends of your bike.

Yokozuna's magic sauce is the double layer of longitudinal wires wrapped in a circular binding to keep them in place. Other brands such as Jagwire use a Kevlar wrap to keep the longitudinal wires in place on their 'compressionless' housing, but in my opinion they don't do as good a job.

Critical path

Because of the double layer, the Yokozuna outer is stiff. Very stiff. Yokozuna advises: 'Brake housing is stiffer than normal housing. Set-ups that need tighter bends may not be possible with our Rapidwire brake housing.' In reality I had no issues fitting a full run of the housing inside the frame of my Merida Ride 5000 – but Merida has done a pretty good job of minimising bends and putting the cable entry/exit points where they should be. I could imagine on more esoteric designs or full-suspension bikes, things could get pretty tight.

As with all internally routed setups you need to have a good plan for getting from A to B, the easiest of which is not to pull out the old outer before you've threaded the new outer onto the end of the run using a protruding bit of the old inner cable to hold it aligned. A combination of pushing the new while pulling the old should do all right – smear a light layer of grease on the new outer to make things a lot easier.

Tooled-up

Yokozuna advises: 'Housing is very stiff and strong; for best results cut with a sharp cable cutter or a Dremel tool. We do not warranty housing ruined with dull cutters.' I concur – the outer is much harder to cut than standard Shimano SLR outer. I cannot imagine doing this with a set of pliers. I'd suggest spending £10-15 on a decent set of cable outer shears as a once-in-a-lifetime purchase and be done with it.

Being a certified fettler, I use a bench grinder to tidy up my cable outer ends – and on the Yokozuna outers it earnt every penny of its £18 price. The combination of the two layers made for quite devilish work getting them completely tidy and square-on. I found the outer spiral binding to be very springy, and under even a small amount of heat from the grinding process the plastic sheath gave way, allowing the very sharp end to spring free. I'd recommend practising on an offcut to get your eye in before a final, critical-length installation.

Getting the ends clean and tidy is critical for subsequent installation into the shifters, where the cable is inserted without any sort of endcap. You should check the depth of the hole, then lightly mark the outer to be one hundred per cent certain that it's seated all the way home. I found the fit to be so tight (Ultegra 6800 levers) that I had to partly remove the lever from the bar to allow the outer to slot in the hole – even the slightest bend in the outer trying to do this with the lever bolted to the bar made the job impossible. Again, a dab of smeared grease on the outside made the exercise easier.

As mentioned, you really need a bench grinder or at the least a Dremel tool to tidy the ends of the cable, so once I'd threaded everything through and confirmed the correct length, I then unthreaded them, putting the old housing back in place (with inner as a guidewire) to allow a proper tidy-up of the second end. This sounds like a faff, but in reality takes only a minute or so – assuming you remember to reinstall the old outer/inner as a guide. If you don't, god have mercy on your soul and wallet as you head off to purchase Park's rather nifty Internal Cable Routing Kit...

> Bike tools: the kit you need to do your own basic bike maintenance

Once your outer is all settled in place, the inner is installed just like any other. It's stainless steel to remove corrosion as a risk and die-drawn to further reduce friction. The inner ends are both road and flat-bar lever-compatible, so make sure you cut off the right one.

Rinse and repeat for the front brake, being acutely aware of how the cables interplay at the front end when turning the bar. When you re-secure your bar tape you might find you need a bit more electrical tape to hold the much stiffer outer in place – it's unlikely that the tacky branded stuff included in bar tape packages will be up to the job.

Reaction time

The benchmark for this test was the Jagwire KEB-SL Kevlar-wound outer, which came factory-installed on my Merida. At one end the aforementioned Ultegra 6800 lever, at the other the excellent TRP Hy/Rd hydraulic cable-actuated calliper. While fully hydraulic systems have come down markedly in price there is still a premium attached, and people looking to retain the Ultegra levers might not be keen to fork out the £630 RRP (often half that) for the same shifting but better braking. You can pick up a set of new TRP Hy/Rds for around £100 (used for less), spend the £36 on Yokozuna cable, and hey presto!

> Everything you need to know about disc brakes

I think this is where the Yokozuna cable system fits best – as a means to get hydraulic-grade braking for full-length rear cable runs at a fraction of the cost. And I can honestly say that is my view after two months riding the new setup – that my brakes are now on-par (as memory best serves) with the hydraulic RS-685 levers/callipers I used earlier in the year. In fact, the performance change using the Yokozuna cables over the Jagwires was so marked that the first few rides I had to make a conscious effort to think about braking – fewer fingers required, more control on tap, and on one occasion where an emergency stop was required, a stern word with a recalcitrant muscle memory used to pressing down much harder on the stop button. I don't recall being that impressed with the Jagwire system when it was new – to the point of wondering if it was the compressionless version. So again, anecdote – but informed anecdote.

A major issue with full-length cable runs is the inherently higher friction preventing the calliper return spring from retracting the inner cable when you release the brake – leading to a rattling lever that can be maddening. With the Yokozuna cables the lever snaps back into place every time, no visit to the niggling noise therapist required.

The long run

Only having done two months' riding since installation, my anecdotal greatly improved performance can only be that. I'll pop back and update this review next spring, after a winter's worth of water, crud and freezing temperatures have done their best. But based on the experience to date, I suspect I'll only have good things to report.

Verdict

Improves braking performance to unheard-of levels

road.cc test report

Make and model: Yokozuna Reaction Brake Cable System

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

It's for people who want better braking, for cables.

Yokozuna says: "Now available just for Shimano/SRAM road brakes! Saves you some money if you don't need shift cables at the same time. Long enough for disc brake road/CX bikes!

Featuring RapidWire Compressionless Technology

A high-octane cable system optimized for today's brake and drivetrain systems. The special housing delivers excellent compressionless performance for enhance cable response, especially for brakes, which has been hard for other makers to produce."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Contents:

RapidWire Brake Housing:

- 5mm x 3500mm - 1

(Note: Housing is very stiff and strong; for best results cut with a sharp cable cutter or a Dremel tool. We do not warranty housing ruined with dull cutters. )

Stainless Brake Wire (Road Shimano/SRAM)

- 1.6mm x 1350mm - 1

- 1.6mm x 2750mm - 1

PRODUCT FEATURES

- The first truly compressionless brake housing; boosts braking power from road rim brakes to mechanical discs

- Brake housing is jet-Lubed END2END for smoother cable action.

- Tightly wound die drawn stainless steel cables

Available in smoke, black and white.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No reason not to think it will last a loooong time.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
5/10

Not overly light, hardly surprising given the extra metal involved.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Excellent. Can't fault it.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The low friction, meaning the lever snapped back. And the brake feel. My oh my.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Fitting can be painful-to-impossible without the right tools.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

The only thing I'd mark the Yokozuna cable set down on would be the outer casing plastic – it can be tricky to trim off just right to hold the spiral wrap in place.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

17 comments

Avatar
racingcondor [231 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

While I remember it being cheaper I used to use this and loved it when I did. The brake housing is excellent (although I'll second the need for a Dremel).

Avatar
Dr. Ko [202 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
racingcondor wrote:

While I remember it being cheaper I used to use this and loved it when I did. The brake housing is excellent (although I'll second the need for a Dremel).

Second that. Got mine some years ago from Probikekit. Still used on the Basso and in fact excellent direct braking - right what you want in North Queensferrylaugh

 

Avatar
gonedownhill [146 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Did this cabling reduce the long lever throw that seems to be common with the hy Rd brakes?

Avatar
racingcondor [231 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Lever throw will depend on the mechanics of the levers and brakes you're using so cables and housing won't change that.

What this does so much better than everyone else is remove the spongy/vague feeling you get with a lot of brakes if they're poorly installed or use housing that flexes/compresses when you brake.

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

Whoever wrote "high octane cable system" deserves a sharp kick somewhere sensitive.

I installed a set of intermediate (crosstop) levers a few weeks ago, and because of some small radius turns the rear brake feels quite spongy.  Not terrible, but enough that I want to try something next year.  The Nokon cables looked interesting but very expensive, I'll add these to the research list.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1286 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:

...because of some small radius turns the rear brake feels quite spongy... I'll add these to the research list.

 

I don't think you'd have much fun here - these need a decent radius, i.e. putting on under bar tape is about as tight as you'd want to go. My crosstop experience is that you end up with a significantly tighter bend than I think the Yokozunas would do. Interested to hear experiences from anyone who's done it.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1286 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
gonedownhill wrote:

Did this cabling reduce the long lever throw that seems to be common with the hy Rd brakes?

 

Yes, but not at the initial bite point, as there's no compression yet. Because there's less loss as the cable tightens, you don't need to factor in as much I found. Setting HyRd's is 50% artform, IMHO. Judicious use of the 1.5-turn barrel is the key, as is knowing how much to pre-load the cable by to eke out every last bit of unloaded, pre-contact tension. 

Avatar
Dicklexic [66 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

My limited experience with servicing a friends bike fitted with HyRd brakes, and some internet 'research' also suggests that HyRd calipers are quite sensitive to oil volume for tuning lever throw/bite point. Allegedly they come from the factory with the reservoir not quite full, and up to a point can be tuned by adding or removing fluid.

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ktache [524 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
bikebot wrote:

 The Nokon cables looked interesting but very expensive, I'll add these to the research list.

I set up a set of nokon brake and gear on my good bike, takes a long time to get it right, but pretty much fit and forget.  Always seemed almost frictionless and compressionless.  Crisp gear shifting and solid braking.  Lasted many, many years.  Difficult to change the inner mind as it tends to rip the ptfe tubing.  The silver ones were very bling, but rotted in our conditions, will get the black ones next time and oil them to hell.  All of those but the front brake has a small gap (with tube) in the otherwise totally sealed system that allows for a small amount of lube.

Avatar
bikebot [2120 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:
bikebot wrote:

...because of some small radius turns the rear brake feels quite spongy... I'll add these to the research list.

I don't think you'd have much fun here - these need a decent radius, i.e. putting on under bar tape is about as tight as you'd want to go. My crosstop experience is that you end up with a significantly tighter bend than I think the Yokozunas would do. Interested to hear experiences from anyone who's done it.

Ta, that's exactly what I would have researched. The nokon has been recommended before for small radius, there's a few similar products to look at.  Not in any great hurry, but if a new install feels spongy it's not going to age well.

Avatar
gonedownhill [146 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:
gonedownhill wrote:

Did this cabling reduce the long lever throw that seems to be common with the hy Rd brakes?

 

Yes, but not at the initial bite point, as there's no compression yet. Because there's less loss as the cable tightens, you don't need to factor in as much I found. Setting HyRd's is 50% artform, IMHO. Judicious use of the 1.5-turn barrel is the key, as is knowing how much to pre-load the cable by to eke out every last bit of unloaded, pre-contact tension. 

 

Thanks, that makes sense. I have some Jagwire compressionless sitting at home waiting to be fitted, but I might return it and get this instead.

Not a great fan of the hy-rds and forums seem littered with people struggling with the same issues. Took my bike to LBS to see if he could do anything to improve them and the mechanic told me to sell them and get some spyres instead!

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dottigirl [559 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

To the Nokon users:

- how much and what lube/oil do you use please?

- which size Nokon pieces did you use? I have two sets (they were on offer) and they're different lengths. (Not the slimline stuff  - I think that's narrower.)

- do you ever find it's a bit 'floppy'?

Thanks.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1616 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
gonedownhill wrote:

Thanks, that makes sense. I have some Jagwire compressionless sitting at home waiting to be fitted, but I might return it and get this instead.

Not a great fan of the hy-rds and forums seem littered with people struggling with the same issues. Took my bike to LBS to see if he could do anything to improve them and the mechanic told me to sell them and get some spyres instead!

I've literally just fitted Jagwire compressionless and TRP Spyres to my Boardman CX.  The stock pads are a bit soft and dusty but apart from that they are incredible.

Avatar
DrJDog [407 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I used this stuff for a year or so, I didn't notice a marked improvement in braking, and the stuff is  just a little bit thicker than regular brake outer that it made if infuriating to install (that and cutting it being a right royal pain), and so stiff that in use I found it pushed the calipers around rather than flex giving me all sorts of rubbing.

 

3/10, stick to dura-ace, which is slightly cheaper, just as good in performance, is the right size, and actually flexes.

Avatar
ktache [524 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
dottigirl wrote:

To the Nokon users:

- how much and what lube/oil do you use please?

- which size Nokon pieces did you use? I have two sets (they were on offer) and they're different lengths. (Not the slimline stuff  - I think that's narrower.)

- do you ever find it's a bit 'floppy'?

Thanks.

Nokon user and to answer your questions,

Finish line wet, I think with the gap about 100-200ul which isn't much, but I do it regularly.

The whole bike was done with one set of brake, one gear and an extension kit.  MTB with Vs.  Some of the bits were left over which helped when I came to replace the inner and PTFE tubing as some of the bits had properly rotted.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1286 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
gonedownhill wrote:

... Took my bike to LBS to see if he could do anything to improve them and the mechanic told me to sell them and get some spyres instead!

 

Time to find a new LBS then. They aren't rocket science, and once set up are awesome.

Avatar
Valbrona [188 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

1/ I don't like reviews of products you just can't get in the UK.

 

2/ No mention of compatibility with Campagnolo levers. I believe some Yokouna cables are describes as 'universal' fitting, but I am not sure what this means.