Review: Alligator Cable’s Ultra Smooth 31-Strand Stainless Steel Shift Cables

alligator-cable-31-strand-slick-stainless-steel-shift-cable-review

Normally, when we’re talking about Alligator, we’re showing you some wild brake parts (here and here) or showcasing an insane project bike. Their 31-Strand Slick Stainless Steel cables are a bit more tame, but still worth a look.

Aftermarket cables are a weird sort of afterthought these days, most often being a purchase of last minute need with choice being made by whatever your local bike shop has in stock. Alligator cables might not be the first name you’ll find hanging on the wall pegs, but they bring quite a few options to the table.

These eschew any outer coating but use thinner cable strands to pack more into the same space, then smooth the outer edges to make them slick. Since there are no special coatings to wear off, and they’re stainless, they should maintain their luster and performance for a long time.

These made their way onto my bike build for the TS Epic, connecting the XX1 group (reviewed here) along the Niner Jet9 RDO’s frame. Route past the break to see what makes them special…

alligator-cable-31-strand-slick-stainless-steel-shift-cable-review

The 31 individual strands of the Alligator cable (left) are thinner than the 19 strands from a standard cable (right). This makes the entire cable much more supple so it bends more easily in tight spaces. For frames (like the original Jet9 RDO) that have tight corners or multiple short bends in the cable runs, it helps everything run smoother. When I flexed and wiggled the 31-strand and a standard cable, the Alligator was noticeably more pliable.

alligator-cable-31-strand-slick-stainless-steel-shift-cable-review

It’s also light at just 15g for a full length cable with both shifter nubs still intact. Notice how small the coil is and how few wraps I had to do with the end to keep it all together? It’s just one small example of how flexible the cable is.

alligator-cable-31-strand-slick-stainless-steel-shift-cable-review

I’ve had these on the bike now for two months and ridden in rain, heavy (heavy!!!) humidity and dry dirt and had no problems. The bike’s even been on the back of a car through some highway rain, and it’s still running smooth as the day it was installed. Granted, the new Jet9 RDO’s running full length housing, but water will get anywhere and often one crud-filled ride can gunk up shifting. Also, I’ve only had to make a couple small twists to the shifter’s barrel adjuster during that time, so cable stretch has been minimal. It’s a little thing, but sometimes little things make all the difference.

Check ‘em out at AlligatorCables.com.

Comments

Ryan - 07/11/13 - 11:25am

As a guitarist with endless options for strings, I’ve often wondered why there weren’t more options for for bike cables.

Percist - 07/11/13 - 11:40am

Click on the product catalog on Alligator’s website and scroll to the Product Story page all the way at the bottom. Worth the read.

Ty Borders - 07/11/13 - 11:54am

Cables do not stretch — the housing compresses giving the impression that the cable is longer.

Sam - 07/11/13 - 12:10pm

I would love to try these for some unruly cyclocross routing…, where to buy???

Rob - 07/11/13 - 1:18pm

Ty Borders,

Ahhh. I love it when idiots are allowed time on the internets

Larry Falk - 07/11/13 - 1:26pm

I’ll tag on to Ty’s comment: chains do not stretch, either (material is worn away causing elongation).

DaleC - 07/11/13 - 1:31pm

I don’t fall asleep, I eliminate wakefullness.

velorider - 07/11/13 - 1:36pm

This thread should just be a repository for answers to questions no one asked.

NotAMachinist - 07/11/13 - 1:36pm

And we never fail. We simply defer success!

NotAMachinist - 07/11/13 - 1:53pm

Shimano had cables that were made from many small wires twisted into several medium sized cables that were then twisted together to make the full cable?

Similar idea, but they seem to have disappeared, or at least I haven’t found them in a while.

Anyone know when or why?

greg - 07/11/13 - 3:18pm

Notamachinist:
Those were braided cables. They were a larger diameter and required larger housing: 6mm brake housing, etc. They did have a lot of linear elasticity, hence the need for larger diameters. They were flexible around bends, you could tie them in a knot. Disadvantages outweighed benefits in the end.
Those had 49strands. I wonder exacly how this one is wound…

Stephen - 07/11/13 - 3:23pm

If only it would bend around my campy seatpost

Jeff - 07/11/13 - 3:49pm

I heard a rumor about a company in Denmark that was making cables from the manes of unicorns that weights 4 grams, never stretched, and repelled dirt and grime…

NotAMachinist - 07/11/13 - 4:36pm

Greg:
I remember them being very flexible. I think they disappeared when STI levers were introduced. The elasticity may have been fine with the short cable runs of down-tube levers, but not for STI. It will be interesting to see if these work better.

Jeff:
WANT!

maddogeco - 07/11/13 - 6:48pm

Why has nobody ever thought about hydraulic actuated derailleurs? Dirt can get in and it wont stretch. No extra bits of cable hanging off the ends. I hate cables on bikes.

bin judgin - 07/11/13 - 8:12pm

there are hydro shifters. they are dog poop.

stickboy - 07/11/13 - 8:14pm

http://www.acros.de/PRODUCTS/SHIFTING-SYSTEM/HINTEN:::3_236_375.html

filibuster cash - 07/11/13 - 9:09pm

here you go:

http://www.acros.de/product_info.php?language=en&products_id=1683

from a repair standpoint, cables are far superior to hydraulic or electronic shifting. if you think bleeding brakes is a pain, wait till you bleed one of these. talk about deferring shifts.

Jim - 07/11/13 - 9:12pm

As stated above, cables do not stretch. It’s a myth at this point. Maybe cheap ones used to, but no longer. The housing compresses and settles deeper into the ferules, which has a similar effect, but can’t be prevented with nice cables, only careful finishing of the ends of the housing and good seating.

(Source: Barnett)

maddogeco - 07/11/13 - 11:29pm

Thanks guys that Acros gear look more complicated that building and enigma machine in boxing gloves. Might just learn how to tune my 105′s better

bikeguy717 - 07/12/13 - 5:56am

Percist

Thanks for the heads up on the copy! I often think of the progressive nature of mountain peaks ( and alligators).

Rob - 07/12/13 - 6:18am

No cables do stretch, as do chains.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creep_(deformation)

There are only a few metals that dont creep. These are only really found in jet engines and similar high temperature environments.

So whoever thinks that cables and chains dont stretch, educate yourself a little and just read the wiki.

Source: Oh about 6 years of materials science….

Dope - 07/12/13 - 9:16am

Gore Sealed
Done

Tyler Benedict - 07/12/13 - 9:27am

Dope – Indeed. RIP Gore Cables. I have a couple sets sealed in the box I’m reserving for some special builds someday. That, and lots of used sets I’m doing my best to preserve!

vhom - 07/12/13 - 11:18am

Dope and Tyler. SRAM licensed the right to Gore cables if I remember correctly. And you still can get it.

treck raceing rodebike - 07/15/13 - 12:25am

Certainly more efficient/economic to put a different kind of cable end on each end, but having to cut the cable before installation (compared to tip-welded/soldered ends) can be a big problem with modern road shifters due to the tight bends they have to make through the shifter for installation. Many times I find this just leads to fraying before they can get through. I suppose you could just solder the tip yourself… /meticulous nitpick, ready for the digital pitchfork-wielding angry mobs of the internets

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.