Years ago I got a chance to try one of the first compressionless housing systems. It used tiny sections of aluminum tubing, like centimeter-long Lego pieces. It worked fantastically well. Braking and even shifting improved, noticeably.
There was just one problem. I lived two miles from the ocean. Salt air invaded my entire life. The housing, which will remain nameless because there’s always a chance they’ve improved it since then, began to corrode, and eventually—meaning after three years—the housing oxidized so throughly it began to break down and crumble.
As I mentioned in my review of the impressive Velo Orange Grand Cru brakes, I’ve been using Yokozuna Reaction compressionless brake housing for most of the time I’ve been using those brakes. As I mentioned in my review of the Grand Cru brakes, I realized that in reviewing the brakes with compressionless housing I was stacking the deck in the brakes’ favor and so I swapped out the Yokozuna housing for some more traditional housing.
I wasn’t surprised when the braking suffered. That’s not to say I wasn’t dismayed, though. I rode it that way for just a few days and once I felt I had a feel for the Velo Orange stoppers I immediately put the Yokozuna housing back on. I don’t see me ever riding that bike without compressionless housing. Now that I’ve done it, to go back to regular housing would be like going back to Miller Light after having had a craft-brewed IPA.
I save my suffering for on the bike, thankyouverymuch.
A package of the Reaction housing goes for $45.99—which is certainly a premium considering you only get enough cable and housing for one bike, but as fool-proof performance improvements go, I can’t think of the last time something less than $50 made as big a difference. Your $45.99 gets you 350cm of housing and two cables. I’ve been using it since March and the cables move as smoothly now as they did on the day I installed them.
The housing is composed of a steel core wound around a die and then sheathed in vinyl. This housing is so stout it would meet the spec for Formula 1 use, that is, if there’s anything on a Formula 1 car that is still operated by a cable.
Yokozuna makes it clear that cutting the housing isn’t easy and they won’t warranty housing damaged by dull cutters. I bought a new pair of cutters just so I wouldn’t damage by cable cutters by trying to trim the Reaction housing to length. Good thing I did. After just three cuts the cutters I picked up at my neighborhood hardware store were already showing signs of dulling.
My experience was so surprising it left me with a big question: Why haven’t SRAM, Shimano and Campagnolo switched to compressionless housing for their brakes?
Final thought: Best $50 upgrade on the market.