I put Alligator I-link housing on my Air9 last year, and I’ve been really happy with it. Ryan’s Titus needed new derailleur housing/cables, and I got a deal on some Nokon (which is normally much more expensive than I-Links), so I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s the rundown:
Looks. If you’re interested in looks, then Nokon wins. That is, if you have enough of the segments to house your entire bike. On a mountain or CX bike, you’re going to need extras. I ended up using a standard piece of housing for the aft front derailleur section. Nothing like cursing your way through an entire install (more on that later) only to find you can’t finish it up right unless you purchase more parts. Here are some photo comparisons:
Installation: Alligator wins, hands-down. It’s pretty self-explanatory. You run the cable through the liner, then run the whole thing through the sections of links that you size to match the length of your old housing. The links snap together and slide on/off of the cable/liner very easily, so it’s a quick insallation.
Nokon, on the other hand, is a total pain. The sections do not snap together, so you have to thread them on to the liner in order to test-fit the housing length. They don’t thread on easily (their fit on the liner is really tight). It’s difficult to keep the liner flush with the hole where the cable exits the shifter, and the kit isn’t actually made to run the liner continuously (though I did it, anyway). Like I said before, if you’re installing it on to anything other than a road bike, you’re likely going to need extra Nokon links. The cables are fat and uncoated as well.
Performance: I’ve been using the I-links for several months now- ocassionally in some horrible conditions. They’ve never let me down. The Nokons seem to be ok for now, and I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t do just as well. Time will tell on that one.The I-link system is reported to be lighter, also. I have not weighed them myself, but that’s the general consensus on various internet forums.
So, there you have it. My verdict is, unless you are wanting the “prettiest” housing system out there, go with Alligator. It’s cheaper, lighter, and 11ty billion times easier to install.