[CR] Brake Levers

(Example: Bike Shops:R.E.W. Reynolds)

From: "Kai Hilbertz" <khilbertz@googlemail.com>
To: CR List <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
In-Reply-To: <a06230903c5981be718e7@[]>
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 2009 17:57:33 +0100
References: <501E3B398E62446580E8E09FF33E0CEC@Twinhead>
Subject: [CR] Brake Levers

Jan. 18, 09

Hello List,

I can confirm what Michael Schmid + Tobit Linke said, brake levers in Germany are almost always mounted in the Continental + US style, i.e. left to front. As a friend of mine who is a professional mechanic confirmed, almost all exceptions he deals with are either British bikes or bikes belonging to cyclo-crossers who also ride motorcycles. And there are some cheap bikes and roller brake bikes with right to front, as mentioned.

One point hasn't been raised yet. All off-topic modern brake+shift systems are set up to shift the rear derailleur with the right. Why could this play a role with how you set up your brake levers? If you'll bear with me, it can play a role for KOF or classic bikes with mixed braking systems.

On a racing bike, I'll typically have side-pull brakes front and rear. My tandems and heavy touring bikes have cantilever bosses front and rear. With bikes in between these extremes, city bikes, commuters and light tourers, I personally often prefer a hybrid system with a side- pull in the rear and v-brakes in the front. This gives me a combination of braking strength in the front and modulation in the rear. Probably not most folks' cup of tea, but it works for me. (You can also get strength and modulation with Magura HS 66's + 77's, but these are no longer made, rare, and off topic).

In the 70's and 80's, I never much liked down tube shifters and preferred bar-end shifters. I still like them today, but often prefer the comfort of a brake+shift system for the rear. A hybrid system impinges on brake levers as follows. My on-topic 70's Bruce Gordon has a rear side-pull brake and will receive a new KOF fork with cantilever bosses. The right brake (and shift) lever goes to the rear, where it perfectly matches the Campagnolo side-pull brake. The left brake lever, which has no shifting function, goes to the front and perfectly matches the v-brake without any travel-agents etc. The front derailleur is shifted by a bar-end lever on the left. BTW, different motives can lead to similar results; on mountain stages some racers such as Lance used a similar brake lever setup (without front cantis) with a bar-end shifter on the left to reduce weight.

In the end, I have to agree with the Jan Heine that neither left to front nor right to front is superior. It's just a matter of personal preference, use whatever floats your boat.


Kai Hilbertz
Munich, Germany