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View Poll Results: Which hand do you use for the front brake?
Left 55 66.27%
Right 23 27.71%
I don't have a front brake. 5 6.02%
Voters: 83. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-24-05, 08:52 PM   #1
mac
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Which hand do you use for the front brake? Left or Right?

I was reading Sheldon Brown's article on braking and safety and was wondering which hand do you use for your front brake and why? Currently, my bikes are set up with the left hand-front brake combo, but my motorcycle is right hand-front brake. I was thinking of switching over my bikes as well.
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Old 07-24-05, 08:54 PM   #2
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You're switching to Campy?
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Old 07-24-05, 08:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mac
I was reading Sheldon Brown's article on braking and safety and was wondering which hand do you use for your front brake and why? Currently, my bikes are set up with the left hand-front brake combo, but my motorcycle is right hand-front brake. I was thinking of switching over my bikes as well.
If you take your bike to a bikeshop to be serviced, please warn them of this re-adjustment.

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Old 07-24-05, 09:14 PM   #4
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Right hand, front brake only. It really is more natural feeling for me.
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Old 07-24-05, 09:22 PM   #5
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Left hand front brake.

I'm also left-handed, so his thoughts on handedness don't apply.
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Old 07-24-05, 09:52 PM   #6
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Well it depends on your particular braking habits.

The true stopping power comes from the front brakes. If you are in the habit of stopping you motorcycle properly with the front brake, then you have already trained your right hand to be sensitive to stopping.

Something else to consider, in an emergency situation your left hand is trained to disengage the clutch (full squeeze). Now you're on your bicycle, what happens when you grab the clutch, ie. front brake? Would you rather lockup the front or rear in a panic stop?
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Old 07-24-05, 10:30 PM   #7
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I use left because it is "standard" and it isn't like my left hand is a big useless ham just because I am right handed.
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Old 07-24-05, 11:02 PM   #8
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Don't think it really matters that much - they set up my road and off-road bikes with the brakes on opposite sides, and I just adapt to it. However if I wanted to hand-signal more, then I'd want the REAR brake on my right hand so my left hand is free to signal.
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Old 07-24-05, 11:26 PM   #9
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The old rule is "right rear". Its easy to remember and is phonetic. It applies to both brakes and derailers. I was told a few years ago by an expert on bikes that this was not a standard, but in over fifty years of riding bikes with modern caliper brakes and various shifting mechanisms I have never seen the rule broken. The U.S. Government recognises it in their rules of safety equipment required on imported bicycles. I don't think their is any rational to it. It probably got started years ago by someone who mistakenly thought that the rear wheel brake was the important one, like the old coaster brake. It is like the threads on your pedals. However I do not think it wize to break this rule because it is the type of thing that should come natural and you shouldn't have to think about, particularly in emergency situations.

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Old 07-25-05, 12:00 AM   #10
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Right hand. I grew up in Australia, where this is the standard. I've been riding a road bike in Canada for the last couple of months set up for the left hand. It wasn't hard to get used to, but I much prefer using my dominant hand for the more important brake, so I switched them two days ago.
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Old 07-25-05, 12:29 AM   #11
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Mine's right hand (Australia). I though Europe was right hand too.
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Old 07-25-05, 02:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giantcfr1
Mine's right hand (Australia). I though Europe was right hand too.
Steve.

UK is right hand. Not sure about Continental Europe though. Hong Kong is right hand. I think there could be a link to which side of the road you drive/ride on, but have never bothered to verify this.
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Old 07-25-05, 05:04 AM   #13
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front gear, front brake - left side
rear gears, rear break - right side

1. it's simple and makes sense.
2. the two things you do most often (rear gear and front brake) are on different hands. This can be useful depending on how you ride.

I think the only reason people prefer the other way round is out of habit. Or because of motorbikes. Even the motorbike comparison is very sketchy, but for me it is irrelevant anyway.

Sheldon Brown is great, but on this subject I disagree with him. His arguments and reasoning are flawed.
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Old 07-25-05, 05:44 AM   #14
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Right hand for the front brake. I couldn't imagne having the front brake where i would have to use my left hand, it would just feel weird.
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Old 07-25-05, 06:49 AM   #15
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One thing to consider before switching the front brake lever from left to right is the use of the left hand as indicator when doing a left turn. In this situation, I think it is safer to have the remaining (right) hand available for an emergency rear braking than front
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Old 07-25-05, 07:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by womble
UK is right hand. Not sure about Continental Europe though. Hong Kong is right hand. I think there could be a link to which side of the road you drive/ride on, but have never bothered to verify this.
Nicodemus already replied for the Netherlands. It's the same here: left hand - front brake / front der. I'd be interested to hear how it is in Sweden, because they used to drive on the left hand side of the road (that was decades ago, but still).

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Old 07-25-05, 07:06 AM   #17
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When we rented bikes in Ireland last summer, the brakes were reversed from how we have them on our bikes in the US. US == front break on left hand, Ireland == front brake on right hand.

My feeling? Whatever. The only case where it seems to make a difference, as pointed out above, is when signaling with the left hand, you don't want to go OTB because you squeezed too hard on the front brake (so, rear-right makes sense). I suppose in Ireland where they all drive on the "wrong" side of the road the switch is equally logical.
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Old 07-25-05, 02:45 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicodemus
front gear, front brake - left side
rear gears, rear break - right side

1. it's simple and makes sense.
2. the two things you do most often (rear gear and front brake) are on different hands. This can be useful depending on how you ride.

I think the only reason people prefer the other way round is out of habit. Or because of motorbikes. Even the motorbike comparison is very sketchy, but for me it is irrelevant anyway.
For me the main reasons are:

A. I'm right handed, like to have the more important front brake on the stronger, more skillful hand.

2. In the U.S. we drive on the right side, signal with the left hand. I prefer to be able to signal and still have my primary brake in easy reach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicodemus
Sheldon Brown is great, but on this subject I disagree with him. His arguments and reasoning are flawed.
The fact that we have different preferences does not necessarily mean that either of us has "flawed" arguments or reasoning.

If you have found any flaws in my arguments or reasonaing, I'd appreciate specific examples so that I can correct the errors.

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Old 07-25-05, 03:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicodemus

1. it's simple and makes sense.
2. the two things you do most often (rear gear and front brake) are on different hands. This can be useful depending on how you ride.

I think the only reason people prefer the other way round is out of habit. Or because of motorbikes. Even the motorbike comparison is very sketchy, but for me it is irrelevant anyway.

Sheldon Brown is great, but on this subject I disagree with him. His arguments and reasoning are flawed.
I think your arguments are flawed.

I've never ridden a motorcycle in my life. My bike has no gears.

I had not ridden a bike in almost 15 years when I built mine at our local co-op. After building it all up and learning how to install brakes, the volunteer tells me "Hey, you put your brake on the wrong side." I didn't understand.. I'm right handed.. I can barely throw a ball with accuracy with my left hand.. why would I want it controling something that can save my life.

Vincent "I can't even do that with my left hand very well" Macaluso
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Old 07-25-05, 03:35 PM   #20
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I grew up with right-front. I've been using left-front for the last couple of years in the US. I prefer right-front, and should get around to re-cabling the bikes one of these days.

My reason for the preference is mainly that it's my stronger hand, and I can modulate the brake better. That said, my left hand isn't that weak and I'm happy using the left-front too. Hand signals don't weigh in that highly - it's extremely rare that I'd want to brake more heavily than the rear brake can cope with and hand signal at the same time.
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Old 07-25-05, 07:23 PM   #21
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My early 1960s Bianchi was cabled right-front at the factory, in the days when it was fashionable to run front sidepull brake cables to the NEAREST brake handle, rather than across the stem. Likewise, the two rear brake cable guides were located along the left side of the top tube. My friends' Schwinns were all left-front, and the Weinmann sidepull calipers were mirror images of my Universals.

I used right-front for almost 20 years, but finally switched over to left-front, partly because I got tired of warning anyone borrowing my bike that the brakes were "switched," and partly because today's aero cabling systems are designed for left-front. As a somewhat ambidextrous lefty who does not ride motorcycles, I feel I can brake safely with either polarity, but it is probably best not to have to switch back and forth. Hand signals are a problem on a couple of local 15 percent descents, where I want to keep BOTH hands on the brakes, particularly in wet weather. (Slippery pavement is the one place I diverge from the front-brake-only fans -- a front wheel skid is a megabummer.)

The American right-rear standard is indeed based on the flawed logic that the front brake is DANGEROUS and that the rear brake should be the primary stopper, to be controlled by the dominant hand.
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Old 07-25-05, 08:57 PM   #22
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I am American. Left hand for me.
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Old 07-25-05, 09:22 PM   #23
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I've never heard "it" called a "front brake" before.
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Old 07-25-05, 10:19 PM   #24
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Seems to me that using the dominant hand for the front brake might make sense if all all of us were sporting hands on the other side that were less than useless. From my own experience, it does not take a lot of manual dexterity or strength to engage any of the modern brake systems. In fact, maybe having the weaker hand pulling the front brake might just be better. With the disc brakes now popular, a pinky pull can stop you faster than your butt can pucker.

A silly debate IMO. No one is right. No one is wrong.
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Old 07-25-05, 11:09 PM   #25
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A silly debate IMO. No one is right. No one is wrong.
But but but...give up our beloved Holy Wars?
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