Bicycle Mechanics - small rider, small hands
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06-16-09, 08:21 PM
I am posting this for a friend...who is 4' 11" and has very small hands. She has always had interrupter brakes beacuse she couldn't reach her brakes on the drops.
She has a new, custom bike without interrupters and doesn't feel completely comfortable with her current braking ability...she can just manage to grip the drop breaks. The builder of the bike and subsequent bike mechanics have said there is nothing else that can be done. She's been told they are shimmed to the max.
Are there any small riders out there who have found a way to work around this? Let me know if you need additional details. And thanks in advance for your responses.
FSA compact bars with campagnolo 2009 levers or 10sp shimano shifters with specialized slim shims.
get some ideas from here: http://www.terrybicycles.com/
My wife has small hands and rides a 9-speed Shimano. She always brakes with her hands on the tops of the hoods. Shimming the brake levers may help when braking from the drops but it does not help with braking from the hoods and may actually make braking more difficult. What I've done for my wife is replace the brake pads with softer pads (KoolStop, salmon colored pads are best), and I've adjusted the brakes so that they are close to the rims but not dragging. I check the pad to rim clearance often.
Campagnolo components are much better for people with small hands. But then you need the shifters, derailleurs, cassette, compatible hub, chain, etc. Or you can substitute a J-Tec for the Campy cassette and hub.
Jean Beetham Smith
06-17-09, 09:15 AM
If I had dropped the money on a custom built bike, I would expect the builder to find the components that would accomodate my hands. Maybe that is why I haven't got a custom built bike. (I'm also 4'11")
06-17-09, 10:13 AM
kmcmoobud: PM me if you are interesting in the Ultegra level R-600 9 speed brifters that are specifically for small hands. I have a set that are new that I can give you a good deal on. bought for my S.O's bike, but never used.
06-17-09, 07:27 PM
We discussed this very issue just last week. See this thread, http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=549639
I answered this question in detail as did others.
06-18-09, 08:00 AM
Any brand of brake/shift lever can be modified to bring the brake levers closer to the hooks. There are shims made for the most common Shimano levers. I have my own method of reducing the reach with Campy levers.
FWIW, I found the FSA K-force compact bars to have a very long reach to the my Campy brake levers. My Easton EX-90 SLX3 bars are much closer.
I can bring the levers in a lot closer to the hooks than pictured here, if desired.
06-18-09, 08:36 AM
The trend nowadays is to ride on the hoods, and to facilitate that, there is a tendency to angle the handlebars up too much, and to install the levers too high --- both of which greatly exacerbate the problem of reaching the brake levers from the drops.
This may or may not help you, but since it's your last resort, it would be worth the time to fiddle with it. If you aren't comfortable taping handlebars and moving brake levers, you will have to get assistance from someone who is.
Remove bar tape in order to be able to move the brifters. If you don't have a trainer, set the bike up against the wall so that your friend can mount the bike and pedal backwards (holding herself up with shoulder against the wall, or whatever works for her).
Now with handlebar clamp loosened just enough to permit movement, the idea is that by a combination of handlebar angle and lowered brake hoods, you have the person actually try it on the bike until it feels right to reach the brake levers themselves. This will usually mean the handlebar is NOT angled up at all, and the levers are lower down on the curve. The end result should be a good compromise between braking from the hoods and braking from the drops. Once the ideal position is found, quickly retighten the bar clamp and retape.
If a person doesn't feel that it's a slight stretch to ride on the hoods, then the hoods are probably too high and/or too close.
06-20-09, 05:54 PM
my g/f is only 5'1" tall she tryed shimano. then she tryed the campy record shifters on my bike.. she said the campy was easyer to use.....the only reason i can see that most girls don't try campy, is shimano dumps there groups on the market, at a cut cost rate.. i have let a few of my females frinds try my campy shifters.. with in a month od so, they all wencampy.
06-20-09, 07:43 PM
Yeah, the problem most likely is a set-up issue like what Longfemur pointed out. Here's some photos from the previous thread. Notice that AnthonyG's 2nd picture is the correct way to do it for maximum braking effectiveness (reach and power):
The traditional set-up method was to place a ruler underneath the bar and then place the lever so that it touches the ruler. The tip of the lever would then be in-line with the line projected from the flat bottom part the bar. And this line (ruler) should also be roughly parallel to the ground. Having the brakes so high on the bars like they do now really hinders reaching the brake-levers.
06-21-09, 09:06 AM
The position of the brake lever relative to the bottom of the bars is not important at all. I never check it or give it any consideration when mounting brake/shift levers. Modern bars are made to have the levers mounted relatively high. As long as you don't get ridiculous about it, the reach to the brake lever will NOT be increased. My photo of the Easton EC90 SLX3 bars (above) with the new Campy ultrashift levers proves that you can have the brake hoods high with a short reach to the brake lever. I've had this same type of mounting on several different bars, dating back about 10 years.
I do a lot of mountain descents and spend a lot of time in the hooks, with my fingers in reach of the brake levers. To do this properly, the hand must be in the correct position if you expect to reach the levers. With Campy levers, the crook of the thumb must be located just below the brake hood, in the hook bend, behind the brake lever. If you place the hands a lot lower, of course you won't be able to reach the brake lever. My first picture is of the Salso Poco. This is an "old school" bar with lots of rampdown that's lousy if the bars are not rotated upward to elminate most of the rampdown. Once that's done, the bars work OK, but I moved on to much better Easton bars years ago.
When I set up new bars, I first set the angle in the hook area, then I mount the lever so the brake hood is horizontal at the minimum, or angled up just a few degrees. If I can't meet both of these objectives without creating a large reach to the brake lever, the bar is a reject.
Here's a link to another discussion on the subject. http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=174139
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