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Thread: Switch brakes

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    Switch brakes

    Hi,

    I just bought a mtb a couple of days ago and am presented with a slight problem. The bike and I are in the UK and in the UK the set the brakes up the wrong way around, i.e. left-rear/right-front. I'm not used to it and I would prefer to change them around (rather than getting used to having the like they are now).

    The brakes are Shimano XT Disc Brake BR-M765, set up with some Shimano levers (no specification). Would it be as simple as shifting the hoses around? It seems like it should work... Has anyone had this problem before or done it before?

    Grateful for any input!

    thomas

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    Senior Member nodnerb's Avatar
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    Yep, that should do it. Are the shifters reversed too?

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    Senior Member juicemouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by londonfieldsboy
    Has anyone had this problem before or done it before?
    I've not done it with hydraulic brakes (yet) but all my bikes are set up the UK way here in the US. With cable-operated brakes it is as simple as hooking the right lever up to the front brake.

    If you can find a part number on the brake levers, we could tell you if that same part is used here in the US but with the hoses swapped.
    It is my belief that every person in this world has something to teach, and everything to learn.

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    Thanks guys, really appreciate your help! However, impatient as I am I did some research (which I should have done before, I know;-)) and came up with the conclusion that, although potentially a bit messy, it wouldn't pose a prob at all. -I downloaded document SM-BH59 from the Shimano website and that pretty much cleared it up!

    The levers that are installed with the brakes are ML525s which should translate as Deore I guess but the only Deore I've found are ML535s, and it clearly says 'Deore' on them. No biggie I guess.

    I've always wondered why the UK set-up is different to other places; it seems like the fact that they 'drive on the left' doesn't quite explain it. Has anyone got any idea? I had my old bike (Marin pine mt) in for some repair a couple of years ago and when I picked it up the mechanic pretty much told me off for having the brakes 'the wrong way around' as it was potentially dangerous. Weird I thought that he didn't seem aware of what the rest of the world does.

    Regards, thomas

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    And forgot; no the shifters are on the same side. They're not that weird, lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by londonfieldsboy
    I've always wondered why the UK set-up is different to other places; it seems like the fact that they 'drive on the left' doesn't quite explain it. Has anyone got any idea? I had my old bike (Marin pine mt) in for some repair a couple of years ago and when I picked it up the mechanic pretty much told me off for having the brakes 'the wrong way around' as it was potentially dangerous. Weird I thought that he didn't seem aware of what the rest of the world does.

    Regards, thomas

    Sheldon Brown's postulate was that the misperceived main brake (i.e. rear) has its controls placed on the curb side so that a rider can still signal with the drive side hand when braking. As he states, for this very reason he sets his brakes backwards in the US. I have a spot on my commute when it would be very nice to have this backwards set up and will be switching my brakes soon.

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    ppc
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike2math
    Sheldon Brown's postulate was that the misperceived main brake (i.e. rear) has its controls placed on the curb side so that a rider can still signal with the drive side hand when braking. As he states, for this very reason he sets his brakes backwards in the US. I have a spot on my commute when it would be very nice to have this backwards set up and will be switching my brakes soon.
    Sheldon sets his brake levers the "wrong way round", with the front brake controlled by the right lever, because he reckons it's better that the stronger hand (i.e. right hand for right-handed people) controls the main (front) brake. Unfortunately, as much as I respect Sheldon's opinion, I think he's wrong on this one for two reasons:

    - The dominant hand isn't really stronger than the other one, it just has finer motor controls. However, braking isn't exactly delicate work, it's a roughly modulated squeezing force and either hand is perfectly able to control a brake finely, as well as lock the wheel.

    - Advising people to invert a habit they've acquired long ago (that is, left lever = front brake), sometimes as a kid when they learned to ride, is a majorly bad idea : during the time it'll take them to switch braking habits, they'll be truly dangerous on the road.

    I say people should learn to brake properly regardless of the hand used to control the front brake. There's no difference in braking force between right and left hands, as anyone who went over the bar in an emergency stop knows, and there's no difference in braking modulation to speak of, so the only thing that matters is to know how to distribute front and rear braking power properly at all time.

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    Here's my 2p worth:
    - The dominant hand isn't really stronger than the other one, it just has finer motor controls. However, braking isn't exactly delicate work, it's a roughly modulated squeezing force and either hand is perfectly able to control a brake finely, as well as lock the wheel.
    -I find that the motor control in my left hand (am right handed) is finer than on my right hand. Which hand do you pick your nose with? lol It is therefore easier to modulate the power on the front brake using the left hand. This is perhaps even more true with disc brakes which don't require much power to lock up at all.

    - Advising people to invert a habit they've acquired long ago (that is, left lever = front brake), sometimes as a kid when they learned to ride, is a majorly bad idea : during the time it'll take them to switch braking habits, they'll be truly dangerous on the road.
    -Absolutely right here. It really doesn't matter if you brake with your arse, as long as you know how to brake and feel confident/comfortable with it!

    As for Sheldon's reasoning, I do see what he's trying to say. However, braking with the right hand, with the front brake, at the same time as signalling seems mighty risky to me. Any hard braking with the front brake whilst only holding on with one hand would seriously scare me... thus RH=REAR!

    -And I just realised that that might actually be the REAL reason why the brakes are mounted the way they are here. Signal when turn right, w. right hand, whilst having the left hand on the REAR brake!

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    ppc
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    Quote Originally Posted by londonfieldsboy
    -I find that the motor control in my left hand (am right handed) is finer than on my right hand. Which hand do you pick your nose with? lol It is therefore easier to modulate the power on the front brake using the left hand.
    Well, most people have no trouble feeding a thread through a needle hole with either hand, they're just slightly more uncomfortable doing it with the wrong hand. Everybody does certain things with the right hand, and other things with the left, so the differences in motor control only come from using a hand you're not used to for a given task. There is no weak hand, otherwise right-handed violonists wouldn't play the notes with their left hand. The point is, if you're already used to applying the front brake with your left hand, then your "weak front braking hand" is the other one, and therefore you shouldn't change.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ppc
    Sheldon sets his brake levers the "wrong way round", with the front brake controlled by the right lever, because he reckons it's better that the stronger hand (i.e. right hand for right-handed people) controls the main (front) brake. Unfortunately, as much as I respect Sheldon's opinion, I think he's wrong on this one for two reasons:

    - The dominant hand isn't really stronger than the other one, it just has finer motor controls. However, braking isn't exactly delicate work, it's a roughly modulated squeezing force and either hand is perfectly able to control a brake finely, as well as lock the wheel.
    Fine modulation of the front brake is the key to short stopping distances.


    Quote Originally Posted by ppc
    - Advising people to invert a habit they've acquired long ago (that is, left lever = front brake), sometimes as a kid when they learned to ride, is a majorly bad idea : during the time it'll take them to switch braking habits, they'll be truly dangerous on the road.
    I do not advise people to invert their habits. In fact I have always had my own bikes set up right front, or should I say left rear, because when I was an ignorant adolescent, my J.C. Higgins had only a rear brake.

    Back in the '60s there was no standardization about this in the U.S., and I was exposed mainly to British bikes that were designed for right-front...cable routing was much neater that way, due to the cable lengths supplied, and the "handedness" of the calipers.


    Quote Originally Posted by ppc
    I say people should learn to brake properly regardless of the hand used to control the front brake. There's no difference in braking force between right and left hands, as anyone who went over the bar in an emergency stop knows, and there's no difference in braking modulation to speak of, so the only thing that matters is to know how to distribute front and rear braking power properly at all time.
    It is quite difficult to adjust back and forth, and I must admit I'm always a bit nervous riding a bike that's set up opposite to what I'm used to. Indeed, I once had a very close call due to accidentaly grabbing the rear brake when I needed to stop in a hurry, on a bike I had just bought that was set up left-rear.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html#whichside


    Quote Originally Posted by londonfieldsboy
    As for Sheldon's reasoning, I do see what he's trying to say. However, braking with the right hand, with the front brake, at the same time as signalling seems mighty risky to me. Any hard braking with the front brake whilst only holding on with one hand would seriously scare me... thus RH=REAR!
    I don't generally brake "hard" while riding one handed, but it's acctually not as difficult as people who haven't tried it imagine. Braking suddenly one handed is not a good idea, but braking hard is easier than you might think. It causes the bike to lean to one side, but that's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by londonfieldsboy
    Which hand do you pick your nose with?

    Depends which nostril...

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  11. #11
    [CTRL Z] ponchotempest's Avatar
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    All of my mountain bikes are set up the "UK way", right-front. Now a picked up a road bike and have kept the levers the "US way", right-rear. I can go back and forth between all of them without giving it a second thought.

    Long story short, you'll get used to it, and perhaps prefer the UK setup for moutain biking. But, like I did, you will fall a lot at first!

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    I switched quite a few years ago and I do prefer right front.

    Why ? I learned a long long time ago that I should always brake with the rear brake, or maybe with both in an emergency. Therefore I developped the habit of braking with the right hand. I eventually discovered that braking with the front brake was much more effective and not dangerous, especially on a bike with vintage centre pull brakes. Yet, even though I practiced it for many years, braking with the left brake never became automatic. Switching the brakes allowed me to go back to my reflex: grab the right brake and stop!

    As for braking and signalling, I find the bike more stable if I brake (right hand) on the front brake and signal, than if I brake (right hand) on the rear brake and signal.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ppc
    Sheldon sets his brake levers the "wrong way round", with the front brake controlled by the right lever, because he reckons it's better that the stronger hand (i.e. right hand for right-handed people) controls the main (front) brake. Unfortunately, as much as I respect Sheldon's opinion, I think he's wrong on this one for two reasons:

    - The dominant hand isn't really stronger than the other one, it just has finer motor controls. However, braking isn't exactly delicate work, it's a roughly modulated squeezing force and either hand is perfectly able to control a brake finely, as well as lock the wheel.
    Heck no, I say! Fine control of modulation is FAR more important than pure strength. No one who falls into the standard deviation of hand strength will have difficulty locking a good brake with either hands. Stopping short without pulling an endo requires fine control of modulation. I think that there's some merit to the view that most non-enthusiast riders who OTB do so because they are used to squeezing the rear brake only. In an emergency, they may grab both, locking the front wheel and going over the bars. This is a modulation problem - even little kids have this kind accident sometimes.

    - Advising people to invert a habit they've acquired long ago (that is, left lever = front brake), sometimes as a kid when they learned to ride, is a majorly bad idea : during the time it'll take them to switch braking habits, they'll be truly dangerous on the road.
    Piffle. Perhaps it is because I am young and cognitively flexible, but when I got my first (and, so far, only) dropbar bicycle, I switched the brakes to right-front on the advice from Sheldon's website. I won't claim that I adapted instantly, but I learned fast. I don't recall ever having a problem with grabbing the wrong brake - I fell in love with the right-front setup pretty much the first time I rode with it. I do agree that switching back and forth is a challenge. I wouldn't recommend against making the transition based on this, but I WOULD recommend making it an all-or-nothing switch. If you decide to switch, switch the brakes over on ALL your bikes. Obviously, this is easier if you have just one bike, like me!

    I say people should learn to brake properly regardless of the hand used to control the front brake. There's no difference in braking force between right and left hands, as anyone who went over the bar in an emergency stop knows, and there's no difference in braking modulation to speak of, so the only thing that matters is to know how to distribute front and rear braking power properly at all time.
    In the first part, I agree - this was my point earlier. In the second point, I disagree entirely: the reason that I was immediately so enthusiastic about switching my brakes was because I felt an immediate difference in my control over the brake. I am far more confident in my ability to coordinate the movement of my right hand, and it makes a difference on the bicycle.

    Obviously, everyone should learn proper braking technique and just as obviously, not everyone should switch their front brake to the right lever. Still, I would suggest that right-handed people at least give the idea a good think. I had been using the front brake for a couple of years before switching the levers; I knew proper technique, but I still felt an improvement when I made the change. I simply think that every rider (including the OP!) should do whatever they are most comfortable with, but don't let the uncommon nature of the right-front set up fool you into thinking that it is uncommon for any particularly good reason. If someone thinks it might be worth a shot, they should go for it. They might just find they like it better.

  14. #14
    [CTRL Z] ponchotempest's Avatar
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    The best part about switching em is the your friends fall down when they try to ride off on your bike.

    I think I do it just to be different, and to confuse my enemies!

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