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  1. #1
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    tightening old road brake levers to handlebars?

    I'm fixing up and old JC Penny 10-speed for a female friend of mine and noticed the brake levers are very loose on the handlebars. It looked they were held down with some electrical tape but that's a pretty ghetto fix. I cut that off and now I see no way of tightening then down onto the bars.
    Photos are better the words:




    Any help is appreciated!
    ~Sorrow

  2. #2
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Depress the lever and look inside.. there will be a screw or allen head fitting that tightens the retaining band.

  3. #3
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Yep, pull the cable off the lever, and there it is!

  4. #4
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    You might get rid of the suicide extensions. They are too flexible to safely stop the bike.

  5. #5
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Not so! Correctly adjusted brakes will skid wheels with those levers.

  6. #6
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    Not so! Correctly adjusted brakes will skid wheels with those levers.
    If you mean with the brake pads 0.00001mm off the surface of the rim then yes. Learn how to brake properly using the hoods instead of using levers that were designed to never work properly.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  7. #7
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    That has not been my experience. I used them for a very long time, without a problem.

    They were still on my old steel road bike, when I sold it last year; and, the buyer even remarked how nice they were.

    And, yes, I could brake from any position, hoods, bars, even in the drops.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    You might get rid of the suicide extensions. They are too flexible to safely stop the bike.
    They are called suicide levers because the large leverage makes it too easy to lock up the front wheel. There is no need to take them off as that can mess to rest position of the normal levers - just learn their limitations.

  9. #9
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    They are called suicide levers because the large leverage makes it too easy to lock up the front wheel. There is no need to take them off as that can mess to rest position of the normal levers - just learn their limitations.
    This system has several drawbacks:
    The extension lever partially applied the main brake lever, reducing the available lever travel. Not all brands/models suffered from this, but the most common ones did.
    The attachment hardware precluded the use of the top of the brake lever hood as a comfortable riding position.
    They encouraged the practice of riding with the hands on the top, middle section of the bar, which is a position that doesn't give very secure control, especially on bumpy surfaces, because the hands are too close together.
    The hardware that held the extension levers to the main levers was prone to fall off.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  10. #10
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    I'd rather this not become an argument about the need for the suicide levers. It is not my bike nor am I ever going to be riding it when it is all 'fixed up' so I've no say about them. The girl who owns the bikes does not seem to have a problem with the suicide levers and I've made the bike into a single speed (both the derailleurs were shot) with a pretty relaxed ratio so she will never be hitting massive speeds on the flats or descents.
    I think I see a massive flat head screw that you all speak of which controls the retaining band, but I'll check again in the morning when I've not had a bit too much at the bar.

  11. #11
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Just make sure that you use a big enough screwdriver, so you don't bugger up the screw. Turn it tight...

  12. #12
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    They are called suicide levers because the large leverage makes it too easy to lock up the front wheel. There is no need to take them off as that can mess to rest position of the normal levers - just learn their limitations.
    No, they don't have too large of leverage. The problem is the motion required to operate them, upwards. This means that the harder you want to squeeze the levers, the more you have to move your hands upwards, taking your weight off your hands on the bars. This means that when you brake hard, the only thing keeping your weight from flying forwards are your thumbs. There's been numerous people coming into our shop with broken thumbs asking to fix the levers because they flew over the handlebars in a panic stop and ended up hitting whatever it was they were trying to avoid. Breaking their thumbs in the process just adds insult to injury.

    The modern interrupter levers are much better designed. Their motion goes backwards towards the bars. This allows you to keep your palms behind the bars under braking to brace against your weight moving forwards; no broken thumbs and powerful braking.

  13. #13
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    The only comment I'll make is that such levers were, to my knowledge, only fitted to inexpensive or lower-end road bikes. You will not find them on serious road machines of that era, and they are of course quite passe' now.
    If they had been a great idea, you'd think they'd still be around.

    Being as old as I am, I recall reading in the bike press back then that there was some degree of government interference in this; someone at the upper levels of "safety" regulations feeling they were a good idea.
    Most all the cycling journalists back then thought they were terrible; that they promoted poor riding positions and poor technique.

  14. #14
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    Suicide levers are great.

    You may find the cable is stretched over where the screwdriver needs to go.

    Some Dia Compes have a method of putting a bit of slack into the cable, which makes it easier to tighten the screw (or to pull the tire out through the brake pads when changing wheels.) Mine have a spacer which the lever stops on when you release it. It can be swung out of the way. I can't tell if yours do.

    You may find it necessary to take out the front wheel and press the brake pads together, and maybe hold them together with a string or some tape, in order to put some slack into the cable which is stretched over the screw. Your levers are obviously made of chrome steel so they're different from mine.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Procione's Avatar
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    What I do is unscrew the lever extensions, and saw off the nubs that they are mounted on. That makes the bike look somewhat cleaner, and those levers don't get in the way.

  16. #16
    STFD mcgreivey's Avatar
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    (ummm .... see OP's reply)

  17. #17
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I'll second the use of "interrupter-levers" being a much better plan. They operate on the same cable (inline) as the regular levers with about equal breaking-power. If you want some levers on the top of your handlebars - these really will work.

    I'm told much the best of them is made by Salsa:

    http://www.salsacycles.com/brakes.html
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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