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  1. #1
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    operate both brakes w/one lever

    I'm getting back into cycling after a long break. Due to a childhood injury, I cannot use my left hand. I don't think it's safe to ride using only one brake. Back in the 70's I had a nice road bike that I modified to operate both the front and rear brakes from the right hand lever (basicly ran both cables from the same lever). Is there a gadget that will due this? TIA.....

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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Problem Solvers Cable Doubler 1:2

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    Giant Puzzle jco1385's Avatar
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    you could also run something like this. my brother has this on his langster and it works out well.

    http://www.treefortbikes.com/453_333...chronized.html


  4. #4
    (this space for rent) Gavush's Avatar
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    While I was on a group ride in Atlanta I saw a guy with a road bike that only had limited or partial use of his right hand. He had brake levers w/ intergrated shifers (brifters) They were both mounted on the left handle bar, the upper one was mounted slightly higher than you would normally mount the brake, and the lower one was up-side down so both the levers were pointed at each other. He could grab both the levers with one hand and even apply more force to one lever or the other. Also, he could shift all on one side too. It was genius.

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    Faster than yesterday
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    ^^^I was thinking something along these lines. It would be ideal to be able to control each brake independently.

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    Senior Member exRunner's Avatar
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    I would change the lever assignments and put the front brake on the right side and be done with it. Back brakes have very limited use and are dangerous in many instances. Setting up an uncontrolled dual actuation system seems like asking for trouble.

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    Thanks for all the replies. As for just using the front brake... It's much more difficult to keep from going over the bars during hard,sudden braking with only one hand hanging on- while using that hand to also steer and brake. My old bike was set up so the rear wheel brake touched the rim just before the front brake did. There was no "over the bar" feeling during hard braking, in fact, it almost felt like it pushed you onto the bike more.
    I think I'll look into the " Problem Solvers Cable Doubler 1:2 " suggested by maddmaxx

  8. #8
    Call me The Breeze I_bRAD's Avatar
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    I wouldn't want both brakes on one lever. How about a coaster on the rear and a lever for the front?

  9. #9
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    At last, something I can help with!
    First: Road or mountain? I have different approaches to each.
    Examples assume right hand works
    Road: Right brake to front. Really. Just use the one and you'll be fine. I have the rear on a cross lever where a cross lever would normally go on the right. It's there just in case the highly improbable happens-- my front brake breaks somehow. I never use it, it's a just in case thing.
    Mountain: I mounted the two levers on top of each other. I have the front below, it's my main brake. I have it "tight." The top brake lever goes to the back, and I have it "loose." This allows for fine modulation between the two.

    For road, please read
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?298154

    Here's a photo of my mountain bike set up:
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  10. #10
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Let me add: I have a road lever that operated both calipers. I tried to use it in the 70s. It just isn't a good idea. You can never get the balance right. If you brake hard, even if you transfer your position back on the bike, you still unweight the rear wheel. It's to easy to skid that unweighted wheel, and a skidding wheel -- having lost traction -- can accelerate past the non-skidding front wheel. This is not pretty.

    I know using just the front brake sounds radical, but in 30+ years it hasn't been a problem, even once.
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Noterman, what you feel and how the bike stops are two totally separate things. What you felt wasn't you being pushed "deeper" into the bike but just a lack of stopping power. The truth of the matter is that when there is good traction the bike will stop in a shorter distance with the front only than with the rear only. This is due to weight transfer moving the weight of the rider and bike onto the front wheel and off the rear. In mild stops you can use both or either brake and not have any issues. But when you need to stop NOW to avoid a nasty then the front brake is your friend when riding on clean dry roads.

    The oddball thing is that we mostly all stop with two brakes. But on a bike or motorcycle when you want to stop really hard you actually have to ease up on the pressure of the rear lever while pulling harder on the front in order to avoid skidding the rear. At the most extreme point of stopping ALL your braking is on the front wheel and the weight transfer is so complete that the rear wheel is barely in contact with the ground at all and has little or no traction. At that point you should not be using the rear at all, just the front. It's a fine line but this is where the bike and you will stop in the shortest possible distance. Nothing you can do will make it stop any faster. But like so many things using the brakes at this extreme is a skill. A skill that needs to be practiced frequently to learn it so it's there when needed.

    As for going over the bars the thing to do is learn to modulate the pressure to avoid this. And it helps if you can lower your body and move your backside to the rear as much as possible to lower and move your center of gravity back. And if you feel the back coming up off the ground ease up on the lever a hair. Both moving your weight down and back as well as learning to feel for any lifting of the rear is part of that skill thing.

    Now if you get into wet or loose surface conditions this changes. Often it changes radically. If it's really slippery then the rear brake is your friend since it will allow you to slide the rear a bit during a stop in a contolled manner where a sliding front will wash out and put you down pronto.

    So like most things there are compromises and different solutions for different circumstances. And because of this I would agree with the others that say you should try to keep the braking separate by somehow arrangeing two levers that allow you a choice and then learn to use them really well by practicing maximum power stops before you actually need to do one. I also agree with Curtis about the issues with linked brakes. Regardless of what you do there would be only one situation where the ratio was right. The rest of the time it's a bad compromise.

    You also haven't mentioned if this will be for a road bike or for a mountain bike setup. That would help with the type of suggestions. being offered. But either way I would suggest that you look at methods that allow you two levers so you can vary the pressure between them while applying them at the same time. This would provide you with the option of shifting the pressure for the type of surface and the stopping requirements of the situation. For a road bike that one described above with the two levers "toe to toe" sounded great. Then there's Curtis' overlapping system just above for a mountain bike. Another MTB option would be to use a TT style bullhorn lever mounted in the end hole and a regular one mounted so that the tips of the levers line up. Then by varying the pressure between the inner and outer lever you can vary the front to rear balance easily and naturally. Because you'd be using a road bike component in a mountain bike handlebar in this case some machining may be required.

    With your strong hand doing all the braking I'd guess that it woudl be nice to move all the shifting over to the left side. Yes? At least that part won't be all that hard. Stacked rapidfire pods or a SRAM twist grip for one shifter and rapidfire for the other would make things tidy.

    In any event whatever system you come up with I strongly advise that you set it up so that it favours the front brake as this is the brake you need to stop quickly in a shorter distance regardless of what you feel.
    Last edited by BCRider; 01-13-10 at 12:07 PM.
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  12. #12
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    There is a guy around here that can only use his right hand. He has grip shift (shifting) and the front brake on the right hand, and a coaster brake on the rear wheel. This allows him to modulate each brake seperatly. It works great.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  13. #13
    Call me The Breeze I_bRAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    I know using just the front brake sounds radical, but in 30+ years it hasn't been a problem, even once.
    I'm gonna say it doesn't snow where you live!

  14. #14
    Senior Member exRunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
    I'm gonna say it doesn't snow where you live!
    Good point. Another reason why dual actuation would not be a good idea. The ONLY time I use my back brake is in slick conditions, like a wet road or leaves on the road in the fall.

    The bike club has a guy that lost his left forearm in a car wreck many years ago. He rides a Cervelo that has been customized. He has a prosthetic that has a special ball on the end that snaps into the left "hood."

    His right hand shifts the RD and controls the front brake. His FD is controlled using a bar end shifter, and his back brake is controlled with his right thumb. He's an engineer and I think all of it was designed by him. Pretty slick.

  15. #15
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jco1385 View Post
    you could also run something like this. my brother has this on his langster and it works out well.

    http://www.treefortbikes.com/453_333...chronized.html


    I have full use of both of my hands, but sometimes, I think I'd like a lever like this for myself. It would leave my left hand free for signaling or whatever. Any thoughts?
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by noterman View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. As for just using the front brake... It's much more difficult to keep from going over the bars during hard,sudden braking with only one hand hanging on- while using that hand to also steer and brake. My old bike was set up so the rear wheel brake touched the rim just before the front brake did. There was no "over the bar" feeling during hard braking, in fact, it almost felt like it pushed you onto the bike more.
    I think you need separate levers. There's no need to use both brakes at once, and no way (short of electronic anti-skid technology) to control both brakes adequately in all situations with one lever.
    The bigger problem I see is that it's almost impossible to brake strongly with only one hand on the bars. If I couldn't rig some sort of prosthetic to connect to the other side, I'd try mounting the brake lever (or at least one of the brake levers) dead center on the stem. That way the braking forces don't turn the handlebars.

    em

  17. #17
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Good point about the one handed riding. Yes it is near impossible to brake strongly with only one hand on the bars. For my part I assumed that the OP can use his weak hand to brace with even if it's not strong enough to grasp a lever with enough pressure to be useful.

    Noglider, all the info about how we value the ability to modulate the front and rear independently applies to you as well as the OP. For this reason I think most of us don't like the two in one approach either with a cable joiner or with the dual position lever.

    Mind you it comes down to where and how you ride too. Beach cruising speeds would tolerate almost any sort of setup. But faster riding where idiot car drivers, surprise dogs or any other unexpected stuff occuring pretty much demands a higher degree of control.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  18. #18
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    True, you can't brake strongly with one hand on the handlebars. I don't think I would do that.

    True, there's more control with two hands, but is that control necessary? We don't have it in cars. Then again, a car isn't in danger of pitching over. In a panic stop, do I do the right thing? I recently had a panic stop. A car cut me off, and to avoid hitting it on the side, I braked hard. My rear wheel did lift up, and then it went back down. I'd like to think I avoided a collision with my skill, and I might have, but I don't know for sure.

    So with light braking, I could signal with my left and brake with my right.

    I think I would adjust the front a bit tighter so I don't use the rear too hard.

    I think it's worth a try, and the lever isn't all that expensive, either.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  19. #19
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
    I'm gonna say it doesn't snow where you live!
    No, it doesn't. But if I was in snow I wouldn't be on my skinny tire road bike. I'd be on my mountain bike where I can use either brake. (see photo)
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    True, you can't brake strongly with one hand on the handlebars. I don't think I would do that.

    True, there's more control with two hands, but is that control necessary? We don't have it in cars. Then again, a car isn't in danger of pitching over. In a panic stop, do I do the right thing? I recently had a panic stop. A car cut me off, and to avoid hitting it on the side, I braked hard. My rear wheel did lift up, and then it went back down. I'd like to think I avoided a collision with my skill, and I might have, but I don't know for sure.

    So with light braking, I could signal with my left and brake with my right.

    I think I would adjust the front a bit tighter so I don't use the rear too hard.

    I think it's worth a try, and the lever isn't all that expensive, either.
    But by going with that one lever option it's an all or nothing. Unless you come up with something very clever your brakes are now always linked at one ratio. And another thing. Since this system doesn't use a pivoting junction arm you run the very real risk of one cable being a bit too loose and when the other binds down it leaves the other fully loose so you're only using one brake. Keeping this one lever does all in tune strikes me as being a lot of fuss and even if it didn't frequently go out of tune it would need to be checked frequently.

    If you're only needing to ride one handed while signalling a turn then just use your left (front brake) hand and be done with it. Since we already recognize that you don't want to be stopping hard while your hand is signalling the rear brake under the control of the right hand still on the bars is easily able to slow you at a rate which is comfortable while riding one handed.

    This leaves you prepared to deal with some future emergency where you need to use both brakes as required for any unforeseen or emergency situations.
    Last edited by BCRider; 01-13-10 at 06:51 PM.
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  21. #21
    VICTORY IS MINE! Snowman219's Avatar
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    If you decide to do anything, don't just keep your front brake like some suggested, that's NOT smart. Great way to end up on your head if you lock the wheel up(again, another reason to wear a helmet). If you keep only one, keep the back brake. And if you do move them over to one side move them to the right side so you can still use proper hand signals.

  22. #22
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    BCRider, I guess you're right.

    Snowman219, I disagree with you. Skilled use of the front brake is far more useful and safer than sole use of the back brake.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
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  23. #23
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Snowman, by limiting yourself to the rear brake you far more than double your minimum stopping distance vs using the front. Folks only flip the bike due to the power of the front when they don't understand that there needs to be some expectation of skill involved in riding. Skill in squeezing the front to the maximum allowable and monitoring the bike to know when that maximum has been reached.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  24. #24
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    front break only just fine in winter

    Of the 9 winters I've ridden 6 of then have been on a ss road bike with front break only. No problems, but different strokes for different folks I guess.
    This winter I've added a back break simply as a safety redundancy but I never use it.

    Did any one mention the fixie w/ front break option?

  25. #25
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0speedbike View Post
    Did any one mention the fixie w/ front break option?
    Not a bad suggestion!

    I just met someone who is getting rid of his beach cruiser because the chain fell off, leaving him brakeless. Always have two brakes, because one of your brakes could break at any time.

    Note my careful spelling.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

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