Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: A Coffin Called Earth. or Toronto, ON
Bikes: Bianchi, Miyata, Dahon, Rossin
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The most benefit in stopping power is from the pads, but what shorter reach levers allow you to do is firmly grip the bars and levers at the same time for both hands, as opposed to firmly gripping the bar with one hand and grabbing the brake with the other.
Having a firm grip on the bars while braking gives more control and confidence. With smaller hands you can't grab the lever and bars firmly at the same time, so you should use one hand to hold the bars straight while grasping the brake with the other. You want to have a firm grip on the bars, because as you decelerate, more weight is put on your arms, due to the laws of physics. One of the leading causes in an endo is where the bike stops, but the rider loses grip of the bars and flies over the stopped bike. This can be prevented by having a firm grip on the bars.
Now, this is where short reach levers come into play. For hands, the amount of crushing force, that is gripping force, varies with the amount that the hand is closed. For example, try crushing a grape fruit and a Clementine with your good hand. The Clementine is much easier to crush, because your hand has more crushing power when it is less open. Compare this to the grapefruit, which is hard to even hold it, let alone crush it. Translate this to shorter reach levers, and it becomes clear as to why having a shorter reach is easier to use, especially for smaller hands.
if you want to go the barcon route, than tektro R100A and RL341 levers are a good deal.
alternatively, all of the latest generation levers from shimano, as well as the current generation tiagra and sora offer the same reach adjustments through shims.
Specialized also sells shims for previous generation 10sp 105/ultegra/DA and 9sp 105/ultegra/DA levers to reduce reach.
Campagnolo, from 2009 also offers their levers with reach adjustment. Campy 2009/10/11 levers come with 'short' as default and have a shim to increase reach for larger hands.
Last edited by AEO; 10-15-10 at 12:33 AM.