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  1. #1
    Reid treidm's Avatar
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    Is the LBS mechanic correct and if so, what can I do...

    Hello, I'm getting back into biking after (Don't laugh) about 25 years off
    In my fifties now, and a LOT has changed since my Schwinn Continental days

    I want to try and make a good first buy for myself
    As example, I have been looking at a Trek 7.2FX (Around $500 is my budget for 1st buy in case I don't stick with it)
    I like it but have a problem with the brake levers

    I have large hands and the levers pinch my other fingers when I use a two-finger approach

    The mechanic says the levers reach are not adjustable
    The literature on them (Shimano EF51), says they are adjustable?
    Soooo, why is the mechanic telling me he can't adjust them?
    The brakes are V brakes if that matters

    Would another type of brakes be better for me in regards to having levers farther away from my fingers?
    And if so, could they be switched out and used with the levers already on the 7.2FX?

    Regards, Reid

  2. #2
    Desert Rat
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    According to Shimano's web site those levers are reach adjustable. Look to see if there is a screw on the lever near the pivot point of the lever.
    Have I mentioned that I love riding my bikes?
    GT Timberline (1989), Home build (2012), Giant OCR3 (2007)

    Jack aka:makeitso

  3. #3
    Senior Member bikeman715's Avatar
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    The brake levers should have a small 2 or 3 mm screws on them above where the cable / housing leave the clamp , if so you can back them out so your hands / fingers feel more comfortable . also when you do this you will need to readjust the brakes .
    bikeman715

  4. #4
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    The adjustment brings the lever closer to the bars (typically for people with smaller hands) so, unless the levers are already cranked in some (which I doubt), they are giving you as much room as you are going to get. Also, these are (I believe) integrated levers so changing levers would require changing shifters as well. One possibility is that the brakes are not adjusted well so it takes too much lever pull to activate. Setting it up with the pads close to the rim will require less pull and may be enough to solve your problems.And I started back 4 1/2 years ago at the age of 48 after 30 years of riding less than 5 miles per year. It is a lot of fun and can be addicting.

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    I'd go with turn down handlebars, racing type, more comfortable for riding, better body positioning, better hand and arm positioning.

    I grip my brake levers with all my fingers, not just two with the others wrapped around the bars.

  6. #6
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    +1 If the brake levers are bottoming out on the grips and pinching your fingers the brakes are setup wrong. Should be plenty of clearance unless you have Hulk hands.

    I'd recommend a drop bar bike too, but they don't make many anymore for casual riders. They're mostly racing bikes which would probably put the OP in an uncomfortable position after not riding for 25 years. They're also quite a bit more expensive. IMO, a Trek 7.2FX would be the perfect bike to start out on.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  7. #7
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Move the levers in about an inch from the end of the grips. The levers won't adjust further out but by moving the levers in, you'll be able to operate the brakes with one finger (something that can be done effectively with new brakes.) Using one finger should allow for plenty of clearance for the rest of your hand.

    This is a technique I use all the time for my larger handed customers.

  8. #8
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    Move the levers in about an inch from the end of the grips. The levers won't adjust further out but by moving the levers in, you'll be able to operate the brakes with one finger (something that can be done effectively with new brakes.) Using one finger should allow for plenty of clearance for the rest of your hand.
    This ^. Or even use your first two fingers to brake, but still move the lever over so that you're fingers are hitting the very end of it.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    +1, perhaps the adjustment is there, but the wrong way,
    A screw lessens the lever arc, for smaller hands..
    but they ship with the adjustment screw not engaged, and it will not go bigger..



    Back in the day .. Early mountain bikes were built with motorcycle brake levers.

    You Might try, that , again ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-24-12 at 10:25 AM.

  10. #10
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    Also, brakes can be set so there is very little lever movement before the pads hit the rim, and so much space is left for hands. This can be difficult to get set up without rubbing as there will be little clearance for rim runout or flex.

    Moving the levers in by about an inch should also help. You may also have to move the shift levers in, as they are usually inboard of the brake levers... this way, if the end of the lever gets closest to the bar at ~3 or 4 inches from the end, there should be plenty of room for your leftover digits.

    And 'adjustable reach' for brake levers generally refers to the ability to be set closer to the bars for smaller hands. The don't get no bigger. But a few simple adjustments shoudl make it work better for you.

  11. #11
    Reid treidm's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the replies!
    This is a very friendly forum!

    The reason I don't want turn down bars is my back problems
    I need a more upright position
    I may end up adding a spring seat to compensate for the weight going more to my bottom

    The lever itself is far enough out but when squeezing it, it comes in and will squash my other fingers if I pull enough for full braking power

    I tried having the LBS moving the levers in as suggested
    That does work, but then my shifting position is not as comfortable and natural

    I am wondering if the older style caliper brakes with different levers would be a better way to go? Is that what's on road bikes?
    Maybe caliper brakes give more travel in levers by design?
    Back in the day, it's what I had and had no problems back then.

    I'm just thinking I can't be the only person to come across this problem.
    I'm surprised there isn't a company that has a lever model to compensate for this problem

    The levers are sized for me to use three fingers
    Back in the day, I used two fingers
    I wouldn't mind switching to four fingers, but these levers aren't long enough
    and three fingers just feels weird
    Is this what happens when bike parts are all from Taiwan?

    Regards, Reid

  12. #12
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    It sounds as though it could be an adjustment issue but unless it's a sketchy shop, that's doubtful and the one piece shifter/brakes don't help. Look at other bikes in that price range. You may find that other bikes will be more easily adjusted to fit your hands.

  13. #13
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    It sounds as though it could be an adjustment issue but unless it's a sketchy shop, that's doubtful and the one piece shifter/brakes don't help. Look at other bikes in that price range. You may find that other bikes will be more easily adjusted to fit your hands.
    I do wonder if a similar bike that has separate brake and shifter units would work with the trick of moving the brake lever in a bit while leaving the shifter where it is.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I do wonder if a similar bike that has separate brake and shifter units would work with the trick of moving the brake lever in a bit while leaving the shifter where it is.
    Shimano shift levers are mounted inboard of the brake lever. The trigger and push-lever are long enough to cross under the width of the brake lever clamp. Mounting the brake lever on the other side of the shift levers will put the brake lever waa-aay inboard - the tip of the lever blade will probably be at or past the tips of the shift levers. IMHO, conveniance of braking should take pecidence over convenience of shifting.

  15. #15
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by treidm View Post
    The lever itself is far enough out but when squeezing it, it comes in and will squash my other fingers if I pull enough for full braking power
    I still believe the brakes are setup badly, with too much clearance between the pads and rim. Here's a photo of my brake lever with V-brakes and a similar setup:



    I mean really, are your fingers that large?
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  16. #16
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I suppose mustache bars with aero levers on the curves and then bar end shifters might give proper clearance, but I don't think that's the position you want.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
    I mean really, are your fingers that large?
    Something doesn't seem right in the OP's situation.

    It would be interesting to have a picture of the OP's set-up.

    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I suppose mustache bars with aero levers on the curves and then bar end shifters might give proper clearance, but I don't think that's the position you want.
    Such a radical change shouldn't be required. We don't know enough yet.

  18. #18
    Reid treidm's Avatar
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    I thought I was clear in my first post, but must not have been, sorry
    I don't have a set-up to show...

    The bike in question is at the bike shop
    I have been going down there for a couple weeks trying out bikes, for a buy
    The Trek 7.2FX is the one that besides the brake levers, I liked the most in my price range

    I wear XL gloves, so yes my hands are large, but nothing unusual.
    Yes, when I pull the levers with two fingers to give full braking, they actually pinch my other fingers

    I have thought about going to another dealer that carries Trek and see what they say
    It is a long drive in to another city, but may plan it soon
    Maybe their mechanics would be better...

    Regards, Reid

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    Quote Originally Posted by treidm View Post
    I thought I was clear in my first post, but must not have been, sorry
    I don't have a set-up to show...

    The bike in question is at the bike shop
    I have been going down there for a couple weeks trying out bikes, for a buy
    The Trek 7.2FX is the one that besides the brake levers, I liked the most in my price range

    I wear XL gloves, so yes my hands are large, but nothing unusual.
    Yes, when I pull the levers with two fingers to give full braking, they actually pinch my other fingers

    I have thought about going to another dealer that carries Trek and see what they say
    It is a long drive in to another city, but may plan it soon
    Maybe their mechanics would be better...

    Regards, Reid
    When brakes are set up properly, there is normally not that much movement in the lever before full power. People with full size hands use those same brake levers all the time witho problems. My wife's bike has those levers and I have large hands (most XL gloves do not fit, actually) and I have no problem, except for the fact that the rest of the bike is much much too small for me..

    If the brake cable is tightened slightly, so the lever does not need to travel so far before adequate braking power is realized, it should fix the problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
    When brakes are set up properly, there is normally not that much movement in the lever before full power. People with full size hands use those same brake levers all the time witho problems. My wife's bike has those levers and I have large hands (most XL gloves do not fit, actually) and I have no problem, except for the fact that the rest of the bike is much much too small for me..

    If the brake cable is tightened slightly, so the lever does not need to travel so far before adequate braking power is realized, it should fix the problem.
    This (and others who have said the same) is the answer to your technical question.

    In simple terms, what you need to do is go back to the bike shop and ask them (use these exact words if you're not familiar with what he wrote above):

    "Can you please adjust the brake pads to sit as close as possible to the rims without rubbing? I need to see what the minimum brake lever throw would be, because the way they are now, I can't buy this bike. But I think it might work if the pads were simply adjusted so they are as close to the rims as possible."

    As an educational point, the way this is done is to "tighten" the cable so that it draws the pads inward closer to the rims. You tighten the cable by turning a barrel adjuster on the brake cable. It's very simple and any salesman should be able to do it. Certainly any shop tech should be able to come out onto the sales floor and do it in 30 seconds.

    If they don't understand, or can't make it work for you with that simple request, go to a different bike shop.

    I'm with the rest who say, with properly adjusted brakes, the lever throw should be very minimal, certainly no where near pinching even large fingers. With nice straight rims, you can adjust them close enough so that they begin to engage with the tiny-est movement of the brake lever. Some don't like it that way (some like to have a little slack before the brakes engage), but in your case, you'll need to go as close as possible.

  21. #21
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Back in the day .. Early mountain bikes were built with motorcycle brake levers.

    You Might try, that , again ..
    Indeed. "Magura" was a popular brand: http://www.maicoland.com/levers.html#maguradl

  22. #22
    Reid treidm's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the informative posts!

    Extra thank you to DCBO & Camilo!

    I will go down Monday morning and run this by them...

    "Can you please adjust the brake pads to sit as close as possible to the rims without rubbing? I need to see what the minimum brake lever throw would be, because the way they are now, I can't buy this bike. But I think it might work if the pads were simply adjusted so they are as close to the rims as possible."

    So far all they say is we can move the levers in.
    It helps but then shifting isn't natural (When they move the brake levers, shifters go too)

    I will try this approach and see what happens

    Being from a very small town can be a disadvantage at times
    It's the one and only bike shop in town and the next nearest is a good drive away

    Regards, Reid

  23. #23
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    How far? It may be worth the drive to buy a bike that is properly assembled... Especially the brakes!

    See the picture I posted above to compare lever travel.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  24. #24
    Reid treidm's Avatar
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    It's about an hour each way in to a large congested city

    I think I may just do that next, come to think of it
    And if the mechanics there can set it up to work, I will know my local shop either doesn't know how to or doesn't want to take the time to do it.

    I wanted to throw my business to a local dealer, but I think competent service will outweigh my desire to help a local business and the convenience of it.

    Would be so convenient though with local shop only about a mile away

    Regards, Reid

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by treidm View Post
    So far all they say is we can move the levers in.
    It helps but then shifting isn't natural (When they move the brake levers, shifters go too)
    No, these guys are idiots. You don't adjust the lever's position or rotation on the bars. It's an adjustment with cable tension you need. By increasing tension, you bring the pads in closer to the rim and have less dead travel of the levers before the pads engage. You'll want to find a more competent shop, because you'll want to be able to go back to them for tune-ups and troubleshooting later. These will be much more complicated jobs than simply adjusting cable-tension on the brakes.

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