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Old 09-30-12, 01:31 AM   #1
Heatherbikes
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upright bar brake levers for small hands, suggestions.

Not sure if this is a general cycling question, but imagine bike mechanics would know what's out there. I have small hands, but I've also become more and more timid over the years. It's mostly because I am usually riding on a scary narrow highway, and even on side roads cars speed. I tend to freak out and use the brakes alot. I have deore lx v brake levers on one bike and fairly easy to grab, but in general I have noticed it is hard to reach the brakes and my hands ache horribly while going down the big long hills of my area. I feel safer if I know I can grab the levers easily, so usually have my fingers on them all the time, instead of wrapped around the handlebar grips. If I do try and ride with my hands on the grips and have to brake suddenly, it usually requires a bit of fumbling to reach the brakes. I have just finished my drum brake IGH bike, and the brake levers I used are really big and hard to reach. They are 'miranda classic' and were given to me by a bike mechanic who said they were best for drum brakes. They are strong, well made and have lots of leverage. I have a set of velo orange city brake levers that have about the same reach as the mirandas. My hands ache trying to reach, but also constantly trying to have my fingers on them when needed. I'd like to try wean off the brake habit. But can you recommend really great strong small hand brakes for drum brakes as well as side pull etc?

I dare not even attempt drop bars, although those little cyclocross levers look easy. But what's the point of drop bars if I just ride on the tops?

Last edited by Heatherbikes; 09-30-12 at 01:35 AM. Reason: missed info
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Old 09-30-12, 04:56 AM   #2
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Check out BMX brake levers made for the youth market. Some are shorter and have a dog leg configuration that brings the lever closer to the bar. Make sure you get a set compatible with the intended brakes. V-brake levers should be no problem. You should not be riding the brakes all the time, it really doesn't make you any safer and is, as you found, tiring on the hands. It also means less contact with the bar which could be a problem if you hit an unseen flaw in the road surface or have to suddenly make a radical turn to avoid hitting something or being hit.

Go out on an empty parking lot or relatively empty road and practice hard/emergency stops starting with your hands completely on the grips. Make sure you use proper braking technique so you don't endo. You will find that with just a little practice, you can be on the levers extremely quickly.
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Old 09-30-12, 06:41 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
Check out BMX brake levers made for the youth market. Some are shorter and have a dog leg configuration that brings the lever closer to the bar. Make sure you get a set compatible with the intended brakes. V-brake levers should be no problem. You should not be riding the brakes all the time, it really doesn't make you any safer and is, as you found, tiring on the hands. It also means less contact with the bar which could be a problem if you hit an unseen flaw in the road surface or have to suddenly make a radical turn to avoid hitting something or being hit.

Go out on an empty parking lot or relatively empty road and practice hard/emergency stops starting with your hands completely on the grips. Make sure you use proper braking technique so you don't endo. You will find that with just a little practice, you can be on the levers extremely quickly.
This is excellent advice. The only thing I would add is that a lot of mountain brake levers have adjustable reach. It operates via a set screw that's located between the lever and the clamp. Your Shimano levers probably have it, and your Miranda levers should have it. (The VO City levers don't, as far as I can tell.) Have you tried adjusting the reach to bring the levers closer to the bars?

On the issue of drop bars . . . For a long time, I was nervous about using them, but then I installed a set, and now that I'm used to them I really like them. You're right, I think, that there's no point to drop bars if you're only going to ride on the tops (flats), but drop bars offer a variety of hand positions, and that can be really nice if you're riding any distance. You can get brake levers for drop bars that are made for smaller hands. Tektro RL341 and Cane Creek SCR-5c are examples. I have small hands and have the Cane Creeks on my bike. I have a set of cyclocross levers on that bike, too, and I find that they work very well.
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