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  1. #1
    Senior Member bwilli88's Avatar
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    Front brakes actuated from left or right

    I like my front brake to be actuated by the right brake lever, Is there a rule, law, or convention stipulating which brake, Front or Rear, is to be actuated by which lever, Left or Right?
    I like front/right and rear/left because the front/right combo matches my motorcycle.

    Also which do you prefer and why?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
    I like my front brake to be actuated by the right brake lever, Is there a rule, law, or convention stipulating which brake, Front or Rear, is to be actuated by which lever, Left or Right?
    I like front/right and rear/left because the front/right combo matches my motorcycle.

    Also which do you prefer and why?
    Not really and some feel it's a regional thing. In spite of riding a motorcycle I prefer left/front.

    Brad

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    Bike hoarder. Murray Missile's Avatar
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    No "rule" I know of but any new bike I've ever ridden was set up front/left and rear/right. I prefer that setup mainly because the front brake has the majority of the stopping power on wheeled vehicles and I'm right handed. If I have to take a hand off the bars to do something it would be my right and I can still have the front brake covered. Plus with my right being the dominant hand I'm (ever so slightly) less likely to overpower the front brake on loose surfaces using my left hand. Might all just be in my head but that's "why" I prefer it that way.
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    Front/left is a convention but not a law. Set yours up however you like. BTW, I see you have double posted this in C&V. That is frowned upon, don't know if it's law or convention....
    Last edited by shelbyfv; 12-02-13 at 05:54 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray Missile View Post
    No "rule" I know of but any new bike I've ever ridden was set up front/left and rear/right. I prefer that setup mainly because the front brake has the majority of the stopping power on wheeled vehicles and I'm right handed. If I have to take a hand off the bars to do something it would be my right and I can still have the front brake covered. Plus with my right being the dominant hand I'm (ever so slightly) less likely to overpower the front brake on loose surfaces using my left hand. Might all just be in my head but that's "why" I prefer it that way.
    similar logic yet my conclusion is opposite
    agree on front brake priority
    also right handed
    thus if i have to take a hand off the bars it would be my left hand -dominant hand never gives up control of bike
    plus with my right being the dominant hand i'm less likely to overpower the brake using it -better dexterity
    so, for me its right=front, left=rear

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    There is no law or requirement for the common left/front, right/rear braking arrangement and you are free to set your own bike up however you prefer. It would be nice to warn anyone you let ride your bike if you make the change.

    The original thinking about front/left braking was, as Murray Missile also prefers, that right handed people (most of the population) were less likely to overpower their front brake if they used their "weak" hand. I agree with xenologer that I prefer using my dominant hand for the front brake but since I'm left handed, the conventional setup suits me fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murray Missile View Post
    No "rule" I know of . . .
    Here's one from the US CPSC: " . . . Unless a customer specifies otherwise, the hand lever that operates the rear brake must be on the right handlebar. The lever that operates the front brake must be on the left handlebar. A lever that operates both brakes may be on either handlebar." This is a requirement for sellers, was never binding on owners. They didn't used to allow the seller to alter the setup for customer preference.

    . . . but any new bike I've ever ridden was set up front/left and rear/right. I prefer that setup mainly because the front brake has the majority of the stopping power on wheeled vehicles and I'm right handed. If I have to take a hand off the bars to do something it would be my right and I can still have the front brake covered. Plus with my right being the dominant hand I'm (ever so slightly) less likely to overpower the front brake on loose surfaces using my left hand. Might all just be in my head but that's "why" I prefer it that way.
    I concur, makes it easier to simultaneously brake the front and downshift the rear while coming to a stop.

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    I like the convention of left/front, not concerned about braking performance but just for convenience. When I am flossing/cleaning a drive (which is almost every day) from the drive side of the bike I like to be able to grab the near brake lever to stop the rear wheel. Also handy for tuning up the RD.

  9. #9
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    The Brits run "moto", with the right/front and left/rear.

    I tend to run mine the typical Yanqui way, except if I build myself a c/b bike, I'll run the front brake lever on the right.

    If I'm building a bike for others, this being the USA, I tend to go with the 'Merkan convention of r/rear and l/front.

  10. #10
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by easyupbug View Post
    I like the convention of left/front, not concerned about braking performance but just for convenience. When I am flossing/cleaning a drive (which is almost every day) from the drive side of the bike I like to be able to grab the near brake lever to stop the rear wheel. Also handy for tuning up the RD.
    Excellent point.

  11. #11
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    Left front, if I'm approaching a right turn and want to signal my intentions I want to signal with my left arm, now my right arm is my brake and I don't want the front brake to be my emergency stopping source or over the handlebars I go.
    Even stopping with both hands on the levers in an emergency I'm feathering the front brake.

  12. #12
    Senior Member MEversbergII's Avatar
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    Experience has taught me that you're more likely to fishtail emergency braking with the rear than endoing emergency braking with the front, unless you're leaning over the bars.

    I keep mine left/front, right/rear mostly because I'm lazy. I've considered switching it, though, as I do impulse brake with my right, and I do all my hand signals with the left (as it is closer to rearward traffic LOS).

    M.

  13. #13
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
    I like front/right and rear/left because the front/right combo matches my motorcycle.
    Of the two bikes I ride regularly, one is set up like a motorcycle and as a longtime motorcyclist, I do like it this way simply because in a true emergency, split second "no time to think" situation, I brake harder with the front and my right hand is hardwired for that. So in a situation where every inch counts, very hard braking is always going to have shorter braking distances using both brakes but with the front doing the majority of the work.
    Endos discounted of course, but this is a very rare occurance, Ive only done it once.
    Last edited by djb; 12-02-13 at 10:01 AM.

  14. #14
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    In the shops I've worked at the wrenches have often been required to state on the service ticket that the brakes were set up with the ft brake controlled by the RH lever. Score one more for the lawyers. Andy.

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I like right front because I do all my signalling with my left hand, and I like being able to use my dominant brake if I need to bleed a little speed.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    The Brits run "moto", with the right/front and left/rear.

    I tend to run mine the typical Yanqui way, except if I build myself a c/b bike, I'll run the front brake lever on the right.

    If I'm building a bike for others, this being the USA, I tend to go with the 'Merkan convention of r/rear and l/front.
    As a Brit (even if living in Yanquiville!), and a motorcyclist -- front right, please! That hand is 'trained' to give me the bulk of the stopping, trained to squeeze not to grab, and I have better control with my dominant hand.

  17. #17
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    One why .. Racing Cyclocross , and dismounting on the left side , you can be half way off the bike
    and slow down with the rear lever on the near side if you are coming up too fast to a barrier leap.


    I had another Why , on my Pushing my loaded touring-bike up a really steep road, also dismounted on the left, I,
    was grabbing the near side brake lever to catch my breath, and let my heart-rate drop.

    and the bike was not rolling back down the hill, dragging a skidding stopped front wheel, behind it.

    3rd why, -because it came that way and I saw no reason to change it ,
    so not exclusive One way or the other ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-01-14 at 09:41 PM.

  18. #18
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    I used to set my bike up with front brake to right lever, and a lot of racing cyclists did so. If I remember correctly Campy brake calipers were set up to accommodate that (but probably also due to European origin). When racing one needs precise control of braking, and my right (dominant) hand is both stronger and more coordinated. Also, in an emergency stop the front brake is modulated to prevent losing traction in the rear, and again the right hand is more coordinated for that function. As mentioned above there are multiple reasons that one may choose the more common configuration, and I was too lazy when I got my most recent bike to change everything - it's not as easy as it used to be.
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  19. #19
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    No "laws" as to which side your front/rear brakes can be set up. It's just more of a "traditional" thing in the US. Seeing as how you ride on the right side of the road, the same direction as traffic, the rear brake is set up for right hand operation because you use your left hand for signaling traffic of your intent to make a left or right turn. Most people will feel like they have more control over their bike when braking with one hand using the rear wheel rather than using only the left hand and front brake ( right hand if you swap sides ). There's always the worry of going head first over the handlebar if you grab too much front brake. So if you'd rather use your right hand to grab the front brake, you can swap sides. I just leave mine set up as a traditional left/front and right/rear brake system.
    Last edited by 1 Miyata Biker; 03-31-14 at 09:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
    I like my front brake to be actuated by the right brake lever, Is there a rule, law, or convention stipulating which brake, Front or Rear, is to be actuated by which lever, Left or Right?
    16 CFR 1512.5(b)(8) states

    Hand lever location. The rear brake shall be actuated by a control located on the right handlebar and the front brake shall be actuated by a control located on the left handlebar. The left-hand/right-hand locations may be reversed in accordance with an individual customer order. If a single hand lever is used to actuate both front and rear brakes, it shall meet all applicable requirements for hand levers and shall be located on either the right or left handlebar in accordance with the customer's preference.
    I've always used front/right - as a right handed person that gives me a stronger grip on the front brake with better control, I can signal with my left hand while braking, and it's consistent with my motorcycles.

    Rear derailleur shifting while making a panic stop isn't going to happen that way, although people stop fastest when not trying to think about doing something else (even using the rear brake) so that's not an issue. Traffic lights and stop signs provide ample time to shift and brake.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 03-31-14 at 10:28 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Tim_Iowa's Avatar
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    As a motorcyclist, I swapped all my bikes over to front/right.

    Except, I use my right hand extended to signal right. None of that 90 degree up elbow jive; I'm not in a car.

  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    All my bicycles are set up "moto" and my daughters also ride this way, my wife is left handed and likes the conventional North American set up for her brakes.

    My older British bikes came set up this way, the rest have been switched over or built that way from the start.

    If you know how to brake there is not much risk in going over the bars no matter which hand is operating the front, it is a newbish mistake and something experienced riders don't do.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by easyupbug View Post
    I like the convention of left/front, not concerned about braking performance but just for convenience. When I am flossing/cleaning a drive (which is almost every day) from the drive side of the bike I like to be able to grab the near brake lever to stop the rear wheel. Also handy for tuning up the RD.
    This is probably the most compelling reason for me to stick with right-rear. I also signal turns with both arms as appropriate, so the argument about keeping my dominant hand on the stronger brake doesn't really apply.

  24. #24
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    I ride long distances, and mostly on rails to trails. There is not much stopping required, and I don't recall any emergency braking for the past many years. Of course my style of riding is completely different comparing to commuters or folks riding in a city. I prefer right/rear, and rear is used the most. If I need to free up one of the hands to grab something - it will be the left one. I crashed once destroying my seat, pedal, crank and scraping my frame when I used just my front brake, while holding my bottle with the right hand. I flew few feet in the air embarrassing myself in front of the big crowd That reminded me why all my rear tires didn't last long when I was a kid. I learned to use the rear brake the most, and I like it that way.

    This video shows a good braking technique, and also shows that there is not a huge difference between braking with front or rear. Yes...I know...sometimes 6 inches can save you from a lot of pain.



    Adjust your brakes to your riding style and your preferences, and do whatever is safer for you.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa View Post
    Except, I use my right hand extended to signal right. None of that 90 degree up elbow jive; I'm not in a car.
    +100. Even Ohio, about the last holdout, finally changed their traffic regulations several years ago to allow using your right hand for right turn signals.

    The 90 left arm up right turn signal is left over from the days before cars had electric turn signals. You signaled a left turn with your left arm sticking straight out the drivers window. You signaled a right turn with your left arm pointing up because your right arm wasn't long enough to reach out of the passenger side window. That hasn't been necessary since cars came with standard electric turn signals in the mid-1950's and most younger drivers have no idea why it's used.

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