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  1. #1
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    what's with suicide levers?

    Another new question. I have seen different reports on suicide brake levers, some for and some against. What is the scoop, I have aquired three bikes and they all have them. Should I remove them? I am having a hard time getting used to keeping my hands down on the curve of the bars and using the regular brakes.
    I am much more comfortable on the top of the bars. Any suggestions? Thanks?

  2. #2
    Senior Member KLW2's Avatar
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    They don't give you the leverage to apply enough braking power to make an emergency stop or a stop from a high speed. You get much more power from the drop levers. Having said that, I like them for casual riding where I'm more upright and slower, I have spent some time truing my wheels and adjusting the brakes and installing good pads and cables/housings so that I have relatively good braking using them. If I am riding fast or in an area where I might need to stop fast, I'll put my hands in a better position to apply the drop levers...if you really like them, there are inline levers that you can install hat do a better job...

  3. #3
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    You’ll find that the shape of the older bars combined with the design of the older brake levers means you usually can’t apply much leverage on the brake levers when riding the “hoods” (the usually gum colored, on older bikes, rubber cover on the brake lever mechanism) as is common with modern bikes with integrated brake/shift levers. The older levers were generally designed to be used from the “drops” or the curved portion of the bar as you mentioned. The suicide levers were an attempt to allow a casual rider to operate the brakes from the “tops” position of the bar where many riders spent most of their time. As KLW2 pointed out, when properly adjusted they can provide some useful braking force. I think they got their reputation back in the day since a lot of people (then and now) don’t keep their bikes in good adjustment. There is also a stylistic element – they typically came on lower end to mid-range bikes back in the day while the high end bike didn’t use them so that gave them a certain uncoolness factor.

  4. #4
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    I have them on my commuter, and they work just fine. They aren't very cool, but they work fine. But they are properly adjusted, and I do get down in the drops when I think I might need better braking power. I will admit to a couple of panic stops using the suicide levers - so far I've been lucky and haven't had to stop on a dime. I don't ride all that fast, though, so take that statement for what it's worth.

  5. #5
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Frankly, I believe if one finds that they are more comfortable riding from the hoods or the top of the bars, converting to un-obtrusive aero levers and modern cyclocross-style interrupter levers is the best way to go.

    Essentially, this setup provides the rider the same hand positions of a bar set up with the typical Dia-Compe/Weinmann non-aero levers w/suicide extensions. Additionally, with the aero levers, one may ride on the top of the hoods as well - I doubt if anyone would want to ride the top of non-aero Weinmann/Dia-Compe levers hoodless, especially with the suicide levers mounted inboard.

    Although I usually am a stickler for originality, I find that interrupter levers to be not much of an eyesore on a primarily vintage machine. I wouldn't put them on a class-act Cinelli restoration, but I wouldn't hesitate to mount them on a daily rider, if I had to.

    Take care,

    -Kurt

  6. #6
    Novist senior member tolfan's Avatar
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    Whats an interrupter lever? I never had a problem stoping with the "suicide" levers also know as lazy levers. You pull the lever it has to stop when iy hits the handle bar the lazy lever has the same pull lenght. I like stem shifters too. And I like my bars turned up so the ends point at the ground. Ya and no bar wrap. And steel wheels. And when I ride I ware high top converse cut off jeans and a bootleg double sided back Aerosmith concert shirt. And smoke while I ride.
    There are some things a man needs to believe in wether they're true or not;

  7. #7
    Novist senior member tolfan's Avatar
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    Sory about that last post, 70's flashback. Ya and I ride with no hands most of the time. Agian sory I'm back now.
    There are some things a man needs to believe in wether they're true or not;

  8. #8
    Hirsuite moustache'd
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    I think that, with a bit more riding, you'll find it more comfortable to switch back and forth between the drops and flats, which is really key for using the primary levers. I only kept drops on one of my bikes - I prefer the flats as well - but don't have much of a problem dropping my hands down to the drops (or onto the hoods) when I need to brake.

    If you're not going to be using the drops, consider switching over to flat/moustache/riser bars with mountain or BMX-style levers.

  9. #9
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    There are some NEW brake levers designed to be mounted up by the stem that work well. And they are very cheap. They don't interfere with your existing levers. Talk with the guys at the neighborhood LBS.

  10. #10
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tolfan
    Whats an interrupter lever? ...
    It operates in series with the main brake lever and functions by increasing the effective length of the brake cable housing. The centerwire runs from the main brake lever to the caliper in the usual fashion, but the housing is cut into two sections, one from the main brake handle to the interruptor, the other from the interruptor to the caliper. It's a fairly clever system, and much more effective than the old-fashioned suicide extension levers.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  11. #11
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MajikMan
    I think that, with a bit more riding, you'll find it more comfortable to switch back and forth between the drops and flats, which is really key for using the primary levers. I only kept drops on one of my bikes - I prefer the flats as well - but don't have much of a problem dropping my hands down to the drops (or onto the hoods) when I need to brake.

    If you're not going to be using the drops, consider switching over to flat/mustache/riser bars with mountain or BMX-style levers.
    If the O/P - or anyone else, for that matter - finds riding the top more comfortable then the drops, they might try placing the hand that controls the front brake down on the drop, while the other hand remains on the top of the bar. I sometimes ride my '61 Paramount on the tops occasionally, and find myself reaching down onto the drop with one hand to brake occasionally, while the other hand remains on the top. I also do this frequently on my Trek 728.

    Take care,

    -Kurt

  12. #12
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    In my limited experience, the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of "safety levers" depends a lot on how the main brake levers are mounted on the bars. If the main levers are mounted lower, or farther into the bend, the angle of the suicide lever is diminished. If the main levers are mounted a little higher on the bars, the suicide lever angle is widened, allowing for more lever travel which of course moves the main lever farther, providing more braking power. To a point, the higher the mounting of the main levers, the stronger the braking from the top position. A very small adjustment of the main lever position, maybe half an inch up, can translate to nearly an inch more travel on the suicide lever (because of the curve of the drop). I can lock both wheels with the suicides when everything is adjusted right. On another bike I just got recently, the brakes were mounted a little lower and those things hardly stopped at all because there's not enough room to move the suicide lever to get any meat on the brakes. They can work just fine, but the adjustment is nit picky.
    My other bike is a Huffy.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    Frowned upon by serious cyclists, the "suicide" levers work fine if the brakes are adjusted well and that's what you like. However, I gave them up circa 1972 due to peer pressure and adapted.

  14. #14
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tolfan
    Whats an interrupter lever? I never had a problem stoping with the "suicide" levers also know as lazy levers. You pull the lever it has to stop when iy hits the handle bar the lazy lever has the same pull lenght. I like stem shifters too. And I like my bars turned up so the ends point at the ground. Ya and no bar wrap. And steel wheels. And when I ride I ware high top converse cut off jeans and a bootleg double sided back Aerosmith concert shirt. And smoke while I ride.
    Photos?



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  15. #15
    Senior Member localtalent's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John E
    It operates in series with the main brake lever and functions by increasing the effective length of the brake cable housing. The centerwire runs from the main brake lever to the caliper in the usual fashion, but the housing is cut into two sections, one from the main brake handle to the interruptor, the other from the interruptor to the caliper. It's a fairly clever system, and much more effective than the old-fashioned suicide extension levers.
    I was going to suggest this, they're also called 'cross levers' sometimes. I put them on my lady's bike - she much prefers to ride on the tops, and they work very well.

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