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Thread: Turkey levers

  1. #1
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    Turkey levers

    I have been following the forums here for the last several months, and I'm not trying to start a flame war here or anything. I am a newby to the C&V scene, and I am just trying to find out why everyone finds the "turkey levers" and "dork discs" so objectionable. I like reading the forums here quite a bit to learn about bikes that I never heard of before etc. I don't want to start an argument, just looking to gain some insights.

    Just some background. I have a 1985 World Sport and 1981 LeTour Mixte for my wife. Those bikes have stock components and like many here, those were the type of bikes I was familiar with when I was younger and riding in college etc. I have no intentions of upgrading them or anything else, but have been performing all the regreasing and adjusting which I have enjoyed doing myself. Our riding now consists merely of riding short trips around the subdivision for exercise and enjoyment and realistically I probably won't be doing any other riding. I must admit, I used the turkey levers in the 70's and still use them riding around now, and don't really use the drops all that much.

    That being said, what is so objectionable about them? I don't really care about the weight, and they don't really get in the way. Personally, I actually find them handy if I want to ride using that part of the bars. Is it just that any serious rider would never use them, so that automatically makes them "uncool" by definition? Same question about the dork disc; it is just a piece of metal that sits there, so why are those also considered objectionable by many here?

  2. #2
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    well Randy you are certainly asking for it *giggle*

    OK IMHO everyone hates Safety or "turkey" levers because basically they flex alot and do not provide good braking action. and if the brakes are poorly adjusted to begin with there is even less stopping action.

    as for a Spoke Protector, Pie Plate or dork disc everyone is a master mechanic and since there bike is always perfectly tuned there is no chance of the RD coming anywhere near the spokes so why do I need to protect them.

    personally I am looking for a pair of good quality brakelevers with safety levers for one of my bikes. I know there were a few made with hoods that accepted them and I even saw a few aero style that you could attach them too.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  3. #3
    Senior Member cycleheimer's Avatar
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    They are usually signs of a lower-end bike. However, if you are not riding in the Tour de France you may not need anything more. Sounds like you have found good two wheeled matches for you and your wife. Safety levers aren't bad if you are riding with your hands on the upper, straight section of drop bars. Just as long as there isn't too much play in them. If you pull on them, and the bike stops....all is good. As far as spoke protectors are concerned, having a rear derailleur get caught in your spokes when you shift isn't much fun. If you are having a nice time riding the bikes you own, that's what is all about.

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    Both add weight and are typical indicators of an entry level bicycle, along with stem shifters. So that covers the "weght weenies and "profiling wannabes".

    However, as stated, safety levers just do not stop well, unless they are very carefully set-up, something which rarely happens. They lure the casual rider into a false sense of security, often leading to disastrous results in emergency situations. Novices are far better off learning to ride the brake hoods.

    As for spoke protectors, they are a legitimate item for entry level bicycles. Riders at this level, especially kids, are prone to dropping or having the bicycle fall on the derailleur. This typically results in a bent hanger and the first time they pull the shifter all the way back for a hill, the chain overshoots the large cog. It's far better to unjam a chain from between the cog and spoke protector than to deal with broken, bent or notched spokes.

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    See Sheldon Brown's story on turkey wings (see the entry "Extension Levers"): http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_e-f.html#extension

    One of the things many C&Vers do when setting up a "new" old bike for themselves is to rid it of these three offending items (extension levers, spoke protector, stem shifters). The funny part is that, while these are signs of a low-end bike (and thus, an unserious rider--of which I am avowedly one)--changing out these parts does not really do much to make the bike higher end, except perhaps for the cash value of better quality shifters. Though it might make it 1.5 oz lighter, stop better, and easier to shift. OK, maybe that makes it a marginally better bike. OK, the stopping is pretty important. However, as mentioned already, your stopping needs are contextual, and turkey wings don't reduce stopping power in all setups -- just most of them.

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    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    If turkey levers are set up right, they don't suck. They don't fit into the image of a high end bike, which may or may not matter. I don't object to them, but I don't crave them, as I am adept enough at using my regular brake levers. My friend loaned me his bike for me to use as a commuter bike. I used it for an entire year. It had turkey levers. I found that they were very good for commuting, because I liked riding on the outer curves of the handlebars, i.e. with my palms facing in.

    Dork disks are one bike item where my view is schizophrenic. They are a very useful safety item, and I don't use them merely out of pride, because they really do look dorky. But I recommend them to everyone except the most experienced riders. The reason is that derailleurs and derailleur hangers eventually get bent in, towards the wheel. This happens from impacts, mostly from walking through self-closing doors. Some derailleurs and derailleur hangers are more vulnerable than others because they are too flexible. Once it is bent, you will eventually shift your derailleur too far towards the spokes. If your spoke gets between the last cog and the spokes, you suddenly can't ride. If you have good reflexes as I do, you can stop pedaling or maybe even shift the chain back onto a cog. If you don't, you'll halt suddenly. If you're less lucky, the derailleur will swing into the spokes and possibly break a spoke. This can cause injury.

    In conclusion, it is usually possible to set up turkey levers properly, but it's not done often enough. Dork disks are very useful but ugly, and experienced riders find them repugnant.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Dork disks are very useful but ugly, and experienced riders find them repugnant.
    Oh, contraire, mon frere! Not when they are made of chromed steel! http://novabicycles.com/Orange%20Continental.jpg
    Last edited by Roll-Monroe-Co; 02-15-10 at 01:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Dork disks are very useful but ugly, and experienced riders find them repugnant.
    The ideal, of course, would be to have a rear hub with a flange larger than the largest cog in your freewheel. And maybe even a little lip that catches the errant chain.

    Maybe like this: http://alexandchristine.smugmug.com/...07_niuJg-S.jpg

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    Senior Member ozneddy's Avatar
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    Boy now I cant wait to add turkeys and dork disc and some nice stem shifters to my "Casati" (I will be the envy of everyone) Just joshin ! lol
    The older I get,the better I was !

  10. #10
    Senior Member Milice's Avatar
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    I tend to leave the "dork disk" on my mtb's there are just to many things in the woods that like to grab RD's and tweak them. 20 miles from the car it's a long walk.
    If it looks like the $3000 bikes but costs less than a decent helmet, it probably isn't a wise investment.


    http://keith-crossreference.blogspot.com/

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    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    If anyone noticed, the levers were sold to the public as "safety levers". If anything the turkey levers helped sell millions of bikes in the "10 speed" bike boom of the mid to late 70's as parents buying their children their bikes saw the things as the equivalent of a sort of ABS for bikes, so it wouldn't be a bad descision to get Junior that 10 speed "racing bike" because those "safety levers" will help keep him from killing himself when he's riding the tops of the bars like all kids rode them....for sure! We're just all lucky the bike industry did not decide to give us all the trusty old coaster brake on those 10 speed bikes instead!

    Chombi

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    FBoD Member at Large khatfull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    personally I am looking for a pair of good quality brakelevers with safety levers for one of my bikes. I know there were a few made with hoods that accepted them and I even saw a few aero style that you could attach them too.
    Dang, while I was looking on eBay for brake levers for my project I saw a set of aero hoods with safety levers...just looked back through my cache....couldn't come up with them.

  13. #13
    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    I have absolutely nothing against dork disks and turkey levers (and stem shifters) but I avoid bikes with them. The reason is very simple: They were available on entry level bikes with boat anchor frames and cheap components. You can change the components, but if you got a boat anchor, even with campy super record or dura ace, it will be a boat anchor.
    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

  14. #14
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    My 2 cents. Personally have nothing against safety brake levers. Yes, they flex more than normal road levers, but they allow the casual rider a more upright riding position. Spoke protects, be they metal or simple plastic, have a useful function, as stated many times above. I have a Trek 7500 hybrid with a Shimano plastic spoke protector and it does not bother me a wit. However, on my upper end road bikes, eh, no spoke protector.

  15. #15
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    if it is clean I really don't have an issue with a dorkette discette. besides it is good passive aggressive way to annoy others *giggle*
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    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  16. #16
    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
    if it is clean I really don't have an issue with a dorkette discette. besides it is good passive aggressive way to annoy others *giggle*
    well, there are dork disks and there are DORK disks (yours is almost invisible), these ones not so :



    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

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    Senior Member Milice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EjustE View Post
    I have absolutely nothing against dork disks and turkey levers (and stem shifters) but I avoid bikes with them. The reason is very simple: They were available on entry level bikes with boat anchor frames and cheap components. .
    If this is the case why was there a "dork disk" on the Gary Fisher Paragon I bought last spring? I would hardley call a 2 grand 29er hardtail an entry level bike with cheap components. (ok maybe there wheels are a little flexy).
    If it looks like the $3000 bikes but costs less than a decent helmet, it probably isn't a wise investment.


    http://keith-crossreference.blogspot.com/

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    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milice View Post
    If this is the case why was there a "dork disk" on the Gary Fisher Paragon I bought last spring? I would hardley call a 2 grand 29er hardtail an entry level bike with cheap components. (ok maybe there wheels are a little flexy).
    That's an MTB. Different rules there
    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

  19. #19
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milice View Post
    If this is the case why was there a "dork disk" on the Gary Fisher Paragon I bought last spring? I would hardley call a 2 grand 29er hardtail an entry level bike with cheap components. (ok maybe there wheels are a little flexy).
    CPSC the goverment is here to help. did it have the required reflectors too?

    something doesn't look right here
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    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

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    sultan of schwinn EjustE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post

    something doesn't look right here
    there a few things that are indeed not right there (including the chain tension that is about ready to break a link or two apart), but that is a perfectly functioning dirty as hey Eagle RD
    -E

    still stuck in the '80s; '70s were good as well, but i severely dislike tubulars.
    I tri...

  21. #21
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    My original Bottecchia Special, which some would call entry level while others (like me) would call lower mid-range came without turkey levers, pie plate on the chain rings, or stem shifters. It did have a discreet clear plastic dork disk similar to the one shown in Bianchigrl's picture. I left it on until the early 90's by which time the formerly clear plastic disc had turned yellow and opaque from age and scratches so I tossed it when I changed the freewheel.

    Really though, I ride vintage bikes because I like the way they look and how they remind me of simpler times gone by and the turkey levers, pie plates, dork disks, etc. spoil that look and feel. If you don't care about such things then by all means leave them on. I've actually considered putting a set of those modern, inline CX brake levers on my Peugeot because I use it as a pseudo cross bike and they would work a heck of a lot better than turkey levers. Come to think of it, a big pie plate on the chain rings can really come in handy on your commuter if you ride in long pants. I have to use pant clips on my Panasonic to keep my work pants out of the chain so I wouldn't mind having on on there if it was decent looking.
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    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    I myself was guilty of culling a few pairs of Turkey levers and "spoke protector discs" in the 80's but now I'm thinking that one day they will be sought after by many C&Vers nostalgic about that short span of time when they were accepted by a public awakening to one of the biggest bike booms in history. I still remember gladly taking off one of those clear plastic discs from one of my Peugeots the minute I got the bike home from the bike store. had a nice shiney aluminum center with lightening holes on it and had big cryptic French markings going around the clear plastic disc on it that said "MAILLARD HELICOMATIC" I wonder what that meant??
    I think I should have kept that thing.
    I don't know what ever happened to those Weinmann "safety" levers and Maillard spoke discs, but they must be in some corner of an apartment storage basement area I left behind in Milwaukee al those years ago together with all those missing single socks and winter gloves that all snuck away from me while I wasn't looking......

    Chombi

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    Senior Member Shp4man's Avatar
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    Since I don't ride at night, the reflectors on the wheels and ends are one of the first things to go along with the spoke protector. Strangely, I left the one that says "MAILLARD HELICOMATIC" on the Peugeot until just recently.

  24. #24
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    The one thing I dislike about turkey levers and stem shifters -- and, for that matter, all the extra gadgetry that ends up on the handlebars is the look of pure clutter it creates. I personally like having a nice clean view of my front wheel. I would also mention all the cables on the front, too, but I do like to use my brakes once in a while.

  25. #25
    vintage motor kroozer's Avatar
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    We didn't like this stuff because racing bikes didn't have them.
    As several others have mentioned, however, spoke protectors aren't a bad idea. I have ruined two expensive derailleurs --a Huret Jubilee and a Campagnolo Rally-- by shifting them into the spokes. I'm not sure exactly why it happened, but both times I was in the middle of a long, full-loaded tour, many miles from nowhere.

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