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  1. #1
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    Right hand brake, left hand shift?

    I have my bikes set up with the right hand being the front brake, as I imagine a lot of people do. I am wondering if anyone has their cassette shifter set up on the left hand side, so you do not have to remove your hand from the main brake for the most part.

    anyone have this setup? thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    Never thought about it.
    Don't have the need to emergency brake and shift at the same time I guess.
    2008 Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2create View Post
    Never thought about it.
    Don't have the need to emergency brake and shift at the same time I guess.
    I would hope not, but what if you need to brake while shifting?

  4. #4
    Senior Member bcarter6's Avatar
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    Forgive me for asking a stupid question (although it is sincere). Why have the brakes switched? Why put the front brake on the right?

  5. #5
    practically invincible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarter6 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a stupid question (although it is sincere). Why have the brakes switched? Why put the front brake on the right?
    the front brake is more effective at quick emergency stops, and for right-handed people the reflexes are usually quicker on that hand.
    \

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarter6 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a stupid question (although it is sincere). Why have the brakes switched? Why put the front brake on the right?
    I don't have this set up, but I'm building a new bike and may set it up that way. I tend to rely more on the front brake. There's less chance of skidding, for one, if I understand properly. Where I get into trouble is where I'm making a turn and want to signal. The hand that controls my front brake is the hand that signals. I would also like to be able to shift with one hand while breaking with the other, so as I set up my new bike, as long as I can set up the grip shifter for the left side, I'll put the brake on the right. Otherwise I would be braking, shifting, and signaling all with the same hand.

    Whether or not I do it, though, will depend on the shifter. I want to be able to down shift while I'm braking.

  7. #7
    Senior Member woodenidol's Avatar
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    I accidently switched my brakes when I switched handle bars last time. I thought I would like it better, using my right hand on the better brake. I have found the opposite actually. Not sure if its just habit or what, but when I get motivated Im going to change it back

  8. #8
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LucasA View Post
    I would hope not, but what if you need to brake while shifting?
    Won't happen. I almost never shift.
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  9. #9
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    Does anyone have their left shifter set up for the rear, and why?

  10. #10
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    On my new bike, I have the right hand front brake,
    and Both front and rear shifters on the left handlebar.

    Decided to do it this way after noting that when I want to answer my cell phone, or grab a water bottle, eat a powerbar, scratch, etc; I'd always do so with my left hand and leaving the right one on the bars. Just extending the concept to shifting gears as well.

  11. #11
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    In Britain right side front brake control on bicycles is standard. Also true for motorcycles here so if also a motorcyclist setting up the front brake the same as a motorcycle front brake makes a lot of sense.

    As also mentioned for most right handed people the right hand gives better control so why not have the most effective brake controlled by the most dexterous hand.
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  12. #12
    headtube. zzyzx_xyzzy's Avatar
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    The bits about hand signalling, reaching for powerbars, etc turn out to be red herrings. You really don't want to be braking hard with one hand on the bars. Makes it very hard to keep the bike going straight. For any substantial braking you need both hands on the bars to brace your body mass. For that reason it doesn't hurt to have the non-signaling hand on the weaker brake.

    I ran right front brake for a while, didn't like it. Turns out I always want to downshift while slowing for tight corners, and couldn't when they were on the same hand. Left rear shift would be the obvious next step. Equipment-wise you could do left-rear shift with friction shifters but most indexed are specific to left/right sides, and the parts are not interchangeable. Bar-end shifters could be workable. Grip shifters if you don't mind reversing the direction of action.

  13. #13
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    I'm right handed so if I'm going to be eating something or grabbing something out of my bag or whatever, I'm doing it with my right hand, leaving my left hand on the bars.
    2008 Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
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  14. #14
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    In Britain right side front brake control on bicycles is standard.
    Same for Germany, right side front brake control on bicycles is standard.

  15. #15
    Senior Member knzn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarter6 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a stupid question (although it is sincere). Why have the brakes switched? Why put the front brake on the right?
    I spent years of my youth racing motorcycles. Motorcycles have the front brakes on the right. Hard to teach and old dog new tricks.

  16. #16
    mechanically sound frankenmike's Avatar
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    One thing I liked about my old downtube shifters was being able to shift both derailers with either hand.

  17. #17
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knzn View Post
    I spent years of my youth racing motorcycles. Motorcycles have the front brakes on the right. Hard to teach and old dog new tricks.
    I can see that, if you're a motorcyclist. OTOH, I don't buy the "right-handed" argument. I'm strongly right-dominant and I have my brakes in a normal setup. It's not like it takes a ton of strength or dexterity to brake, it's just a matter of habit and practice, like using your left foot for the clutch in a car. On my bike, both hands brake, both hands shift.
    You have the right to your own opinion. You don't have the right to your own facts.

  18. #18
    lackluster jerk
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzyzx_xyzzy View Post
    The bits about hand signalling, reaching for powerbars, etc turn out to be red herrings. You really don't want to be braking hard with one hand on the bars.
    You don't have to be braking hard to appreciate the ability to simultaneously use your front brake and properly signal a turn when approaching an intersection.

  19. #19
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tatfiend View Post
    In Britain right side front brake control on bicycles is standard. Also true for motorcycles here so if also a motorcyclist setting up the front brake the same as a motorcycle front brake makes a lot of sense.

    As also mentioned for most right handed people the right hand gives better control so why not have the most effective brake controlled by the most dexterous hand.
    That's why I did it, I didn't want to fight years of reflexes gained while motorcycling. I also like the fact it gives me more control while signaling.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul emick View Post
    You don't have to be braking hard to appreciate the ability to simultaneously use your front brake and properly signal a turn when approaching an intersection.
    True. For that exact reason, I want the strong brake on the left. Here's why:

    When turning left, I generally find myself braking gradually and well before the turn, not during it, and with a wider radius. This is because left turns are wider in "drive on the right" countries, and also because left turns often require stopping first. As such, signaling with the left hand while gently braking with either brake works fine.

    For turning right I find myself braking harder because the turning radius is necessarily tighter. I definitely want to be applying the front brake when turning right.

    Given that, the choice of brake setup boils down to one question: which hand do you use to signal a right turn? I signal a right turn with my right hand as opposed to the left. I do that because 90% of motorists would have no idea what the "bent left hand pointing upward" signal means. Because of that, I have to brake with the left hand if I want to start braking while still signaling, and I want the stronger brake to do so. That means strong brake on the left.

    Now, I will say that Sheldon Brown was the most vocal advocate of "strong brake on right", and he was a damn smart dude. But given the above, I think it only makes sense if you trust the average driver to correctly interpret what you're doing when signaling a right turn with your left hand. I have no such faith in my fellow man. So I keep the conventional (to the US) setup.

  21. #21
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2create View Post
    I'm right handed so if I'm going to be eating something or grabbing something out of my bag or whatever, I'm doing it with my right hand, leaving my left hand on the bars.
    The right hand works the throttle on a motorcycle, and that's the one that stays on the bars if you want to keep going forward. I never even thought of reaching for the water bottle on the bicycle with my right hand until now.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcarter6 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a stupid question (although it is sincere). Why have the brakes switched? Why put the front brake on the right?
    I learned to ride on a bike set up with right hand front braking, and have kept all my bikes that way. One of the primary reasons that I like it is that I am often braking while turning, and this allows me to signal my turn with my left hand, and still brake with my right. Shifting is also done with the right via a bar-con, my left bar-end has a mirror on it.

  23. #23
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    I've been riding motorcycles for 30yrs and I'm right-handed. Rode bicycles in my youth,then started again in '05. Never had a prob remembering which hand controls the front brake.

    As for braking and shifting,my favorite SRAM shifters have 2 thumb levers;you can easily brake and shift at the same time. They're also nice in the winter when wearing bulky gloves.

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Underbridge View Post
    Given that, the choice of brake setup boils down to one question: which hand do you use to signal a right turn?
    Actually, I never signal for right turns. Only for Left turns with my left hand.
    Seeing as how the bike lane is on the right, and I tend to ride to the right, right turns are 'free'.
    Left signals are a higher priority, since it means I'm moving out into space where the driver's aren't as expecting. With that, and the water bottle, etc in mind, front brake rightside.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
    Actually, I never signal for right turns. Only for Left turns with my left hand.
    Seeing as how the bike lane is on the right, and I tend to ride to the right, right turns are 'free'.
    Left signals are a higher priority, since it means I'm moving out into space where the driver's aren't as expecting. With that, and the water bottle, etc in mind, front brake rightside.
    Ah, that's true. We don't have bike lanes around here, and I end up riding in traffic.

    I guess the best one can say is there's no universal "winner" for brake position - depends on riding conditions.

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