Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  


Go Back   > >

General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 07-24-02, 11:07 AM   #1
lin_kieu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
lin_kieu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Royal Oak, MI
Bikes:
Posts: 62
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Suicide levers

I finally found a used bike shop by my home. I've been looking a good used bike to use on my commutes to work. However, the majority of what I see have the old school "suicide levers" on them. I've read and heard that these are dangerous. Do any of you have these on your bikes, and what are your impressions of them? I'd like to vaoid switching out to a new set of brakes, but if they are dangerous, I'd rather do that than lose stopping power.
lin_kieu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 11:14 AM   #2
Maelstrom 
Wood Licker
 
Maelstrom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Whistler,BC
Bikes: Transition Dirtbag, Kona Roast 2002 and specialized BMX
Posts: 16,885
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Do you have a picture of what you would call suicide levers? I am not sure what you are talking about.
Maelstrom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 11:21 AM   #3
RegularGuy
I am a lonely visitor
 
RegularGuy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Where even Richard Nixon has got soul
Bikes: Michelle Pfieffer, the Carbon Fiber Wonder Bike: A Kestrel 200 SCI Repainted in glorious mango; Old Paintless, A Litespeed Obed; The Bike With No Name: A Bianchi Eros; RegularBike: A Parkpre Comp Ltd rebuilt as a singlespeed.
Posts: 2,630
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Use the search function and you will find that this topic has been discussed in some detail previously. People have strong opinions about "suicide" levers. I think the dangers are probably overstated but the benefits are negligible. A new set of brakes will provide better stopping power than the older models that came with panic levers. If you want to remove the extensions, you can probably do so without too much trouble. I did it to a bike years ago. As I recall, you will need to get a shorter bolt for the lever pivot.
__________________
Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people. --H. Richard Niebuhr
RegularGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 11:24 AM   #4
mechBgon
Senior Member
 
mechBgon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Bikes:
Posts: 6,957
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
These are probably the auxiliary brake levers found on many older road-style bikes, which sweep in so that the brakes can be actuated from the tops of the drop bars.

I hope I don't sound like a snob, but you could generally take these as an indication of a bicycle that's below "enthusiast quality." The extensions can be removed, although this will often leave a "stud" sticking out the side of the brake lever and would require a bit of brake adjustment in most cases, to take out the additional cable slack left over.

As for safety, they have less brake power than the "real" brake lever (long story made short), and your hands will be close together if you're using them, which is not good for control.

If you cannot afford a fancier bike, ask the shop if they'll sell you the bike with a different set of levers that don't have the extenstions. Another option is to remove them, readjust the brakes, cut the studs off (if present) with a hacksaw and smooth the cut with a file.
mechBgon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 06:16 PM   #5
oceanrider
Queen of the Pea Pile
 
oceanrider's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Boca Raton, FL on the beach
Bikes:
Posts: 395
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
These brakes are an indication of the vintage, not necessarily the quality at the time of manufacture. The danger aspect is overstated. Mine do take some strength to squeeze the regular levers from the drops position which is a drawback for a cyclist with small or weak hands but then again, my brakes are low end. But squeezing the supplemental safety levers is very easy.
oceanrider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 06:52 PM   #6
John E
feros ferio
 
John E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: www.ci.encinitas.ca.us
Bikes: 1959 Capo; 1980 Peugeot PKN-10; 1981 Bianchi; 1988 Schwinn KOM-10;
Posts: 17,163
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
It is easy to remove the suicide levers and either replace the pivots with a non-studded pair or simply saw off the studs and buy a pair of brake hoods (CyclArt and others have these for around $10/pair). I have seen a few higher-end bikes, such as Schwinn Paramounts, with original suicide brakes (and TwinStick stem shifters).

Suicide brake levers have two big limitations: 1) They frequently bottom out before the brakes are fully applied; and 2) The rider is far less stable with his/her hands near the stem than out on the drops. However, I suppose they are potentially useful if you favor John Franklin's "relaxed" position, with your hands on the drops, just above and behind the brake levers themselves.
__________________
"Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
Peugeot: 1970 UO-8, S/N 0010468
Bianchi: 1981 Campione d'Italia, S/N 1.M9914
Schwinn: 1988 Project KOM-10, S/N F804069
John E is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 07-24-02, 07:00 PM   #7
LittleBigMan
Sumanitu taka owaci
 
LittleBigMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Bikes:
Posts: 8,945
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by RegularGuy
People have strong opinions about "suicide" levers. I think the dangers are probably overstated but the benefits are negligible.
All you have to do is not use them. If the temptation is too much, take 'em off.

Just because a bike comes with, "chicken levers," doesn't mean the bike is junk.
__________________
No worries
LittleBigMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-02, 12:37 PM   #8
mike
Senior Member
 
mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Snowy midwest
Bikes:
Posts: 5,392
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Yup, like John E says, you only have to remove the levers and like Pete says, "just don't use them".

If you do remove them, simply remove the bolt that holds them on and remove the levers. Remember that the bolt also holds the primary lever, so you have to put it back in after removing the suicide levers.

You will also have to tighten the brake cables after you remove the suicide levers.

Personally, I do not think that the so-called suicide levers pose much of a threat. HOWEVER, I recently rebuilt an old bike for a friend of mine. I chose to remove the suicide levers because he weighs 260 lbs and has very strong legs. I thought it likely that he could generate enough inertia to overpower the leverage of the 'suicidee' brake levers, so I removed them.
mike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-02, 01:30 PM   #9
LittleBigMan
Sumanitu taka owaci
 
LittleBigMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Bikes:
Posts: 8,945
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by mike
I chose to remove the suicide levers ...
Seems to me I also remember being pinched once. OUCH!
__________________
No worries
LittleBigMan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-02, 02:06 PM   #10
diamondback
Senior Member
 
diamondback's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Central Texas
Bikes:
Posts: 234
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
When I was younger they were common. I liked them. They seemed to make a 14 mile commute through the city a more relaxed ride. They didn't have the fast city bikes back then(like the cannondale bad boy). They had big cruisers and road bikes, neither of these made sense for city commutes. The extra brake levers helped bridge the gap. I would like an updated 21st century design and positioning of these. Remember these were old style brake calipers with old brake pads on steel rims, of course they didn't work well. Nothing back then worked as well as they stuff out now.
diamondback is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-02, 07:18 PM   #11
oceanrider
Queen of the Pea Pile
 
oceanrider's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Boca Raton, FL on the beach
Bikes:
Posts: 395
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'll second the bit about the steel rims. Bad rain ride. Sunshine only.
oceanrider is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-02, 07:39 PM   #12
Stor Mand
Senior Member
 
Stor Mand's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Massachusetts
Bikes:
Posts: 701
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
It's funny ... I was just talking to someone tonight about those. I found them handy (this was 15 or 20 + years ago). Now that I'm thinking of it, they may have been the cause of one of my accidents back then ...
I still think that they have a purpose in a pinch if your not on the drops.
Stor Mand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-02, 07:12 PM   #13
Michel Gagnon
Year-round cyclist
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Montréal (Québec)
Bikes:
Posts: 3,023
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally posted by mechBgon
These are probably the auxiliary brake levers found on many older road-style bikes, which sweep in so that the brakes can be actuated from the tops of the drop bars.

I hope I don't sound like a snob, but you could generally take these as an indication of a bicycle that's below "enthusiast quality." The extensions can be removed, although this will often leave a "stud" sticking out the side of the brake lever and would require a bit of brake adjustment in most cases, to take out the additional cable slack left over.

As for safety, they have less brake power than the "real" brake lever (long story made short), and your hands will be close together if you're using them, which is not good for control.
Around here, they were popular in the late 1970s and very early 1980s. I had a bike that came with them and I removed them. During the same period, my father added some on his bike. Comparing both bikes and a few others I have tried, these auxiliary levers may work ok if they have the proper shape, if the brake handle is appropriately placed (mine wasn't) and if they are rigid enough.
If all these conditions are met and if they are adequately adjusted ( a tricky proposal at best), they work as well as the main levers. Otherwise, they bottom out too quickly and only offer a slow-down.

Why have they disappeared? Two main reasons:

1. Cantilever brakes eventually replaced the traditional centrepull brakes. Cantilevers require less strength and therefore are easily operated even when the rider rides on the hoods.

2. On most bikes, the safety lever was only good for slowing down. So experienced cyclists dismissed the levers and often removed them. Casual cyclists -- those who usually ride slowly and therefore are OK with safety levers -- went for hybrids and "comfort bikes" when they became available.


BTW, no need to get new levers. As others suggested, if you can't adjust them for hard braking, remove the safety levers (bolt on the side of the main lever), or cut them with a metal saw.

Regards,
Michel Gagnon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-02, 09:58 PM   #14
lin_kieu
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
lin_kieu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Royal Oak, MI
Bikes:
Posts: 62
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Thanks for the advice guys.
lin_kieu is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:21 AM.