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Old 09-10-02, 10:43 PM   #1
Dutchy
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Handbrakes, which side is the front one?

I have noticed from previous posts that the bikes in the US have the front brake on the left side and the rear brake on the right side, is that true?

Down here, all bikes have the front brake on the right and the rear brake on the left.

Why would they be any different? or am I mistaken.

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Old 09-10-02, 10:51 PM   #2
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I have left / front, right / rear. This is the default on this side of the pond. However, one of my ridding buddys has changed his to left / rear, I believe this is due to his motorcycle days? Im not sure...
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Old 09-10-02, 11:14 PM   #3
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Thats the way I know of it. Even the reasoning too. I have a friends who rides right/front...Personally that would mess me up...
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Old 09-11-02, 12:41 AM   #4
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I seem to remember in a previous thread we discovered that it's right/front and left/rear in Australia and England but the other way around in the US.
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Old 09-11-02, 02:03 AM   #5
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My racer, a Trek (made and purchased in the U.S.), is left-front.

But, I just bought a Raleigh Hybrid beater bike and discovered after a few kilometers that it is right-front. So that seems to confirm the Australian – European/English connection. I may have to switch it, so I don't get my self killed.

But, going back to my Trek... the brakes are "side-pulls" with the cable running on the right of the wheel. The cable runs from the levers in an elegant loop over the stem and down to the lever (yes, the bike is old enough not to have the cables going under the tape). If I were to switch it, the arc would be seriously compressed and the cable would get in the way of riding on the tops of the bars.

So, in Australia, do side-pull brakes also have the cable attachment on the right?

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Old 09-11-02, 05:38 AM   #6
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I was looking at bikes in France this summer. They are left/front and right/back.

I would hazard a guess that the reasoning is because of which side of the road we drive on.

In the UK it is safer not to give a left hand turn signal than brake on the front brake only ( The turn is not normally crossing traffic). Whereas in the US the opposite applies.

Any thoughts anyone?
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Old 09-11-02, 06:17 AM   #7
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Mine has right-front. I like my most important brake (the front) to be under the control of my best hand.
If I were left handed, I would probably want left-front.
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Old 09-11-02, 09:12 AM   #8
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Sheldon Brown, Jim Cunningham, and I advocate controlling the front brake with the dominant (right for both of them, left for me) hand. The American left/front, right/rear format evolved from a morbid fear of the front brake and its power, when misused, to "overend" the rider.
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Old 09-11-02, 09:34 AM   #9
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OK - Stupid question time.

Why is the front brake the important one? I was always taught to rear wheel brake first because if you lock the front brake at speed you will be propelled over the handlebars. :confused:
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Old 09-11-02, 09:43 AM   #10
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Why is the front brake the important one?
The front brake gives you more power and better control. As you ride you learn to automatically adjust your body position as you apply the front brake, i.e., move your butt back.
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Old 09-11-02, 10:04 AM   #11
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When you apply the brakes, the bike will stop, but the rider will continue forward. This weights the front wheel (increasing traction) and unweights the rear (reducing traction).
As you brake, the front brake becomes more effective, and the rear wheel less effective (leading to a skid or sideways chatter).

Whether the rider stops with the bike or rotates over the bars depends on a number of factors.
The height of the centre of gravity above the front hub.
The height of the bars above the front hub.
If the rider is bracing against the bars.
If the rider modulates the braking force

A very upright rider with bars well above the saddle will be in a much better position to pivot over the front hub when the bike stops. Experienced riders generally have the bars lower than the saddle, their centre of gravity a bit lower, and on braking, will shift their weight backwards and brace themselves to resist forward motion. If they feel the bike starting to skid or pivot forward, they can release some braking force by feathering the brakes. This way you can apply maximum braking with the very effective front brake and there is no risk at all of "going over the bars".

I use the front brake almost exculsively, and have no fear of applying brakes when going downhill, around corners, with outside camber or on lose surfaces. Im am pretty sure that a rear wheel brake would dump me off the bike under these conditions.
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Old 09-11-02, 10:19 AM   #12
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I switched mine from standard, and now ride left/rear, right/front.

I use Sram twists shifters, and found this works best for me in the tight woods. When I am riding fast down a hill and coming up on a tight turn that also begins going uphill, I can brake better with the left hand while shifting down with my right hand.
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Old 09-11-02, 10:33 AM   #13
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I've also switched my US-standard (l-f, r-r) to right-front, for most of the reasons stated in this thread: I want my right (dominant)hand controlling the primary brake; when I use hand signals (with the left hand) I want control of the primary brake; I want consistency with motorcycle brakes. As already stated, the front brakes are primary in cars/bikes/motorcycles because of weight transfer; under hard braking, the rear brake is doing virtually nothing. A little technique is all you need to keep from pitching over the bars. I learned my lesson when I was about 5, and haven't done it since. (I graduated to more complex forms of crash).
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Old 09-11-02, 10:43 AM   #14
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I reversed the brakes [went Euro] on my cyclocross bike. I find that, when I'm dismounting at speed, and I only have my left hand on the bar, I kinda want that hand to control the rear brake.

Dismount + 25 km/h + front brake = superman manouevre

I learned the hard way.
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Old 09-11-02, 03:17 PM   #15
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Thanks for the answers.

I (gingerly) gave braking using the front brake a try on the way home tonight and it does make a difference though I still feel uncomfortable doing it. Ah well just need to practice it.

I feel a bit of numbskull now
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Old 09-11-02, 04:56 PM   #16
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if I interchange my brake lever I will surely end up in the gutter
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Old 09-11-02, 06:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hants Commuter
I (gingerly) gave braking using the front brake a try on the way home tonight and it does make a difference though I still feel uncomfortable doing it. Ah well just need to practice it.
In the interest of safety, everyone should practice using the front brake by itself and together with the rear. I use the rear brake to check my speed on long descents (and to prevent overheating of the front pads, rim, or tyre) or on slippery pavement (a front-wheel skid is almost non-recoverable). At all other times, I use the front brake either primarily or excluslively.

One big benefit of my the trusty old 1959 Weinmann Vainquer999 centerpulls is that they support either brake handedness equally well, and that they permit one to swap the brake cable polarity in 5 minutes.

My 1962 Bianchi was factory-cabled right-front, with the brake cables NOT crossing the centerline of the bike, whereas my 1982 Bianchi was left-front, with the now-fashionable cross-over.
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Old 09-11-02, 08:14 PM   #18
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OK,

I call the save from the endo manuver ive been perfecting "the cossac".
Ive practised it quite alot, and Im almost getting good at it...

I quick as a flash unclip the peddles, swing the leggs over the bars, and run away like a scared cat, from my bicycle...

Its almost elegent now, well except for the school-girlish screaming...

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Old 09-11-02, 09:24 PM   #19
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U.S. standard is LEFT - FRONT... which is opposite, I gather, of the U.S. motorcycle standard. And as usual, Canada follows blindly U.S.

In the U.S., the CPSC stipulates that brakes should be arranged in that order (left - front), unless the client asks otherwise. I think I have read that the DIN standard (Germany) or the European Community standard asks for right - front, but I'm far from certain.

Anyway. As others have stated, the setup comes from the fear of flying over the bars, which is somewhat unfounded. If one practices the use of the front brake in non-emergency situations, one knows quite well how ones brakes work and one then knows exactly how to brake hard in an emergency.

I have a touring bike (with drop bars), and quite often, I have to brake with one hand, while the other is signalling. When I compared rear-wheel braking with front-wheel braking, I also discovered that the bike was more stable if I used the front brake than the rear brake. In other words, it's very difficult to brake hard with the rear brake and continue to go straight, but it's quite easy to brake hard with the front brake and go straight.

Finally, for the last 1.5 - 2 years, I have reversed my brake setting, so the right lever operates the front brake. Why ? Three reasons :
- For many years, I used almost exclusively the rear brake -- it wasn't a problem when I was a child and travelling slowly or when I was in smaller towns, but it isn't quite efficient in cities.
- I tried to "improve" by braking with the front brake, but bad habits come back easily, especially in critical times. Placing right - front means I keep my old habits... yet brake with the front brake.
- Right - front means I can signal left turns while braking.

As for "dominant hand", I don't find any real difference between right and left hands. My right hand is faster and more precise... but both are equally able to brake well, even on good old 1980s centrepulls.

Regards,
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Old 09-11-02, 10:33 PM   #20
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Mine's US Standard. I use the rears to scrub speed, the fronts to come to a stop, and both to stop RIGHT NOW. I haven't swapped mine just because this is the technique I've used since I graduated from coaster brakes and the V-brakes give adequate power to stop even in my "off" hand
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Old 09-12-02, 07:08 AM   #21
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Interesting, there was just a long running post
on Classic Rendezvous mailing list about this.
One poster suggested that the right/rear left/front was
a mechanic's choice due to working on rear wheel it
was easier to reach right front, didn't have to reach
through frame. Of course it depends on orientation doesn't
it?
Both my bikes are US standard, I tried switching my trek
(old non aero brakes) but it was way confusing. I'd rather
drive opposite and shift lefthanded in a car (of course there
are those on this board who believe that is the correct
way to drive!).

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Old 09-12-02, 07:26 AM   #22
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I switched my front brake to the right. I don't understand the reasoning for having it on the left. Why would having it on the right be more "dangerous"? Anyone? :confused:
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Old 09-12-02, 07:31 AM   #23
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Left/front - right/rear is the standard in Sweden as well. My left hand is usually not good at precise movements, but I have no problem controlling the front brake with it and almost always use front and rear simultaneously.

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Old 09-12-02, 07:50 AM   #24
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I must be strange. I'm left handed and prefer the front brake on the right like I said before. For me, modulating the front brake is about as hard as driving an automatic transmission. For me, it's the back brake that's harder to modulate, especially on a dirt trail with rocks scattered all over, facing downhill with a soft shock and a stiff rearend; that wheel locks up just breathing on the lever.

As far as dangerous, it's only dangerous if you're new to it and not paying attention to what you're doing. But then, it's not the brake set-up that's dangerous, but you. Darwin's waiting for you to forget which is which, so don't let him getcha
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Old 09-12-02, 09:44 AM   #25
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I use a memory trick to help me with shifting and braking.

I just remember R&R which means "Right hand, Rear wheel."
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