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Old 09-12-08, 01:20 AM   #1
Myqul
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Follow up brake question.....

Had some great answers to my asking what the point of a rear brake is. Thanks everyone

I'd now like to know......Being left handed should i have the front or rear brake lever on the left of my handle bar
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Old 09-12-08, 06:47 AM   #2
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I don't think brake lever position should be affected by your dominant hand. You should set it up the way other bikes are. That way if you hop on another ride you are not disoriented.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:30 AM   #3
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Most bikes are set up with the rear brake on the right and the front brake on the left.

OTOH, a lot of fixed gear bicycles that only run a front brake often put the lever on the right.

At the end of the day I suppose you can put your brakes on however feels right to you. The cable stops may be on one side or the other requring some different cable routing if you don't run the brakes the way they were originally installed though.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:45 AM   #4
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No. If you hop on a buddys bike your going to crash be cause you mixed them up.
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Old 09-12-08, 02:19 PM   #5
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Agree that dominant hand isn't relevant. In the UK, we set it up the round way opposite. I suspect that our differing traditions arise from us riding on the correct side of the road.

If you think about, our right turn signal and your left turn signal are a lot safer if you can operate the rear brake with the non-signalling hand. It is always trickier to slow down while signalling using the front brake, since your weight tends to move forward while slowing down and if it is going into a front wheel which is slowing down, the steering can become pretty iffy.

Tho' I ve read somewhere that motorbikes are our way round - which presumably doesn't create any problems because signals aren't manual and the main braking comes from the foot.
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Old 09-12-08, 03:02 PM   #6
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Depends which country you live in.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:50 PM   #7
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I'm left handed and have no problems with the bike set up "as is". The brakes should be set up with enough leverage that you don't have to rely on hand dominance to stop the bike.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:04 PM   #8
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I'm right handed and have no problem braking with the left hand. And I'm nearly "monodextrous" -- you can't even ask me to write my own name with my left hand.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:08 PM   #9
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I always set bikes up with the rear brake for the dominant hand. This means that for most right handers the right hand is the strongest and I set that up for the rear brake. People have come back to me and have told stories about how they panic braked and thought they were going over the bars but the bike I set up just bit in and stopped controllably.

This is not just because I set up the front brake for the weaker hand. I put a smaller brake and a smaller tire on the front. I put a larger tire and a larger brake on the rear. Most people grab both levers and squeeze hard in a panic. In a lot of bikes they go over the handlebars and end up with more injuries and damage than in a controlled stop.

Most of your weight is over the rear wheel. This is the tire that wears out first because it does much more work, this includes braking. Set up your brakes and tires for ~20-33% front and 67-80% rear bias, not 50/50!
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Old 09-12-08, 11:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VenturaCyclist View Post
Most of your weight is over the rear wheel. This is the tire that wears out first because it does much more work, this includes braking. Set up your brakes and tires for ~20-33% front and 67-80% rear bias, not 50/50!
....

So... while I'm braking HARD with the front brake, the rear wheel will skid if I just mildly squeeze the rear brake.

How does that equate to the rear brake doing most of the work?

It doesn't. Don't get the accelerated wear of the rear tire mixed up with better braking -- it's due to it taking more of the weight, a bit of the drive forces, and, sometimes, locked-up brakes. Start braking, though, and the forces effectively put most of the "weight" on the front wheel, which gives it greater traction and better braking ability.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle...namics#Braking
(if you'd like, you can read through the 10+MB PDF file from Cornell that they're citing)

What you're recommending is to reduce the braking ability of the entire bike. I guess it's okay for rookie riders who don't know about weight transfer, but those braking distances will still be longer.
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Old 09-12-08, 11:46 PM   #11
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I have no problems switching back and forth between bikes with right hand rear and right hand front brakes.

when you brake, all your weight goes to the front wheel, it makes sense to put strong brakes on the front than the rear since all the braking work is done with the front. When the front is loaded up, the front tyre deforms and you get a larger contact patch. Campagnolo calipers are a good example of this. They have a dual pivot caliper for the front for power and a single pivot rear to save weight.

If you learn the proper technique, there's less chance of going over the bars in panic stops. Most people go over their bars, or endo because their bike stops, but they don't. They crash into their bikes because they weren't hanging on strong enough or putting their weight to the rear of the bike.

That being said, multi-geared bikes come with equipped with the shifter that does most of the work on the RIGHT hand side of the bike. By putting the front brake on the right along with the shifter that goes through the cassette on the right, you've essentially doubled the work your right hand has to do.

it's mostly a matter of personal preference and equipment restrictions. On some bike frames it's not possible to run the right hand front because the cables interfere with something.
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Old 09-13-08, 12:01 AM   #12
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What you are talking about is managing a skidding unicycle. During braking you do not want the rear wheel to lift. It will if you have the front brake do most of the braking. Also you do not want the ability to lock up the front wheel unless you are the skilled cyclist that Sheldon Brown was speaking of.

Last edited by VenturaCyclist; 09-13-08 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 09-13-08, 12:12 AM   #13
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I can't lock up the front wheel unless I'm hitting severe bumps (which bounces the wheel in the air just long enough for it to lock before it lands on the ground) or going down a really steep slope. On the road, I just stop a lot quicker.

I guess that I have very few problems when I force the rear wheel to skid, because I learned how to do it before my parents allowed me to ride in the street.

Last edited by BarracksSi; 09-13-08 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 09-13-08, 12:22 AM   #14
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I've done stoppies in dry weather and front locks in snow occasionally.
In dry weather it's very hard to lock your front wheel with regular rim brakes.

in rain and snow it's best to balance out your front and rear braking because you can lock.
but locking your front wheel in the snow and rain is not an end all disaster that everyone speaks of. You can recover if you can recognize your front is locked and release before you severely tip your center of gravity, but that's if you're going straight and are not into a turn.
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Old 09-13-08, 01:10 AM   #15
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From the same article you cite:
"If the rider moves his weight back and down, even larger decelerations are possible." I am not reducing the stopping ability of any bicycle, I am matching, balancing, sizing, trying to make more panic stops more controllable, something akin to ABS and electronic vehicle stability in cars.

However, if you usually use stoppies all the time, recover from a front wheel skid, or have no problems whatsoever with a rear wheel skid then I suppose you are that skilled bicyclist that Sheldon Brown talks about that brakes with the front brake only and everyone else is a rookie. But these are not techniques for a controllable panic stop nor would I recommend them to anyone.
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Old 09-13-08, 01:31 AM   #16
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What's with people thinking front wheel braking is dangerous or difficult??
90% of the time it is the first brake I apply when stopping, and the only brake applied; since it stopped me just fine without the need for any extra help.

I have experimentally tried stopping with only rear vs only front, and the front just works better, stops in a 3rd the distance of the rear. You don't have to take my word for it, try it yourself!

If I had to ride one handed, due to either making a hand signal, or a panic situation, I'd definetly want to be able to reach the front brake first, because it is going to let me stop faster and avoid ending up in the path of the car or whatever caused the panic stop.
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Old 09-13-08, 05:24 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AEO View Post

If you learn the proper technique, there's less chance of going over the bars in panic stops. Most people go over their bars, or endo because their bike stops, but they don't. They crash into their bikes because they weren't hanging on strong enough or putting their weight to the rear of the bike..
Dunno whether this has any bearing on answers to my OP but i rider a recumbent so the chances of me doing a endo or going over the bars are very very low.
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Old 09-13-08, 07:20 AM   #18
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I suspect that our differing traditions arise from us riding on the correct side of the road.
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Old 09-13-08, 12:17 PM   #19
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The vast majority of braking is done with one brake, mostly for convienence. Sheldon Brown himself advocates it, I do it. I've never said that all bicyclist should always brake with both brakes. However, I am concerned about those very few times you've needed to stop fast and I try to size, match, balance and put together a bicycle that will let you do that naturally without thinking or special skills.
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Old 09-13-08, 04:53 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
If I had to ride one handed, due to either making a hand signal, or a panic situation, I'd definetly want to be able to reach the front brake first, because it is going to let me stop faster and avoid ending up in the path of the car or whatever caused the panic stop.
I put a cross lever on my road bike, operating the front brake, for this very reason.

It's still fun making skid marks with the rear wheel, though.
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