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  1. #1
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    Reversing brake setup?

    Hey all.

    I hadn't ridden in...oh, ten years, till I moved to NYC last month. In the interim, I've turned into quite a (gasp) motorcyclist, and I'm having all sorts of issues on my bike confusing the levers (in case you don't know, on an MC the right lever is the front brake, a foot pedal is the rear). I still ride my MC as much if not more than my MTB and it's gotten to the point where I'm routinely grabbing the rear brake and instinctively tipping my right toe forward to stab at the phantom rear pedal.

    So...would there be any real issue with just swapping the cables so my MTB has an "inverted" setup, with the right lever on the front brake?

  2. #2
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    Not an uncommon switch. In addition to motorcyclists, some prefer to have their dominant right hand control the more important front brake. Only issue I see is if you ride someone else's bike or a rental with the usual setup.

  3. #3
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    All my bikes are right hand front and my daughters also have their bikes set up this way.

    In some cases it can also make for nicer cable routing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nimitz87's Avatar
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    I'm tempted to do this as well...

    Chad

  5. #5
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Right hand front is standard in Australia

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Been doing it since the late 70's for a variety of reasons. FWIW I have bikes set up both ways, but it only takes a couple of quick grabs on the brakes for my mind to switch over to which bike I am riding.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  7. #7
    Senior Member tizeye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 009jim View Post
    Right hand front is standard in Australia
    Likewise with my bike purchased in Great Britian. It was that way in 86, and looking at pictured of today's Falcon (Claude Butler) and Dawes (UK, not Bikesdirect), appears still the standard setup.

  8. #8
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    Here in Japan, the starting is the reverse from North America so I have to ask my brakes to be switched.
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

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    Thanks for all the feedback! I switched them this morning, felt 100% more comfortable. Definitely a must-do from now on.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Advantage to left side - rear is realized each time I grab the lever to roll the bike up on it's rear wheel
    to maneuver in narrow hallway and small apartment..
    + I have tackled some steep get off and push hills on my laden touring routes,
    where grabbing the back brake to stop and rest was needed.
    To bring the heart-rate back down..

  11. #11
    I wanna go fast!!!!!!!!! ebrake's Avatar
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    All my bikes are set up that way. Depending on your brakes you may be able to just unhook brake cables from brake handles and switch 'em up with no modification. Worked on my old crappy Next mountain bike I started commuting with years ago, and I have had no problems setting up regular road calipers like that on more recent builds.

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    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Not an uncommon switch. In addition to motorcyclists, some prefer to have their dominant right hand control the more important front brake. Only issue I see is if you ride someone else's bike or a rental with the usual setup.
    I switched the brakes on my bicycle when I resumed riding years ago to avoid any confusion after so many years and miles of motorcycling. I no longer ride a motorcycle, but prefer the right hand working the front brake on the bicycle and left things set up that way.

  13. #13
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    All my motorcycles were RH shift, I'd go to downshift riding someone elses, and slam on the brake.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  14. #14
    Senior Member Gotte's Avatar
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    In the UK, the motorcycle setup is how we have it. I think it comes from a lot of old motorcycle manufacturers growing from bicycle manufacturers, or the other way around.

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    Hehe.... Reminds me that back in the seventies, when I was riding both road and dirt motorcycles, I at one point had a Honda roadster with left-foot shifting and down-for-first configuration, and a Montessa dirt bike (dreadful machine...) that had right-foot shifting with up-for-first.
    I sympathize with the OP.....

  16. #16
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotte View Post
    In the UK, the motorcycle setup is how we have it. I think it comes from a lot of old motorcycle manufacturers growing from bicycle manufacturers, or the other way around.
    There is a rule in N.A. that says the left/front is standard, don't know why, but as far as I know, it's the only place that does this. For myself, i always switch it to right/front, couldn't get anywhere enough dexterity for hard front braking with the left hand.

  17. #17
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I've read several explanations for the left/front association in North America. One is that it arises from the misplaced fear that a right-handed rider would squeeze the brake too hard and flip over the handlebars. Sheldon Brown opined that it was so that the rider could use a hand to signal while using the primary brake, but that doesn't make sense since in the US, where you ride/drive on the right, one usually uses the left arm to signal.

    I leave my bikes set up with left/front because I'm left-handed and I prefer to have my stronger, dominant hand control the more important brake.

  18. #18
    vol
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    I've heard that the U.S. (or North America?) is the only place that has right hand on rear brake lever.
    OP and others who switched the brake levers: did you all do it yourselves, or had local bike shop do it for you? How much do they charge you, if any? When I bought my bike the shop guy was not willing to do it because it's too much trouble to him.

  19. #19
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    I've heard that the U.S. (or North America?) is the only place that has right hand on rear brake lever.
    OP and others who switched the brake levers: did you all do it yourselves, or had local bike shop do it for you? How much do they charge you, if any? When I bought my bike the shop guy was not willing to do it because it's too much trouble to him.
    You have got ot be kidding ----- time for a new shop, and they wouldn't have gotten my new bike business either....

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  20. #20
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    I've heard that the U.S. (or North America?) is the only place that has right hand on rear brake lever.
    OP and others who switched the brake levers: did you all do it yourselves, or had local bike shop do it for you? How much do they charge you, if any? When I bought my bike the shop guy was not willing to do it because it's too much trouble to him.
    The charge would vary by bike. Typical road bike would be more expensive than a typical MTB.
    I'd give it a wild estimate of $15 for MTB, $50 for road (including new bar tape)
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  21. #21
    vol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    You have got ot be kidding ----- time for a new shop, and they wouldn't have gotten my new bike business either....
    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    The charge would vary by bike. Typical road bike would be more expensive than a typical MTB.
    I'd give it a wild estimate of $15 for MTB, $50 for road (including new bar tape)
    Thanks. Mine is a hybrid, so maybe between $15 and $50? I will try to ask them again. I actually had mentioned this even before I bought the bike, but the guy forgot and assembled it without switching them. So I think they shouldn't charge me.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    I've had the levers swapped on all three of my bikes, and in each case the shop did it at no charge.

  23. #23
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    If you bought the bike from them, they should hook you up with that, for sure!
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  24. #24
    The Professor akohekohe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
    For what it's worth, I've read several explanations for the left/front association in North America. One is that it arises from the misplaced fear that a right-handed rider would squeeze the brake too hard and flip over the handlebars. Sheldon Brown opined that it was so that the rider could use a hand to signal while using the primary brake, but that doesn't make sense since in the US, where you ride/drive on the right, one usually uses the left arm to signal.

    I leave my bikes set up with left/front because I'm left-handed and I prefer to have my stronger, dominant hand control the more important brake.
    I think Sheldon's point is that the "over the handlebars" fear leads to the belief that the primary brake is the rear brake, which is controlled by the right hand in the USA setup so it can be used when signaling with the left hand.
    The more you drive the less intelligent you are. - Tracy Walter as Miller in Repo Man.

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    On most bikes it is a 10 minute operation to swap from right to left. Don't have to move the levers, just the cables. You loosen the cables at the brakes, remove the cable from the lever and switch to the other side. Worst case scenario you may have to add or shorten housing.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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