Even while offroad on my Poprad, I feel more confident riding in the hoods. Using the flat bar portion is just way too twitchy and uncomfortable for me. So the inline brakes are just an extra component taking up bar space. Is there a clean way to remove them? Although the thing I do like is the additional cable tension screw which allows for more clearance during wheel removal.
some racers prefer to hold the tops when they dismount into barriers, as it allows them to lean back further, getting them in a more upright position for running. for them it can be nice to have a way to slow down if they misjudge their speed going into the dismount.
some people who are used to flat bars don't feel comfortable laid out on the hoods all the time, and choose to use the tops a lot, but still like the laid out position sometimes as well. cross levers are a good solution for those folks as well.
for a whole lot of us they're not terribly useful or necessary, and they're pretty easy to remove. i'd recommend new brake cables at the very least, and since there's a break in your cable housing you'll either need to replace the housing (which requires unwrapping the bars) or stick something in place of the inline lever. i'd recommend some inline barrel adjusters:
once the cable's out there's usually just one allen bolt tightening the inline lever to the bars. most cross levers are hinged so they can be removed easily, without unwrapping the bar or removing the other lever. then slide the new cable in, stick in the barrel adjuster and route it through the brake.
Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.
Thanks for the thorough response! With cantilever brakes and STI's, I would think that it is necessary to run those adjuster tubes in the absence of the inline brakes in order to allow for tool-less wheel removal, correct?
Unless you're using monstrouslywide bars, I much prefer the drops in those situations. Better for everything except bunny hops, and even those the hoods are better than the flats IME.
During long descents on the road, having bartop levers adds a very comfortable alternative to the hooks. On a steep off-road descent or drop, using the tops allows you to put your weight significantly farther back than in the hooks. I prefer grabbing the bartop for dismounts rather than the left hood, the balance is slightly better being closer to the stem. For technical curvy sections, I agree that the hoods or hooks are better.
I'm not going to get evangelical about it, but I find bartop levers to be a very handy 90 grams to add to a cross bike. Are they absolutely necessary? Of course not. But despite their "unpro" appearance, many pros on both sides of the pond choose to use them; not just for cross, but also Paris-Roubaix and other cobbled classics.
Trust me, I don't not use them because of weight or concern about looking pro. I had them on my last bike, but didn't use them much, so I don't run them on my current bike, because it didn't come with them. I don't have an ultra aggressive setup to my bike (about 1.5" of saddle to bar drop) so maybe that makes some difference. To each his own.