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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    I'm a lefty and ideally the front brake would be on the left. In the
    UK I just live with the convention of on the right, but it makes no
    sense to change on the left for a lefty because your a lefty.

    rgds, sreten.

    The front brake is your best brake and should be controlled by
    by your best hand, to encourage its use and feel. The USA
    has it all wrong, but i can see moreorless how they got there.
    As I said earlier, the idea is stronger hand should be on the brake less likely to cause a crash. That is the rear. May not make sense, but that is how the convention developed.

  2. #27
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    I see. That makes more sense now.

  3. #28
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    What? That does not make sense to me...

    The reason your stronger/dominant hand is the stronger/dominant hand is because you can control it best, and the whole damn point of mechanical advantage (i.e. brakes) is to achieve through leverage what you cannot achieve with your bare hands (i.e. braking power), so...

    So what difference does it make if your left hand generates 35lb of squeezing force and your right 45lbs when your brakes only require 25lb at the lever to generate 150lbs at the rim?

    I don't think the assertion that "stronger hand should be on the brake less likely to cause a crash" makes any sense at all.

    You want your best fine motor control on the brake that does most of the stopping, so you can maximize your stopping power by walking up to the edge of lockup and working there; you also want to have your strongest hand on the strongest brake to combat fatigue and brake fade while maintaing maximum braking force. Dual sport riders (i.e. bikes and
    motos) want uniformity so that, in our time of need, we're not confused about which hand or foot is doing what; we want automatic response with maximum effect.

    I am curious about where the USA convention of left-front braking comes from, though...
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    What? That does not make sense to me...

    The reason your stronger/dominant hand is the stronger/dominant hand is because you can control it best, and the whole damn point of mechanical advantage (i.e. brakes) is to achieve through leverage what you cannot achieve with your bare hands (i.e. braking power), so...

    So what difference does it make if your left hand generates 35lb of squeezing force and your right 45lbs when your brakes only require 25lb at the lever to generate 150lbs at the rim?

    I don't think the assertion that "stronger hand should be on the brake less likely to cause a crash" makes any sense at all.

    You want your best fine motor control on the brake that does most of the stopping, so you can maximize your stopping power by walking up to the edge of lockup and working there; you also want to have your strongest hand on the strongest brake to combat fatigue and brake fade while maintaing maximum braking force. Dual sport riders (i.e. bikes and
    motos) want uniformity so that, in our time of need, we're not confused about which hand or foot is doing what; we want automatic response with maximum effect.

    I am curious about where the USA convention of left-front braking comes from, though...
    You are likely right. There is no agreement about this. Sheldon Brown discusses most of the possible explanations for the different preferences here: http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html. I notice my explanation is missing. Never mind. It isn't important anyway. The motorcycle explanation for right front braking may have some validity. Also the dominance by European riders most of whom (according to Sheldon) use right front. As for where the left front USA convention comes from, I have no idea. I just know that 30+ years ago I decided to set up with right front, and have been doing it ever since.

  5. #30
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    Just go with personal preference. For cycling, all of the talks about stronger and fine motor control are just silly. All it needs is a little pulling of 2 fingers to lockup the brakes and we are not talking about brain surgery here as far as motor control. Just few practice sessions is all it takes for the hand/brain to figure out.

  6. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    As I said earlier, the idea is stronger hand should be on the brake less likely to cause a
    crash. That is the rear. May not make sense, but that is how the convention developed.
    Hi,

    That is the half-baked USA thinking, however the European system would make a lot
    more sense in a land full of rear coaster brakes. Precisely because the front can stop
    you twice as quick as the rear, and used badly out of the saddle can throw you over
    the bars, the dominant hand with most feel should control the front brake.

    The USA seems to have an aversion to front brakes, especially on kids bikes,
    so any brake lever fitted for the rear goes on the right, leaving the left for front.

    It is a safety thing, allegedly. But there are very good reasons why many motorbikes
    are now fitted with link systems where the rear brake cannot be applied on its own.

    rgds, sreten.

    Being a lefty in Europe I tend to use the rear brake far too much.
    I can't get out of the habit of using it for slow stops, I imagine
    that also applies to righties with a right rear brake too.

    However I have adjusted both my bikes for longer rear lever travel,
    and with the longer cables the rear is noticeably more spongy than
    the front, so any real braking always involves the front brake.
    Last edited by sreten; 06-14-13 at 05:13 AM.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi,

    That is the half-baked USA thinking, however the European system would make a lot
    more sense in a land full of rear coaster brakes. Precisely because the front can stop
    you twice as quick as the rear, and used badly out of the saddle can throw you over
    the bars, the dominant hand with most feel should control the front brake.

    The USA seems to have an aversion to front brakes, especially on kids bikes,
    so any brake lever fitted for the rear goes on the right, leaving the left for front.

    It is a safety thing, allegedly. But there are very good reasons why many motorbikes
    are now fitted with link systems where the rear brake cannot be applied on its own.

    rgds, sreten.

    Being a lefty in Europe I tend to use the rear brake far too much.
    I can't get out of the habit of using it for slow stops, I imagine
    that also applies to righties with a right rear brake too.

    However I have adjusted both my bikes for longer rear lever travel,
    and with the longer cables the rear is noticeably more spongy than
    the front, so any real braking always involves the front brake.
    I don't disagree. None of the conventions have any true impact on safety. Just do what you want. But I don't think dominant hand assigned to rear was ever chosen for reasons of strength or feel, but rather first or quicker automatic response. Take the edge off with the rear then think about how to use the front. All BS i'm sure.

  8. #33
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    Funny, Sreten, your comment about kids' bikes in USA...I remember as a youth my BMX only having a rear brake, and a poorly operating one at that! In such a case as only having a rear brake, I'd insist on the brake lever being at the right hand, so that I could modulate the brake best (or in the case of my childhood, honk on that lever as hard as possible to get some braking power to induce a manly skid!).
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  9. #34
    Senior Member TampaRaleigh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RT View Post
    Doing it with one hand while you signal makes it less stable than using the rear brake one-handed. I have noticed that not a lot of roadies signal to begin with, so maybe it is a non-issue for most.
    Which is exactly why older English-made bike had the LEFT brake lever controlling the rear. Since the traffic is on the other side of the street, you have to signal with your right hand in England.

  10. #35
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    Hmmmm.

    In the UK the tradition is for the front to be right brake, left rear. In France the front tends to be left, back is right (at least as far as I know).

    I think it's just traditional, but with sidepulls, the front/left set up tends to mean less tight cable runs, though I suppose that depends which side the cable stop is on..

    I swapped my French bike back to right front as I couldn't get used to the other way and was continually locking up the rear. I agree with the comments re finer motor control, and the front brake does do most of the braking, so it makes sense to me to use your stronger hand.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
    Which is exactly why older English-made bike had the LEFT brake lever controlling the rear. Since the traffic is on the other side of the street, you have to signal with your right hand in England.
    Technically, we signal with both on bikes. In cars without external signals, you use the right hand (out the drivers window).
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  12. #37
    Ding! Bandera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagrom_ View Post
    I've never understood left hand front brake.
    Left front didn't work well for Cyclo Cross dismounts.
    A left side dismount called for a smooth left handed rear brake modulation, swing off and raise bike to right shoulder w/ right hand and run.
    A decelerating rear brake on loose/wet surfaces is predictable while a front brake pitches the machine up as the rider's weight transfers from saddle to left pedal to ground.
    Getting whacked in the head by one's saddle on every dismount is considered both inelegant and slow.

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  13. #38
    RT
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
    Which is exactly why older English-made bike had the LEFT brake lever controlling the rear. Since the traffic is on the other side of the street, you have to signal with your right hand in England.
    Crazy Brits. God love 'em.

  14. #39
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
    Which is exactly why older English-made bike had the LEFT brake lever controlling the rear. Since the traffic is on the other side of the street, you have to signal with your right hand in England.
    So you point with your right hand to go left? That is nuts. One low tech way to resolve the problem is to point the direction you're going with that hand...

    This thread is goofy even by 41 standards. Only here could people become so easily confused by a cable pulling a caliper.

  15. #40
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    So you point with your right hand to go left? That is nuts. One low tech way to resolve the problem is to point the direction you're going with that hand...

    This thread is goofy even by 41 standards. Only here could people become so easily confused by a cable pulling a caliper.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  16. #41
    Descends like a rock pallen's Avatar
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    I cant see how it makes one bit of difference which brake is on which side as long as the operator knows what they are pulling. I don't signal that often and even less while braking. I can pull either brake with either hand just as well. I think most of us can.

  17. #42
    Senior Member Element GT's Avatar
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    Left hand- Front cog, front brake
    Right hand- Rear cog, rear brake

    That's how I've always thought about it.
    "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles starring at computer screens all day!" -Peter Gibbons

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element GT View Post
    Left hand- Front cog, front brake
    Right hand- Rear cog, rear brake

    That's how I've always thought about it.
    Ha! I like that! That's the most sensible explanation for the 'American standard' yet!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  19. #44
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    Ha! I like that! That's the most sensible explanation for the 'American standard' yet!
    Only problem with the theory is that the convention developed long before brifters existed.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  20. #45
    Senior Member Element GT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Only problem with the theory is that the convention developed long before brifters existed.
    Maybe they were just thinking ahead
    "Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles starring at computer screens all day!" -Peter Gibbons

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
    I don't disagree. None of the conventions have any true impact on safety. Just do what you want. But I don't think dominant hand assigned to rear was ever chosen for reasons of strength or feel, but rather first or quicker automatic response. Take the edge off with the rear then think about how to use the front. All BS i'm sure.
    Hi,

    Strength and feel have everything to do with a bike with only a rear brake,
    most would insist on it being fitted on the right, but the same reasoning
    leads to the right controlling the front brake on a performance bicycle.

    The USA (especially for children) doesn't like front brakes, AFAIK only
    a rear brake is needed in most States (bad idea), and the USA is quite
    happy to have the front brake on the left for coaster rear brakes.

    In the UK signalling to go right across traffic is much more important
    than signalling to turn left, its the opposite in the USA, and some
    ascribe the differences along the lines of - with only a rear brake
    turning left (UK), right (USA), without indicating is OK if you need
    to brake, but turning right (UK), left (USA) needs to be indicated.

    It fits it with most casual riders preferring the rear brake.

    Still there is no doubt for me for most basically the right should
    control the front brake - but the spanner in the works is only
    having to have one (usually) rear brake. However the above
    I think explains why it was still on the left in the UK and
    why we ended up with the front brake on the right, and
    why its the opposite in the USA, and it actually makes
    more total sense in the USA with only a rear brake.

    rgds, sreten.

    For motorcycles clutch left, brake right is a no brainer,
    as is controlling the front or rear brake with hand or foot.

    Gears on bikes are always left front, right rear,
    nothing to do with the braking arrangements.
    Last edited by sreten; 06-14-13 at 02:28 PM.

  22. #47
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    As a long time motorcycle rider I had to swap them, it just did not fill right and found it dangerous for me at least I'm a primary front brake user.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    Only problem with the theory is that the convention developed long before brifters existed.
    Shift levers, as Sreten noted, have always been rear on right side/ front on left, whether downtube, brifter, stem, top tube, or bar mounted, the only exception I can recall being the Schwinn Krate bikes (e.g. Orange, Apple) and their copies which had those automobile shifter inspired toptube shifters, but even most of those, though centerally located, had their grips positioned for right handed use.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
    So you point with your right hand to go left? That is nuts. One low tech way to resolve the problem is to point the direction you're going with that hand...

    This thread is goofy even by 41 standards. Only here could people become so easily confused by a cable pulling a caliper.
    Hi, Amusing in that your more confused than most in your deliberation, rgds, sreten.

  25. #50
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sreten View Post
    Hi, Amusing in that your more confused than most in your deliberation, rgds, sreten.
    I think you're confused about who's confused.

    But getting confused by capitalization, grammar, and punctuation is expected here

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