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  1. #1
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Front brake, Righty or lefty?

    I just swapped out my brifters for regular aero brake levers and bar end shifters. Being the genius that I am, I installed the front brake cable to the right lever.

    Any reasons not to just leave it set up this way on a heavily loaded tourer?

    I'm right handed, and while on tour I don't find myself grabbing bottles to drink while riding. I usualy just stop, relax and drink. Same for snacking.

    For events, recreational riding and sometimes commuting it's all about time, so I drink/eat while riding (which perhaps might matter, me being right handed).

    All my other bikes have the normal US setup: left lever front, right lever rear.

    I'll be riding this bike loaded on tour for up to a year.

    Thoughts?
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  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    I just swapped out my brifters for regular aero brake levers and bar end shifters. Being the genius that I am, I installed the front brake cable to the right lever.

    Any reasons not to just leave it set up this way on a heavily loaded tourer?

    I'm right handed, and while on tour I don't find myself grabbing bottles to drink while riding. I usualy just stop, relax and drink. Same for snacking.

    For events, recreational riding and sometimes commuting it's all about time, so I drink/eat while riding (which perhaps might matter, me being right handed).

    All my other bikes have the normal US setup: left lever front, right lever rear.

    I'll be riding this bike loaded on tour for up to a year.

    Thoughts?
    Wasn't there a whole play written on this? What was that title? ... .... Oh yeah! Fiddler on the Roof! Tradition! Being unable to bend without breaking!

    All kidding aside, the only reason that we have front brake on the left is because of everyone's unfounded fear of doing on endo if you apply the front brake too hard, so we put the front on the culturally nondominant hand.

    There's no real reason why not. I switched my wife's a long time ago and she's never had any issues with it. I, on the other hand, do this weird stomping dance around the attic of my garage singing about 'Tradition!' whenever anyone suggests it

    If you can get used to it, there's no reason that they can't be switched.
    Stuart Black
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    Moto-style is perfectly fine imo. Actually, I would think there is probably some advantage to having your dominant hand on the front brake. Power (stopping power and hand power) and modulation (again, hand-related motor control) are two improvements I can think of. They might not be the biggest advantages in the world but... since you already have it set that way. I doubt endo'ing would not be a huge concern once you got used to the new setup. I haven't heard of leftys "going over" more often than righties, so I don't know if there is any real reason why our most effective brake goes to our (usually) least controlled hand. Go for it... but be sure to tell anyone who rides your bike about it before they take off.

  4. #4
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    I thought about doing this myself on my commuter during a rebuild, but the cable routing wasn't advantageous.

    But, I think it's actually better. What are the odds that there might be traffic in the vicinity of where you're riding on tour, and that you'll need to both signal, stop/slow, and control your bike all at the same time? And, what are the odds that you would rather signal with your left hand, and stop/slow/control with your right? Pretty high, I think.

  5. #5
    Senior Member turtleguy54's Avatar
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    I set up my Surly Cross Check this way three years ago and like it. I think the two advantages I find are, 1) dominant hand, right, controlling dominant brake, front 2) I normally do a rolling dismount meaning unclipping the right and bringing the leg over while braking with my left hand controlling the rear brake. This prevents any flip over since my weight is so forward.

  6. #6
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    If you are used to it definatly stay with it. I would imagine braking is far improved, especially for loaded touring, where you wouldn't develope percicse (sp) left hand technique. More Power Too Ya!

  7. #7
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Many people prefer right hand front. I believe that Sheldon Brown has entire web page devoted to the virtues of this set up.

  8. #8
    Macro Geek
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    The only problem I can think of switching is that you may respond with inappropriate pressure to the "incorrect" brake during an emergency. The phenomenon is well known in aviation circles. When the adrenalin is flowing and panic takes over, pilots have been known to perform an action that they had previously mastered rather than the one that would save the plane or themselves. The classic example is what happened when the designers of a fighter plane moved the ejection-seat lever. When it was necesary to bail out, some pilots reached for the old lever position, and as a result, found nothing there, and went down with their planes.

    In an emergency, the brain may respond by triggering obsolete motor-neural responses.

  9. #9
    Hairy Member Crankypants's Avatar
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    I switched my brakes because I am right handed and I don't use my rear brake too often. I think that you naturally develop the ability to feel your stopping power without flipping over. Also, I believe that there is more danger in not stopping as quickly in an emergency (with your weaker rear brake) than flipping over the bar. I have faced many close calls and have never come close to doing an endo, besides a loaded tour bike will probably be harder to flip.

  10. #10
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies!

    I tried (briefly) looking for Sheldon's take on the subject before I posted, as I too seem to recall he had something to say on the subject. I didn't find his page, but didn't look too hard.

    I've "endo'd" twice in my life, neither instance were brake related. I hit a curb straight on when I was 14 and lost a front toof. I went over on a downhill course in my early 20's when I hit a log at the bottom of a dip rather than hopping it (not a scratch). Both instances were witnessed by close friends, and both times comments were along the lines of "that was cool-do it again!".

    I rarely touch the rear brake, except to modulate and to slow on descents (but not actually brake).

    I've been "off bike" for 6 months (being a lazy turd & working too much to save for this tour), and mostly for the year prior had been riding a fixie (with a front left lever brake).

    I figure my time off bike, in combo with riding the fixie before that "should" have reduced my panic memory response.

    Not hearing any strong reasons to switch it back, I'll keep them setup this way.

    I will warn folks who borrow my bike, but I highly doubt that I'll be loaning it out in the first place. To paraphrase Jim Foreman (a rather funny&knowledgeable poster to PHRED) "1 of 3 things should allways be on your bike. Your butt, your hands, or your lock."

    Cheers!


    (Pages are taking ages&ages to load...advance apologies if there are duplicates of this post)
    mmmm coffeee!

    email: jfoneg (_"a t symbol thing"_) yahoo (_"period or dot"_) com

  11. #11
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Any takers for braking while downshifting coming into a stop? I know I often use my left hand on the hood and grab a little brake to sluff of speed while downshifting with my right hand to be ready to go in a lower gear after my stop. That's the only functional reason I can think of for the left hand/front break preference (of course, you could still use your left hand on the back brake).

  12. #12
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    I switched my front brake to the right lever when I first installed aero levers on my used touring bike. As a result, I've haven't done any significant amount riding on a road bike that wasn't set up this way, but I do prefer it to when I've had the left lever controlling the front brake on upright bars. The way I see it, my strong hand is controlling the brake that I use 99% of the time. The rear brake doesn't slow me down worth a damn, and I would rather have my stronger, better coordinated hand operating my primary brake. I do use my rear brake, but only for slippery conditions or gentle deceleration. That changes when I'm touring - the front brake still does more, but both brakes must be used for maximum deceleration. If I'm signalling left (I almost never signal right), or need my left hand free for some other reason, it's nice to have a hand on my stronger brake. I would say, give it a shot and see how you like it. If you find it annoying to switch from left to right on your touring bike, you could always change it again. Or you could change all your other bikes around - it's up to you!
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  13. #13
    sth
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    Senior Member sth's Avatar
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    I am about to build up a new frame and for cable routing reasons I was considering switching to right-front. Interesting to see the issue brought up here. I guess my braking is so subconscious because I cant really say how I brake in a ratio of front to rear. I agree with Mycoatl that there may be issues with downshifting and braking at the same time. I know I do this, particularly when rapidly approaching a red light. I am not sure I want to be trying to shift (gripshifters) while braking at the same time. On the other had I can also think of situations when I am turning left in traffic, while going downhill. In this case, while signalling left I have no hand on the front brake. Trade offs I guess. I looked for Sheldons article and he agrees with the right-front layout, mostly for the dominant hand reasons.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Mine is right-hand front and it works great for me. Not sure how it got that way, though. But it's been like that for 10 years since I got the bike.

  15. #15
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    Here in Australia (and England as well I believe) all bikes have the front brake on the right as standard....

    Makes complete sense to me as most stopping power is on the front, so you want your dominant hand to control it.

    (Oh, and we also drive on the correct side of the road!)

  16. #16
    Macro Geek
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamy
    Here in Australia...

    Oh, and we also drive on the correct side of the road!)
    Interesting choice of words! You did not say that you drive on the "right" side of the road, because that would be incorrect!


  17. #17
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    I have had several bikes set up with the right hand on the front brake. With bar ends I like to have one hand on the brake even as I am free to play with the more comonly shifted gears. So when I got my current bike I didn't change the left hand front brake. With brifters it would not be an issue since you can brake and shift at a moments notice.

  18. #18
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    On every bike I've owned for the past 20 years I've switched the front brake cable to the right side. I don't know if there are advantages (for me) in terms of modulation or control or strength, but I also ride motorcycles, which all have the front brake on the right side (clutch on the left), and I don't ever want to have my bicycle reflexes kick in when I'm on the motorcycle, or vice versa.

    I don't think I have enough brain power to handle two sets of reflexes.

  19. #19
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Right-hand front for me (and Sheldon Brown). That way, I can drink from my bottle using the right hand and avoid a nose-dive should I have to slam on the brake with the left. Also, being a right-hander, I think I have better modulation control with my dominant hand. Your results may vary...

  20. #20
    Senior Member 58Kogswell's Avatar
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    Sheldon favors right hand / front brake

    Sheldon's comments on this - he favors front brake activated by right hand - can be found here:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

    Cheers,

    -jb, with a dark cherry red LHT in the works

  21. #21
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    All kidding aside, the only reason that we have front brake on the left is because of everyone's unfounded fear of doing on endo if you apply the front brake too hard, so we put the front on the culturally nondominant hand.
    Unfounded? It happened to me. However, I have a hard time believing it matters whether you're right or left handed or ambidexterous, unless one hand just doesn't work properly at all. Braking doesn't require too much finesse.
    Last edited by bkrownd; 04-12-06 at 01:49 AM.
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