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Brake Lever Pull.

Old 10-29-21, 11:16 AM
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Brake Lever Pull.

Let me get right down to the question: Is there such a thing as "medium-pull" brake levers?

I've been searching for a definitive answer as to which flat-bar levers work with what (specifically: TRP Spyke vs Spyre.) What I've come to understand so far is that long-pull levers have a radius of 42mm, as opposed to the 21mm radius of short-pull levers.

However, all of my modern bikes have the same SRAM/Avid levers - with a radius of 31.8mm:





Each of these bikes has a different kind of brake: one has regular V-brakes, another has mini V-brakes, and a third has mechanical disk brakes.

So, does this mean that these "in between" levers will work equally well with either road or MTB disk brakes? More specifically, does this mean that I'm free to choose between the Spyke (long reach) and the Spyre (short reach?)
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Old 10-29-21, 02:14 PM
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I just measured two pair of Tektro levers, one is an R200 Short pull lever set with 21 mm between the pivot and cable anchor and the other an RL520 long pull lever set which has 31 mm between the pivot and cable anchor. So, I have to conclude yours are "long pull" levers and will work best with V-brakes or "MTB" disc brakes. They should have too low leverage to work well with mini-Vs or road disc brakes.

I once tried using those Tektro long pull levers with road caliper brakes and very quickly found out the lever pull effort was much too high.
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Old 10-29-21, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider
They should have too low leverage to work well with mini-Vs
And herein lies the source of my confusion - they work just as well with the mini V-brakes on my 700c bike as they do on my folding bike with its 20" wheels. And by "well" I mean plenty of stopping power, a nice, solid feel and great modulation (for a rim brake, that is.)

The black lever is mated with with the black mini-V brake arm on my 700c bike; and the silver lever actuates the gray V-brake arm on my folding bike's 406mm wheel:




Nevermind the branding or the finish - both levers are physically identical in every way, including pivot radius:







My other folding bike, the one with the mechanical disk brakes, also has identical levers. Caliper pivot to cable anchor point: 31.8mm (or thereabouts.)




So, Spyke it is and keep the same levers, then, is what I'm hearing you say?

Last edited by sjanzeir; 11-19-21 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 10-29-21, 04:34 PM
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I've pondered the same thing recently. All of my short pull levers have a radius of 27-28mm. My Shimano long pull levers, at least the ST-EF500s that are switchable between short and long pull, have a long pull radius of about 40mm and a short pull radius of about 28mm. I also have a set of the Avid FR-5s (supposed to be long pull) and they're like yours: in the middle at about 32mm. I also have a generic set of long pull levers and they're also about 32 or 34mm as I recall. I haven't found any as short as 21mm.

I don't know if the Avids are shorter than typical for long pull to provide more mechanical advantage...or if the Shimanos are longer than typical for long pull to reduce mechanical advantage (such as for inexperienced riders on low cost bikes).

Anecdotes:
  • I'm currently using 28mm levers with Tektro Mini-V brakes on my Trek 750 and I love this combination.
  • My daughter's bike came with Tektro Mini-V brakes with Tektro long-pull levers (I think they have a radius of close to the Shimanos...near 40mm); I swapped regular (longer) V-brake arms onto it to get more mechanical advantage and the brakes are definitely stronger.

Good thread! Totally nerdy and something I've been curious about myself lately.
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Old 10-29-21, 04:38 PM
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Oh -- and the disc brake caliper. The actuation arm length actually isn't probative here, at least to my knowledge. They also make calipers compatible with short pull levers ("road calipers"), and they have the same actuation arm length as "mountain calipers." They differ in the shape of the ramped cam inside the caliper. The "road calipers" have a much steeper ramp to the cam and move the pads much more quickly than "mountain calipers" do. As such, the actuation arm doesn't rotate back as far to its free position.
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Old 10-29-21, 06:03 PM
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It actually worth just tryng different levers.
Look at pics and find one with different pivot points.
Some combinations are better for you than they are for someone else.
And you will know straight away if it is better or worse. You want the best brakes you can get.
So you should end up with quality levers that work good for you
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Old 10-29-21, 11:34 PM
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My new SA levers are 27/ 37 mm. I've been using 37mm for everything, Rohloff Spyre, SA XL drum brakes and lately a roller brake.
They all work fine, the Spyre can stop instantly any time. Others say Spyre and drum brakes are wrong for long pull. LOL. The roller brake definitely needs a long pull.

My older model SA levers are 41/ 29 mm. They are now with an old CCM caliper and new SA RD3. Way less effective for whatever reason. Probably would be better with short pull on the caliper.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 10-30-21 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 10-30-21, 06:12 AM
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When V brakes were cutting edge, the top of the line levers had adjustments to fine tune this distance. Even mid level levers had this but now V brakes are low end so many features are gone.



XTR

Avid Speed Dial

Deore LX
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Old 10-30-21, 06:47 AM
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Remember that what's important is the overall leverage ratio of the system, and that there are enough variables that they're just targeting an approximate range based on how people typically use brakes and what feels comfortable. For example, where you apply pressure along the length of the lever affects the leverage as much as the pivot length that you're measuring. For cantilever brakes especially, the set up of the canti arms and yoke cable affect the ratio. And what feels really "grabby" (ie overleveraged) to some people feels normal to others. So there isn't a perfect pivot length for all short pull or for all long pull systems.

That said, it does seem that older short pull flat bar levers were pretty consistently around 21 mm, while newer long pull levers have a wider range. Most rim brake systems seem to target an overall system leverage of about 5-8 (ie the lever moves 5-8x as far as the brake pad), whereas disc brake systems are typically >10.

I've never used min-V's, so I'm curious to know what the leverage ratio of the brakes are. For reference, single-pivot caliper brakes are usually around 1, whereas full-length V-brakes are around 2 and center-pull cantilevers and dual-pivot calipers are both between 1 and 1.5. If the mini-V's are closer to 1.5, that would make it easier to set the up with long-pull levers without feeling underleveraged.
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Old 10-30-21, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by AeroGut
I've never used min-V's, so I'm curious to know what the leverage ratio of the brakes are. For reference, single-pivot caliper brakes are usually around 1, whereas full-length V-brakes are around 2 and center-pull cantilevers and dual-pivot calipers are both between 1 and 1.5. If the mini-V's are closer to 1.5, that would make it easier to set the up with long-pull levers without feeling underleveraged.
Most typical "full length" V-brake arms are about 100-105mm (distance from the pivot at the bottom to the cable attachment at the top). Most Mini-Vs are in the 80-90mm range (though some differ!). Assuming a consistent pad attachment height (from the pivot), I'd assume the leverage ratio of an 80mm brake arm to be 80% of the ratio of a 100mm brake arm.

Here's a web page with a list of common V-brake arm lengths: Tech Tip: V-Brake Arm Lengths - GRAVELBIKE

I have found Mini-Vs to feel more powerful than a good cantilever brake setup, using the same pads and the same brake levers. I guess this makes sense with the maths involved, as Mini-Vs are supposed to have a little more mechanical advantage. I've also found Mini-Vs to feel less powerful than full length V-brakes using the same long-pull brake levers. Again, this should be the case.

I understand one of the needs the Mini-Vs are supposed to meet are traditional cyclocross applications, where a rider wants to swap out cantilever brakes for linear pulls without also changing the brake levers.
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Old 06-09-23, 01:31 AM
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Pulling this one back out from 2021...

I've always used Avid FR7 or other flatbar levers with the adjustable pull feature. I set it to long pull for full v-brakes and short pull for canti and mini-v brakes.

​​​​​​Today I decided to convert my Rival 2x gravel bike over to a flatbar 1x setup. Took the path of least resistance - pulled my entire bar stem (with grips, shifter, levers attached) cockpit from my 90s hardtail to install onto the gravel bike with mini-vs. Everything went well except I forgot that the levers on the bar were Avid FR5 (long pull, non-adjustable) mated to regular v-brakes and now after the conversion they're mated to mini-vs.

I played around with pad spacing and lever barrel adjuster and the lever feel is pretty good. From what I read and understand on this issue, my levers in theory will pull too much cable for my brakes, yet provide not enough stopping power. Well, it feels pretty good on the stand and I will report back after riding it a bit. I am really hoping the 31mm radius means that the levers will work well enough with the mini-v brakes (Tektro 85mm IIRC).
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