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Old "suicide" levers/new top mount levers

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Old "suicide" levers/new top mount levers

Old 12-17-02, 03:04 PM
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RainmanP
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Old "suicide" levers/new top mount levers

I am asking this because I honestly don't know, and I am just curious.

The upper levers on combination brake levers often found on old Schwinns are often disdainfully referred to as suicide levers. Now top-mount levers are a big deal on cyclocross and some road bikes. These levers are separate from the regular levers but pull the same cable. Why are the older version decried but the newer one's ok. I understand the difference in operation between the two. Did the older version have less reliable braking because the two levers were on the same mount? More friction? Harder to pull?
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Old 12-17-02, 03:11 PM
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Originally posted by RainmanP
Did the older version have less reliable braking because the two levers were on the same mount? More friction? Harder to pull?
The older levers worked by moving the primary levers via an extension. The materials used were often of low quality (or low enough) that there was flex and give in the mechanism. As such, you were never able to apply reliable stopping force through the secondary levers. Because the newer levers actually move the cable directly, this problem should be resolved. Also, the older levers tended to break (as opposed to brake) easily.
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Old 12-17-02, 05:20 PM
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My personal opinion is that many of the old levers were not adjusted properly.

When the cable became stretched or loose, the 'suicide' lever would bottom out and hit the bar before enough tension was put on the cable to stop the bike.

Also, the position of the brake lever mounting was a lot more critical with suicide shifters. IF the mounting was too high or too low on the curve of the bars, there would not be enough travel distance for the suicide lever.

From what I have seen, positioning of brake lever mountings remains inconsitant even direct from the factories. This was probably the case in the 1960's ~ 1980's which resulted in various effectiveness of the suicide levers.

I have suicide levers on some of my commuters. I, being all knowing and all clever, have them adjusted correctly and they work fine.
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Old 12-17-02, 07:58 PM
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Hi,
"suicide is painless" (old song) I rode a Schwinn Varsity for years with the extra levers.
I liked them a lot. As soon as I saw the new version, I tried them...and they are definitely going on my new bike. Properly adjusted the old levers were fine, they didn't stop as hard; but they were ok. The new ones are mountain bike levers that plug into sti shifters. They work great.
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Old 12-18-02, 08:30 AM
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Chicken (a.k.a. "suicide") levers also flexed. They would often cause the band holding the lever assembly to the bar to slip. Some of the longer levers actually hit the bar, limiting their usefulness.
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Old 12-19-02, 01:18 PM
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I had them on my old Schwinn Continental. I liked them and yes they would flex under hard braking. They always stopped me when I used them. I probably wasn't going fast enough to notice the difference.

The new ones that pull the cable directly look nice. Saw some on a Specialized Sequoia looked very nice and appeared to work well.

Don
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Old 12-19-02, 02:54 PM
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I installed a set of top mount brake levers on my wife's Calfee because she has arthritis in her hands, which makes it difficult for her to use the brakes on a long downhill. They look neat, work slick and there is no 'slop' as there was in the old 'suicide/chicken' levers.
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Old 12-28-02, 09:10 PM
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Two things: One, remember that you always have LESS control at the center/top of the bar--this was a problem with old brake extension levers that the mechanical superiority of the new ones does not one thing to cure. Two, if you are lucky enough to have a bike that still has a quill stem, just buy a taller stem--the drops won't be so far down! This new product is just a compensation for the FRAUDULENT AND VERY, VERY STUPID PRODUCT called a threadless stem/fork/headset, which takes almost all of the vertical adjustment potential out of what used to be a very adjustable part. Somebody ripped you off by talking you into that threadless crap, and now they want to steal another $50 from you for redundant brake levers to patch up that previous mistake!
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Old 12-28-02, 10:12 PM
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Originally posted by Feldman
Two things: One, remember that you always have LESS control at the center/top of the bar--this was a problem with old brake extension levers that the mechanical superiority of the new ones does not one thing to cure. Two, if you are lucky enough to have a bike that still has a quill stem, just buy a taller stem--the drops won't be so far down! This new product is just a compensation for the FRAUDULENT AND VERY, VERY STUPID PRODUCT called a threadless stem/fork/headset, which takes almost all of the vertical adjustment potential out of what used to be a very adjustable part. Somebody ripped you off by talking you into that threadless crap, and now they want to steal another $50 from you for redundant brake levers to patch up that previous mistake!
Lame rant.
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Old 12-29-02, 09:57 AM
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Originally posted by pokey
Lame rant.
Care to elaborate?
my .02 worth is that threadless limits adjustment.
So I'd be interested to hear your point of view.
Not saying either is right or wrong, just the why
of it.

Marty
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Old 12-29-02, 10:21 AM
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Feldman,
I rode for years with the Suicide Levers.
While there was less braking power, it takes a second to reach the hoods; if you're leaning on the top of the bar. That extra second of braking has
helped a couple times. I have tried the new ones; and I like them even better. Your attempt to link
threadless headsets to having an extra set of brake levers makes no sense to me. I had the extra brake levers a quarter century before threadless was marketed. Lastly, my LBS is pretty conservative, they steered me away from carbon forks,and they like steel frames. When I asked about
threadless versus quill; they didn't have an opinion. Me, I have been riding a threadless bike for a while; seems ok. I have a slight preference for a quilled stem; but that comes from having a half dozen bikes, over 4 decades, that were quilled.
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Old 12-29-02, 11:07 AM
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Originally posted by lotek

Care to elaborate?
my .02 worth is that threadless limits adjustment.
So I'd be interested to hear your point of view.
Not saying either is right or wrong, just the why
of it.

Marty
That was not the lame part. No arguement that threadless can limit bar height adjustment.Don't know that the levers that Rainman brought up had anything to do with bar height.The levers do work on a different principal than the suicide levers and do have practical , current application. The ranter also belittles the buyer for being 'ripped off ' by being 'talked into' buying a threadless setup.Apparently Feldman has not been out of his cave for several years.

Last edited by pokey; 12-29-02 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 12-29-02, 11:24 AM
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Well, I suppose that a bike buyer can no longer be talked into a threadless headset as little else exists anymore. The cyclo-cross upper brake levers will be jumped on as new bike spec, because believe me, there are a lot of frustrated recent bike buyers on new bikes without enough vertical adjustment in the stem to get them in a comfortable position. I have 30+ years experience in selling, fitting, and fixing bikes and know way too much to think that the universal adaptation of threadless systems is a good thing. Useful for some applications (mountain bikes that need frequent hs adjustments, travel bikes because a quill bar/stem is a really messy thing to pack, and a few others, they are nevertheless a very bad idea for production hybrid and road bikes where a cm of stem height can make the difference between comfort and misery in the rider. Too much that is currently fashionable in production bike component spec is anti-fit and anti-rider comfort. Yes, there are spec people at the Big Bike Companies who are crooks in that they are excessively focused on the moment of the sale and thus care too little about the rider's long term happiness with the product. No, I don't live in a cave and, due to long experience have KNOWLEDGE, not OPINIONS.
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Old 12-29-02, 11:40 AM
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Originally posted by Feldman
Well, I suppose that a bike buyer can no longer be talked into a threadless headset as little else exists anymore. The cyclo-cross upper brake levers will be jumped on as new bike spec, because believe me, there are a lot of frustrated recent bike buyers on new bikes without enough vertical adjustment in the stem to get them in a comfortable position. I have 30+ years experience in selling, fitting, and fixing bikes and know way too much to think that the universal adaptation of threadless systems is a good thing. Useful for some applications (mountain bikes that need frequent hs adjustments, travel bikes because a quill bar/stem is a really messy thing to pack, and a few others, they are nevertheless a very bad idea for production hybrid and road bikes where a cm of stem height can make the difference between comfort and misery in the rider. Too much that is currently fashionable in production bike component spec is anti-fit and anti-rider comfort. Yes, there are spec people at the Big Bike Companies who are crooks in that they are excessively focused on the moment of the sale and thus care too little about the rider's long term happiness with the product. No, I don't live in a cave and, due to long experience have KNOWLEDGE, not OPINIONS.
Sure no argument that threadless and even compact geometry are about economics for the manufacturer. There were also plenty of threaded systems on road bikes that has no meaningful vertical adjustment because the quills were too short.Something that was driven by market demand for light weight.The road market has changed,with many manufaacturers now offering different styles that do allow higher bar height with threadless.One my have to shop around,but there are options.Turn the lght on in the cave.Anyone trying to sell traditional stuff to the current market will have a difficult time. Ask Grant Petersen with Rivndell about it. Even he has had to admit that cassetes are ok, and even their current line of built bikes have 9 speed cassettes and Index shifting. ,although with an optional friction mode.They do come with long quill stems.
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