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Aero lever cable routing w/ old bars

Old 08-08-12, 06:51 AM
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Aero lever cable routing w/ old bars

Folks-

My old Le Champion has the original 3TTT bars which I dig, but the original Universal levers are shot and I'm toying with the idea of upgrading to modern Aero levers, which I like more aesthetically.

I've only ever used/mounted Aero levers to more modern bars with either internal routing or a groove for the housing to fit in to.

If I use the Aeros with the old bars is it going to leave a bulging uncomfortable grip where the cable is taped?

I would use either cork or Fizik wrap, which is thicker. I'm curious to folks who've tried this, thanks

mark in Maine
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Old 08-08-12, 06:55 AM
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I've seen this done with old bars where the cable is routed on the bottom side of the bar. This is a "least worst" configuration. I belive Aero levers came before groved bars too. Others will calibrate my memory, which is very good, but short.
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Old 08-08-12, 07:04 AM
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I'm also pretty sure grooved bars came after aero levers. Routing on the bottom or towards the back is usually how I've done it/seen it done. I have never found it to be uncomfortable. I guess you double tape the bars if it becomes an issue?
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Old 08-08-12, 07:22 AM
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I've done this a lot of times. You just place the cable in front of the bars, the same as if it had a groove. Wrap it really tight with electrical tape, then wrap with bar tape normally. It isn't uncomfortable at all, in fact, it's barely even noticeable.
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Old 08-08-12, 08:57 AM
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This is the setup on a couple of my bikes, including my Nishiki (transplanted old Cinelli bar/stem, no groove or internal routing, with 105 SLR aero levers) and my 1990 Marinoni (3TTT, same deal, 600 Tricolor group w/aero levers). As described above, simply running the cable along the back of the bars (or the front, I suppose, depending on how you look at it - in any case, where they would go if there were a groove, facing forwards) yields what seems to me a perfectly serviceable result. Generally, two loops of tape should adequately secure each cable to the bar - rather than electrical tape, as suggested, I'd recommend sports tape (the stuff we'd call 'hockey tape up here in Canada, you know, to wrap the handle of your baseball bat, etc.) That's pretty basic, I suppose, and probably not in need of explanation. To respond directly to your question, I really don't find this setup particularly uncomfortable. Even with cotton tape. So, using something a bit more padded, as you intend to do, you should be just fine.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by big_heineken
I've done this a lot of times. You just place the cable in front of the bars, the same as if it had a groove. Wrap it really tight with electrical tape, then wrap with bar tape normally. It isn't uncomfortable at all, in fact, it's barely even noticeable.
+1 This is how I always do it. I don't know that I'd say it's hardly noticeable, but I don't find it objectionable in any way. Pretty comfortable, really.
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Old 08-08-12, 10:07 AM
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No worries, works great.
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Old 08-08-12, 10:15 AM
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I actually prefer non-grooved bars because the cable under the bar tape makes a nice little shape under my knuckles.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:37 AM
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When did Aero levers start to hit the market? I'd like to put some on a 1981 Trek but not sure if there are any that are period correct.
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Old 08-08-12, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by trlrnr
When did Aero levers start to hit the market? I'd like to put some on a 1981 Trek but not sure if there are any that are period correct.
Mid-1980s for general diffusion, I think. 1983-1984 early appearances, maybe earlier, Dia Compe Aero Compe/GC levers available by 1985/6(?) or so, the design gradually mainstreamed subsequently...ubiquitous by the end of the 1980s.

That's my understanding in a nutshell. Something like that, anyways. Others would know better than I.

So maybe slightly out of synch with a 1981 Trek, but I'd do it if I felt like it.

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Old 08-08-12, 12:18 PM
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I always route the cable towards the bottom then to the back of the bar as it crosses the bar tops, towards the stem. That way, the front of the bike mostly presents a perfectly round bar shape and the the bar mostly looks like a teardrop that properly faces the front as an aero section. It also present the cables closer to the head tube and front brake when they come out of the bar tape wrap to help minimize the cable legnth. Works really well with the longish stem extensions I use (110 - 115mm)
Sounds a bit "anal" I guess, but it always worked out for me.

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Old 08-08-12, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mikemowbz
Mid-1980s for general diffusion, I think. 1983-1984 early appearances, maybe earlier, Dia Compe Aero Compe/GC levers available by 1985/6(?) or so, the design gradually mainstreamed subsequently...ubiquitous by the end of the 1980s.

That's my understanding in a nutshell. Something like that, anyways. Others would know better than I.

So maybe slightly out of synch with a 1981 Trek, but I'd do it if I felt like it.
Thanks for the info Mike. Good to know.

Do you, or anyone else, know if any of the old Suntour levers can be converted from non-aero to aero? Could it be as simple as drilling a hole in the side if one so chose? (I don't plan on doing this - just wondering)
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Old 08-08-12, 07:56 PM
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Aero-style brake levers definitely preceded grooved handlebars by a few years. I installed aero levers on my Ciocc in 1987 (which is the same year I switched to the first generation Look PP65 "Delta" clipless pedals). Anyway, brake cable routing wasn't a problem back then and still isn't. Just route the cable on the front side of the bars away from your palms:
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Old 08-08-12, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by trlrnr
Thanks for the info Mike. Good to know.

Do you, or anyone else, know if any of the old Suntour levers can be converted from non-aero to aero? Could it be as simple as drilling a hole in the side if one so chose? (I don't plan on doing this - just wondering)
Again, others would know better than I...but that doesn't sound like the most practicable idea. Some early aero levers, from what I understand, simply incorporated a relatively basic re-routing of the the cable (like, the cable was forced to do an 'L'), and required a lot of 'pull', which isn't great. I think that the predominant aero design that really caught on are enough of a departure that a simple mod, if possible, is far from ideal. I've never tried anything like that, as I lack the skills - and the desire. I like non-aero options on bikes for which they are appropriate. In fact, one of my most recent acquisitions is a set of Modolo Pro levers, in grey, and a couple of Dia Compe 204 hoods, in black, to better complement my 1984 Mercian Professional, which came to me with early Dia Compe Aero Compe levers...which otherwise bespoil a beautiful all-Super Record setup! SR levers are too pricey for now, and the grey finish on the Modolos will be just perfect with the anthracite paint on the Mercian...

Again, if you'd really like an aero option on your Trek, I'm not (despite the above scenario) generally so much of a 'purist' that I wouldn't say: 'just go for it'!

Easy to switch back if you don't enjoy, or eventually tire of, the result. And it's quite possible that you'll come to see it as an improvement. Such things are highly personal and particular to the bike you're riding. Some old Aero Gran Compes (make sure you have well-fitting hoods, unlike the ones on my Mercian, though ), or even some later Shimano 105 SLRs, or perhaps a more modern replacement (Tektros have been talked up recently), would do just fine, I suspect.

Perhaps others could comment on the possibility of the mod suggested and/or the timeline of 'aero' lever development?

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Old 08-09-12, 08:40 AM
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Good stuff Mike. Thanks for Uour reply. I'm not a hardcore purist but would like to keep close to the periodic possible. I know the non-aero were the look on the bike, but I really like the un-cluttered look of the aeros. I have aero brakes on my 1992 Trek 400 and like the look and even feel of the under the tape. I'll try to do a little more research to see what options might be available for early 1980's aero brakes.
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Old 08-09-12, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mikemowbz
Mid-1980s for general diffusion, I think. 1983-1984 early appearances, maybe earlier, Dia Compe Aero Compe/GC levers available by 1985/6(?) or so, the design gradually mainstreamed subsequently...ubiquitous by the end of the 1980s. So maybe slightly out of synch with a 1981 Trek, but I'd do it if I felt like it.
IIRC, Andy Muzi at Yellow Jersey in Madison, WI, under his Ariel Trading importing business, started advertising DiaCompe Aero levers in '82 or '83. His little ads in Bicycling was where I first saw them. I was riding them in '83 or '84; they started appearing as original equipment on complete bicycles by the '85 model year.

So they would be a little too modern for an '81 Trek if you want period-correct, depending on how you define "period-correct." If you mean catalog-correct, they're too modern. If you'll allow something that somebody who bought a stock '81 might have been using in '83-'84, not a problem. Since I was buying/selling bikes in '80, and since neither my customers or I worried about maintaining catalog spec when the bikes were contemporary, I've never been able to work up much concern for either catalog-correct or period-correct. But to each his own...
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Old 08-10-12, 07:01 AM
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^ Good to know. Appreciate the detail. Fits with what I've heard (before my time, so I can only go on what others have to say on the matter), though it sounds like those Dia Compes were widely available slightly earlier than I had been led to believe. Certainly ~1985 is when they started appearing widely on new bikes.
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Old 08-10-12, 07:41 AM
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Thanks for the info PCB. I'd say that's close enough, especially if I want to stick to the Aero look. I'll have to check around for some of those old DiaCompe aero levers. I think the brakes on the 81 Trek are DiaCompe side pulls which may have been stock, so that may end up working out well.
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