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Hood Braking Sufficiency for Urban Traffic

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Old 06-08-18, 09:29 AM
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Hood Braking Sufficiency for Urban Traffic

Just wondering for those of y'all with top quality bikes, if you feel the Hood allows you sufficienct brake performance in high density traffic environment.

Or, even on high dollar bikes, you have to go to the drops, just in case some carefless driver pulls out in front of you, and you have to brake very very hard.

I'm just at a crossroad right now...thinking if I should try a high dollar road bike for commuting or I should just give up on road bike completely and go back to Mtb for commuting. Since my hand is small, weak grip strength, I'm not satisfied with Hood brake and my body flexibility is not good for riding on the Drop all the time...but still hoping a high dollar machine migght give the the Hood braking performance I am looking for.

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Old 06-08-18, 09:36 AM
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All my bikes have drop bars and I ride on the hoods 90% of the time. I'm in NYC. I have never had a problem, with anything from modern dual pivots, modern cantilevers, vintage centerpulls, etc. You just have to make sure your brakes are set up correctly. I have some back / neck flexibility issues from an old injury, AND I have some weakness in my hands (probably arthritis), and it's all good. Don't worry about it.
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Old 06-08-18, 09:40 AM
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So, maybe I should get a road bike with cantilever brakes? or disc?
And I'll be able to brake confidently from the Hood?
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Old 06-08-18, 09:47 AM
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or a cross bike w those extra in-line cross levers on the top? or retro fit those onto your current bike. cpl ppl in this thread did that

Adding extra brake levers to drops
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Old 06-08-18, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
or a cross bike w those extra in-line cross levers on the top? or retro fit those onto your current bike. cpl ppl in this thread did that

Adding extra brake levers to drops
I couldn't switch from the Hood to the Top, during emergency braking. I'am not fast nor limble enough. When milliseconds count.
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Old 06-08-18, 09:58 AM
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I've never had trouble braking from the hoods. My current bike is SRAM Apex (disc), but I didn't have problems with my Ultegra Brifters (cantilever) either.

That said, I'm 6'4" and my hands are as large as the rest of me, so I can see how someone with smaller hands might feel a little differently.
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Old 06-08-18, 09:59 AM
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You don't need a "high dollar bike" to brake from the hoods, you just need modern brake levers, which are not expensive.
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Old 06-08-18, 10:22 AM
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I feel better on the hoods than in the drops in all circumstances pretty much
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Old 06-08-18, 10:31 AM
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What you're looking for are called short reach brake levers, such as the Tektro RL341 set of levers. They provide much more effective braking than standard drop brake levers, aimed at people with small or weak hands. They don't look much different than standard levers. Just a bit smaller. My current commuter is equipped with both short reach brake levers and cross levers.

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Old 06-08-18, 10:49 AM
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Ultegra 6800 levers and calipers on my road bike. I can lock up both wheels from the hoods.
SRAM Red levers and Tektro cantilevers on my CX bike. Same. (Although I originally had mini-V brakes on that bike to fit fenders and the braking was suboptimal. Cantilevers fixed that.)
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Old 06-08-18, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
or a cross bike w those extra in-line cross levers on the top? or retro fit those onto your current bike. cpl ppl in this thread did that

Adding extra brake levers to drops
How hard is it to change the cables on those?
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Old 06-08-18, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
How hard is it to change the cables on those?
dunno, was just trying to help w some research
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Old 06-08-18, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
How hard is it to change the cables on those?
Not too bad, if you know what you're doing. Time consuming if it's your first time, trying to get the cable housing lengths just right.

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Old 06-08-18, 11:34 AM
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Hydro disks would do the job. I run flat bars n mt disc brakes on some of my rides. First figure out what style of bars you want to run. What is your current bike and brake set up? I like my cantis on the cross check. Thought about a flat bar road bike like the trek fx stuff?
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Old 06-08-18, 11:42 AM
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CX levers seem like a really great mod for commuters.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
CX levers seem like a really great mod for commuters.
Yep. Let's you keep your head up high and a finger on the brakes.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
CX levers seem like a really great mod for commuters.
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Yep. Let's you keep your head up high and a finger on the brakes.
Do you stay on the Top? Or just pop up from the Hood to the Top, occasionally, only when needed like intersections?

I never feel totally comfortable with steering control on the Top, during high risk environment. But my Drop bars always very narrow 40cm.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Do you stay on the Top? Or just pop up from the Hood to the Top, occasionally, only when needed like intersections?

I never feel totally comfortable with steering control on the Top, during high risk environment. But my Drop bars always very narrow 40cm.
I generally keep my hands on the top in high traffic in order to keep my head up for best visibility. I don't do any hard maneuvering in this mode - priority 1 is to be able to instantly stop.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:49 PM
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I can brake from the hoods. Different kinds of brakes require different amounts of hand pressure. Single pivot side pull brakes require the most pressure. On one of my bikes with these brakes, I won't use the hoods on high speed descents, but I'm fine in city traffic on flat ground.

As was pointed out, more modern levers help, as they provide more leverage than old levers.

Cantilevers vary in the amount of hand pressure they need, and the way they are set up varies it a lot.

Modern V brakes, disc brakes, and dual pivots require low pressure from the hands.
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Old 06-08-18, 12:53 PM
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Okay you guys talked me into staying with road bike. And give it one more shot.

So now I'm going to have to buy some small-hand levers, dual-pivot brake set, and maybe cross levers.

What about the rims? Does cheap alloy rim make it harder to squeeze?

Do I need expensive cables too, to reduce the force on the squeezing? Or is the cheapo stuff that came with the $300 bike okay?
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Old 06-08-18, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
Okay you guys talked me into staying with road bike. So now I'm going to buy some small-hand levers, dual-pivot brake set, and maybe cross levers.

What about the rims? Does cheap alloy rim make it harder to squeeze?

Do I need expensive cables too, to reduce the force on the squeezing? Or is the cheapo stuff that came with the bike okay?
Rims should have machined braking surface (most rim-brake rims do). Good cables/housings do make a difference (you don't need top of the line, but I think Jagwire Road Pro is worth it). Good brake pads make a big difference - Kool Stops seem to be a favorite.
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Old 06-08-18, 01:36 PM
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If it were me, I would first check to see if the brakes can be adjusted better or if the pads are hard and need to be replaced. Have somebody at the LBS check it out for you. I have small hands and I used to adjust the pads a bit further away from the rim. Not much, just enough so I can pull on the brake lever a bit without engaging the brakes. This way I have a better grip on the lever and can still fully brake, even lock up the wheels if not careful.

Next would be to start looking at new levers. My opinion, but start small and be smart. If new pads and an adjustment is all you need, but you also put on new levers, cables and wheels you are wasting a lot of money and wouldn't know it. Speaking of cables, probably not part of the problem.
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Old 06-08-18, 01:47 PM
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I think the culprit is my small hands and short fingers, and weak grip. I went to the gun range for pistol shooting...and I couldn't grip the normal size gun properly. I could only control it when both hands are gripping the handles. And even then, I had trouble pulling the trigger. Couldn't hit the bullseye cuz my hand was shake from the straining finger.

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Old 06-08-18, 01:50 PM
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When I bought one of my used bikes, it had late '80's side pull Shimano 600 calipers, modern Shimano pads and modern Shimano levers (very simple and cheap mode, not brifters), all grabbing fairly new Mavic Open sport rims. The stopping power we very, very good from the hoods.

A little later I picked up some Campagnolo Potenza dual pivot calipers that were on sale, and with everything else being the same the stopping power became fantastic, and with very little hand pressure needed. Modern calipers and levers, together with good pads and rims will give you tons of confidence from the hoods.

Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Yep. Let's you keep your head up high and a finger on the brakes.
You guys know what else achieves the same result as these secondary levers, and is easier to install? Yep, that's ride, the famous "suicide levers." If you set them up right, they work absolutely fine and provide a great option for riding on the tops.
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Old 06-08-18, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
I think the culprit is my small hands and short fingers, and weak grip. I went to the gun range for pistol shooting...and I couldn't grip the normal size gun properly. I could only control it when both hands are gripping the handles. And even then, I had trouble pulling the trigger. Couldn't hit the bullseye cuz my hand was shake from the straining finger.
You definitely have a hand size/strength problem. Shimano BL400 levers might work better for you because they are smaller, but if road levers are just too big a flat bar with MTB levers might be better.

Double pivot road brakes are more than powerful enough - the caliper is not as much the issue as you finger strength.
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