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Drop bar brake lever hoods: shape and dimensions?

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Drop bar brake lever hoods: shape and dimensions?

Old 07-22-20, 06:55 AM
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Drop bar brake lever hoods: shape and dimensions?

Does anyone have some comparative size and shape dimensions for various non-shifter drop bar brake levers? it seems that the shape varies greatly but manufacturers don't publish any relevant dimensions to their hoods. I am mostly interested in the shape and dimensions of SRAM S500 levers, which I think are the same as several of their "doubletap" shifter hoods.

My personal goal is to find a new lever with a more compact reach. I have Tektro Hylex brakes and the hoods on them are LONG. this may be ideal for some people but as a personal preference, I want something shorter. when I put the handlebar in just the position I want it, the reach to the hoods is uncomfortably long. (yes, I know I will need to change over to a mechanical brake if I want a different lever. that's fine.) with no way to comparing the sizes in person, I need some dimensions or photos showing them for scale.
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Old 07-22-20, 08:30 AM
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My Tektro levers measure 3-3/8" for what you're measuring at 4". Photos online. I don't remember which model they are.
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Old 07-22-20, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
My Tektro levers measure 3-3/8" for what you're measuring at 4". Photos online. I don't remember which model they are.
which Tektro levers? they make several different levers. the RRL ones are popular, but they appear to be long too.

to clarify:
I am 5'9" and riding a 52cm frame that has a 545mm ETT. The handlebar is a Salsa Cowbell 3, which is already pretty darn compact. I have a 60mm stem on the bike, which seems ridiculously short and I hate it, aside from being almost in the right spot to reach the ends of the hoods. if I go any shorter the bar will be in my lap and I'll start hitting my knees the ends of the drops. if I go longer, the handlebar is in a great place to reach the ramps, drops, hooks, and tops, but the ergo bump on the hood is 2" longer than I can stand to ride for more than a few minutes for each hour I spend on the bike. that's where I want my hands for rough terrain (this is a CX bike that I use as a "gravel bike") and it's as if the hoods are supposed to be aero bars.

edit: just heard back from Tektro. they confirmed that their other levers are based on the same dimensions. so I need to shop for new brakes now. considering Shimano BL-R400 or SRAM S500 levers and Spyres or BB7s.

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Old 07-22-20, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
which Tektro levers? they make several different levers. the RRL ones are popular, but they appear to be long too.

to clarify:
I am 5'9" and riding a 52cm frame that has a 545mm ETT. The handlebar is a Salsa Cowbell 3, which is already pretty darn compact. I have a 60mm stem on the bike, which seems ridiculously short and I hate it, aside from being almost in the right spot to reach the ends of the hoods. if I go any shorter the bar will be in my lap and I'll start hitting my knees the ends of the drops. if I go longer, the handlebar is in a great place to reach the ramps, drops, hooks, and tops, but the ergo bump on the hood is 2" longer than I can stand to ride for more than a few minutes for each hour I spend on the bike. it's as if the hoods are supposed to be aero bars.

edit: just heard back from Tektro. they confirmed that their other levers are based on the same dimensions. so I need to shop for new brakes now. considering Shimano BL-R400 or SRAM S500 levers and Spyres or BB7s.
While stationary on the bike, look in the mirror or set up a camera, looking at your side view. Your upper arms should make a right angle with your straight torso when you are on the hoods. Correct your reach to the hoods to make this so.
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Old 07-22-20, 12:15 PM
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is this the 90° angle you're talking about? at the shoulder?




I'll try that. I have a trainer but I only keep it around to experiment with fitting. I don't want to faff around with trainer tires.
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Old 07-22-20, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
is this the 90° angle you're talking about? at the shoulder?

I'll try that. I have a trainer but I only keep it around to experiment with fitting. I don't want to faff around with trainer tires.
Yes.
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Old 07-23-20, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yes.
Yikes! I set my bike in the trainer and tried to just start again with a 90mm stem and a 70mm stem, both pointed upright with the drops in the angle I found works by feel. then I put my hoods at an angle on the bar that felt good—pointed slightly up. with the 70mm stem, that angle at my shoulder is way less than 90° with my hands on the hoods. I need to drop the stem lower or use a longer stem to get it there. it's very upright and that's what feels comfortable to me at first, but it feels cramped at the same time. I tried it with some compact Sora shifters, my Hylex levers, and the two stems. the closest I got the the 90° mark was with the longer stem and the Hylex levers. so by conventional fitting methods, the longer stem and full length brake levers are "correct."

from a fit standpoint, why is that 90° angle important? in what situations should I go shallower or steeper? my goal for this bike is to be able to do long rides of 50-100 miles on mixed surfaces. I believe my legs are a bit long for my overall height, as I am 174cm tall and have a 84cm inseam, which places my inseam at 48% of my overall height. this means that when I put my saddle at the correct height, it's difficult to get the handlebar high enough. I might play around with "riser-drop" like the Surly Truck Stop bar or a more upright stem. the fork is steel and has about 30mm of spacers under the stem already. this is a CX bike that has a pretty low stack height.

from a handling standpoint, what does a drop bar bike with a reach that is too short do? is there a point where it makes the bike twitchy? is there a point where it's so "stable" as to be difficult to ride in a group or some some singletrack?

I also noticed that my saddle might be a little low, and I ride with my back quite rounded. this is a whole conversation I probably need to have with a fitter, but considering the pandemic and my unsatisfactory experiences with fitters, I'll keep trying to DIY it for now. as with everything, I am well aware that my body is to blame for a lot of my limitations. I can't reach my toes to save my life and I probably have overdeveloped quads and tight hamstrings like most cyclists. I need to work on that as well. I know how, I just need to do it consistently.

If I post a video or some photos on this forum, would that be helpful?
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Old 07-23-20, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
Yikes! I set my bike in the trainer and tried to just start again with a 90mm stem and a 70mm stem, both pointed upright with the drops in the angle I found works by feel. then I put my hoods at an angle on the bar that felt good—pointed slightly up. with the 70mm stem, that angle at my shoulder is way less than 90° with my hands on the hoods. I need to drop the stem lower or use a longer stem to get it there. it's very upright and that's what feels comfortable to me at first, but it feels cramped at the same time. I tried it with some compact Sora shifters, my Hylex levers, and the two stems. the closest I got the the 90° mark was with the longer stem and the Hylex levers. so by conventional fitting methods, the longer stem and full length brake levers are "correct."

from a fit standpoint, why is that 90° angle important? in what situations should I go shallower or steeper? my goal for this bike is to be able to do long rides of 50-100 miles on mixed surfaces. I believe my legs are a bit long for my overall height, as I am 174cm tall and have a 84cm inseam, which places my inseam at 48% of my overall height. this means that when I put my saddle at the correct height, it's difficult to get the handlebar high enough. I might play around with "riser-drop" like the Surly Truck Stop bar or a more upright stem. the fork is steel and has about 30mm of spacers under the stem already. this is a CX bike that has a pretty low stack height.

from a handling standpoint, what does a drop bar bike with a reach that is too short do? is there a point where it makes the bike twitchy? is there a point where it's so "stable" as to be difficult to ride in a group or some some singletrack?

I also noticed that my saddle might be a little low, and I ride with my back quite rounded. this is a whole conversation I probably need to have with a fitter, but considering the pandemic and my unsatisfactory experiences with fitters, I'll keep trying to DIY it for now. as with everything, I am well aware that my body is to blame for a lot of my limitations. I can't reach my toes to save my life and I probably have overdeveloped quads and tight hamstrings like most cyclists. I need to work on that as well. I know how, I just need to do it consistently.

If I post a video or some photos on this forum, would that be helpful?
Proper fit is all about comfort over long distances. Some think that aero is a big factor, but it's really only a small factor. Mostly comfort for butt, back, shoulders, and hands. It all works together. It's the same basic fit for road, cyclocross, gravel, and MTB. There are small differences between those fits, but not worth bothering with unless one were competing. Here's my primer on DIY bike fit: How can I fitting my bike

Most folks find a saddle to bar drop of zero to 10 cm quite comfortable. The more drop, the better the comfort because it takes your back out of compression and puts it into flexion, much more comfortable on long rides.

The upper arm angle is important because your arm then becomes a strut, no muscles need be involved to hold it in that position. There's still triceps effort because the elbows need to be bent @15° to absorb shock, but no way to get away from that.

You can try stretching every morning - I do. This is a good basic routine which prevents most cycling back and knee injuries: IT Band pain (during ride)
Progress in flexibility is always slow, but it happens.
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Old 07-26-20, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Yes.
I should have done this with better lighting. I don't think it's useful any more to post specifics about dimensions, so here's a few of me in a trainer with my hands on the hoods in the position where I rode about 50 miles this weekend, including quite a bit of rusty, rocky singletrack and some fast spins on roads. The saddle could be just a tad higher but I like it. my main concern is my body/ arm angle. these are stills taking from the slo-mo video feature from my phone, which is pretty rad.






feelin' cute, might delete this later.
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Old 07-26-20, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
I should have done this with better lighting. I don't think it's useful any more to post specifics about dimensions, so here's a few of me in a trainer with my hands on the hoods in the position where I rode about 50 miles this weekend, including quite a bit of rusty, rocky singletrack and some fast spins on roads. The saddle could be just a tad higher but I like it. my main concern is my body/ arm angle. these are stills taking from the slo-mo video feature from my phone, which is pretty rad.

feelin' cute, might delete this later.
I do believe you've got it. Looks good. I was looking at some recent race footage. Some of the fast riders are holding those long hoods like you have as though they were MTB bar ends. Hadn't seen that before. I guess that's why they made them longer.
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Old 07-26-20, 02:09 PM
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thanks! I want to give it a chance to see if I want a slightly shorter stem, but I think this general fitting is working for me. it feels just a little stretched out, but if I start going shorter, it's hard to know where to stop. the handlebar is still a bit lower than the saddle and this is a pretty long stem. I can even ride on flat roads with my forearms resting on the tops of the bars like I am using aero bars without feeling like I am going to lose control or kill my back.
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Old 07-26-20, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
thanks! I want to give it a chance to see if I want a slightly shorter stem, but I think this general fitting is working for me. it feels just a little stretched out, but if I start going shorter, it's hard to know where to stop. the handlebar is still a bit lower than the saddle and this is a pretty long stem. I can even ride on flat roads with my forearms resting on the tops of the bars like I am using aero bars without feeling like I am going to lose control or kill my back.
You now have the correct reach. The mice thing about this much reach, is that it allows the front end to go up and down a good bit without it disturbing your torso. You'll get used to it and come to love it.
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Old 07-28-20, 05:23 AM
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Now to complicate things, I started to get comfortable on that position on my CX bike and my mountain bike in comparison feels VERY upright. the difference is so stark that it makes me wish my mtb was a bit more stretched out. the frame is a medium Karate Monkey that is known for having a short reach compared to it's modern contemporaries. I have a short stem am considering putting a longer one on it, but I don't know where to start looking for the "correct" body angle or other measurements. I like the compact fitting for wrangling through rock gardens but it is starting to feel a bit cramped now that I have something to compare it to. before, I was trying to make my CX bike fit like my mtb but now I am going the other direction.
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Old 07-30-20, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
Now to complicate things, I started to get comfortable on that position on my CX bike and my mountain bike in comparison feels VERY upright. the difference is so stark that it makes me wish my mtb was a bit more stretched out. the frame is a medium Karate Monkey that is known for having a short reach compared to it's modern contemporaries. I have a short stem am considering putting a longer one on it, but I don't know where to start looking for the "correct" body angle or other measurements. I like the compact fitting for wrangling through rock gardens but it is starting to feel a bit cramped now that I have something to compare it to. before, I was trying to make my CX bike fit like my mtb but now I am going the other direction.
MTB is a different discipline. One should be able to push one's crotch entirely behind the saddle when fully extending arms and torso. That's the correct fit there.
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Old 07-30-20, 01:34 PM
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I tried a longer stem on my mtb too. it's 70mm, which is not "old school dirt roadie" long, but it's 20mm longer and certainly longer than what is trendy. I went on a 10 mile trail ride and didn't die. I usually don't bother checking data on Strava, but during that ride I absolutely crushed 9 PRs on a bunch of segments. could be a coincidence. time will tell.
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Old 07-30-20, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
I tried a longer stem on my mtb too. it's 70mm, which is not "old school dirt roadie" long, but it's 20mm longer and certainly longer than what is trendy. I went on a 10 mile trail ride and didn't die. I usually don't bother checking data on Strava, but during that ride I absolutely crushed 9 PRs on a bunch of segments. could be a coincidence. time will tell.
It's also worth noting that MTB elite racers spend up to 90% of their training time on their road bikes. Could be the 2-bike effect.
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