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Riding on the hoods - 70s/80s/90s

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Riding on the hoods - 70s/80s/90s

Old 04-14-15, 11:10 PM
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Riding on the hoods - 70s/80s/90s

It seems like padded hoods on road bikes were a recent phenomenon. All the 70s and 80s bikes seem to have metal hoods. How comfortable was riding in the hoods back in the 70s and 80s? I suppose that wearing gloves was basically a necessity? Plus, what if your skin got pinched by the bare metal hood - i.e. when you were operating the brake lever? Was that a possibility?
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Old 04-15-15, 04:41 AM
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Having started cycling in the 70's and having continued to this day I can tell you that for all the time I have been riding my bikes have had rubber padded hoods, and any good quality bikes I have seen over that time had padded hoods as well
Of course if owners didn't replace the hoods when they wore out those bikes may no longer have padded brake hoods
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Old 04-15-15, 05:11 AM
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In 1973 my Motobecane didnt have the gum hoods I lusted after so with bare hands and friction tape I didnt know better. We had a couple bike shops, mostly the non-racer/touring types.
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Old 04-15-15, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL View Post
In 1973 my Motobecane didnt have the gum hoods I lusted after so with bare hands and friction tape I didnt know better. We had a couple bike shops, mostly the non-racer/touring types.
My 1972 Peugeot UO8 didn't have full brake hoods, but the Mafac brake levers had rubber pads on the top surface. The cheaper AO8 had the same brake levers minus the pads
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Old 04-15-15, 05:24 AM
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Campy and Modolo brakes had gummed hoods.....I still have them in the attic. I also had a relatively cheap Miyata 910 if I remember....it had gummed goods......maybe diacomp or suntour but I cannot remember. I recently threw it in the trash.

I think frame geometry and bar design now favors riding the hoods whereas in the old days, riding the drops was probably more common or maybe I was just young and more flexible.
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Old 04-15-15, 05:48 AM
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Hoods were common...

I started riding seriously in 1972. Rubber hoods were common, as were aftermarket replacements. DiaCompe and Weinmann levers used hoods that were interchangeable. Gum, white, and black were available, so you could remove your safety levers, saw off the pivot overhang, and slip on rubber hoods... The same hoods could be used on Cherry steel levers.

Campagnolo levers were hooded (and were beautiful). Universal levers also had their ribbed hoods that were a bit thicker. I'm trying to recall Modolo levers, but I never rode with anyone who had them.

The top rubber half-hood for Mafac levers was reasonably comfortable, but the bodies were a bit narrow. These came on most French bikes.

Raleigh had their hard plastic "Carleton" hoods, and I recall that there were replacements in various colors. I remember white and black, for sure. These were Weinmann, typically, but Raleigh branded.

The challenge came with safety extension levers. DiaCompe had pre-cast punch out holes no their hoods that permitted the pivot bolt to pass through the lever once mounted. On other hoods, you had to cut the holes.

All of these were in the 1970s. As aero levers emerged in the 1980s, the hoods became very brand distinctive. I don't remember seeing much Shimano stuff before the late 70s/early 80s.

Shimano later came out with a line of aero levers, many of which sported rubber hoods that could support the matching safety levers. This was probably the best engineered safety lever set.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 04-15-15 at 05:54 AM. Reason: added safety lever discussion
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Old 04-15-15, 05:49 AM
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My 63 Schwinn Varsity never came with hoods (or the suicide top brake bars ether). The handle bar tape was the plastic-like (cellophane?) wrap that provided a little better grip than the chromed steel bar... but no padding. I never even saw a pair of cycling gloves back then.

We/I did practice good form, bending at the elbows to absorb weight. Sweaty hands were a problem.

We/I did ride on the tops then... just as I do today... mostly when ascending, and or standing, or coasting along at a slow speed.

We/I did ride in the drops. As little as I ride in the drops today... it was the complete opposite "back-in-the-day". But the bicycles configuration/setup was different then too. Saddles were positioned lower to the top bar so the setup was much less aggressive. Less attention was paid (at least by me) to the stress put on the knees. I am sure I had less leg extension (than what is acceptable today).

We/I did ride on the hoods. But considerably less then than now. And no... the bare metal didn't pinch then (and it still doesn't). As a percent I would guess I spent more than 60 percent of my riding/cycling time in the drops. With the remaining 40% divided between the tops and the hoods. Leaning more towards the tops than the hoods.

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Old 04-15-15, 08:00 AM
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Really you shouldn't have that much weight supported by hands for it to matter. I assume padding wasn't needed in the 70s and 80s. It probably was added to look good
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Old 04-15-15, 08:10 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZbVsrYPOGE

Highlights of things that have changed over the years
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Old 04-15-15, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Having started cycling in the 70's and having continued to this day I can tell you that for all the time I have been riding my bikes have had rubber padded hoods, and any good quality bikes I have seen over that time had padded hoods as well
Of course if owners didn't replace the hoods when they wore out those bikes may no longer have padded brake hoods
Any decent bike in the 70's had rubber hoods. I worked in a shop that sold mainly Raleighs (The real English kind) Peugeots and Motobecanes (The real French kind) and they all had rubber hoods. This was in '75.

Cheap bikes from Sears, Huffys, Murrays and most Schwinns had metal brake lever mounts and most had the cheater lever attachment.

Bikes came boxed with plastic tape and we had to wrap them when we built them. Thin cloth tape could be bought at the shop. Thicker corks style tape probably didn't appear until the mid 80s or so.

Roads were not generally as bad. Chip and seal had not been invented or was not in widespread use. We had leather gloves with light padding and a knitted mesh back. Yes, sometimes our hands got numb. We were just tougher back then.

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Old 04-15-15, 09:42 AM
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I worked in a Raleigh shop in the late 70's, and most bikes, including my Record and Grand Prix, did NOT have any rubber hoods on the brake levers. Maybe because most were lower end bikes.
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Old 04-15-15, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
....Roads were not generally as bad. Chip and seal had not been invented or was not in widespread use. We had leather gloves with light padding and a knitted mesh back. Yes, sometimes our hands got numb. We were just tougher back then.
Well, my driveway and the road we lived on - and many other roads - were chip sealed in the 60s. Chip seal has been around as long as I can remember.

As for the gloves, I still prefer lightly padded gloves, finding the ones with bulky padding to cause pressure points on my hands which is what makes them numb. I still like the crochet back gloves. They seem to be the only ones commonly available with thin and/or even padding, they are nice and cool (looking and feeling!), and give you that distinctive mottled sun tan on the back of the hands!
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Old 04-15-15, 02:36 PM
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When the hoods were metal . one thing, I located te brake lever higher on the drop Curve, and when you wrapped the bar tape you wrapped the brake lever body too.

80s Campag and Modolo made nice rubber hoods on brake levers commonplace..

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-15-15 at 02:41 PM.
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Old 04-15-15, 02:43 PM
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I guess I must have been exposed to too many cheap bikes from the 70s/80s/90s! I have to say I've never seen one person around here wrap a bare metal brake assembly with bar tape although that does make sense.
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Old 04-15-15, 05:21 PM
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My 1970s and 1980s bicycles had a sort of rubbery hood.

But they were also so large I couldn't have ridden on the hoods if I'd wanted to.
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Old 04-15-15, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
We had leather gloves with light padding and a knitted mesh back. Yes, sometimes our hands got numb. We were just tougher back then.
I was rummaging through a box of stuff the other day can discovered I still have one of my earlier pairs of leather gloves with the knitted mesh back.

I wish the "retro" fads would bring those back!
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Old 04-15-15, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I was rummaging through a box of stuff the other day can discovered I still have one of my earlier pairs of leather gloves with the knitted mesh back.

I wish the "retro" fads would bring those back!
Honestly, I don't really miss them. I have noticed that you ride a Marinoni. Did you live anywhere near Montreal?
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Old 04-15-15, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
Really you shouldn't have that much weight supported by hands for it to matter. I assume padding wasn't needed in the 70s and 80s. It probably was added to look good
Road racing bikes always had hoods on the brake levers in that era.
Unless taking a pull, riding into a headwind or sprinting that's where your hands generally were.
Riding the hoods is not a post brifter style, it's Old School.

Here's a pic of my '77 race bike in it's current FG configuration w/ a nicely shaped set of DA levers w/ comfy hoods.
60's and '30's pics show it has always been done.



The run-of the mill "10 speeds" of the era frequently had "extension/turkey levers" for the average consumer along w/ stem shifters and "pie-plates".

PS: We did indeed look very, very good.

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Old 04-15-15, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Honestly, I don't really miss them. I have noticed that you ride a Marinoni. Did you live anywhere near Montreal?
I liked them.

Yes, I own a Marinoni ... but no, I've never lived near Montreal. We drove through Montreal once on the way to the BMB, but that's it. I have lived all over western Canada, and I got my Marinoni Ciclo when I was living in Winnipeg.
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Old 04-15-15, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I liked them.

Yes, I own a Marinoni ... but no, I've never lived near Montreal. We drove through Montreal once on the way to the BMB, but that's it. I have lived all over western Canada, and I got my Marinoni Ciclo when I was living in Winnipeg.
Interesting. You actually rode Boston Montreal Boston? Two of my friends were regular participants and I actually drove a support car for them one year. And I rode the section from Rouses Point to Middlebury with one of the people we were supporting

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Old 04-15-15, 06:03 PM
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Gum hoods were used on the Paramount as early as '61 and the Superior in '62:


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Old 04-15-15, 06:44 PM
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I started riding in the late 60's on some pretty marginal bikes. Padding brake levers never crossed my mind. I'm thinking my hands must not have hurt very much.
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Old 04-15-15, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Interesting. You actually rode Boston Montreal Boston? Two of my friends were regular participants and I actually drove a support car for them one year. And I rode the section from Rouses Point to Middlebury with one of the people we were supporting
Yes and no.

Rowan and I started the BMB (2006), but at one of the early controls, they served up fried rice they had acquired from a Chinese place hours earlier, and had left sitting out. Rowan had a little bit of the fried rice, but because I really like it (normally), and I was hungry, I put away at least 2 heaping plates of it ... and consumed quite a dose of Bacillus cereus.
Bacillus cereus | NSW Food Authority

By the next control, I wasn't feeling particularly well, and nibbled at some other food thinking I was just hungry.

By the time I reached Middlebury Gap ... well, let's just say, Middlebury Gap isn't as high as it used to be. The massive quantity of stuff I threw up all over it probably ate away half of it.

I made it almost to the Canadian border, but by then I was struggling with the closing times and felt too weak to continue. We got a ride partway back ... and then cycled the rest of the way. So all up, we covered about 800 km of the 1200 km.
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Old 04-15-15, 07:22 PM
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My 1972 Schwinn Collegiate didn't have hood covers but it also had 26 X 1-3/8 touring tires. Those were some pretty smooth rolling hoops!
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Old 04-15-15, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Yes and no.

Rowan and I started the BMB (2006), but at one of the early controls, they served up fried rice they had acquired from a Chinese place hours earlier, and had left sitting out. Rowan had a little bit of the fried rice, but because I really like it (normally), and I was hungry, I put away at least 2 heaping plates of it ... and consumed quite a dose of Bacillus cereus.
Bacillus cereus | NSW Food Authority

By the next control, I wasn't feeling particularly well, and nibbled at some other food thinking I was just hungry.

By the time I reached Middlebury Gap ... well, let's just say, Middlebury Gap isn't as high as it used to be. The massive quantity of stuff I threw up all over it probably ate away half of it.

I made it almost to the Canadian border, but by then I was struggling with the closing times and felt too weak to continue. We got a ride partway back ... and then cycled the rest of the way. So all up, we covered about 800 km of the 1200 km.
Too bad you didn't finish. I met some fantastic people who were doing the ride, Of course I thought they were all out of their minds. My friend Mike gave us a detailed list of things to do for him at every checkpoint. I made sure to check over his bike every time he came in while he was resting before the next section. The last item on the checklist was to book an appointment with a psychologist to help him to convince himself never to try this again.
He finished the ride after about 56 hours total time
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