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Ultegra Hydro Disc mechanical ergonomics

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Ultegra Hydro Disc mechanical ergonomics

Old 11-24-19, 05:38 PM
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Sy Reene
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Ultegra Hydro Disc mechanical ergonomics

This may be an odd question, but here goes. Just rented a road bike.. first time with disc brakes. Trek Emonda SL6 I think. This year's model and comes with Ultegra mechanical.

The oddity I found is that while riding the hoods, with 2-3 fingers wrapped under the brake lever, and 1 or 2 on the brake, when squeezing the brake, the shifter paddle would hit/crush the underneath fingers if I had my hands slightly in a rearward position. Is this normal for new Shimano and/or Shimano disc? I ask if maybe a disc-related design thing as I don't recall that ever being an issue on my 5800 equipped caliper brake bike.

95% of the time, I'm on my campy chorus rim braked bike; never had this issue.

Last edited by Sy Reene; 11-24-19 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 11-24-19, 05:55 PM
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There is a stroke adjustment within the lever assembly that adjusts reach and can affect the remaining space between lever and fingers. In my experience, this can also be the effect of a poor bleeding/filling job - insufficient fluid within the reservoir. Nothing intrinsic to Ultegra itself I can assure you.
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Old 11-24-19, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SkepticalOne View Post
There is a stroke adjustment within the lever assembly that adjusts reach and can affect the remaining space between lever and fingers. In my experience, this can also be the effect of a poor bleeding/filling job - insufficient fluid within the reservoir. Nothing intrinsic to Ultegra itself I can assure you.
So Ultegra doesn't require specific location for your underneath fingers when on hoods to avoid being hit by lever?
Random picture from the interwebz.. maybe easier to picture how it appears it's not at all hard to have your fingers where that big paddle comes up when braking?

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Old 11-24-19, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
So Ultegra doesn't require specific location for your underneath fingers when on hoods to avoid being hit by lever?
Random picture from the interwebz.. maybe easier to picture how it appears it's not at all hard to have your fingers where that big paddle comes up when braking?
I know exactly what you mean...I suffered this on the initial install of my Ultegra levers - fingers getting pinched. I took the bike back to the shop where it was assembled and had them dig into it. There was a 21-step to getting all the air out of the system, thereby reducing the stroke such that fingers were never in peril. Also, note that there is a feature in the mechanics of the hood that allows for the adjustment of the overall sweep/reach of the lever - it adjusts the static location of the lever such that those with shorter fingers can reach the lever. I made sure mine was adjusted to full forward position - ample room for my fingers.

My suspicion is that there isn't as much fluid in your reservoir as can be accommodated. On second look, I think the lever's static position is adjusted for smaller fingers, leaving less space.


Here are my UDI2 levers which show the full stroke with a properly filled system:




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Old 11-24-19, 07:34 PM
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Interesting, thanks. Yeah, fully compressed, the shifter paddle just about touched the bars on the bike I used
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Old 11-24-19, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Interesting, thanks. Yeah, fully compressed, the shifter paddle just about touched the bars on the bike I used
I have the Di2 version. For me, when the paddles approach too close to the bar tape, that tells me it is time to replace the pads and/or rotors. (I check with a caliper before I do anything drastic, but it is a remarkably reliable indicator.) This can also happen, as others have noted, if you need a brake bleed. It is dependent also on the shape of your bars, thickness of the tape, etc.
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Old 11-25-19, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I have the Di2 version. For me, when the paddles approach too close to the bar tape, that tells me it is time to replace the pads and/or rotors. (I check with a caliper before I do anything drastic, but it is a remarkably reliable indicator.) This can also happen, as others have noted, if you need a brake bleed. It is dependent also on the shape of your bars, thickness of the tape, etc.
I'll go with the brake bleed cause, as the bike was pretty much brand new and had only been out for one previous rental/ride before I rode it.
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Old 11-25-19, 09:32 AM
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I wondered why I never have this problem with my Campy levers, even though the finger lever comes very close to the bars, when braking. The answer is that I never have any fingers wrapped under the brake hood. I have all of my fingers on the brake lever. Only the crook of my thumb rests on brake hood.

I assume that you're talking about braking from the tops, not the drops. There should never be an issue when braking from the drops.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 11-25-19 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 11-25-19, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I'll go with the brake bleed cause, as the bike was pretty much brand new and had only been out for one previous rental/ride before I rode it.
Yup, bleed/fluid level. My gravel bike has this issue, still need to fix it, just haven't taken the time to do it (shop set it up). My road bike was filled to capacity and properly bled when we built it, and the lever pull is perfect.
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Old 11-25-19, 09:48 AM
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Not sure how you are grabbing the drops, but my fingers are shown by the red lines. Bottom two wrapped around the bar with two extended to lever. Even with one finger extended and three wrapped around bar, it does not get in the way of the paddle.
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Old 11-25-19, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
This may be an odd question, but here goes. Just rented a road bike.. first time with disc brakes. Trek Emonda SL6 I think. This year's model and comes with Ultegra mechanical.
So how was the TdT? It was a little cooler than normal for this time of year, and a little breezy in Phoenix.
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Old 11-25-19, 12:11 PM
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consider the new GRX shifters if this is a problem for you, which was specifically addressed with a different pivot point optimized for the hoods position
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Old 11-25-19, 07:32 PM
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So I misunderstood and thought you were talking about brake actuation in the drops.

If Iím riding the hoods my fingers will grip around the hood, but when I brake all four fingers actuate the brake lever. Itís awkward to me trying to brake with two fingers while two are wrapped between the bar and lever. I donít get the same leverage.
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Old 11-25-19, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
So how was the TdT? It was a little cooler than normal for this time of year, and a little breezy in Phoenix.
Perfect. Avg temp of 63 and didn't notice too much wind. I was actually overdressed a bit with knickers and LS baselayer.
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Old 11-26-19, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I wondered why I never have this problem with my Campy levers, even though the finger lever comes very close to the bars, when braking. The answer is that I never have any fingers wrapped under the brake hood. I have all of my fingers on the brake lever.
One doesn't need all of their fingers to brake with hydros so it affords a more secure grip at all times. Out of habit, I typically brake with two fingers, but one-finger downhill braking is easy-peasy even at my ~185lbs.
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Old 11-26-19, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
One doesn't need all of their fingers to brake with hydros so it affords a more secure grip at all times. Out of habit, I typically brake with two fingers, but one-finger downhill braking is easy-peasy even at my ~185lbs.
I don't need all of my fingers either, but none are needed under the hood. My rim brakes work fine from the tops.
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Old 11-26-19, 01:02 PM
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On my usual ride during the weekdays I do a decent on a very course chip sealed surface. There are also a lot of very small depressions in the roadway which are next to impossible to see due to the road surface. They can be quite jarring at 55-60 kph. Oh, there are a couple of cattle guards to add to the fun. That last thing I want to happen is lose my grip on the bars so I always do the decent with one or two fingers on the levers just in case some critter runs out in front of me and the others with a death grip the bars under the hoods. With the lever travel adjusted all the way forward this works fine but if I adjust them back much I do have interference with my fingers gripping the bars under the hoods.
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Old 11-26-19, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I don't need all of my fingers either, but none are needed under the hood. My rim brakes work fine from the tops.
Fingers under the hood help with possibility of pothole or otherwise disruption.. if hands are completely on top, there's really no grasping anything to keep your hands attached to the bars.
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Old 11-26-19, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post


Not sure how you are grabbing the drops, but my fingers are shown by the red lines. Bottom two wrapped around the bar with two extended to lever. Even with one finger extended and three wrapped around bar, it does not get in the way of the paddle.
You've probably figured out by now, but I was talking about riding on the hoods, not the drops.
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Old 11-27-19, 01:51 PM
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50 years of riding and never had a problem with loss of control. My hands have always remained attached to the bars. I'd be in the drops, if the road was really rough. I ride plenty of chip seal, but rarely any pot-holed roads. I always use the drops, with fingers near the brake levers on mountain descents.
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Old 11-27-19, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
50 years of riding and never had a problem with loss of control. My hands have always remained attached to the bars. I'd be in the drops, if the road was really rough. I ride plenty of chip seal, but rarely any pot-holed roads. I always use the drops, with fingers near the brake levers on mountain descents.
Here's to another 50!
This tutorial goes the opposite direction seemingly.. I always like at least one finger on the brake.
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