Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

braking question

Old 09-04-06, 10:59 PM
  #1  
pgaulrapp
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braking question

So i picked up a road bike the other day. I normally ride a hybrid, but i've been wondering what it would be like, the different positions for my hands and the posture and everything. The bike is inconsequential, an 80's japanese touring bike (no way i could afford $700+ for something i may not like as well as my other bike).

I guess I wasn't paying attention when i picked it up, but i noticed shortly after i got it into the garage that the brake handles are set up so that you can only brake from the drops. When I was a kid, my dad had a road bike on which the brakes had two handles, so you could grab them either from the drops or from the tops. Looking over the pics of bikes here, I noticed that this new way is standard practice.

Does anyone know when they stopped making bikes like that?

And, does anyone miss it? How does one cope?
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Old 09-04-06, 11:08 PM
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Mxu
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The other "standard" position would be to put your hands on top of the hoods (rubbery things that cover the point where the levers pivot from), which puts you in a semi-aero position that's slightly more upright than being down in the drops. You get used to it.
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Old 09-04-06, 11:31 PM
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DonPenguino
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What you're talking about are safety/suicide levers. Their original name was safety levers, but the levers themselves are actually a really bad idea. For one, the original style wouldn't let you get nearly as much power into braking as would braking from the normal position. Secondly, when braking with them, the only thing connecting your hand to the bars was your thumbs, and thus when people squeezed on the brakes hard their hands would slip off and they'd go over the front of the bars.

Most road bikes don't come with those levers nowadays. The two positions to brake in are either riding in the drops (the bottom part of the bars) with your pointed and maybe middle finger on the brakes or riding with your hand resting around the top of the brake hood as it's called, so your pointer finger rests against the brakes. You don't get as much power that way though.

Another option is to buy pass-through brakes, which are basically mountain bike levers through which the brake cable passes and which allow you to have braking control riding on the top of the bars.
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Old 09-04-06, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DonPenguino
What you're talking about are safety/suicide levers. Their original name was safety levers, but the levers themselves are actually a really bad idea. For one, the original style wouldn't let you get nearly as much power into braking as would braking from the normal position. Secondly, when braking with them, the only thing connecting your hand to the bars was your thumbs, and thus when people squeezed on the brakes hard their hands would slip off and they'd go over the front of the bars.

Most road bikes don't come with those levers nowadays. The two positions to brake in are either riding in the drops (the bottom part of the bars) with your pointed and maybe middle finger on the brakes or riding with your hand resting around the top of the brake hood as it's called, so your pointer finger rests against the brakes. You don't get as much power that way though.

Another option is to buy pass-through brakes, which are basically mountain bike levers through which the brake cable passes and which allow you to have braking control riding on the top of the bars.
That explains the accident I had when I braked hard to keep from rolling over my water bottle. Maybe it's time to take them off...

Can you get a link for those pass-through brakes?
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Old 09-05-06, 06:24 AM
  #5  
eandmwilson
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So that's what these are for:

http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=5225
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Old 09-05-06, 06:37 AM
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Like Mxu stated. I ride with my hands mainly on the hoods anyway.
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Old 09-05-06, 06:39 AM
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pgaulrapp
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Thanks for the info guys!
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Old 09-05-06, 07:29 AM
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the in line brakes actually work pretty well. (We put a pair on my daughter's bike when she was 11, and her hands were too small to use the regular brake levers comfortably. ) Although most people find braking from the hoods or the drops is sufficient. You learn not to ride on the top of the bars when you are likely to need to brake suddenly (i.e. riding closely in a pack, in heavy traffic around intersections) And if you need to brake suddenly when you're riding on the top of the bars, its a split second to get to the hoods. It becomes second nature.
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Old 09-05-06, 09:09 AM
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One might say you have a more secure grip holding the hoods or drops, anyways.
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