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Interrupter Brake Levers: Are they useful on touring bike?

Old 08-11-13, 08:15 AM
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wheelinthai
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Interrupter Brake Levers: Are they useful on touring bike?

I've a cyclosscross bike that I intend to use for touring. It has interruptor brake levers, which I never used. I wonder if it's useful on touring bike.
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Old 08-11-13, 08:21 AM
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They are all I have on my CC with cow horn bars that I toured on for years.
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Old 08-11-13, 08:24 AM
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You sure miss them when they're not there when you ride a bike without them. I have them on just one touring/all purpose rig, and on every other bike I'm reaching for them. I'm generally anti-gadget and like a clean cockpit, but I'd keep the in-line brakes...they are perfect working your way through traffic, pedestrians.
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Old 08-11-13, 08:27 AM
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Sure, though folks, (little imagination?) seem challenged to figure out clearance for a bar bag with them .

[bene sugg: Threadless, stack stems , I have bar bag mount there, the lower one..

Quill stems , is where some creativity helps..

I have some early Empella made .. on my Pinarello CX bike..

more a rackless touring bike than something I'll ever find races to get lapped on, riding..

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Old 08-11-13, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
You sure miss them when they're not there when you ride a bike without them. I have them on just one touring/all purpose rig, and on every other bike I'm reaching for them. I'm generally anti-gadget and like a clean cockpit, but I'd keep the in-line brakes...they are perfect working your way through traffic, pedestrians.
Thanks for positive responses. I like FrenchFit's reply best.
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Old 08-11-13, 09:47 AM
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I have these brake levers and like them and use them. When I come up to a stop sign or stop light, I often sit up higher and then that position is more convenient for me. But, if you never use them, you would not notice if they were gone. But, you might want to try a tour with them before you remove them.

An off the wall question - I have heard it said that they are used by cyclocross riders. But, the few cyclocross races I have watched, the racers were not using them. Are they really used by cyclocross riders?

If you decide to add a handlebar bag, you might want to consider the second stem option for the bag. I have a 1980s handlebar bag that has a steel loop type of support that does not get in the way of the brake levers, but most newer handlebar bags have brackets that will make it difficult to use both a handlebar bag and interrupter brake levers.



You can see in this photo my older type of support, but nobody makes handlebar bags like these any more. It is hard to see the interrupter brake lever clamps in this photo, one is to the right of the GPS, the other is under the bell.
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Old 08-11-13, 11:00 AM
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I tried them out on a recent utility/commuter/raddoneur bike build to see how they would work with my arkel bar bag. The short answer is great and I have purchased a set for the tourer I am building. They make it so much easier to place the regular brake levers in a position that is comfortable when in the drops, while still allowing convenient braking when up on top. To my mind they make the multiple hand positions of drop bars much more effective and safe.
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Old 08-11-13, 11:41 AM
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I think they're great! Cross top (interrupter) brake levers really shine when you include long, rough, dirt road descents in your travel on a dropped bar bike. On a long mountain descent there is only limited braking power one can achieve wrapping fingers around the top of the hoods on conventional levers. From the drops the neck and wrists are put into an uncomfortable, hard to maintain position. Cross top levers add the power and ergonomic comfort of a mountain bike lever to the flat section of a dropped bar.

I like to include dirt road passes on my trips. Jeep roads like Schofield Pass in CO, Gibbons Pass in MT or Lemhi Pass in ID come to mind. Cross top levers add just enough mountain bike braking power to make such roads possible.

Last edited by BobG; 08-12-13 at 05:11 AM. Reason: better grammar
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Old 08-11-13, 12:09 PM
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I have them on my Tricross, like them in traffic or on rough descents. They were not an issue getting my handlebar bag on, but they do take up some bar space, so after putting my Ortlieb mount on recently without any issues with the interrupters, I had to move my bike computer mount to a more improvised position, but not a big deal.
In my opinion, they certainly arent necessary, but I do like having them now that Ive ridden this bike for 3 seasons and like having them a lot.
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Old 08-11-13, 12:23 PM
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I have them and like them. I find that I prefer to be in a more upright casual position when off road (e.g., on a tow path) or when riding in congested areas. Beyond quick access to the brakes the grip on the bar tops just feels better with the levers in your hand. If anything I use them too much...
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Old 08-11-13, 04:41 PM
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Did you guys find that you felt too cramped/your hands felt too close together at first, and you got used to it, or did they always feel fine when riding on flats of the bars and using interrupters? I have a pair that I thought would be a great idea, but my hands always feel too close together like I'm riding a silly-narrow bar when I ride on the flats. I think my bars are 40cm. I'm also used to riding a MTB with wide riser bars, so maybe it's just me?
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Old 08-11-13, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you decide to add a handlebar bag, you might want to consider the second stem option for the bag. I have a 1980s handlebar bag that has a steel loop type of support that does not get in the way of the brake levers, but most newer handlebar bags have brackets that will make it difficult to use both a handlebar bag and interrupter brake levers.
I imagine my arkel bag would work. It's pretty adjustable side to side... probably cheaper to go with that extra stem though : P What brand of bag is that? I'm assuming they aren't still being made. : (
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Old 08-11-13, 05:52 PM
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It's probably a case of what you get accustomed to. I've never had interrupter levers and never felt the need for them.

I ride standard drop bars with STI brake/shift levers. I operate them from the hoods when my hands are already on them. If not, I've never been in a situation where I almost didn't reach the brakes in time.
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Old 08-11-13, 09:35 PM
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I discovered interrupter brake levers when I saw them on a commuting bike of another biker at work. I thought they would be perfect for me because I spend most of my time on the tops and have barcon shifters. They have worked out very well for me. I have no problem with an Acorn bag. I have now put them on all my bikes just so I won’t be riding a bike without them and reach for them in a panic stop situation.
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Old 08-12-13, 04:19 AM
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Thanks for all informative posts.
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Old 08-12-13, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you decide to add a handlebar bag, you might want to consider the second stem option for the bag. I have a 1980s handlebar bag that has a steel loop type of support that does not get in the way of the brake levers, but most newer handlebar bags have brackets that will make it difficult to use both a handlebar bag and interrupter brake levers.
Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
I imagine my arkel bag would work. It's pretty adjustable side to side... probably cheaper to go with that extra stem though : P What brand of bag is that? I'm assuming they aren't still being made. : (
It is an old Aveneer (spell?). In the 70s and 80s, Kirkland, Canondale and a number of other brands were built using the same type of mounting bracket. My old bracket would not work, it was designed to fit the old quill stems and newer threadless stems are too wide. I made this bracket out of a long piece of quarter inch steel rod on my big vice, used some other big wrenches and hammers to bend it to the right shape. It resided in a box in the basement for a few decades, now only use it touring and not for daily use, so it is still in good shape and has not seen years of sun and weathering.

The Arkel bags have a mount that is adjustable for side to side fitting. Many other bags are not adjustable that way, my comment was more for those that are not adjustable.

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Old 08-12-13, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
I think they're great! Cross top (interrupter) brake levers really shine when you include long, rough, dirt road descents in your travel on a dropped bar bike. On a long mountain descent there is only limited braking power one can achieve wrapping fingers around the top of the hoods on conventional levers. From the drops the neck and wrists are put into an uncomfortable, hard to maintain position. Cross top levers add the power and ergonomic comfort of a mountain bike lever to the flat section of a dropped bar.

I like to include dirt road passes on my trips. Jeep roads like Schofield Pass in CO, Gibbons Pass in MT or Lemhi Pass in ID come to mind. Cross top levers add just enough mountain bike braking power to make such roads possible.
Having just done a tour in Idaho with a good share of downhills on dirt roads I will vouch for what BobG has stated. My interrupter levers made it much more comfortable and gave me a safer feel. As other's have stated they are also a big help in congestion and through towns. After having used them I wouldn't tour without mine.
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Old 08-12-13, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
Did you guys find that you felt too cramped/your hands felt too close together at first, and you got used to it, or did they always feel fine when riding on flats of the bars and using interrupters? I have a pair that I thought would be a great idea, but my hands always feel too close together like I'm riding a silly-narrow bar when I ride on the flats. I think my bars are 40cm. I'm also used to riding a MTB with wide riser bars, so maybe it's just me?
I tried them for the first time on a bike where I also tried a different style drop bar (raddoneur). Even though, the nominal width of the new bars are the same as the standard drop style on another bike (Spec. Roubaix) or 46cm I found the them to feel a little bit narrower. As I rode with them more, I have become much more comfortable with them. The ability to set the main brakes much lower (low enough that riding on the hoods would be very uncomfortable) and the flare of the raddoneur bars have resulted in a much more comfortable and useful variety of positions for me. No matter what hand position I happen to be in, I have brakes in close proximity.
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Old 08-12-13, 12:21 PM
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Love 'em! I have them on 3 bikes.
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Old 08-14-13, 09:07 AM
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I installed some of those similar-purpose "upper brake levers" ("suicide bars"?) on my 10-speed in the 70's. I found them very convenient, especially when negotiating busy MUP paths around campus. I remember reading warnings about how unreliable and dangerous they were, and looking at how they were designed and constructed I thought there might be some cause for alarm. They were 100% effective for me, however I could never get over my nervousness about their safety, and never used them on high-speed or downhill runs.

I put some of the new cyclocross ("interruptor"?) levers on my touring bike. I find them just as convenient as the old models, but I feel much more confidant in their ability to stop me in all situations reliably. I later put them on my road bike. I put some on my wife's old road bike. She loved them, so when I built up a new bike for her they were a must.

I'm a fan.
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Old 08-14-13, 09:38 PM
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I'm not afraid that you're all going to die tomorrow, but I'm generally against these extra brake levers.

You want your muscle memory to be performing the panic stop -- you don't want your choosy brain making more complicated choices between two sets of break levers.

There is no small, second, convenient-in-some-cases steering wheel in a race car. A race horse does not wear two sets of reins for two different jockey postures. Drivers' education teachers don't burden their students with cases in which it might be better to engage a car's emergency brake than to hit the brake pedal. Fighter jet pilots don't have two eject buttons on either side of the cabin to choose from depending on which direction their out-of-control plane is spinning.

Motorcycles usually have a right-hand-operated front brake lever and a right-foot-operated rear brake pedal. A lot of beginners tend mainly to engage one or the other. This is commonly understood as an entrenched design flaw that contributes to a lot of motorcycle accidents: a false "two different choices, quick, pick one" scenario that requires awareness and self-training to overcome.

So I'm not afraid that you're all going to die tomorrow, but I think you're slightly safer (and certainly lighter and less complicated) without these extra brake levers.

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Old 08-14-13, 10:29 PM
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senor tak, I see the direction you are going, but in real life, if you go for an interrupter brake or a hood brake, it really only comes down to where your hands are, ie which levers are closer. Both do the job, and on my bike, both stop the bike pretty much just as well (ish)
Your argument hinges on the theory that someone is going to hum and haw in deciding which levers to go to, which in my experience isnt the case.
I rode motorcycles for years, so my instinct "split second stuff" is that the right brake is for the front.
You would be alarmed to know that one of my bikes has a UK setup, ie front brake is on the right, so when I ride that bike I just think "motorcycle", and it works fine. In reality I really should change my other bike to that as well, as I find for me, this is the more natural setup for an emergency stop that will slow one down as fast as the tires and road surface can allow.

so I respectfully disagree fully with your opinion, especially when one takes into account the small amount of time one can save using the interrupter levers if ones hands are on the flat part of the bars (my fingers are usually automatically placed naturally on the interrupter levers anyway, so no time lost) as opposed to getting to the hood levers from the topbar position. This tenth or two can make a real difference.

All motorcycles have right hand front brake levers and a right foot rear brake pedal. Racing motorcycles do however have the shift lever setup the opposite to road bikes, ie a down stab is for an upshift, upwards pull for a downshift (THAT I would have a hard time getting used to)
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Old 08-14-13, 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
so I respectfully disagree fully with your opinion, especially when one takes into account the small amount of time one can save using the interrupter levers if ones hands are on the flat part of the bars (my fingers are usually automatically placed naturally on the interrupter levers anyway, so no time lost) as opposed to getting to the hood levers from the topbar position. This tenth or two can make a real difference.

All motorcycles have right hand front brake levers and a right foot rear brake pedal. Racing motorcycles do however have the shift lever setup the opposite to road bikes, ie a down stab is for an upshift, upwards pull for a downshift (THAT I would have a hard time getting used to)
My brother's old Royal Enfield, and I think other older English motorcycles, have the rear brake pedal on the left. I used to feel like I'd just drunk a couple of beers when I switched between his bike and mine.

I don't think these things are more than slightly more dangerous, but I do think they're slightly more dangerous. Because they're slightly more dangerous, add more weight and more equipment to fuss with, and limit other choices for things bolted to the handlebar, they won't be on any of my bikes. I don't think it's a really big deal either way, but I'm pretty sure it's a small bad idea, especially for those with lots of small children, no life insurance, or other reasons to take multiple small steps to improve their safety.
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Old 08-14-13, 10:53 PM
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(And somehow I survived the 1970s braking with the original wiggly "suicide levers" of my department-store Huffy, so anything can happen!)
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Old 08-15-13, 06:14 AM
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I use them on two of my bikes, but with Bosco Bars. Those bars are counter-intuitive to regular drops in that the "flats" are the low extended and "aero" position. So the interrupter levers are right there for high speed turns and fast descents. I like them.



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