Left/right hand brake setup

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Resistorlead, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. Resistorlead

    Resistorlead New Member

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    OK, so I'm a old dinosaur. Back in the '60s-70s it was common to have the front brake actuated by the right hand. This makes sense to me as it's the most effective and the right hand (for right handers) is stronger. It seems today that everyone does it the other way 'round and I've heard what seem to be nutty reasons- if you use the front brake the bike will flip over! One of my bikes is set up right=front and I'm about to change my other bike to match. Having it left=front just seems weird and ineffective. Needless to say I've never had any problem controlling my brakes nor has the bike ever unexpectedly flipped over when I touched the brake, gone unstable or exhibited any other undesirable behavior ;-)

    Does anybody do it my way, or has the world pretty much standardized on left=front. Or is it a law now and they'll come and get me?

    Best,
    CH
     
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  2. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    I think a fair portion of Euro riders position their brakes the way you do. Whether you do it your way or the other way makes no difference. It's entirely a personal preference thing.
     
  3. genedan

    genedan New Member

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    Sheldon brown uses the right lever to control the front brake, too:

    Braking and Turning Your Bicycle

    I almost exclusively use the front brake when I'm stopping. In fact, I don't recall ever using the rear brake ever since I got my bicycle...it seems as if it's there for backup, or something.
     
  4. BikingBrian

    BikingBrian New Member

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    I also use the right/front left/rear setup.
    In situations where I really want to stop in a hurry of course I'll use the front brake so I probably won't be thinking about shifting. But with the rear on the left lever, it's useful for feathering the brakes to adjust speed just before cornering and being able to simultaneously downshift with the right lever (since I don't need it for braking in that situation).
     
  5. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    I really don't know about that Euro rumor, and with US eyes I'm definitely in that category. Standard setup in Sweden anyhow is right rear and left front. Can't say I've made a point about studying other countries, but Germany seems to be that way too.

    The "going over the bars" argument is something that resurfaces every now and then, and you can still get hybrids and city bikes that come fitted with a "brake modulator" as part of the front v-brake noodle. The "brake modulator" acts as a springy portion of the brake housing that compresses on brake activation.
    I dunno, even with the best of gear a panic stop can still get you in trouble.

    An alternate "explanation" is that in right side traffic a left turn is tricker than a right, so by having the less sensitive brake operated by the hand remaining on the bar you minimize the strain on the rider's concentration.

    Note: don't bother arguing any perceived weakness of the above with me. I'm reporting it, not trying to sell it.
    It might just as well be a case of assembly consistency - right operates rear brake/rd and left operates front brake/fd.

    Then again, I don't see it as much of a problem. When riding in really slippery conditions(= ice, mud over rock) I kinda appreciate having the more sensitive hand on the rear brake. and in good conditions it's a non-issue. My braking ability is more limited by body position and arms braced or not than it is by left hand dexterity.
     
  6. Peter@vecchios

    [email protected] New Member

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    Where it partially originated.

    Shifting and braking...not wanting to skid the front wheel while shifting with the right hand(downtube shifters, of course)

    Musette bag grabbing while braking...again, not wanting to mess with the front brake.

    Some carryover from motorcycles, which have the right lever hooked to the front brake.

    I do it(right to front) cuz I do everything else with my right hand, like grab water bottle, grab food from pocket and want my left hand on the less strong brake(rear) but like anything in 'bikes', put 3 people in a room and ask an opinion...get four opinions.
     
  7. Resistorlead

    Resistorlead New Member

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    Interesting- thanks all! I never even considered "other tasks" but since, as an old dinosaur, I also prefer downtube shifters, the various arguments make sense. I didn't add that as a Clydesdale class rider, I need all the stopping power I can get.
     
  8. CdnRider

    CdnRider New Member

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    I do it too. recently had a mechanic comment on it. "Oh...you have your brakes set up Euro-style". I did it years ago and have always done it. Changed it when i swapped out my old brake levers for the then new....'aero' levers. and my calipers needed it to be that way!
     
  9. jump_at_the_sun

    jump_at_the_sun New Member

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    Ditto until I saw that the OP is a Clydesdale class! It also makes sense if you're using hand signals with your right hand, and are afraid of flipping.

    As for flipping over the bars, I'll admit that I've Supermanned over the handlebars at about 40km/h because I was doing an emergency stop and my front brakes locked up completely somehow. This is also the story of how I learned the importance of regular maintenance :eek:.
     
  10. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    It CAN have happened that way, but going OTB has usually a lot more to do with your arms folding and your body shifting forward than it has to do with your brake locking up. Properly braced(and positioned) the power a rider can brake with is quite amazing.
     
  11. nbfman

    nbfman New Member

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    In Japan, the standard setup for lever/brake is right/front + left/rear, according to the LBS in my area. They also say that customers from the US often ask for it to be set up the other way.
     
  12. jump_at_the_sun

    jump_at_the_sun New Member

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    I really doubt the OP will ever find himself in any of the conditions required to flip over the bars :p
     
  13. Resistorlead

    Resistorlead New Member

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    Great. You had to say it. I'm surly jinxed now! At least I didn't read it until after this mornings ride!
     
  14. jump_at_the_sun

    jump_at_the_sun New Member

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    Sir, I will shake your hand if you can OTB on a road bike.
     
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