Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Click the "Create Account" button now to join.

To disable ads, please log-in.

Shop at TeamEstrogen.com for women's cycling apparel.

Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    asheville, nc
    Posts
    10

    Small Rider, Small Hands

    To disable ads, please log-in.

    Hi--

    I am posting this for a friend...who is 4' 11" and has very small hands. She has always had hand brakes on the top of the bars (not sure of the technical name...we call them sissy brakes).

    She has a new, custom bike without the hand breaks and doesn't feel completely comfortable with her current braking ability...she can just manage to grip the drop breaks. The builder of the bike and subsequent bike mechanics (all men) have said there is nothing else that can be done. She's been told they are shimmed to the max.


    Are there any small riders out there who have found a way to work around this? Let me know if you need additional details. And thanks in advance for your responses.
    ...my dogs are smarter than your dogs...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    4,389
    She can get interrupters (the real term for sissy levers) put on, but in all reality it will be better if she can get a comfortable position on standard drops (cause using interrupters going down hill is not entirely safe)

    Does she have small ergo shaped bars right now? Some manufacturers make bars that have a bend in them that allow your hands to get closer to the levers. She can also play around with the position of the levers on the bars. I've noticed its kind of in fashion right now to position the levers quite high on the the handlebars. If they aren't already down, she can move them down so that the top of the lever is more flat and the lever itself is closer to the drop.

    bars with this shape might help
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

    visit my flickr stream http://flic.kr/ps/MMu5N

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    510
    Has she got Shimano shifters?

    Tell her to check out some bikes with SRAM or campy (and try the different models as well). They are smaller sized in the grip and the brake lever is flatter and not so rounded and might suit her hands better.

    I have short fingers and large palms and find I cannot wrap my hands sround the shifters to reach the brakes. I use interupt brakes at the moment but realise a permanent solution would be to change the shifters after trying them in the shop (and other people's bikes) and finding those better.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,101
    A combination of the type of bars Eden posted and switching to the Shimano R700 short reach brifters solved the problem for me. There are a few bars that have a shallow drop that aren't that expensive if you buy the aluminum instead of the carbon.
    The brifters are expensive (250-300), but worth it. For the first time in 9 years, I can reach the brakes in the drops.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    2,024
    An inexpensive and popular short reach bar is the bontrager fit VR.

    Another choice many like is the salsa poco (available in alum or carbon).

    I also second either short reach levers, or lots of shims in standard levers. I actually had to double shim my durace 7800 brifters that came on my recent bike, had always used the short reach levers before that. Specialized sells shims to retrofit diff. levers. I also bought a compact drop bar (short reach and shallow drop).

    I believe that both SRAM and the newest durace (7900) have a reach adjustment screw on the lever.

    Be sure her reach isn't just set too long. I set my daughter up on one of my bikes last week, and had to shorten the stem so she could be more comfortable braking.
    Last edited by Triskeliongirl; 06-17-2009 at 05:52 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    589
    I'm 4'11" with tiny hands as well.

    I run Shimano Ultegra levers with no problems (yes, with the Specialized shim in them), but it does matter what bar I'm using. I really like my Specialized Women's Pro Road Ergo bar (they also make it in an aluminum version which is cheaper). It's short reach, so I have no problems getting to the brakes from the hoods, but it has a normal drop that really allows me to get my hands in and grab onto the brakes when I need to (typical "short and shallow" bars have too short a drop for me to do this).

    Yes, the other option would be SRAM which does have a different hood design which is shorter.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,845
    Quote Originally Posted by MartianDestiny View Post
    I'm 4'11" with tiny hands as well.

    I run Shimano Ultegra levers with no problems (yes, with the Specialized shim in them), but it does matter what bar I'm using. I really like my Specialized Women's Pro Road Ergo bar (they also make it in an aluminum version which is cheaper). It's short reach, so I have no problems getting to the brakes from the hoods, but it has a normal drop that really allows me to get my hands in and grab onto the brakes when I need to (typical "short and shallow" bars have too short a drop for me to do this).

    Yes, the other option would be SRAM which does have a different hood design which is shorter.
    do the shims affect how easy it is to use the brakes from the hoods at all?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    589
    Quote Originally Posted by Catriona View Post
    do the shims affect how easy it is to use the brakes from the hoods at all?
    Yea, they make it possible to use the brakes from the hoods!!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    When I have the proper handlebar, I don't need shims. I prefer a short reach/shallow drop bar. And unlike what Eden said, I find that I get the right reach in all positions if I have the hoods up high on the bends (near the tops) and then I rotate the bars downward until the hoods are level (i.e., brake levers not pointing forward but down).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    4,389
    We may be functionally talking about the same thing? I can't stand drops the are not level - so first and foremost I need the ends of the drops level or nearly level, then I like to have my hoods level too. I find that this combo is the most comfortable for me and I can still reach everything. I have standard DA levers.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

    visit my flickr stream http://flic.kr/ps/MMu5N

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    Maybe. It probably depends on the bend of the bar and how deep the bend (and how long the reach). I'd guess for some bars, the only way the lever could get close to the bend of the drop would be for it to be relatively far down.

    I didn't mean to suggest that you'd have the levers pointing slanted relative to vertical. It just sounded like you were advocating putting them farther down on the bend of the drops than I do. That could be more or less effective for reaching with small hands, given different bar shapes.

    I still have my hoods up higher than what would make the levers the closest to the drops, but I can still reach them fine in the drops. It makes for a shorter distance from the corners to the hoods. I like those huge Shimano hoods up high. That may not work as well for different hood shapes though.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    106
    Quote Originally Posted by kmcmoobud View Post
    Are there any small riders out there who have found a way to work around this? Let me know if you need additional details. And thanks in advance for your responses.
    I'm 5'2" and my hands are pretty small (at this height). I can even wear gloves for children.
    My hand is 16.5 cm in length and 7.5 cm in width.
    My road bike comes with a compact handlebar with short reach & drop (like FSA's) and Shimano R700 shifters. Already put on the 8mm shims.





    I have no problem in applying brakes. (you can apply brakes more firmly when your hands are on the drops.)

    Hope this would help.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    876
    Can the shims be used with any Shimano shifters? I have older Ultegra 9 speeds. Would that work? I'm assuming that you just order them from a Specialized dealer?
    Girl meets bike. Bike leads girl to a life of grime: http://mudandmanoloscycling.com/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    691
    Hi bluebug,

    I don't see why the shims wouldn't work with the 9-speed set. I have the R600 levers on both my Trek and Merlin -- they're the 9-speed version of the R700 short reach (Ultegra-level) shifters, and they're shimmed.

    - Melissa
    I'll get back on the bike soon, I promise!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    508
    Being 5' 1.5", with small hands and short arms, always meant compromises in bike setup in the past. These days, with WSD bikes and components things are getting easier. The short drop/reach bars, Specialized shims (yep I use them) and good quality bikes in sizes like 44cm make things so much easier. There are even performance saddles for people like me with wide sit-bones.

    But don't forget, the little things count a lot- if I use thick gloves, it is harder to reach the levers when in the drops, so no heavy gel lumpy gloves for me. I tried padding the bars with those under-the-tape gel inserts, but they made the bars thicker and my fingers got further away from the brakes again. So I just tried the new Lizard Skins bar tape. The tape itself is kinda like gel, but isn't thick, so I can use it with thin gloves and still get great padding without adding thickness. I discovered it a few weeks ago when a local shop put some on a young girl's first 'road bike' for the same reason. Awesome. For the first time, I can sit in the drops and reach the brakes without having to rotate my hands around.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
    Specialized Ruby Expert/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Specialized SWorks Safire/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Giant Anthem-W XT-XTR/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Fuji Newest 3 commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Novara E.T.A commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •