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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    45

    Brake levers on bar tops?

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    I was recently at the LBS and they just started carrying the Liv Giant series. I noticed that these bikes had brake levers in both the usual spot AND a set on the bar tops. I had always thought it would be nice to have a set of brakes there because I find that when riding on the hoods I don't feel like I have the hand strength for a really hard stop. I'm fine in the drops but the only time I ride there is when I'm descending. Does anyone else have these on their road bike? Do you love them? hate them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    764
    If I could go back in one of my first posts, I had those installed "after market" on my ex-Kuota.

    I never felt in control of it on this bike and was afraid without those road brake levers you find on hybrids, etc. In the end, I found them more dangerous and in the way and learned to use the "usual" equipment. Also, they were in the way for any other things I needed on that bar (like my Polar, my iphone stand, etc.). So they were taken out just as quickly as they were put on the bike.

    My LBS had them installed for something like 40$. I don't think I took a pic of it. Bummer!

    Would I have them installed again? Nope. Much more annoying than helpful. But sometimes, it is a like a crutch and it worked for me for a few outings. Then I did not feel the need for them and wanted to regain the space on my road handle bar.

    I rarely drive in the drops as I don't feel stable enough anyway on my bike. I use drops only on trainer! Not that useful. haha But it makes me look like a pro. haha

    Oh yeah, I remember something too. What bugged me most was that they were too close together, so I had even less handling and less room to move my hands around. I still had to stretch my fingers to get there comfortably or keep my hands even closer together. So I had less control.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    45
    Thanks for the feedback Helene

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Posts
    534
    Quote Originally Posted by Helene2013 View Post
    If I could go back in one of my first posts, I had those installed "after market" on my ex-Kuota.

    I never felt in control of it on this bike and was afraid without those road brake levers you find on hybrids, etc. In the end, I found them more dangerous and in the way and learned to use the "usual" equipment. Also, they were in the way for any other things I needed on that bar (like my Polar, my iphone stand, etc.). So they were taken out just as quickly as they were put on the bike.

    My LBS had them installed for something like 40$. I don't think I took a pic of it. Bummer!

    Would I have them installed again? Nope. Much more annoying than helpful. But sometimes, it is a like a crutch and it worked for me for a few outings. Then I did not feel the need for them and wanted to regain the space on my road handle bar.

    I rarely drive in the drops as I don't feel stable enough anyway on my bike. I use drops only on trainer! Not that useful. haha But it makes me look like a pro. haha

    Oh yeah, I remember something too. What bugged me most was that they were too close together, so I had even less handling and less room to move my hands around. I still had to stretch my fingers to get there comfortably or keep my hands even closer together. So I had less control.
    I think I agree with Helene on almost all her points here... takes up more handlebar space, etc. BUT, when I first got my road bike, they gave me an added feeling of security having them there as I got used to the handling. I often ride with my hands on the top of the bars and felt insecure for a while not having those brakes within easy reach. Plus, in my experience it is easier to grab "too much" brake when you pull on those top tube levers. I rarely ever use them, but haven't bothered to take them off. I also put mine on after market on both my commuter Jamis and my Dolce.

    If you don't feel like you can grab your brakes well enough, your bike shop can probably make an adjustment to make it easier for you! I have small and weak hands and they did this for me.
    "Don't go too fast, but I go pretty far"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Montreal, QC
    Posts
    764
    That is exactly why I had them installed...for my sense of security and I just was too afraid to have my hands elsewhere but on the top of bar. That is why I said it can be use like a crutch. Until someone gets used to the other brakes. My Kuota was too hard to control and I could not trust it. But I got used to it enough to get those top levers removed.

    I changed to my Specialized Amira and the riding dynamic is so different and I have no fear with it. So braking is natural. But I still find the brakes always too far, even if I am told they are ok. I don't have issues braking. But I still wished the handle was closer. That is the "mental" part talking to me. Because physically, they are good.

    So if someone feels better with top levers, there is no reason not to try it. And go from there. At the store, the owner told me it was mostly installed on women's bike. Men seem not to fear as much as us.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,301
    When my Jamis came into the shop and was built they were supposed you out those on for me, but they forgot. I can see the benefits. There's times when I'd like to sit up more but don't want to be that far away from the brakes for any length of time.
    2012 Jamis Quest Brooks B17 Blue
    2012 Jamis Dakar XC Comp SI Ldy Gel
    2013 Electra Verse

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    4,364
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I had these on my Schwinn Le Tour growing up in the late 70's and 80's. I've heard a couple of things since, mostly that they are called 'cheater' brakes, etc. And shouldn’t be used.
    The ones you had on your bike at that time were quite different from the ones on the market today…. in those days they really were quite dangerous. We used to call them suicide levers as they often failed to stop the bike…

    The interrupters of today do a much better job - they are inline in the brake cable rather than being a mechanical extension to the regular lever, but still they shouldn't be used in place of learning correct bike handling. There are more reasons than braking that you want to learn to ride in the drops, especially downhill or on fast corners.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,763
    They came on the Trek Pilot I purchased used. My DH later took them off as I was not using them at all, being used to road riding and using hood brakes. And, as others have stated, they took up valuable bar real estate. Since my bars are narrower (38 cm), I need all the top bar I can get.

    I think if I had started out with them, I might have liked them, but because I was so used to braking from the hoods and drops, I just never ever remembered they were there!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,075
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    I had these on my Schwinn Le Tour growing up in the late 70's and 80's. I've heard a couple of things since, mostly that they are called 'cheater' brakes, etc. And shouldn’t be used. ....
    In those days they were also called suicide bars. Weaker response than your standard brakes.
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
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