Brake Levers for weak hands??

twentysix by twentyfive

Clinging on tightly
Location
Over the Hill
Mrs 26 has often complained about being unable to get a proper braking effect. At first I thought is was a need for smaller reach levers for smaller hands so I fitted the appropriate fix to her Shimano STI levers to bring the finger reach in. She's still unhappy (these things come and go a bit so I'm never quite sure where I am on this). Now I check her hands they aren't much different to mine and I personally don't need the reduced reach solution. So maybe she needs some sort of force multiplier in the braking system if such a thing is available? Assuming her fingers aren't as strong as she would like. Or maybe a lever/brake combo that performs better than present? She's using Shimano Sora STI 9 speed/triple levers with Miche Performance dual pivot brakes on 700C rims. Can't fit disc as that would be a new bike.

TIA
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
Feel how strong the spring is on the Miche pivots - should be fairly light and easy to squeeze together. If not, then upgrade the brake callipers. Cheaper option, Shimano PTFE lined brake cables.

Also pads, get these changed. My Shimano dual pivots are very light to use, so I suspect pads might not be best.
 
So maybe she needs some sort of force multiplier in the braking system if such a thing is available?

TIA
This affect can be achieved on any lever mechanism by applying the input force further from the pivot. Thus longer brake levers would achieve this assuming she squeezes the end furthest from the pivot. This comes at the expense of having to move the lever further in terms of distance.
 

MountainSide

Active Member
As you say it "comes and goes a bit" could it be down to how clean the rims are. I have to keep reminding myself to go easy on the brakes after a good clean because it takes so much less effort on the lever.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Mrs 26 has often complained about being unable to get a proper braking effect. At first I thought is was a need for smaller reach levers for smaller hands so I fitted the appropriate fix to her Shimano STI levers to bring the finger reach in. She's still unhappy (these things come and go a bit so I'm never quite sure where I am on this). Now I check her hands they aren't much different to mine and I personally don't need the reduced reach solution. So maybe she needs some sort of force multiplier in the braking system if such a thing is available? Assuming her fingers aren't as strong as she would like. Or maybe a lever/brake combo that performs better than present? She's using Shimano Sora STI 9 speed/triple levers with Miche Performance dual pivot brakes on 700C rims. Can't fit disc as that would be a new bike.

TIA
Get some crosslever brakes fitted?
I have them on most of my road bikes (rim brakes and mechanical discs)
An easy and cheap solution. Only issue is losing some handlebar space
 
Location
Loch side.
There is a solution, but it's gonna cost you.
The latest Shimano hydraulic brakes use Shimano's Servo Wave "technology".

This requires much, much less input force than other levers in the initial stages of braking but progressively reduces as things progress.

Basically, it is a non-linear brake response that tapers off as you brake harder and harder and your senses sharpen. It takes a while to get used to and there are dire warnings about it in the brochures, but it works. I like it.
 
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PaulSB

Legendary Member
A number of years ago following an accident the grip in my right hand was severely reduced. It took 6-9 months to heal.

To temporarily solve the braking problem my LBS fitted what I think are called cross or inline levers. This worked very well while my hand was healing.

The only downside being once removed it took me a while to stop instinctively grabbing for them instead of the levers on the drops.

I would think this cheap and easy solution worth trying.
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Inline levers offer an extra hand position but I've never tried a set I thought were stronger than the main levers, in fact I always find them weaker.

The effectiveness of brakes depends on clean, free-running cables and clean, grit-free pads on clean rims. Glazed pads are also less effective; take them out and rub them on sandpaper flat on a table, which will reveal all the silvery bits of grit that need picking out. This needs to be done often in wet weather. Clean the rims with a damp cloth - you'll be amazed at the mess of grey grit and alloy paste that comes off.
 
Location
Loch side.
I would have thought hydraulic disc brakes are the solution
They can be, but it depends.

Yes they tick all the boxes covered by Globalti above, but the lever action is completely decoupled from pad travel and leverage. In other words, they can be made to require very little force to stop, or a lot of force to stop. They can even be made to act in a non-linear fashion - loose bite as you pull harder or, increase the rate of bite as the lever travels.

Bicycle hydraulic brakes are not all the same in this regard, so for the OP, some styles/brands may actually be unsuitable.
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
Don't have a solution, but do have an observation.
One of my bikes ended up with no brake levers, as they had been handed down to another bike. So from my spares bin, I fitted SRAM TT bar end shifters for the gears and had a very old pair of shimano 105 brake levers (brake only). Also fitted new cables.

But I was surprised how light and sensitive the old 105 levers were. Don't know whether it was the simplicity of the brake only levers or the affect of the new cables or a combination, but they are really nice to use.
 
Location
Loch side.
Don't have a solution, but do have an observation.
One of my bikes ended up with no brake levers, as they had been handed down to another bike. So from my spares bin, I fitted SRAM TT bar end shifters for the gears and had a very old pair of shimano 105 brake levers (brake only). Also fitted new cables.

But I was surprised how light and sensitive the old 105 levers were. Don't know whether it was the simplicity of the brake only levers or the affect of the new cables or a combination, but they are really nice to use.
It's the cables. Brakes work really well with nice new, good quality cables. Not all cables are the same. There's a huge difference between a good Shimano or Campag cable and something like Clarks or Jagwire.
The best way to demonstrate this is to find some rigid pole - like a staircase newel or such. Now take a length of cable (inner and outer) and wrap it a couple of times around the newel and hold it in place with a cable tie or tape so that the two ends face you. Now manipulate the inner cable backwards and forwards. Do the same with the cheap cable and compare the two.
The difference is night and day. The one will feel like a file grinding over a workpiece and the other like butter.
This difference is noticeable on the bike, especially on the back brake.
Life is too short to ride with crappy cables.
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
Before you change, analyse the hand and grip position. Can you get better purchase on the lever with a different angle. Are the bars a suitable width, drop and profile. Do the levers need to be moved up or down the bars or rotated.
 
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