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  1. #1
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    Disc brakes that work upside down

    Looking to upgrade my brakes (juicy three's) but have some pretty specific needs.

    Both levers will be mounted on the right side of the handlebar one on top of the other.

    So the left lever needs to work upside down and the tops of both levers need to be fairly flush so i can mount them close together.

    I really wanted to go with Shimano, but their reservoir is top mounted, so i'd either struggle with air in the system or i'd need to buy a complete brake set then another right hand lever from somewhere = not good.

    Looking around it seems that both Formula and Avid have a pretty central res, the Formula brakes in particular are advertised as having a "Flip-flop master cylinder"

    Are there any other recommended brakes out there that can be mounted upside down?

    Any thoughts on which levers i will be able to mount the closest i.e. one on top of the other?

    I'm not too bothered about weight and can stretch the budget if need be.
    But i do need a brake system that enables me to hold a wheel at that spot just before lock up with one finger.

    Any thoughts please?
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  2. #2
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    Why not just buy two rear (RHS) levers and cut the hose down to size? The banjo bolt might need a little repositioning, it should not be a deal breaker... The reach adjust could be favoured for the F-R bias.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Todd- View Post
    Why not just buy two rear (RHS) levers and cut the hose down to size? The banjo bolt might need a little repositioning, it should not be a deal breaker... The reach adjust could be favoured for the F-R bias.
    Thanks for the response.

    My worry is that many of the levers that have the res on the top of the lever are pretty high at the top with the res cap.
    So although i could mount 2 RH levers on the top of each other the gap between the 2 would be a lot more than with levers that have the res in the middle i.e. Avid or Formula.

    To give you some idea, this is my current setup



    Ideally the new brake levers will be a noggin closer.

    Right now at rest i have a 3cm gap between each lever, as they are mounted at an angle to each other this gap closes to around 1.5cm to 2cm with the brakes pulled in.
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  4. #4
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    A alternative to your set up, with great ergonomics.


    Operating the two front brakes..


    The disc brake is a old Hope C2, that can be dial for power..


    Here you can find More pictures

  5. #5
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    Great pics and idea, thanks.

    I've tried a similar set up and although it's easy to get used to, i found that i struggled to hold onto the bars with that sort of setup.

    It was great for the first 10mins on a very rocky downhill, but after around 5 mins i found my fingers and hand started cramping as having the fingers open at that angle and then having to bend them was difficult for my admittedly small hands.

    This is how my hands sit now



    Not ideal, but i do find i get a lot less fatigue in my hand using this method, plus just as important, i can hold on for grim death on the rocky downhills

    As i say not ideal but the best compromise i've found so far, i would prefer to have a noggin more power and a LOT more consistency from the brake system though.
    Adjustable bite point might help with setup as well.
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  6. #6
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    This may be a stupid question, but why? Is it because of downhills and needing additional breaking power? Why is this preferable to a larger rotor? Would this be a braking system extended to a trailer? I have never seen or heard of this type of setup and I am curious as to the need that requires a 2nd brake lever and caliper.
    No fuss with the MUSS

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    This may be a stupid question, but why? Is it because of downhills and needing additional breaking power? Why is this preferable to a larger rotor? Would this be a braking system extended to a trailer? I have never seen or heard of this type of setup and I am curious as to the need that requires a 2nd brake lever and caliper.
    Fair question.

    Not much choice unfortunately, my left arm is paralysed from the shoulder down.
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  8. #8
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    That is a most excellent reason. I don't know you, but you must be awesome. Carry on.
    No fuss with the MUSS

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    That is a most excellent reason. I don't know you, but you must be awesome. Carry on.


    I think my Mrs would disagree, especially since i've just ordered some new pedals
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  10. #10
    El CicloPath!!!!!!!
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    You people are awesome!!!!!

  11. #11
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    The kcnc x7 can do moto and seems to be fairly flat on top. Kinda hard to find and get

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by brmeyer135 View Post
    The kcnc x7 can do moto and seems to be fairly flat on top. Kinda hard to find and get
    Actually if you don't mind not running hydro brakes you can find a great variety of skinny cable operated levers and then run BB7 calipers..

  13. #13
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    If you're considering running mechanical disc brakes, try a dual lever like this.



    With some patience you can set up BB7s how you like with just one lever.

  14. #14
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    I really wanted to go with Shimano, but their reservoir is top mounted, so i'd either struggle with air in the system or i'd need to buy a complete brake set then another right hand lever from somewhere = not good.
    I don't get this part, the system is closed. It seems to me the only tine that this would be and issue is when you actually open the system to replace fluid or bleed brakes.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by guamjim View Post
    I don't get this part, the system is closed. It seems to me the only tine that this would be and issue is when you actually open the system to replace fluid or bleed brakes.
    The system is technically open though. This is how the brake adjusts for pad wear. As the pads wear the system draws in more fluid from the reservoir to make up for it. Some brakes work very poorly when inverted (avid) other aren't phased one bit (Formula).


    OP, I love Para sport equipment, it's about the only thing that challenges me as a mechanic these days. I've always thought there is an off the shelf solution to run two hydraulic brakes from a single master cylinder. McMaster Carr is your oyster on that one. The thing a system like that really needs is a proportioning valve although there may be a way to adjust around it, like the formula FRS adjusters.

    The other thing that comes to mind is a custom clamp. If you could mount both levers one on top of the other at the same angle would that be ideal? With a brake like your existing Avid that's got removeable clamps that would be pretty straight forward. You could certainly build in some offset to be able to go one finger on each brake as well.

    The final suggestion is a custom lever blade for a existing brake. If you could form a lever in a couple directions you could make up for the restrictions that the master cylinders impose on your setup.

    Let me know what you think as these problems are always as unique as the person riding them. If your anywhere near BendOR, I'd be happy to take a crack at it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by brmeyer135 View Post
    The kcnc x7 can do moto and seems to be fairly flat on top. Kinda hard to find and get
    Gorgeous brakes, but it looks as though the reservoir is top mounted again though, so they're not likely to work consistently when mounted upside down.

    Quote Originally Posted by sasquatch rides a SS View Post
    If you're considering running mechanical disc brakes, try a dual lever like this.
    A single lever system works pretty good on the road as weather aside your weight distribution, grip levels and braking force are pretty consistent.
    Even when it's raining you can dial in more front or rear brake as needed on that ride.

    With MTBing though i've found that a it's impossible to find a front/rear adjustment that works well on the varying terrain we ride on.

    As an example.
    There is a pretty steep (for my standards at least) drop off on a local ride, even with a good level of modulation on the rear brake it's still impossible to slow down to a decent speed.
    Because the surface is very very lose almost sand like in texture i've found it best to have the rear brake locked for 1 second at a time, this creates something like a sand bow wave in front of the rear wheel giving greater braking performance.
    Problem is though, if you drag the rear brake for too long then this sand bow wave gets to high and when you do let off the brake this bump then has a tendency to propel you forwards.

    So i drag the rear brake and modulate the front brake, this is not going to be possible with a single lever.

    I've also found that coming from a motorbike background i have a tendency to lock the rear wheel on occasion to give a guide to how much grip i have on certain surfaces and conditions.
    Again not really possible with a single lever.

    I have tried a cable operated single lever system on my other bike that runs V-brakes and found the only thing it had going for it was convenience.


    Quote Originally Posted by guamjim View Post
    I don't get this part, the system is closed. It seems to me the only tine that this would be and issue is when you actually open the system to replace fluid or bleed brakes.
    As customfab said although it's classed as a sealed system, in practice it's tough to get a good consistent lever action with a top res system mounted upside down.

    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    The system is technically open though. This is how the brake adjusts for pad wear. As the pads wear the system draws in more fluid from the reservoir to make up for it. Some brakes work very poorly when inverted (avid) other aren't phased one bit (Formula).


    OP, I love Para sport equipment, it's about the only thing that challenges me as a mechanic these days. I've always thought there is an off the shelf solution to run two hydraulic brakes from a single master cylinder. McMaster Carr is your oyster on that one. The thing a system like that really needs is a proportioning valve although there may be a way to adjust around it, like the formula FRS adjusters.

    The other thing that comes to mind is a custom clamp. If you could mount both levers one on top of the other at the same angle would that be ideal? With a brake like your existing Avid that's got removeable clamps that would be pretty straight forward. You could certainly build in some offset to be able to go one finger on each brake as well.

    The final suggestion is a custom lever blade for a existing brake. If you could form a lever in a couple directions you could make up for the restrictions that the master cylinders impose on your setup.

    Let me know what you think as these problems are always as unique as the person riding them. If your anywhere near BendOR, I'd be happy to take a crack at it.
    I think if someone started riding with 1-arm from the offset it would be easier for them to find a good system.
    For me because i spent years riding with 2 hands anything else just feels like a poor compromise control wise.

    Tried many different systems, from having a L-shaped bar with the 2nd brake lever mounted, through to 1 lever for both brakes.
    I was convinced that each system would work, but in practice either fatigue or control became a problem.

    A Doohan type rear thumb brake seemed like the ideal



    The plastic mock-ups i glued together proved tough to package though as the shifters got in the way.
    Also found that again because of my small hands it was tough to hang on to the bars while pulling the front lever with your fingers and the rear lever with your thumb.
    It basically left my little finger as the only one left to hold onto the bars with

    A dual reservoir in a single unit with a split lever like below would probably be best



    Looks like even with that system it'd be a struggle to modulate either wheels brake pressure interdependently though.



    I think that type of assembly, but with the rear brake lever being longer (middle finger activated) and the front brake shorter (index finger activated) would be a ideal.

    But again you have to think that both the front, rear shifters and my seatpost lever also have to be within fingers or thumb range as well, so packaging become a challenge.

    To be honest i'm extremely happy with the current brake ergonomics, it's just the Juicy threes are very inconsistent.
    1994 Fully Rigid Diamond Back Axis TT
    2009 Trek Fuel Ex 7

  17. #17
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    Magura MT-series brakes will do what you said: the reservoir is in-line with the cylinder, and there are vent ports top and bottom (i.e., the levers are ambidextrous). Also they are much better brakes than anything avid, but that's not saying a lot.

  18. #18

  19. #19
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    As stated above, both Magura MT series and Hope are reversible for either moto or mtb style.

    On a side note, have you looked into buying the lever/master cyclinder unit for the desired size and simply connecting it to the caliper?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by honns View Post
    Hope are reversible for either moto or mtb style.
    The "newer" Hope levers (like the M4 in this case) are reversible with entry port on both sides but they are also bulky as hell..
    Disc brakes that work upside down-img_4873-m.jpg



    On a side note, have you looked into buying the lever/master cyclinder unit for the desired size and simply connecting it to the caliper?
    Coming from a motorcycle background I HATE linked brakes (front and rear operated by the same lever/foot pedal) and I think this is even more of a shortcoming on a bicycle, then again if you don't think is a great deal, you can find the volume of fluid require to move the two calipers at ones and get a master cylinder of the appropriate size to operate them at once, even looking into motorcycle master cylinders if the bicycle ones are not sufficient..

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