Brake Lever Position- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Brake Lever Position

    When I'm setting up my control's on my bar I always start with my brake levers because I feel that braking is the most important. I'm not going to crash into a tree from a missed shift. My index finger is lined up to grip the end of the lever and the lever is angled about 30° down. I used to angle my levers down much more so that my fingers, hands, and for arms were inline with the lever. I feel that with the lever up further it puts my hands in a better position when braking instead of cruising the flats. I think a lot of folks stick them at 45° because thats the way it came or they're used to it. When setting them up get into the position you brake in and see how you like it. Good thing is it costs nothing and is easy to change.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for “I suck at brake control.” Here’s a free tip: get better."

  2. #2
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    I hadn't set mine to any specific angle, just to where I liked them. Your post piqued my curiosity so I measured them. 52 degrees down from horizontal.

  3. #3
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    I sit on the on the bike and angle the brake lever to where I can grip the bar and lay my index finger on the lever with my finger, wrist and arm in what feels like a straight line. I do with this with my eyes closed to prevent visual cues from distorting the feel. Each bike and setup wind up different based on reach, stack, stem, handlebar, and lever, and each person is different. I'm guessing that a fair amount of wrist and hand pain comes from brake levers not positioned well for the rider. I too was curious and measured the angle of my levers; it is 78 degrees down from horizontal. That was surprising, because it seems a lot and at that angle my finger, wrist and arm can't in fact be in a straight line. But, that's apparently what feels the most neutral and comfortable.

  4. #4
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    I've always run my levers pointed way down. It's just the way I like it. No joke, 69 degrees.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigb73 View Post
    I've always run my levers pointed way down. It's just the way I like it. No joke, 69 degrees.
    Yes, you do. Your levers are ridiculously low!

    I like mine relatively level, but I am extremely finicky with my levers. I was always that way on the motorcycle too. I need levers and throws to be exactly the way I like them. I seem to be completely inflexible on that. Without measuring, I estimate mine are 30* down. I have to check now - I'm really curious.

    ****EDit***** Mine are at 28* down from level with the ground.

  6. #6
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    Pointed down is OK when in a pedalling position but who brakes in that position? I'm always low and rearward when braking.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for “I suck at brake control.” Here’s a free tip: get better."

  7. #7
    beater
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    Pointed down is OK when in a pedalling position but who brakes in that position? I'm always low and rearward when braking.
    If you're in an attack position and your elbows are up, then your forearms, wrists, and fingers (and ideally levers) are steeper.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    Pointed down is OK when in a pedalling position but who brakes in that position? I'm always low and rearward when braking.
    I can't use bigb's brakes. They are so low for me, it's not even comfortable while just sitting on the bike! Everyone has their different settings, but man, that one's way too low for me.

  9. #9
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    My right lever is slightly higher than my left. It's probably 30° I do this because I use it to srub speed for a turn when decending. The left is slightly lower maybe 35ish but not much. May be odd, but works for me.

  10. #10
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    I saw that some of the Euro Enduro racers had their brakes at zero degrees I wondered if it would catch on here. Mine are at 30 but I have my brake pad contact point set so late that the levers can actually hit the grips, so really I am comfortable from 10 to 45 degrees. I am sure lever angle matters more to you early contact guys.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    Pointed down is OK when in a pedalling position but who brakes in that position? I'm always low and rearward when braking.
    Interesting point. Being XC and trail oriented I certainly brake at times in the seated or "attack" position but will have to pay attention next time I'm descending with my butt back off the saddle and see how the lever angle feels. Thinking about it, there may be some advantage to raising them a bit from where I have them.

  12. #12
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    Really depends.

    Thru the years mine have migrated a lot.


    Check this out...

    Before it was common I use to run mine almost horizontal, like way back when - because we were riding short bikes with 71 degree HTA on non-buff, super steep techie trails. With most downhills you lived with your ass on the rear tire and the seat in your chest. Rotating brakes downward at a 45 put them out of reach when stretched way out.

    These days I'm more in the middle.

    Something rarely mentioned is how inboard folk run their brakes. I'm off the bell curve with both shifters and brake levers. I like mine way inboard where I'm just catching the end of the lever with my index finger.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    If you're in an attack position and your elbows are up, then your forearms, wrists, and fingers (and ideally levers) are steeper.
    Elbows out, not up. Mine are around 40 degrees, they used to be lower and they've been getting adjusted higher and higher as time goes by.

  14. #14
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    i started with 45 degrees when i started biking.

    for the heck of it, i pointed it lower and felt awkward, not to the point of over reaching but really isn't natural.

    i began to raise it up above 45 and it felt better. as time went by, i gave priority to a descending/attack position.

    i don't know how many degrees it is, but i do judge it primarily how much of the lever body is exposed when im standing in front of the saddle.
    Canfield Yelli Screamy

  15. #15
    beater
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    Elbows out, not up. Mine are around 40 degrees, they used to be lower and they've been getting adjusted higher and higher as time goes by.
    Whatever. I know where my elbows are and where they should be. I posted that between days of a BetterRide camp, and my levers are pretty much at the same angle as Gene's. I didn't bother to measure them, but they're in the neighborhood of 45*.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    My right lever is slightly higher than my left. It's probably 30° I do this because I use it to srub speed for a turn when decending. The left is slightly lower maybe 35ish but not much. May be odd, but works for me.
    I sure do hope you're not just laying on the rear brake to scrub speed. Nothing d1cks up a trail faster than that.

  17. #17
    NWS
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    I ran about 45 degrees down until I started riding DH, and found that I couldn't reach them comfortably in steep stuff. Now its probably 15 degrees or so. To my surprise I like it better this way, even on level ground.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    I sure do hope you're not just laying on the rear brake to scrub speed. Nothing d1cks up a trail faster than that.
    Nope, I'm very kind to our trials. I just feather the rear before the turn. My rear brakes take deliberate action to lock up.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerberus75 View Post
    Nope, I'm very kind to our trials. I just feather the rear before the turn. My rear brakes take deliberate action to lock up.
    Bueno!

  20. #20
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    roughly 30* for both.

  21. #21
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    There are too many factors to take into consideration here to determine what works for one person, is crazy for another. XC, Trail, DH, Rake, Seat position and stem length. Your riding style and terrain dictate many variables.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    There are too many factors to take into consideration here to determine what works for one person, is crazy for another. XC, Trail, DH, Rake, Seat position and stem length. Your riding style and terrain dictate many variables.
    Indeed. Low levers does not equal more aggressive, nor does more level levers equal more rail-trail/comfort setting.

    I have long legs for my height, which changes how I can "float" over the bike. That will affect my lever location.

    It's 100% personal preference and personal feel, just like how some people dislike Shimano brake feel. Early, hard brake engagement does not equal more aggressive, and later, almost bar touching brakes does not equal a slower or less aggressive rider.
    Last edited by DethWshBkr; 07-12-2016 at 09:04 AM.

  23. #23
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    My point was to get people to experiment a bit. I see lots of riders who have them a certain way because they came that way.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

    Team Robot. "modulation is code for “I suck at brake control.” Here’s a free tip: get better."

  24. #24
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    I've found that running levers too low increases the chances of my hands sliding forward or my wrists rotating forward on hard hits.

  25. #25
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    Last year at Whistler I was complaining about arm pump and hand fatigue after the first day. One of my friends suggested playing with my brake lever angle. Conveniently, there's a set of tools at the top of the lifts. We did about 5 runs down A-line changing lever angles each run, and now my levers are flatter than ever (guestimating in the mid 30 degree range versus the 50 or so degree I started with). I was shocked; I went from not really into riding much more to feeling just fine and doing a lot more riding that day/weekend.

    Keep playing with the angle until you find the spot that feels the most natural.

  26. #26
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    Mine are set at somewhere around 35-40° down. My commuter bike is closer to 35° while my others are nearer to 40°. I've gone through shallower & steeper angles in the past and settled in the current range since that's where it feels best for me. One of the guys I ride with runs his levers pointing almost straight down and still rides just fine, I have no idea how he does that since I almost died the one time I tried riding his bike.

  27. #27
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    Mine are both around 45 degrees. I set them where I liked them, and it happened to be 45.

  28. #28
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    46.3° angle of incidence on a standard day of 59° F and 29.92 inHg.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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