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10/29/12 4:09 P

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I was going to post the same info. I've only heard the old style brake lever extensions called "suicide levers." And I believe you mean Sheldon Brown not Sidney Sheldon. I got acquainted with Mr. Brown on rec.bicycles* where he had a habit of showing me up by following up my posts with his posts demonstrating his encyclopedic knowledge of all things bicycle. After a while I didn't even bother replying to the thread until waiting a few days to see if Jobst Brandt or Sheldon Brown tackled it. I exchanged many emails with him usually agreeing and occasionally presenting a different opinion but he was always cordial and was one of the world's foremost authorities on bicycling and we are much poorer for having lost him.

DDOORN's Photo DDOORN Posts: 23,575
10/8/12 7:49 P

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Re: hoods, tops & drops...I'm a drops person all the way. Only once in awhile, when slowing down for city traffic, etc. do I use the hoods or tops.

Don

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TOPAHI's Photo TOPAHI SparkPoints: (14,026)
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10/8/12 12:36 P

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You can add them "in-line" to work with your current brakes, no reason to remove the existing levers.

Tom

Riding a bike is FUN!
The treadmill is NOT!

Never argue with idiots... They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


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NINYAI SparkPoints: (3)
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10/5/12 2:47 P

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Hi. I know it's been almost two years since someone replied or used this thread but I'm planning on doing the opposite. I have a vintage bike with dropbar brakes and I'm planning on replacing them with suicide levers for the reason that I use the top handlebar more when I ride my bike and because I'm petite and it's hard for me to bend and use the dropbar brakes. There are a lot of people who say suicide levers never worked and that they believe it's dangerous to have them. What do you think? Should I get it?

TOPAHI's Photo TOPAHI SparkPoints: (14,026)
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1/26/11 1:44 A

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Thanks again for the input everyone.

So, having done a couple more rides, I have decided to take the levers off.
I have new brakes on order to replace the awful stock ones and the levers will come off when the new brakes go on.

WRONGERCHI... Trying to navigate (or brake) on any sort of rough terrain from the "tops" is what I find really sketchy. Thanks again for your input.

KESTREL500... I knew who you meant.


Edited by: TOPAHI at: 1/26/2011 (01:47)
Tom

Riding a bike is FUN!
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Never argue with idiots... They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


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KESTREL500's Photo KESTREL500 Posts: 1,173
1/24/11 7:42 P

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My bad I knew it was Sheldon Brown don't know where I came up with that one!

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WONGERCHI's Photo WONGERCHI Posts: 3,889
1/24/11 4:27 P

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KESTREL:
It's Sheldon Brown (RIP). A true bike guru....

Don:
The reason why I suggest having the top mounted brake levers on for beginner CX riders is that they're normally scared witless by the terrain. This means that they'll ride on the tops rather than the hoods or drops because it's where "you" are generally the most comfortable. As you have to stop pretty sharpish in CX races otherwise you hit a tree, fall over into some mud or some such, having brake levers on the tops is a very good idea. This is also why CX beginners don't shift gears much.

However, once you have done a bit of CX and know what it's all about, you'll end up on the hoods or drops for most of the race. This is good because now you can shift and brake without having to move your hands. As a result, the top mounted brake levers become useless. And as weight is significant on a CX bike, it makes sense to take them off...

When riding on the road, how much time do you spend on the tops of the bars? Not a lot. You spend the most time on the hoods. And guess where the brake/shift levers are?

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If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.
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KESTREL500's Photo KESTREL500 Posts: 1,173
1/23/11 7:06 P

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This is what Sidney Sheldon had to say about "extension" or "suicide" levers

"Extension levers
In the early 1970s, many people bought bicycles with drop handlebars, for reasons of fashion, even though drop bars did not suit their casual riding style. Given the frame and stem designs commonly available at the time, it was generally impossible to get drop handlebars high enough up to allow a low-intensity rider to reach the drops comfortably.
The problem was worse for many women, whose shorter torso made it hard to reach forward to the drops. Though a taller handlebar stem with less forward reach might be installed, this often did not occur. Also, small hands could not comfortably grasp typical drop-bar brake levers of that time.

Dia Compe invented bolt-on extensions that allowed Weinmann-type brake levers to be operated from the tops and middle of the handlebars, making this type of bar bearable for casual cyclists, since they never had to use the drops. This was so popular that Weinmann traded licensing with Dia Compe, so that each could copy the other's products.

(Stem shifters were also popularized around the same time, and for the same reason.)

This system has several drawbacks:

The extension lever partially applied the main brake lever, reducing the available lever travel. Not all brands/models suffered from this, but the most common ones did.
The attachment hardware precluded the use of the top of the brake lever hood as a comfortable riding position.
They encouraged the practice of riding with the hands on the top, middle section of the bar, which is a position that doesn't give very secure control, especially on bumpy surfaces, because the hands are too close together.
The hardware that held the extension levers to the main levers was prone to fall off.
Other manufacturers produced similar systems, some of which addressed some of these difficulties.

Extension levers are sometimes known as "safety levers." Since many people believe they actually reduce safety, the slang terms "death grips", "suicide levers" and "turkey wings" are occasionally substituted.

In the early 21st century, an greatly improved system of "interrupter brake levers " appeared, with all of the advantages and none of the drawbacks of the older extension levers. These also have the advantage of being compatible with modern "śro" brake levers which work a lot better than the older style levers that had the cables coming out of the tops"



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TOPAHI's Photo TOPAHI SparkPoints: (14,026)
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1/23/11 1:07 P

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Hmmm.... seems that that they are useful for some.
I guess I'll give them a try for a few more rides and see if they prove useful.

Thank you everyone, for your replies.

Tom

Riding a bike is FUN!
The treadmill is NOT!

Never argue with idiots... They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


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DDOORN's Photo DDOORN Posts: 23,575
1/22/11 2:07 P

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Although I have a cyclocross bike I don't have a clue what cyclocross riding is or how it works. I simply use my Tricross as a road bike and have loved it for that purpose.

Perhaps there is something about cyclocross riding that makes the upper brakes superfluous...?

Don

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Don't die with your music still in you. -- Dr. Wayne Dyer

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." --- Carlos Castaneda

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." --- Buddha

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WONGERCHI's Photo WONGERCHI Posts: 3,889
1/22/11 1:29 P

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Never heard them called "suicide levers" before either.

I had a set that came stock on my first CX bike so I left them on for my first season. I never used them and then took them off at the end of the year and put them in a bag. 3 seasons and 1 bike later they are still in the same bag.

I can see the benefit of having them for a new cyclocross RACER as having another place to brake from in an emergency is always a good idea, especially when you're just starting to figure out CX racing. But once you do there's too much going on to actually use them! I can't see the benefit of them outside of racing at all.

In God we trust, all others bring data.
- W. Edwards Demings

If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.
-P.Z. Pearce

Specificity, specificity, specificity.
-Andy Coggan

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
- Frank Kotsonis


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JKLEINPT's Photo JKLEINPT Posts: 34
1/22/11 7:37 A

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I have to admit i use mine too...they are on my road bike (it was my first bike and I didn't know not alot of people had them until I joined a bike team to train for an event) but I'm more comfortable with my hands on top and not in the drops most of the time so its nice to have brakes up there...totally up to you. i think its just comfort and how you like to ride

Edited by: JKLEINPT at: 1/22/2011 (07:38)
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DDOORN's Photo DDOORN Posts: 23,575
1/22/11 5:50 A

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Hmmm...! Surprised me to hear that they were called that...! I use them all the time! In fact it took me a while after buying my Specialized Tricross in Feb. 2010 before I began using the other brakes on the dropdown section of the handlebars as I was reluctant to use the dropdowns initially.

The fellow at the LBS encouraged me to go with dropdown handlebars (as opposed to the straight or other types of handlebars typically found on hybrid, mountain or comfort bikes) in that they offer more variety of hand positions for the longer rides thereby avoiding either the boredom and / or the physical challenge of sitting on the bike in the same position for hours on end.

In time I followed his advice and have found that holding the handlebars in the middle "feels right" when I'm riding on flat or uphill stretches. In this case the "suicide brakes" are right there and very handily accessible.

The drops I have found to be my "go to" position either when I'm going downhill or when I'm going against a significant headwind and want to reduce my wind resistance.

There are exceptions to this but in general I DO find it to be helpful to vary my riding position and do this often on my rides. I had been leery of using drops at first, expecting the hunched over position to be tough on my back...which it can be were it not for the options of using the hoods or the more central position of my hands.

Whew...didn't mean to type a dissertation! :-)

Hope this makes sense...?

Don

Edited by: DDOORN at: 1/22/2011 (05:52)
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Don't die with your music still in you. -- Dr. Wayne Dyer

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same." --- Carlos Castaneda

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." --- Buddha

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TOPAHI's Photo TOPAHI SparkPoints: (14,026)
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1/22/11 2:36 A

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My new cyclocross bike came with "suicide brake levers" (I think the correct term is Interrupter Brake Levers).
Is anyone using these?
After a few rides I have found them to be sort of... useless.

Am I missing something?
Is there a specific riding style or technique that lends itself to using them?
I thought I would ask before I go through the hassle of removing them.

Any experience or advice is greatly appreciated.

Tom

Riding a bike is FUN!
The treadmill is NOT!

Never argue with idiots... They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


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