Dual Control Brakes

melliff Posts: 63
edited April 2008 in Road beginners
I'm thinking of getting my first road bike. My partner has a Specialized Dolce and it has dual brake levers, the traditional levers on the outside of the handlebars and a second set either side of the stem. I'm not sure what these are called but not many road bikes that I've looked at seem to have them. What's the current thinking: are they worth having? Can they be fitted as extras to bikes that don't have them?



  • whyamihere
    whyamihere Posts: 7,702
    They're more common on cyclocross and commuter bikes. Whether they're worth fitting is entirely up to you. If you'll mostly be doing fast miles/racing, they're not worth it. However, if you commute or just ride for leisure, then they allow another hand position while having easy access to the brakes. Normally when you have your hands on the flat tops of the bars, you can't reach the brakes, which can be quite dangerous. They solve this problem.

    They can be fitted as extras too, a job for your local bike shop unless you're quite good with a spanner already.
  • doobie919
    doobie919 Posts: 119
    My bike has them, and I love em for just going around town.

    I've found though that both brakes are weaker than on my last road bike, could this be because of the extra levers? Or do you think a simple tightening will be in order.
    2007 Fuji Newest 3.0.
    Cateye Velo 5 Computer

    2009 Mongoose Subject BMX
    Sky blue tires
    New seatpost and seat ( made by pivotal)
  • rhext
    rhext Posts: 1,639
    I had them on my Specialized Tricross, which I mostly use for commuting. I had them removed at the earliest opportunity. While admittedly useful, I found they got in the way of my hands when in my 'knackered' riding position. So if you're going to get some, check that they don't interfere with one of your habitual handlebar positions. I've not missed them once!
  • scapaslow
    scapaslow Posts: 305
    I've often heard these referred to as "suicide levers" :!: - though this name comes (hopefully) from earlier versions. I have an old Raleigh racer from the 80's with these and they should never be used in an emergency. The problem is that you get used to using them if you like an upright position and forget about the main levers.
    I'm sure that modern ones are better but i'd rely on the main levers for any heavy duty braking.
  • Bugly
    Bugly Posts: 520
    With most gear levers integrated into the brake lever not too sure that its a big deal - its most likely that you ride with your hands on the hoods.

    The old style extensions that attach to the actual lever were total crap very much sucide levers. The additional lever as shown in the wiggle add is more effective but it will reduce the 'feel' of the brake.

    Riding on the tops of the bars is great as an alternative when riding up hills in the saddle - but suddenly reaching for the brake is not likely in this position but its not a great general positon as this tends to make the bike less stable at speed due to your weight distribution.

    With experience you will find that you will ride most of the time on the hoods of the brakes as it gives a nice stretched positon that is reasonably aero but allows your weight to be distributed between the saddle and bars, for fast riding especially descending you will tuck in and sit with you hands on the bend of the drops, taking more weignt through the seat and legs but allowing you to tuck down and stay aero but reach brakes.

    The actual drops (bottom) of the bar are used when sprinting or applying more power to your pedal stroke as you pull up on the bars.

    The tops are not used that often when not climbing.

    So the extra levers - in my opinion not required on the road, your postion on the bike would not allow you to get maximum brake power the reduced feel would make braking less safe and would also be in the way when changing positons anyway.

  • I remember the `suicide' levers from the old days. I have to confess that I'm not entirely sure why the modern incarnation isn't seen as dangerous. Or is it?

    PS. I have them. They seem to work OK but, as others have pointed out, I mostly ride with my hands over the brake hoods, so I don't use them much.
  • Lucky Luke
    Lucky Luke Posts: 402
    I've got a pair for sale , if you're interested PM me .
  • andy610
    andy610 Posts: 602
    ive got them on my trek pilot 1.0 they are very handy have saved me a few times
  • the couple of times i've ridden a road bike (my new one had the fork damaged in transit so still waiting..) i've found braking from the hoods pretty difficult - not very much leverage and so took quite a while to stop (not fun in traffic)

    was i using the wrong hand position or is this standard?

    both were sora btw, mine will be veloce if that makes any difference.
  • TomF
    TomF Posts: 494
    These are so-called "interrupter" levers, and operate differently from the old suicide levers.

    Rather than being a bending addition to the existing brake lever which forms part of the STI, these are effectively part of the brake cable outer on its way to the front or rear brakes. By actioning the lever, the length of the outer is changed, which causes the brake to activate.

    Cross bikes often (but not always) have them because they offer a different position. Most road bikes do not have them, since the manufacturers assume you will do your braking from the hoods or drops. Some women specific road bikes have them since STI levers can be difficult to operate with small hands - Mrs TomF struggles on her road bikefor the same reason (Sora STIs are still too big for her hands) and so we'll have some interrupters fitted to make braking easier. It's unlilely she'll hit the warp speeds that might require the greater leverage of braking from the drops.

    Oh, Bugly, I'd take issue with the assertion that the tops are really only used when climbing. Unless I'm riding in the drops (whether just moving quickly on the flat, into a headwind or downhill), I'll interchange between the hoods and the tops when riding along the flat. The tops are also used when getting really aero when descending.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    TomF wrote:
    Oh, Bugly, I'd take issue with the assertion that the tops are really only used when climbing.

    I also use the tops when I'm descending and I'm too knackered to be bothered getting aero and using the drops.
    I like bikes...

  • TomF
    TomF Posts: 494
    also use the tops when I'm descending and I'm too knackered to be bothered getting aero and using the drops.

    When you're built like me and ride in hills, the only time you get to go quick is downhill! 97kmh is the record....