Finding it hard to brake from the hoods

Scissure Posts: 7
edited April 2018 in Workshop
Hi guys
I recently got drop bars installed on my bike. However I'm using vintage road brake levers and I'm finding it hard to brake effectively from the hoods. When I'm cycling, I find it hard to come to a complete stop as the brake distance is too long. I also realised the reach is a tad bit far from the hoods.

Attached is some pictures of my brake levers and me attempting to show my hand applying the brake levers, do you guys have any tips on how I can lighten the tension on the brake levers yet maintain an effective braking distance from the hoods?

Thanks guys


  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,515
    judging by the last image, i'd say you have the bars pointing way down and the levers fitted too far up the bars

    there's no 'right' way, ultimately it's preference, but i'd have the bars adjusted so that the top is level, move the levers forward so that there's a much smoother transition from the bars to the lever, for instance...


    it's also possible that the levers/brakes aren't designed with the same pull ratio, if you post exactly what you've got someone may be able to advise if that's the case
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Scissure
    Scissure Posts: 7
    Hey sungod

    Thank you very much for your reply. If I have to readjust the levels of my levers and stuff, it means I have to unwrap the bar wrap right? Does it matter if it is adhesive? Can I reuse the bar tape?

    I also went to my local bike shop and they helped me tighten the brake cables so it takes less distance to brake, however the brakes are tight and they are not as comfortable as i thought they would be. I'm new to this road bike set up thats why I'm not very sure what to expect or how to deal with tight brake levers

    Thanks a lot.
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,515
    unwrap only as much of the tape as needed to move things, some tape can tear easily, others are stronger, go easy and it should be ok - the tape looks a bit like cinelli tape, if so that should be straightforward to undo/rewrap

    if the levers/brakes match it should be possible to adjust for pretty much full travel with good modulation of brake force, if they don't match and only part of the lever travel is used for full braking force then the levers will feel much harder
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Scissure
    Scissure Posts: 7
    I dont really understand what you mean by "if the levers/brakes match".

  • svetty
    svetty Posts: 1,904
    Ultimately brakes from that era just aren't as effective as modern designs. No amount of adjustment will render them powerful with moderate effort.
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • Scissure
    Scissure Posts: 7
    Thank you for your replies, I just came back from my local bike store. I decided to change my brake levers to modern brake levers. That should make it easier on my hands and fingers when I'm braking right?

    Thanks guys!
  • Scissure
    Scissure Posts: 7
    Btw I managed to find these brakes online 2nd hand. The guy says he is willing to go as low as $60 for these: Shimano Claris 3x8 Shifter/Brake Lever.

    Would these be able to work on my bike?

  • Those probably will work as brakes. They probably won't work for shifting gears. Something like this will be more suitable and cheaper: ... B000F5LLWG

    But from what I can tell it isn't necessarily the levers. You've got cantilever brakes and those can be problematic to set up.
    Refer to this: ... djustment/
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    you have canti lever brakes and the height of the straddle hanger does affect the mechanical leverage. however given the type of canti you have asjusting that wont make too much difference. While moving the bars and lever may allow you to grasp the levers better changing to modern levers wont change a thing (or it should not). You may just have rubbish brakes and old cantis are bit compared to modern dual pivot designs and with those some are alot better than others. -wheel building and other stuff.
  • Scissure
    Scissure Posts: 7
    Thanks a lot guys for your help.
    In the end I got a set of Tektro RL340 brake levers and it's working great!

    These were the brake levers I was recommended by my local bike shop :)
    I feel much more confident braking from the hoods now!