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Women's handlebar-brake lever problems(9 posts)

Women's handlebar-brake lever problemsMarlon
Apr 12, 2001 5:10 PM
Posting this for a friend...

PROBLEM: She can't reach her brake levers from her drops. She's got traditional bars (no anatomical bends or anything), traditional road brake levers (pre-STI or Ergopower) mounted with the bottom of the levers flush with the bottom of the drops, and just has really small hands. Braking from the hoods is fine, just not when she's down. She's also short, rides ~48-50cm bike.

Any solutions? The ones I've found - short reach brake levers by Dia-compe, and there's apparently a short-reach, shallow-bend handlebar made by Terry. Any other solutions out there?
re: Women's handlebar-brake lever problemsSydnie
Apr 13, 2001 6:51 AM
Try setting the brakes up with a bit more clearance between the pads and rims. This way the first part of the lever pull is easy, but you still get maximum braking effect just before the lever hits the bar. Works for me.I have also used terry bars and short reach levers, and they do help.
And another twistKerry Irons
Apr 14, 2001 6:20 AM
You can try installing a thin (1-2 mm) wedge of material where the "top" of the brake lever hits the overlapping front section of the hood. This has the effect of partly closing the lever, bringing the lower end of the lever closer to the bar. This make be just enough to bring the lever in reach. You don't need to worry about lost stopping power due to less lever travel, as for a light rider, there's still plenty of room left. While some people adjust their brakes for minimal rim clearance, I keep mine wide enough to remove a 25mm tire without opening the brake quick release, and even with my 180 lbs, there's plenty of lever travel/stopping power.
Suggestions from a guy with a 5'0" wife...Cory
Apr 13, 2001 7:34 AM
Um, yes, we're familiar with that problem...
Terry probably has something that will work for her. You might also try mustache bars ( is one source), but my wife didn't like them for rides of more than a few miles because there's no position equivalent to riding on the tops.
Not sure if this is still true now that everything's Shimano, but there used to be a lot of variation among different models, too. My wife's backup bike has Suntour levers I got at a swap that are almost 3/4-inch closer to the bars than the Shimanos that came on it. They're at least 10 years old, though, so you'd just have to luck into them.
re: Women's handlebar-brake lever problemssamcat
Apr 13, 2001 2:53 PM

1) Terry non ergo bars will help a bunch...use thinner tape at the drops...
2) Lower the levers about 5mm below the bar really well
3) Put a thin piece of adhesive backed cork on the lever tops...squeeze each lever and hold, then put the cork on the top surface... to move the lever in (and toward the bar) a bit...very carefully...

Good luck!

re: Another considerationWesley
Apr 14, 2001 6:44 AM
....some single pivots have very strong return springs. switching them out for weaker springs or finding calipers with less strong springs can make the brakes easier to operate for small hands.
re: Women's handlebar-brake lever problemsRipley
Apr 14, 2001 6:53 AM
I had the same problem and found some help from this web site:

The Web site author mentioned a handlebar with a shorter reach to the brake levers. (the 3T Morphe handlebar). I bought the handlebars from Excel Sports and have been very happy with them.

Hope this helps
Thanks all! You've been a great help! (nm)Marlon
Apr 14, 2001 12:17 PM
re: Women's handlebar-brake lever problemsIan
Apr 14, 2001 12:27 PM
Maybe she could upgrade to Sora STI. They are adjustable reach levers.