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Trouble reaching brake levers from handle bar drop(22 posts)

Trouble reaching brake levers from handle bar dropgakster
Aug 26, 2002 10:08 AM
Hi all

As I slowing dial in my 1st road bike in 12 years, I am finding that I am having problems reaching my Campy Veloce Ergo brake levers when I am riding on the drops.

I have smaller hands and I find that the levers are too far for me to have good modulation & control.

I am starting to learn that different handle bars have different 'drop' & 'reach'. I understand 'drop' but what exactly is 'reach'.

For my fingers to get closer to the brake levers do I automatically buy the one that has the lowest 'reach' eg Salsa Short & Shallow ?

My set-up is Deda Elementi 250 Anatomic and Campy Veloce Ergo levers.

Not my area of expertise, but...Silverback
Aug 26, 2002 12:14 PM
I can palm a basketball, so this is a problem I haven't had. But I think the reach you need to be concerned about is that of the levers, not the bar.
I don't know about those Campys, but many have reach adjustments--you can adjust how close they sit to the bar when nobody's squeezing them. You might also be able to gain a little by moving them slightly on the bars--if they're sitting partway up the bend, try sliding them down a hair and see if that moves the free end of the lever closer. You might want to rotate the bar afterward to bring the hoods back up where they belong.
There's also some variation among different models and brands of levers. If nothing else works, you might just have to go out and measure to see what fits. I think Georgena Terry ( carries some short-reach levers for her women's bikes.
Not my area of expertise, but...RIGHTRusty Coggs
Aug 26, 2002 12:27 PM
Terrys are not ergo/STI.Never saw an adjustable ergo/sti either.Terry does make a bar with indents behind the drops that shortens the reach a bit.More pad to rim clearance makes the initial pull a bit easier.Different positiomn on the bar may help.You CAN even rotate your hand to get more reach.
Never seen adjustable STI?TJeanloz
Aug 26, 2002 12:41 PM
The blade on Sora levers is adjustable to accomodate smaller hands.

I once had the opportunity to kibbitz with Shimano's head engineering honchos about their products, and one of the things asked was why they didn't make their levers adjustable. We can blame none other than Ralph Nader, who, in his role as a consumer advocate, convinced the CPSC to pass a regulation requiring that brake levers have a miniumum amount of 'pull' before they hit the handlebar. With STI/ergo, which have an inner lever, this means that the outer lever needs to be quite far from the bar. Sora has no inner lever, so they were able to make it adjustable.

I have heard a rumor that for 2003 Shimano has somehow added adjustability to Ultegra and 105; but until Interbike, it's just a rumor.
Never seen adjustable STI?grzy
Aug 26, 2002 1:43 PM
Not such a bad idea considering the vast number of people who don't know how to adjust their brakes, but expect them to stop them anyhow. If you're going to have a failure or short coming it should default to the "safe" side of things - that's just good engineering. Think of how many people would be complaining, crashing and succesfully suing if things were the other way around. Shimano has reach adjustment on MTB levers (XT and XTR) so they aren't a bunch of dummies sitting in the dark.
Adjustable Sora...interesting .....Rusty Coggs
Aug 26, 2002 1:49 PM
...but that does explain why I've never seen one.And, shimano even tells us that in their little 2002 componenets booklet.
Sora......who really cares?grzy
Aug 26, 2002 4:56 PM
Do they come with those cheater brake levers too?

Just a thought.
won't get much better...C-40
Aug 26, 2002 1:27 PM
The "reach" dimension on handlebars has nothing to due with reaching the levers. The "reach" measures the distance the curved drop section is ahead of the centerline of the bars, in the horizontal direction. A bar with more reach will have the same effect as a longer stem.

The Deda anatomic bars will place the levers about as close to the bars as anything on the market, if the levers are properly positioned on the bars. With Deda bars, the straight section of bar (near the ends) should be set very close to horizontal, not rotated to point the ends toward the rear axle, as sometimes recommended.

The top portion of the brake hood should also be nearly horizontal or tilted up a few degrees at most. If you move the levers too far up on the bar, the reach to the levers will increase dramatically.

I have the same problem. I've found the Deda and ITM anatomics to be very similar in reach to the levers. The Easton EC-90's that I'm using now have a greater reach to the levers.

Heavily padded gloves make the problem worse. I quit wearing gloves several years ago to reduce this problem.
Thanks. I'll try to move the shifters around.gakster
Aug 26, 2002 2:01 PM
I've heard that the 3T Morphe is good for small hands. The would be my next step.

Pict : Is this position correct ?gakster
Aug 26, 2002 2:09 PM
Are the angles correct ?
looks textbook. which almost certainly means that it needsbill
Aug 26, 2002 3:08 PM
adjusting, because nobody is textbook.
Differently bent bars are going to render different positions regardless of the numbers. My ITM Millenium bars have nominally less reach than my TTT bars, but they feel further because of the way that the bars are bent -- the first acute bend of the anatomic part comes at a different spot.
The problem could be the overall reach, which even could be adjusted with a stem change, but that's a bit drastic. I think that trying angling the bars up a little (pointing the ends more toward the rear axle) and sliding the levers down could be a good one and could make the levers easier to reach. But, depending on where the most acute angle for the anatomic bend is, the change could make the distance worse rather than better (see what I mean?). Hard to say without trying it.
looks close...C-40
Aug 27, 2002 4:37 PM
but it's hard to tell from the angle that this picture was taken. Needs to be straight on from the side. It's best to use a scale and take accurate measurements from the front of the bars to a sharp edge on the inner part of the lever to find the point where the levers are as close as possible. I never let the top portion of the hood (where the plam rests) go below horizontal. A downward angle will place weight on the crook of your thumb. It's likely to be uncomfortable.
problem is not the levers but the barscolker
Aug 26, 2002 3:55 PM
i have small hands too and the campy levers work fine.
deda will have a somewhta big drop and long reach IF you have small hands.
try the salsa shallow and it will probably work. you could also measure yourself and check if the stem length is right for you. what do youo have there? 11cm? 10.5? go down 1 cm and see how it works.
Try changing barsMGS
Aug 26, 2002 5:31 PM
I have a size 7 glove/small. I have tried many bars including the morphe and salsa poco. The best result, for me was the TTT Prima 199 bars. Look up the reach and drop of the bar you buy. They are all different. The greater the reach and the larger the drop, the more difficult to reach the brake levers. The Prima 199 bar has the smallest drop and shortest reach of all standard bars.

Also, I rotate my bars up to bring the hoods off from the strictly horozontal position that your bars are at. That gives the ergo bend a slight uptilt, giving an easier reach to the brakes.

Bars are like seats, everyone has one but they are all different.
Thanks. I wear size 7 gloves too. I just may have togakster
Aug 27, 2002 9:33 AM
drop $$$$ on a 3T Prima if all else fail.
not sure about Campy, but for Shimano...rockbender
Aug 26, 2002 5:42 PM
see my post a while back for a Shimano fix.
rockbender "Having trouble reaching brake levers." 8/1/02 11:46pm

Not sure about the Campy setup, but I thought there was some sort of reach adjustment in there.

good luck!
re: Trouble reaching brake levers from handle bar droptarwheel
Aug 27, 2002 4:27 AM
You might want to try some Ritchey WCS bars. My hands are not real big and I can reach the shifters from the drops using my WCS bars with no trouble. Go to your bikeshop and they should have a book that lists all the dimensions for bars -- reach, drop, etc. -- and compare your current bar to other models. You used to be able to get this sort of information from the website, but they have redesigned the site and I'm not sure if they list these sorts of dimensions for components any more.
more infortarwheel
Aug 27, 2002 4:43 AM
I just checked the website, and they do still list the dimensions for bars. Your Deda 250 bars have a drop/reach of 144/87. For comparison, the Ritchey WCS bars have a drop/reach of 144/82 -- so your Deda bars definitely have a longer reach. Go to this website, and you can compare different models and brands. As others mentioned, Salsa makes some bars like the Poco with shorter than usual drop and reach.
reach is irrelevant...C-40
Aug 27, 2002 4:30 PM
The reach dimension has nothing to do with being able to reach the brake levers while riding in the drops. It the shape of the bend that determines how close the levers will be.
re: Trouble reaching brake levers from handle bar dropslasher
Aug 27, 2002 4:56 AM
I disagree with much of what is written above. You want the bars with the deepest drop available! Let me explain.
The distance the levers are from the bar is determined by the severity of the angle the bars are bent (the radius of the curve, if you like). With a short radius curve - a shallow drop, the part of the bar where you grab is a long way from the levers. With a deep drop bar, the curve is 'slower', thus the levers are closer to the bar where you grab.
I believe almost everyone would benefit from a deep drop bar with a long reach or throw (try the deda newton deep)! With the dops set up nicely for your level of flexibility (with the levers near the fingers :-)), you sit up a little higher when on the hoods in a pack, and when you're seated climbing the bar is just that little bit higher and closer. In other words, you get three distinctly different positions with the one set-up.

Just my 2c
re: Trouble reaching brake levers from handle bar dropclintb
Aug 28, 2002 9:01 AM
Before you go off and spend money on what may not even fix your problem, do this.

Unwrap the bar tape.
Loosen the lever fixing bolts. Enough so that the levers can be slid around on the bars with some effort.
Loosen the handlebar bolts so you can rotate the bars.
Keep all the bolts snug, but not super tight.
If you have a trainer, put your bike on it and a block to raise the front wheel same amount as the rear.
Get on bike and simulate riding.
Move levers and bar around until you either find a good position, or determine you need different bars.

As others have said, reach will not really have anything to do with your problem. Reach is how far out the bars come from the centerline at the bar/stem interface. The curvature of the bars and drop will have more effect than anything else.
I have made my Ultegras adjustable...TFerguson
Aug 28, 2002 1:49 PM
I had to switch from Campy to Shimano to do this, but you can easily drill and tap the upper plastic and put a screw in from the bottom. It is best to flatten the screw head on an angle so that the contact area is flat. The pictures are from pre-flattened design. I'm still working on other solutions.
You can play with different bars and lever postions all you want. They will not give you the kind of change you need.