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Short reach Campy brake levers...(4 posts)

Short reach Campy brake levers...C-40
Dec 9, 2003 5:53 PM
Since I had no luck posting the complete instructions for modifying Ergo levers to reduce their reach, I'll try again. Hopefully, all 8 steps will show up.


I've got short fingers and always struggled to reach the brake levers with Campy Ergo levers. I tried several different bars, but found that none reduced the reach more than 3mm at best. I improved the situation by setting the brake cables fairly loose. This allows some movement of the lever, to get a better grasp, without creating any braking action. While this was an improvement, I found it uncomfortable to partially compress the levers for long periods as required on technical mountain descents. I've found a fairly easy method to solve this problem.

The Campy levers have a lot more travel than necessary to operate the brakes. Before starting this modification, adjust the brake cables so the levers are only 1/8" to 1/4" away from the bars with the brakes fully applied. Just don't set the cables so loose that the levers hit the bars and can't apply full braking power!

Campy brake levers use the quick release pin (in the lever) as a lever stop. To bring the levers closer to the bars, the area behind the pin-rest merely needs to be "built-up". I used 5-minute epoxy glue to build up the pin-rest area on the ergo lever body. Once this modification is done the new resting position will be the same as when the levers were compressed about 1/2 inch. If you object to the "look" of the lever with the top edge slightly protruding in front of the body, then don't consider this modification. Personally, I think most folks would have to look closely to notice the difference. For me, the improvement was well worth the effort and I don't object to the look of the lever in the resting position.


The required tools and materials to build-up the ergo lever body with epoxy are:

120 grit sandpaper, miniature sanding drum
acetone or lacquer thinner
masking tape
5-minute epoxy glue
toothpicks or jewelers screwdriver (to apply epoxy)
rags or paper towels
small electric drill or "Dremel" tool
single-edge razor blade, Xacto knife, or utility knife

1. Push the brake release pin into the released position.

2. Clean the area where the quick release pin rests with acetone to remove any dirt or grease.

3. Place a small piece of masking tape on the brake lever to cover the area adjacent to the pin-rest, to avoid getting glue on the lever. Additional masking can be done on the lever body to prevent adhesive from contacting the lever body, if desired.

4. Lightly sand the pin-rest area to provide a rough surface for good adhesion of the epoxy. This can be done by rolling up a small piece of 120-grit sandpaper to the approximate diameter of the pin and sanding by hand. The rolled-up sandpaper can also be placed in a drill to sand the area quickly (but gently). Those who own a Dremel tool may have a miniature sanding drum than would work even better. I also chose to drill a very shallow 1/16 inch hole in the center of the pin-rest area to create a "post" from epoxy that may improve adhesion of the built-up material. This may be overkill, but it was simple to do and only took about a minute.

5. When all the above preparation is complete, the bike must be stood up so the pin-rest area is pointing straight up (if the ergo levers are mounted on the bike). If the bike is mounted in a workstand , this is easy.

6. Mix a small amount of 5-minute epoxy and apply a large "drop" to the bottom of each of the pin-rest areas. Use a toothpick or jewelers screwdriver to apply the glue. Try to keep the glue away from the brake lever, but if it flows into it, don't worry. The masking tape on the brake lever will prevent the glue from attaching to the lever. With 5-minute glue you have to work quickly or the glue will get tacky and string from the applicator, cr
here's the rest of my post !!!C-40
Dec 9, 2003 5:55 PM
7. After the glue has hardened (at least 30 minutes) check to see if glue appears stuck to the masking tape on the brake levers, or has run into the small gap between the lever and the body. If it has, use an Xacto knife or double edge razor blade to carefully cut a gap between the lever and the body. It's best to do this before the glue sets really hard. When this is complete, the brake lever should be free to move without disturbing the built-up epoxy on the pin-rest.

8. After the epoxy has cured more completely (2 hours), push the brake release pin into it's normal position and check the lever position when at rest. If enough epoxy was applied the lever should protrude in front of the lever body (where "10 SPEED" or "CARBON-BB SYSTEM" is written). Measuring from the front of the lever body to the front edge of the brake lever, the protrusion should be much more than 1/8 inch, otherwise the total travel of the brake lever will be reduced too much. This amount reduces the reach to the brake lever from the drops by about 1/2 inch. The amount of lever protrusion can be much less if a full 1/2 inch reduction in reach is not needed. I use a 1-inch diameter dowel rod as a gage to place between the bars and the shift lever. This is the absolute minimum distance that I would recommend to leave sufficient travel for proper brake operation. If too little epoxy was applied, the levers may not be as close to the bars as desired. If this is the case, repeat steps 4-7 to add thickness. If too much epoxy was applied, use the rolled sandpaper, mounted in the drill, or a miniature sanding drum in a Dremel tool, to sand away some of the epoxy. Be sure to remask the brake lever to prevent scarring the lever during the sanding process. The sanding process should be done slowly to avoid removing too much material and having to repeat steps 4-7. On the second pair that I modified, I got one side sanded to the proper depth quickly, but the other side took about 8 iterations of the sanding and checking process to get it match the other lever. It was still faster than reapplying more epoxy (steps 4-7).
Why not just change the bars?(nm)AFred
Dec 11, 2003 7:03 AM
won't help....C-40
Dec 11, 2003 8:37 AM
You can try any bar you want and there won't be a difference of more than 1/8 inch in the reach to the levers.

I've tried Deda 215, Easton EC-90, ITM Pro 220 and Salsa Poco bars and there's very little difference. The modified lever is a huge improvement.