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Unusual question... need your help.(16 posts)

Unusual question... need your help.The Human G-Nome
Sep 9, 2003 8:21 AM
.i have a friend who lost half the length of all of her fingers (severe frostbite) in a climbing accident on Mount Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, 10 years ago. she loves road biking, but descents are a nightmare because braking is so difficult. does anyone have any suggestion on what she might do in the way of a new roadbike and specifically, brakes. is there a product that can be customized to help her out? any and all suggestions welcome.

re: Unusual question... need your help.TimA
Sep 9, 2003 8:33 AM
Shimano does make short reach levers now, basically they put shims in their ultegra levers to keep them partially "on". What I did for my fiance was just superglue some rubber pieces into the lever so they cannot fully extend. Maybe that would be enough. I have plans to drill and tap her levers so that they will be continuously adjustable. Other than that, I would say some custom machining of a new lever would be in order.
re: Unusual question... need your help.CurtSD
Sep 9, 2003 8:40 AM
You might take a look at bar-top levers that are used for cyclocross (see These provide a second set of levers for each brake, and the levers tend to be shorter than normal levers. You might even be able to mount one in a position that would allow her to use her thumb on the brake lever.
the only wayandy02
Sep 9, 2003 8:43 AM
I think the only real way would be to use old school shifters and have custom brakes made from someone like brewbikes etc. Also you may find a OT that would be willing to help design them.
re: Unusual question... need your help.MJ
Sep 9, 2003 8:45 AM
checl out the cross levers - lots of cyclocross guys (and gals) use them - it'd at least give her another position to brake from and may have a shorter reach
Check out this link for "Runkle Brake Levers"...BrianNYC
Sep 9, 2003 8:48 AM
Maybe they could be modified for a shorter reach if not the right size already.

I think there is a better picture in their paper catalog, where the reach appeared to be shorter.
Bar top Brakes.......CARBON110
Sep 9, 2003 9:04 AM
Are now super light and very functional. I think with a combination of some tricky rubber stops in the sti and adjusting the brakes themselves carefully this can be over come. I think Colorado sports has a bar top brake levers that are 70$ and 40 grams. they spread apart the brake housing which tightens up the brake cable and allows you to use your sti brakes AS WELL!
Maybe an obvious solutionlotterypick
Sep 9, 2003 9:08 AM
What about her using a coaster brake like on little kids bikes.
ideal candidate for a fixte - nmMJ
Sep 9, 2003 9:16 AM
Outside of the box solutionboyd2
Sep 9, 2003 10:16 AM
This idea is pretty wacky, but what about mounting a brake lever on the top tube to be activated by squeezing her knee? It is so crazy it just might work!

Other note. If it is her right hand (power braking hand) that is injured switch the brake cables so that the front wheel = left brake. I have a MTB friend that has a deformed right hand (birth defect). He does this on his bikes so that he can use the good hand on the front brake.
re: Unusual question... need your help.Fatnslow
Sep 9, 2003 10:41 AM
I've been thinking about this for a litle while and perhap there is another solution to the ones mentioned.

How about getting a cyclocross brake and mounting it directly under and slightly to the right of the left side lever, in effect giving her left hand control of both brakes. With some practice, both brakes can be activated with one hand simultaneously (sp).

This would, in effect, relegate the original lever to simple shifting duties, in which case, it can be pinned in a fixed position so it can only move side-to-side AND be close to the drop.

I've seen a similar setup on a mountain bike and it seemed to work quite well.
My apologiesFatnslow
Sep 9, 2003 10:42 AM
I misread your original post and though she only lost the fingers on her right hand.
Atherton Bikes?StewartK
Sep 9, 2003 11:06 AM
You might want to try Atherton Bikes at

They are a custom bike manufacturer that specializes in bicycles for people of extremely short stature (often with small hands). But their greater objective appears to be to make cycling accessible to as many people as possible regardless of physical limitations. Their phone number and e-mail address are on their website.
Another "out-of-the-box" idea...timfire
Sep 9, 2003 3:31 PM
Since you mentioned descents it made me think of tandems. Tandems often have a drag-brake setup that's activated by a bar-end shifter. Setting up her back brake like this might help (possibly in conjuction with a top-mount brake, so she doesn't lose normal function of the brake)?

Just an idea...

The bar end shifter could be set up pointing up....bicyclerepairman
Sep 9, 2003 6:08 PM
so downward pressure from the heel of the hand would actuate the brake. I know a bicycle shop owner in San Francisco who did this on the front brake of his single speed (or was it fixed gear)...he thought eliminating the brake lever made the whole bike look cleaner...Perhaps this could be done in combination with a coaster brake rear hub. If you go this route, see if its feasible to modify the shifter to use the thicker brake cable...safer, in my opinion. Good luck.
Thanks to all who repliedThe Human G-Nome
Sep 9, 2003 5:56 PM
it's a difficult task, no doubt. she actually has cyclcross brakes on her hybrid right now, but she's looking to buy a new roadbike and in doing so, a better solution. it seems like something could be rigged for the knee... the most interesting response in my mind. either that, or customize the brakes so they are VERY close to the bars and have VERY little play. thanks again to all who responded.