Author Topic: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)  (Read 8456 times)

Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« on: April 11, 2008, 11:04:40 am »
There are, I hear, special magic wedges that you can use to reduce the reach on Shimano brake levers. How would I go about finding them? My wiggle-fu is not all it should be today. And how would I go about installing them? I'm not scared of taking things apart, but do you need a selection of special tools or anything?

(When I am on the hoods the reach is fine, but on the drops only my fingertips can reach the brakes, so I'm reluctant to use the drops if I am whizzing at speed, and whizzing at speed is the best time to be using them.)

Charlotte

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2008, 11:45:29 am »
I think they're only for Shimano STIs, Marna - you have bar-end gear levers, don't you?  Having seen the set that my friend Corrine (one of the Bike Whisperers) has done on her bike, I was very impressed.  Apparently, she "double shims" using both of the two different bits of plastic you can buy to get the lever even closer than Shimano originally intended.

Corrine is a mine of information for women's specific kit.  Give her a ring or drop her an email through the site  :)
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Biggsy

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2008, 11:48:35 am »
What make & model of bars do you have?  The shape can make a big difference to the reach to the levers from the drops.  There are some that are made to minimise this - from Deda and Terry, for example.
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Velvet

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2008, 11:56:02 am »
Soddit, I'm de-cloaking :)

I've PM'd Marna with some info but would like to add that not only the bars but also the position of the shifters on the bars makes a big difference too as to how easy it is to get more than fingertips to the levers.

No amount of fiddling with the position would have sorted it for me though, I did need the shims, and had to buy the right shifters to take them as the old STI's wouldn't.  I have small hands but didn't double-shim, I'd have lost some of the braking power despite lots of adjustment.

Spent forever setting up the position of shifters on bars and it was well worth doing it, even though I did have to re-tape twice in the end.

Biggsy

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2008, 12:00:42 pm »
After a Google I'm not sure Terry make handlebars any more  :(

There is the Deda 4 Girls one "designed by women for women".  It may help, despite having an "anatomical" shape which does increase reach.  Maybe they've done something else to counter it?

www.dedaelementi.com/cat_racing.asp
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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 12:03:24 pm »
After a Google I'm not sure Terry make handlebars any more  :(

There is the Deda 4 Girls one "designed by women for women".  It may help, despite having an "anatomical" shape which does increase reach.  Maybe they've done something else to counter it?

www.dedaelementi.com/cat_racing.asp

I seem to recall from previous discussions of this nature elsewhere that 3T Morphe bars are quite good for the smaller hand and brake lever reach.   

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 12:04:22 pm »
I think they're only for Shimano STIs, Marna - you have bar-end gear levers, don't you?  Having seen the set that my friend Corrine (one of the Bike Whisperers) has done on her bike, I was very impressed.  Apparently, she "double shims" using both of the two different bits of plastic you can buy to get the lever even closer than Shimano originally intended.

Corrine is a mine of information for women's specific kit.  Give her a ring or drop her an email through the site  :)

Yes - bar ends. Boo! A smidge of the reason for getting bar ends was that the smaller lever would make reach problems less of an issue. And this has worked to an extent - I couldn't reach the brakes at all on most of the bikes I looked at.

I wonder how bodgeable this is?

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2008, 12:06:04 pm »
After a Google I'm not sure Terry make handlebars any more  :(

There is the Deda 4 Girls one "designed by women for women".  It may help, despite having an "anatomical" shape which does increase reach.  Maybe they've done something else to counter it?

www.dedaelementi.com/cat_racing.asp
The Deda4Girls is quite good, but still not as good as the 3T Morphe Bars. But they are tricky to find online. Wiggle ran out, IIRC.

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 12:10:16 pm »
What make & model of bars do you have?  The shape can make a big difference to the reach to the levers from the drops.  There are some that are made to minimise this - from Deda and Terry, for example.

I don't know! Isn't that rubbish? The bike receipt is at home, though - I can consult it later. The person who fitted the bike in Condor tried several before finding ones that were little enough, so I suspect I already have small-pawed bars. (And they are incredibly comfortable in every other way.)

Velvet

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 12:12:58 pm »


I wonder how bodgeable this is?

I've seen other people's accounts of bodging, and it seems quite successful.  Does need much care though, because once you've adjust the braking for the fact that the levers are closer to the bars (and your hands expect them to be there too) if you lose a shim then suddenly the lever's further away, and the brakes also take a lot longer before they start to bite when you apply them.

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 12:16:56 pm »
I have the Shimano short reach levers and Deda 4 Girls bars on one bike, and Campag levers with 3T Morphe on another bike.
I prefer the Campag and Morphe set up.
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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 12:21:35 pm »
Spent forever setting up the position of shifters on bars and it was well worth doing it, even though I did have to re-tape twice in the end.

Maybe this would be a good place to start fiddling, then? I'd really rather not have to get new *anything*, and I reckon another centimetre of finger-on-bar would make the difference in me being confident about reaching them.

Looking at the bike, actually, I think this might do it. Moving them down a smidge will adjust the angle that they're at by a fair amount.

Oh noes, though, re-taping the bars! I haven't done that since I was fifteen, and I made a right mess of it then. (I wish I had decided this *before* the bike's six-week service.)

Biggsy

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2008, 12:25:45 pm »
I seem to recall from previous discussions of this nature elsewhere that 3T Morphe bars are quite good for the smaller hand and brake lever reach.

3T Morphe are definitely better at reducing reach than average modern bars.  (I have average man-size hands, but still I enjoy a short reach too).  I was thinking bars "designed for women" should be even better, but it seems not in the case of Deda.

Marna, the make of the bars may be indicated on a badge towards the centre, but probably not the model.  I can understand not wanting to change the bars, though, if you're happy with them in every other way.

Yes, experimenting with lever position (and in turn, handlebar tilt position) is the first thing to try.
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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2008, 12:27:28 pm »
Marna - you might be able to wiggle the bar angle around a bit to improve this (that's what I needed to do with mine, although that was more for the hoods than the drops).  I'll prob still be in when you come over tonight - want me to have a look at them?  The other relevant thing may be your hand position. 

It's also worth noting that you don't necessarily need much more than fingertips to the drops - they start to come forward pretty fast & then you get a bit more hand on 'em.  When I'm riding on the drops my hands are usually off the brakes (unless I need them) - to use them I shove my hands right forward & twist them a bit.  Um.  I can show you what I mean better than I can write it! 

gonzo

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2008, 03:06:38 pm »
The new range of dura ace due out at the end of the year will have adjustible reach levers. Not that I'm being much help but hey!

Velvet

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2008, 03:48:59 pm »
Marna, not sure.  Altering where mine are on the bars also changes the angles for when you are on the hoods on them, and there was a clear compromise I had to make.  With them in spot-on for hoods, they were way too far away on the fingertips for the drops.

What I did find useful, though, was realising that the horns could be in the same place at the same angle in relation to my hands/rest of bike, but in a different place on the bars, with the bars at a slightly different angle (rotated in the stem clamp).

I have a narrow anatomic type set of bars on my bike though can't recall whose they are right now.

What I did in the end was tape the bars with not as tight taping around the horns as would be normal, but still have it there as it makes a bit difference to the hand position, which let me change the position of the shifters easily for slight adjustments up/down and also rotate inwards/outwards to experiment. 

I also undid and redid the taping as needed, for the most part with enough success that the tape was where it needed to be for testing it, though it wouldn't have stood up to wet or any reasonable distance of riding.

Once I was happy, I left it for a while to be sure, then ripped all the tape off and redid it properly.

If I ever get back on the bike regularly I fully expect further tweaking and have some nice bar tape ready for the occasion :)

You'd be welcome to pop in if you're anywhere near (30 mins SE from Northampton) to have a go with my adjustable levers (it's on the turbo still) though they are STI so both brake and gear, can't cope with bar-end shifters.

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2008, 03:52:36 pm »
*waves* hello Velvet!  I remember the debate when you came up with this problem on uk.rec.cycling.  Seemed to get a bit heated by the end!
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Velvet

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2008, 04:21:53 pm »
Hello BentMikey!!

Yes, it did!  Note I have not mentioned any of my reasons why I finally put the short levers on there, to avoid stirring any potential several-years-old hornet nest ;-)

Problems were solved by a) short-reach STI shifters/levers, b) replacement of the appalling excuses for brake blocks shimano use.

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2008, 04:47:07 pm »
Marna - you might be able to wiggle the bar angle around a bit to improve this (that's what I needed to do with mine, although that was more for the hoods than the drops).  I'll prob still be in when you come over tonight - want me to have a look at them?  The other relevant thing may be your hand position. 

I have just tried moving the bars forward a tiny bit, to see what difference that might make. It feels odd, on an initial pedal-round-the-office, and I'm not sure it's improved matters, but I'll see how it feels on the cycle home. And I'll bring the bike to yours later, and we can have a proper poke and prod at it.

(It is not impossible that the reach is fine, and me feeling worried is just further evidence of my eternal scardeycatishness.)

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2008, 04:48:40 pm »
The new range of dura ace due out at the end of the year will have adjustible reach levers. Not that I'm being much help but hey!

No! No upgrading the shiny new bike! (Also I love my lovely bar-end shifters too much.)

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2008, 04:51:36 pm »
What I did in the end was tape the bars with not as tight taping around the horns as would be normal, but still have it there as it makes a bit difference to the hand position, which let me change the position of the shifters easily for slight adjustments up/down and also rotate inwards/outwards to experiment. 

That sounds like a good plan, actually. I've just shifted the bars down a bit, and I'll see how that pans out on the cycle home. If it hasn't made a difference (and if Juliet notices no major flaws with my hand-positioning), then I'll have a go at that next, I think.

It sounds like an all-day job, with lots of laps of the park.

Velvet

Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2008, 04:57:06 pm »
Marna - you might be able to wiggle the bar angle around a bit to improve this (that's what I needed to do with mine, although that was more for the hoods than the drops).  I'll prob still be in when you come over tonight - want me to have a look at them?  The other relevant thing may be your hand position. 

I have just tried moving the bars forward a tiny bit, to see what difference that might make. It feels odd, on an initial pedal-round-the-office, and I'm not sure it's improved matters, but I'll see how it feels on the cycle home. And I'll bring the bike to yours later, and we can have a proper poke and prod at it.

(It is not impossible that the reach is fine, and me feeling worried is just further evidence of my eternal scardeycatishness.)

*sputter of coffee everywhere*

I had to go back and check my original posting there ;-)

Jacomus

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2008, 11:39:45 pm »
I have struggled with a comfortable finger to lever distance, and found the best way is to not figure of 8 the levers, see my pics. This lets me get my hand further into the hook, and reach the levers so much more easily, and you may think it is a small amount of tape, but it makes a big difference.







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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2008, 12:08:52 am »
I've tried the journey home with the bars a little further down, and that was even less brake-reachable than normal. (Also, and this may be just my not being used to it, I lean too much on the bars and would end up sore-pawed fairly swiftly.)

I have just now switched them to be up a little instead, so I'll give that a go tomorrow.

I have struggled with a comfortable finger to lever distance, and found the best way is to not figure of 8 the levers, see my pics. This lets me get my hand further into the hook, and reach the levers so much more easily, and you may think it is a small amount of tape, but it makes a big difference.

Ooh, that would be a much better option than putting in some sort of shim, if it makes enough difference. (And I don't think I need too much difference.) That seems like a sensible next thing to try, before attempting to reposition them. Thank you!

Jacomus

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Re: Wedges! (tiny hands and reaching the brakes)
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2008, 12:19:24 am »
I hope it works for you - it solved it for me like magic.

It takes a bit of careful taping to get it right, and a tight wrap is essential, but you will figure that out as soon as you do it.

Best of luck!  :thumbsup:
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