Author Topic: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?  (Read 1403 times)

Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« on: May 11, 2020, 11:57:35 am »
Probably a dim question but are all eurozone bikes sold with different STI front / rear brake sidedness to UK  e.g.

Left levers operate front brake and right levers operate with back brakes. Left gear shifters - chain rings and right gear shifters - cycling cassettes.

If the cables are all under bar tape, does this mean that the STI brake housing channels are specifically angled, so can't be modified?
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bludger

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2020, 12:05:25 pm »
Broadly yes they are. I actually prefer this configuration as a right hand turn at a junction is more hazardous in this country as you're crossing a lane, so it stands to reason it is preferable to have control of the front brake while signalling a right turn. As for the outer cable housings I've not made the 'conversion' myself but I don't think they would be different since they all snake their way out from under the bar tape in the same way.
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quixoticgeek

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2020, 12:10:59 pm »

It depends more on place of manufacture than the place of sale. Typically.

I have a bike I bought in .NL, yet the brakes are setup the UK way. The bike is a Brompton.

Because I am used to that, when I built my bike in .NL, I cabled it up to have the same orientation.

This results in the slight issue when I do let a Dutch mechanic touch it, they put it on the stand, spin up the rear wheel, reach for a lever, pull it and stick there hand in to the spokes at the same time, usually there is a moment of swearing "FUCKING ENGLISH!" before grabbing the other brake lever.

J
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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2020, 12:11:52 pm »
There’s nothing about the levers that makes them specific to front or rear brakes. It’s just however they’re connected.

There are some prefilled/preconnected hydraulic setups where a lever is sold paired with an appropriate length brake hose for front or back. But nothing stopping you swapping them.

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2020, 12:20:57 pm »
Ok thanks all.  It's just that the standard / nothing special STI shifters I saw come with gear cables only, but still have the warning that the left shifter is for front brake etc...
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FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2020, 01:12:02 pm »
If your bikes got internal routing the problem you're likely to get if the routing is lined up for non-moto is needing more cable outer/pipe than you'd like and ugly routing from tape to inlet

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2020, 02:20:25 pm »
It all started with the UK riding on the left of the road, and Europe on the right.
Therefore, as has been said, to turn across oncoming traffic it’s much safer to have the rear brake useable.
Therefore, British Standard is right hand front. Europe standard is the reverse.
In theory, and often in practice, imported complete bikes have to have the cabling reversed by the retailer. It’s even more frustrating when the customer wants it changed back again, in theory only after the “ legal” bike has been purchased. I know a shop that directly imports large numbers of Scotts, and has to reverse the cabling on each one.
When I was young, most UK riders used right hand front. However, more pictures of Merckx, Coppi etc using the reverse made it the trend to use right hand rear.
Nowadays, most serious racers use continental cabling, but even some Belgian and other Continentals use the UK style.
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robgul

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2020, 03:47:10 pm »
It all started with the UK riding on the left of the road, and Europe on the right.
Therefore, as has been said, to turn across oncoming traffic it’s much safer to have the rear brake useable.
Therefore, British Standard is right hand front. Europe standard is the reverse.
In theory, and often in practice, imported complete bikes have to have the cabling reversed by the retailer. It’s even more frustrating when the customer wants it changed back again, in theory only after the “ legal” bike has been purchased. I know a shop that directly imports large numbers of Scotts, and has to reverse the cabling on each one.
When I was young, most UK riders used right hand front. However, more pictures of Merckx, Coppi etc using the reverse made it the trend to use right hand rear.
Nowadays, most serious racers use continental cabling, but even some Belgian and other Continentals use the UK style.
So...... you pays your money and.......

All Scott and some Bianchi bikes come into the UK with European brake levers - when I was managing an LBS that sold those brands I just changed them over rather than confuse the customer with the detail.   

Hybrids, urbans & MTBs were no problem to just swap the cables or hoses - taped drop bars were a different proposition - although with cable you could get away with just untaping one side for a new rear outer and cutting the original rear shorter for the front brake.

I think the OP may have been also asking about the cable channels in the handlebar itself - they aren't region specific.

To me it is significantly safer to ride in the UK with a LH rear brake - for reasons related to turning right and needing to stop without risk of going out of the front door, over the bars, with sharp braking.

Rob

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2020, 04:33:09 pm »
If your bikes got internal routing the problem you're likely to get if the routing is lined up for non-moto is needing more cable outer/pipe than you'd like and ugly routing from tape to inlet
"Non-moto" is a good way to express it, as it really isn't as simple as "Uk v Euro". As has been said, some Euro (or other drive on the right) countries also use front-right and some drive on the lefts use front-left. (I don't recall motos ever using rear brake on the left lever, but hey.)
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2020, 05:12:42 pm »
it is illegal to sell a new bike in the UK with the brakes connected 'non-moto'.  And rightly so IMHO.

IME it is especially dangerous to ride a bike that is configured in whatever way you are not used to, (and/or has unusually powerful brakes); in an emergency, reflexes take over and you can have a  nasty accident if the brakes don't do what your reflexes are attuned to.

cheers


Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2020, 08:27:27 pm »
Thanks all.   'Non-moto'?   So if it's just a shifter set on it's own, to go on an external cabling bike, doesn't sound like there's any issue...
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2020, 08:58:29 pm »
'Non-moto'?
Motorbikes all (since, let's say, at least 1950) have the front brake operated by the right-hand lever, no matter the make or part of the world.
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Adam

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2020, 09:26:00 pm »
it is illegal to sell a new bike in the UK with the brakes connected 'non-moto'.  And rightly so IMHO.

IME it is especially dangerous to ride a bike that is configured in whatever way you are not used to, (and/or has unusually powerful brakes); in an emergency, reflexes take over and you can have a  nasty accident if the brakes don't do what your reflexes are attuned to.

cheers

True, although tell that to Amazon.  In the shop I recently had a chap bring in a bike he'd bought off Amazon for a minor tweak, and I mentioned in passing about the brakes being the wrong way round.  He said he hadn't noticed!  ::-)
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2020, 09:41:36 pm »
'Non-moto'?
Motorbikes all (since, let's say, at least 1950) have the front brake operated by the right-hand lever, no matter the make or part of the world.

I passed my motor bike test without even giving that a thought!   Perhaps it didn't seem like a big bicycle and had a footbrake anyway. 

Cycling in Amsterdam with just a back pedal brake was fun.
Sic transit and all that..

Karla

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2020, 09:57:38 pm »
'Non-moto'?
Motorbikes all (since, let's say, at least 1950) have the front brake operated by the right-hand lever, no matter the make or part of the world.

I passed my motor bike test without even giving that a thought!   Perhaps it didn't seem like a big bicycle and had a footbrake anyway. 

Cycling in Amsterdam with just a back pedal brake was fun.

I keep wondering how many cyclists, brought up on the myth that you only use the rear brake, do their CBT and get a nasty shock when they panic brake and discover they've pulled no brake at all, just the clutch.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Waking up now, put the kettle on!
Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2020, 10:07:57 pm »
Well they wouldn't have been able to move off without discovering the clutch... But where does this idea of back brake being most important come from? Totally nonsensical.
Days become simply the spaces between dreams, spaces between the shifting floors of time...

Karla

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2020, 10:09:44 pm »
Well they wouldn't have been able to move off without discovering the clutch... But where does this idea of back brake being most important come from? Totally nonsensical.

I don't know where it came from but now it's self sustaining, being passed down from ignoramus to ignoramus. 

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2020, 10:52:24 pm »
There’s an idea some people have that touching the front brake will send you straight over the handlebars. Considering the lack of effectiveness of the brakes on most BSOs (and therefore most bikes), I’m not really sure how this myth was born and how it persists.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #18 on: May 12, 2020, 12:05:45 am »
Well they wouldn't have been able to move off without discovering the clutch... But where does this idea of back brake being most important come from? Totally nonsensical.

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bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #19 on: May 12, 2020, 12:23:13 am »
it is illegal to sell a new bike in the UK with the brakes connected 'non-moto'.  And rightly so IMHO.
Planet X will do you a 'non moto' bike (bicycle) i.e. euro braking. Bafflingly they charge you £50 for the privilege.
Unless I have misinterpreted their website and that they literally won't send you the bike over in this configuration unless it's for export to USA/EU



As for front vs back my fixed gear doesn't even have a rear (non drivetrain) brake, doesn't do me any harm. Haven't gone AOT on it yet inshallah.
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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2020, 02:28:51 am »
FWIW most modern motorbikes have a weight distribution/tyre grip such that you will normally do a stoppie instead of the front brake locking up and skidding with  the front wheel. It normally  takes a fair amount of lean or an unusually slippy surface before the front will lock up on such machines. However there are some touring motorbikes and plenty of older ones which have a rear-biased weight distribution and these will lock the front wheel under a wider range of circumstances.  Needless to say locking the front wheel = accident (unless you are a MotoGP rider). By contrast locking the rear wheel is less likely to be unrecoverable and if you do go down it is normally a less severe impact.  So learners are often taught to favour the rear brake unless they are really trying to pull up in a hurry and this is probably the  right thing to do. Having the brake and the throttle in the right hand ensures that the dominant hand (in most folk) is used and the throttle is likely to be closed before the brake is applied (same reason as the right foot is used for both in most cars).

On a bicycle it is a very simple argument; if you are giving hand signals then you will only have one hand (usually the left hand) on the handlebar. Whilst  you only have one hand on the handlebar it is only safe for most riders to use the back brake; if an emergency situation arises and the rider grabs a handful of front brake with only one hand on the bars, most folk go straight down in a messy way, even if the front brake isn't very good. It is just less likely to happen using the rear brake.  Obviously the situation is reversed if you ride on the other side of the road so in 'drive right' territories the brakes on bicycles (with two brakes) are more likely to be set up 'non-moto', but back pedal brakes, only one brake etc can complicate this somewhat.

In a panic situation you will behave in particular (learned) way. Such habits may be almost unknown to the rider that has them and may have been acquired long ago. They may or may not be relevant to the current machine or riding conditions either.   A few years ago one of my chums fitted a front brake of about double the previous power; before he had "got used to it" he reflexively grabbed a handful of front brake and went over the bars.  Hospital, broken bones, was nearly killed by being given too much morphine, much wailing and gnashing of teeth and a long painful recovery. Fortunately he is OK  now but it could have been a wooden box job.

It is very easy to assume that XYZ is 'safe' or not and indeed it might be for different people. But the vast majority of people don't ever spend more than a few seconds thinking about it and even then the grey matter may not be fully engaged. Obedience of fools and guidance of wise men etc. only in this matter most folk are insufficiently wise. I'll probably prove that of myself (again ) before too much longer.... ::-)

cheers

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2020, 07:09:59 am »
There’s an idea some people have that touching the front brake will send you straight over the handlebars. Considering the lack of effectiveness of the brakes on most BSOs (and therefore most bikes), I’m not really sure how this myth was born and how it persists.
As a tricyclist, I have both brakes on the front wheel.  Occasionally I am asked about "don't you have trouble with going AOT?".  This question even comes from people you think of as experienced club cyclists.  My answer is "Tricyclists come with ABS.  It is mounted between their ears."

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2020, 10:51:07 am »
The argument about the handing of brake levers isn't in the realm of rationality.  It echoes other issues (toe overlap anybody?). As Brucey said upthread the safe way to have it is the way you're used to.  Why most (some?) people in the UK decided to get used to doing it a different way to everyone else I don't know. Mandating one way legally at POS is a good way to ensure it's unsafe for some.

There are many esoteric theories about which is the right way.  None of the bear much scrutiny.  My opinion is that the UK standard is just a piece of English exceptionalism and comes from the fact that foreigners drive on the wrong side of the road.  Globally the wisdom of the crowd is left hand front brake and most frames and components reflect this since the demise of the UK bike industry.  When I first started building my own bikes (a long time ago) I had to choose.  To me it was clear, I'm right handed so when riding and doing all the other things you do (gear changing, nose blowing, arse scratching, et al) the most effective brake (front) is available more of the time.  This is especially true if riding in a bunch.

Riding a bicycle inherently requires a degree of learned skill.  The idea that the skill of using a front brake safely is beyond the hoi polloi and the great and good must make rules to protect them is ineffective, patronising and counter productive.  I think it just reflects the attraction to some of making rules.  If dumbing down to the lowest common denominator is a coherent approach then we should all have stabilisers, rear coaster brakes only and chain guards. Also fixed wheel, foot retention devices and chain derailing must be banned.

Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2020, 10:57:41 am »
  My opinion is that the UK standard is just a piece of English exceptionalism
It is not just UK.  I knew an organiser of cycle tours in New Zealand who always warned his customers (mainly American) that the brake set up was different to comply with NZ requirements.  Possibly other similar countries (Australia, Japan etc) have the same set up requirement.

Karla

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Re: Shifter front /rear brake orientation?
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2020, 11:16:20 am »
Many people think that driving on the left is British exceptionalism too, despite over a third of of the world doing it.