/ Woman-friendly brake levers

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Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
Debbie & I both enjoy our road biking on our cheap & cheerful Giant Defy machines, but D is finding it difficult to manage the brakes (age is probably a factor). We almost never ride on the drops but use the brakes from the hands-resting-on-the-hoods position. Increasingly she finds that she's not confident with only the very ends of her fingers on the brakes, despite not having specially small girly hands. Yesterday we looked around the Staveley bike warehouse and thought we may have found the answer in the form of SRAM levers which have a reach adjustment screw and levers shaped outwards making it much easier to grasp them. Then the bad news - SRAM levers won't operate Shimano mechs (we're told) so new mechs needed. And then we're told we'd need new brakes as well! All in all nearly 1K, considerably more than we paid for the bikes!
Two questions:
1. any other suggestions for making the brake levers more woman-friendly (already have the inserts to bring them nearer)
2. bit of a rant - when is some manufacturer going to completely re-design the brakes levers with a woman's (or indeed a child's) hands in mind? We have women specific frames (doesn't seem that important to me - there are different shapes and sizes of both sexes) saddles, etc. Brakes next please.
the sheep - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
How about some in line levers like the ones used on cyclo cross bikes?
http://www.cyclesuperstore.ie/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=12713
andrew549 on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko: It may be worth looking at different bars as there are some designed to shorten the reach to the leavers such as these http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-track-bike/handlebars-h-bars-road-cinelli-little-wing-lady-260...
gethin_allen on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
I have a similar problem with brake lever, I have rather short fingers.
There are shims available to adjust the reach on the lower end shimano brake/gear shifters. There are 2 sizes available and they sit in the gap that opens up when you pull the brake levers.

You should have been given these items then you bought the bike but many shops don't bother, because of this many shops have draws full of them and are happy to give them out free or very cheap. I got some from JE james cycles in Sheffield and I think they asked me to put a couple of quid in the charity box as payment.

Hope this helps.
Gethin
kathrync - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to gethin_allen:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko)
> I have a similar problem with brake lever, I have rather short fingers.
> There are shims available to adjust the reach on the lower end shimano brake/gear shifters. There are 2 sizes available and they sit in the gap that opens up when you pull the brake levers.
>

Someone sent me a link to something similar on a thread that I posted recently...I haven't used them so double check they are the right thing...

http://247cycleshop.com/shop/category_13/Shimano-Gear-Lever-_-STI-Spares.html
Bob Hughes - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

how about a set of bullhorn handlebars?

http://www.fyxation.com/products/catalog/rodeo-pursuit-bullhorn-bar
John Rushby - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

My other half has a similar problem - she has really tiny hands - some sort of squirrel DNA I think.

anyway, she has 105 levers on her bike and was struggling for reach, despite having girl specific bars. I got some shims from Evans and they reduce the reach, but her main problem is her hands are actually to small to operate the gear change action!.

Campag levers suit smaller hands so I might try her on those.

Ther are quite a few threads on the various biking forums on this. Singletrack had a few and some of the US forums had a few.
GrahamD - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:

My new bike came with inserts to shorten the reach of the 105 levers. Looked like small plastic wedges.
andrew549 on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko: It looks like shimano R700 leavers are designed for people with smaller hands so they might be worth a look although I don't know how easy they are to get hold of.
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to the sheep: Yes, we've just had these fitted (though she hasn't used the bike since - recovering from a fall). I'm just concerned about the degree of bike control she'll have on a long steep descent holding the bars so close to the stem.
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to andrew549: Thanks for the tip Andrew - that looks worth a try.
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to gethin_allen: Yes, we have the spacers fitted already.
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to kathrync: Thanks Kathryn. Didn't know there were two sizes. More grist to the mill!
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to andrew549:
> (In reply to Rog Wilko) It looks like shimano R700 leavers are designed for people with smaller hands
Good idea - till you look at the price!
Rog Wilko on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Bob Hughes: You'd presumably put the levers at the end, but you'd have trouble changing gear I think.
Bob Hughes - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko:
> (In reply to Bob Hughes) You'd presumably put the levers at the end, but you'd have trouble changing gear I think.

That's right the levers would go on the end. No reason why combined levers / shifters wouldn't work the same as they do on drops.
andrew549 on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Rog Wilko: Although you should be able to get quite a lot of the money back by selling the original leavers depending on what condition they are in. Also what speed is it as shimano offer different leaver depending on if its 8,9 or 10 speed.

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