Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

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graymee
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Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby graymee » 8 Feb 2012, 8:54pm

All the bikes I've ever owned have had the front brake on the right and rear brake on the left however, I believe Johnny Foreigner has things the other way round. What do the pro teams do? (Sky, BMC, etc) Are their bikes set up individually or do all the riders have to be the same for commonality so there are no problems if they have a problem and have to take a spare bike?
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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 8 Feb 2012, 9:03pm

Don't know what the teams to, but they have a different set of challenges...

On the road I'd agree with Sheldon. Set it up so you can use the front brake and signal to cross the carriageway.

In the UK that would be rear brake on the right.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
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Mick F
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby Mick F » 8 Feb 2012, 9:11pm

Whatever is the best setup, providing my bike isn't changed, I'm happy!

I'm happy with rear brake on the left. That is the way it's been since I learned to pedal.
Change it round, and I'll change it back!






Why is the clutch pedal always on the left, but they alter which side the indicator stalk is?
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meic
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby meic » 8 Feb 2012, 9:28pm

Motorcycles pretty universally have the front brake on the right lever, I can see a lot of advantages for having a continuity between the two different types of vehicle.

I think that I swapped my wife's brakes over when she bought the bike to the UK, especially as she had started riding my motorcycles.
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby Nettled Shin » 8 Feb 2012, 9:34pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:Set it up so you can use the front brake and signal to cross the carriageway.

Woah! This is major news to me. What is the logic? It would be quite easy to implement if it improved handling. At the moment, I can only see it helping in turning right when going downhill.

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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby reohn2 » 8 Feb 2012, 9:38pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:..............In the UK that would be rear brake on the right.

No,I don't think it would.
The idea of having the the front brake on the right side in the UK is so the rider can signal right and at the same time be able to move to the centre of the road, whilst still having better control of the bike by use of only the rear brake.
In countries that drive/ride on the right the opposite is the case.
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Audax67
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby Audax67 » 8 Feb 2012, 9:47pm

Come to that, which brake is the more effective, front or rear? I've seen arguments for both and I wasn't convinced by either.
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby eileithyia » 8 Feb 2012, 9:57pm

reohn2 wrote:
[XAP]Bob wrote:..............In the UK that would be rear brake on the right.

No,I don't think it would.
The idea of having the the front brake on the right side in the UK is so the rider can signal right and at the same time be able to move to the centre of the road, whilst still having better control of the bike by use of only the rear brake.
In countries that drive/ride on the right the opposite is the case.



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enigmatic
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby enigmatic » 8 Feb 2012, 10:00pm

I've had countless discussions about this one over the years, for every argument there seems to be an equally valid counter argument. FWIW, I've always had my front brake on the right, and always will. The strongest argument for me is - whatever you have now and are familiar with, then keep it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it :roll:

Now, if we get on to where to start (and finish) putting tyres on rims, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way :D

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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby drossall » 8 Feb 2012, 10:11pm

It's been discussed here and here and here.

Not sure what can be added, but in brief:

  • there is no agreement on this, whatever people tell you
  • most people base their decisions on the brake to be used when signalling to turn right (so the reverse arrangement would apply in countries that drive on the other side of the road)
  • the front brake is more powerful and less likely to cause skids, but the skids are worse if they happen, so the decision is a balancing act (pun intended)
  • some people worry about front braking sending you over the handlebars, but many (not all) people believe that experienced riders with well-adjusted brakes won't let that happen
  • some people base decisions on which hand is more powerful, and not on turning right at all
  • I have a reproduction war-time copy of Cycling in which they were arguing about it, so if it hasn't been settled in 70 years it's not going to be solved in this thread
FWIW my front brake is on the left.

Cue lots of replies telling you definitively which way it should be.

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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby cycloret » 8 Feb 2012, 10:21pm

You can read what Sheldon wrote about which side which brake. It's a complicated story not helped by the belief by some American regulators that the rear is the primary brake. Being right handed I've chosen the right lever on my bikes to control the more effective brake -the front brake.
http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

If we'd not have had a war with Napoleon the French would probably still drive on the same side of the road as the UK and perhaps all cycles' right brake levers would control their front brakes. From my observations TdeF bikes all seem to have the left lever controlling the front brake. I suppose it's easier if all a team's bikes are set up in the same way.

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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby goatwarden » 8 Feb 2012, 10:23pm

I first realised that in left-hand-drive countries they put the front brake on the left when I hired a mountain bike in France and, on two successive days I had the two worst accidents I had ever had (flew over the handlebars on steep descents).

I then realised the logic of rear brake on left for the UK; so you can brake safely and signal a right turn; and hence the opposite for countries that drive on the right.

Having just checked Sheldon, I believe he was misinterpreted above. He appears to agree with the logic of rear brake application for safe control of a turn across traffic. Although he does state that maximum braking effort can be achieved with the front brake alone, he does recognise the potential danger of panic braking on only the front.

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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby reohn2 » 8 Feb 2012, 10:50pm

Audax67 wrote:Come to that, which brake is the more effective, front or rear? I've seen arguments for both and I wasn't convinced by either.

Yes but the bike is easier to handle with a rear wheel skid with one hand,than if the front brake is applied,especially if that application is in an emergency on say a wet road.
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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 8 Feb 2012, 11:51pm

My cycle is actually set up with the left brake controlled by the left lever, and vice versa. :P

My BSO has the front (disc) set up on the right IIRC, but that's because I'm not changing from existing muscle memory. I never use the rear brake on that bike - it contributes nothing (close enough).

The logic is for signalling, I just signal before braking and when stopped - there is no need to signal continuously.


IF I was to define a logical standard, then I stick with my original post.

There is considerable disagreement as to which brake should be connected to which lever:

Some cyclists say it is best to have the stronger right hand (presuming a right-handed cyclist) operate the rear brake. Motorcycles always have the right hand control the front brake, so cyclists who are also motorcyclists often prefer this setup. A moment of confusion in an emergency situation can be deadly. The left lever on a motorcycle operates the clutch, which will not stop you!

There are also observable national trends:

In countries where vehicles drive on the right, it is common to set the brakes up so that the front brake is operated by the left lever. In countries where vehicles drive on the left, it is common to set the brakes up so that the front brake is operated by the right lever. The European Union has adopted this as a standard, even though only the United Kingdom and Ireland are left-side driving countries.

The theory that seems most probable to me is that the national standards arose from a concern that the cyclist be able to make hand signals, and still be able to reach the primary brake. This logical idea is, unfortunately, accompanied by the incorrect premise that the rear brake is the primary brake. For this reason, I set my own bikes up so that the right hand controls the front brake, which is not the norm in the U.S.

I also do this because I'm right-handed, and wish to have my more skillful hand operate the more critical brake.

On the other hand, if you have already developed a preference, it is usually best to stick with it
Last edited by [XAP]Bob on 9 Feb 2012, 10:44am, edited 1 time in total.
A shortcut has to be a challenge, otherwise it would just be the way. No situation is so dire that panic cannot make it worse.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those can extrapolate from incomplete data.

resus1uk
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Re: Rear brake on the left or right handlebar?

Postby resus1uk » 9 Feb 2012, 9:26am

My family Kettler german bike (like a Dutch bike) has only one brake lever (on the right for the front brake) & back pedal coaster for the rear. No problems in riding it in either country. Helps left turns across german roads.

I don't like the coaster setup as back pedalling to set the pedals for easy push-off applies the brake. Then I have to push into traffic like a hobby horse. Is there a better way?

All three trikes have both brakes working on the front wheel (Higgins, Longstaff & Pashley ).