V-Brake levers for drops

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V-Brake levers for drops

Postby bikepacker » 1 Mar 2009, 3:46pm

I am fitting a dropped bar tourer with v-brakes. On my own bike I use Dia Compe 287v levers which work okay. I see that Tektro do some RL520 levers which are advertised to do the same but at almost half the price. Do any of you have experience with these Tektro levers?
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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby natmat » 1 Mar 2009, 4:44pm

I can only comment on the Tektro, rather than compare the two. So here's my 2p...

In my opinion, the V-brake drop-levers required too much grip strength to operate for longer rides, or rather for long periods of downhill braking. Compared to cantilevers on drops, the V-brakes required much more effort to pull and were just too tiring to use with hands on the hoods. So I ditched them after a short period in favour of the original canti-brakes. Cantis maybe not quite as good at stopping, but stop they do and required very little effort.

So, I don't recommend the Tektro ones.


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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby rogerzilla » 1 Mar 2009, 9:33pm

I can tell you from experience that the Dia-Compe 287V levers are hopeless. They're badly made (a crude hack of the normal 287) and they still don't pull enough cable for comfortable pad-rim clearance.

If you have dropped bars, get Tektro wide-profile cantilevers instead.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby Si » 2 Mar 2009, 8:52am

Did my first ride with the tektro lever mated to XTR V brake (and rubbish pads). (only swopped the front over due to V brake not fitting rear with current rack)

I'm very impressed. They've a lovely smooth action, the hoods are comfortable, the lever shape is great for braking from the hoods, and it was certainly more powerful than the canti (campag frogs legs type) that it replaced despite having rubbish old pads in it. In fact, on the whole ride, which had a few long twisty downhills and some traffic, I didn't feel the need to brake from the drops once.

The XTR V with the same pads were on my old MTB before, mated to a XTR flat bar lever. The braking power and control with the tecktro drop bar lever seems just as good as with the old flat bar set up.

I'm now looking to replace the cantis on other bikes as funds allow.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby DougieB » 2 Mar 2009, 10:47am

I use the Tekto RL520 levers, with Avid v-brakes. I find them really good, plenty of stopping power from above or on the drops. For longer down hill sections I'm usually on the drops anyway, so haven't experienced a problem with tired hands.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby MartinC » 2 Mar 2009, 1:54pm

I've tried both the DiaCompe and Tektro levers. I'll endorse what's been said about the DiaCompe V levers. They work but I seemed badly designed - the noodles at the brake levers seemed a wierd idea. Tektro (or the Cane Creek badged versions) are much better and to me work fine. My hands are reasonabley strong, I guess, so I've not noticed that they need excessive pressure.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby jayd » 2 Mar 2009, 5:39pm

I set up an MTB conversion with the Dia- Compe levers and basic Tektro V-brakes last summer and had no problems with it. The little noodles coming out of the hoods weren't too fiddly, and I dispensed with the superfluous looking adjustable noodles (used the tektro ones) for the other end and fitted the cabling as neatly as I could. The results were better than the previous canti set -up, but not having tested the bike over long distance (donated to a friend shortly after) I can't say how they'd behave on the long haul. All bits off Ebay.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby georgew » 2 Mar 2009, 8:34pm

I'm not sure of the purpose of the noodles on the hoods of the Tektro levers. However I've just used cut-down noodles on Shimano Sora levers to guide the gear cables out of the way of a decent-sized bar bag which wouldn't otherwise fit. Not my idea but an elegant solution in my opinion.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby Si » 8 Mar 2009, 12:08pm

This topic comes up quite oten so have moved the thread to Too Good to Lose.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby AndrewLee » 19 Mar 2009, 7:39pm

I use V brakes with 105 sti levers and they work really well. I bought a couple of gadgets called travel agents from Bob Jacksons when I had the bike refurbed once. They are two concentric pulleys which double the distance of cable pulled - great breaking control and effort. I fitted in-line adjusters as well. The travel agents or similar would make any lever work with V brakes.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby Si » 20 Mar 2009, 9:40am

Travel Agents get very mixed reviews.

I had them coupled to Sora STI levers. They were extremely snatchy and just plain nasty to use in the wet. I soon got shot of them. I would imagine that on a heavier rig (eg tandem) the snatchiness would go.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby greyingbeard » 24 Aug 2020, 6:50pm

I recall CJ telling us years ago that the cables can get very stressed and break if not replaced often, this when pulleys and tight bends are used in their run, as V levers for drops seem to do, and travel agents, pull multipliers etc.

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby 531colin » 25 Aug 2020, 12:18pm

greyingbeard wrote:I recall CJ telling us years ago that the cables can get very stressed and break if not replaced often, this when pulleys and tight bends are used in their run, as V levers for drops seem to do, and travel agents, pull multipliers etc.

I have used both Dia Compe and Tektro drop bar Vee levers. In both cases the worst bend in the cable is where it exits the lever and goes under the bar tape....in other words, exactly the same as any other drop bar lever which routes the cable under the tape.
My hands are now arthritic and I can't use drops, so my recent applications have been on bull bars; here are the Dia compe levers (reversed) on commercial bull bars...
ImageIMG_5001 by 531colin, on Flickr
and more recently the Tektro levers on home made bull bars....
ImageIMG_5139 by 531colin, on Flickr
In both those applications I used flexible Vee brake noodles immediately behind the levers, the bottom picture shows a far worse bend in the cable going from lever to under the bar tape than in a conventional drop bar situation.
Here are the Dia compe levers when I could still use drops, I used the original rigid pipe which is a bit fiddly but works well.
ImageRoughstuff 001 by 531colin, on Flickr

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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby Brucey » 25 Aug 2020, 1:08pm

a lot of people will probably be asking 'why use a noodle when a piece of flexible housing will do the job?'. After all you can get V-brake noodles which work like this;


i.e. they use full housing instead of a separate part; simpler = better, right?

Well the big difference between standard/flexy V-brake noodles and ordinary cable housing is simply the thickness of the liner; the liner in a noodle is two or three times thicker than that in a standard cable housing. This means that it resists the high wear rate that otherwise accompanies tight cable bends for much longer than standard housing does. So Colin's approach in using noodles and flexi-noodles in such locations is IMHO the correct one. If any manufacturer ever comes up with housing which uses a much thicker/wear resistant liner than normal, that might be better for installations which involve tight bends.


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Re: V-Brake levers for drops

Postby rjb » 25 Aug 2020, 1:25pm

Here's an alternative idea for using brake levers with bullbars. Old weinmann levers with the cable routing reversed. What I don't know is if the cable pull would be sufficient for V brakes.
At the last count:- Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D