In newsletter issue No. 110, Coach Fred Matheny commented on the odd brake lever position seen on the bikes of numerous Tour de France riders.
They’re putting the levers high on the curve of the handlebar. Instead of creating a horizontal platform, the hoods angle upward by 30-40 degrees.
Apparently, Fred said, this position helps riders compensate for a large difference between saddle height and handlebar height.
That speculation generated lots of e-mail. Here’s a digest:
- Some Campy-philes scornfully claimed that it’s the Shimano users who must go to extremes. They said Campy levers are designed to produce a smooth transition from the handlebar to the hoods.
- One roadie theorized that mounting brake levers higher provides a better grip for pulling hard while climbing — like bar-ends on a mountain bike.
- Several people noted that if the top of the lever is flat, hands could slip forward. Upward-angled levers provide a “ramp” for hands to fit into.
- Others said up-slanting levers are a dumb idea because it adds pressure that causes numb fingers.
- Finally, several of you agreed with Fred that ergonomic handlebars have simply changed the rules of brake lever placement. They allow higher mounting for any reason, but still make it easy to apply the brakes when hands are down in the bar hooks.