Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner

1 - 20 of 29 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Last week on our local Wednesday night ride one of the new riders, an older fellow with a motorcycle background was asking if he could switch his levers to right/front, left/rear. I switched his cable discs over and we got to talking about why the levers are backwards in North America. All I can think of is for signalling. I signal right turns by holding my right arm out so it doesn't make any difference to me. Any other reasons?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
804 Posts
We aren't doing it backwards, the rest of the world is. You and your silly metric system. Just kidding. I really don't know. I have always wondered that myself.
 

·
Derailleurless
Joined
·
9,122 Posts
Mine aren't "backwards", but then again mine are Taiwanese levers (although they were designed, marketed, sold and are now used in North America).

I'm not the only one on these boards who rides "moto style" with my Right=Front braking. But of the friends I ride with, I'm the only one, and most are scared (literally) to ride my bike.

I originally switched for cleaner cable routing for my front disc brake. But after asking around, mainly on these boards, here's the summary I've come up with:

Reasons cited why in the US we traditionally use Left=Front:
* Drive on the Right traffic pattern means left arm is used for signaling
* People are scared of their front brake and want their less dominant, weaker hand controlling it.

Reasons why Euro-style (Right=Front) makes more sense:
* More closely matches motorcycle setups
* For Right-handers (Lefties can skip this part):
— Grab Bottle, Pick Nose, Adjust Nutz, Swat WNVI Mosquitos w/ right hand, meaning left hand is operating rear brake in classic "Oh Sh—!" panic stop situations.
— Have finer motor skills in right hand meaning improved front brake modulation.
* Signaling turns while riding involves two arms: left arm for left turns and right for right.

I haven't tried to preach the virtues of moto style brake lever setup to anyone I ride with, other than mentioning it in passing. Most aren't interested, and better yet, a few have refused to ride my bike after realizing it was set up that way. Fine by me. My Polish friend I ride with grew up with and prefers the Left=Front braking. I think he's nuts.
 

·
R.I.P. DogFriend
Joined
·
6,887 Posts
Heres the way I see it (right, wrong or otherwise):

In the US, you signal turns and stopping all with the left arm regardless of whether riding a bike, motorcycle or driving a car.

While driving a car, the left arm is the one that can be seen hanging from the ‘driver’s side’ of the car. On a motorcycle, the throttle control remains in the right hand and the rear brake is controlled by foot so the left can be used for signaling. The left hand is used for the clutch so the front brake is then switched to the right hand.

Bicycles were first designed and used more for transportation than for thrill riding so a universal protocol was needed. On a bicycle with hand brakes, the rear brake is on the right and signals are again given with the left arm. This leaves the right hand for braking with hand brakes. It is simply more stable to grab a handful of rear brake when only one hand is on the bars (while the other is being used for signaling).

It was never an issue to me to switch from motorcycles to bikes. The only time I had ‘issues’ was when my brother let me ride his 1967 Triumph that had the rear brake set up for the left foot instead of the right foot. I went right through a stop sign furiously stabbing at the shifter thinking it should be controlling the rear brake.
 
U

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
I don't know but I have the American setup here in the

UK and twice I've had friends squeeze the left lever with the front wheel off while I was getting stuff out of the car. Not cool with disc brakes (I had just removed the spacer)! A good rule of thumb; don't squeeze either lever when the front wheel is out!!

I guess it would be worse to discover the "other" hook up doing a panic stop with a buddies bike, like I did in 1986 on a rainy night. Big face plant.
 

·
"El Whatever"
Joined
·
18,889 Posts
I've always been a "moto-styler"...

But I'm lefty... it made a lot of sense to me, feels very natural.
 

·
Sofa King We Todd Did
Joined
·
2,262 Posts
This whole left-right thing is totally news to me. I never even knew there was a difference until this thread!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
92 Posts
I have a guess, but it's just a guess. I learned to ride a bmx bike before anything else with hand brakes. I am right handed along with 91% of the world's population. If I have only one brake, it should be operated by my dominate hand. My right. So when you add a front brake, it gets operated by the left hand, since I have already learned that right = rear from my bmx days. But that doesn't account for the fact that historically before bmx bikes, North Americans have always set up bicycle brakes this way.

I still do think it has to do with right-hand dominance in people. That is why on the motorcycle the throttle is on the right....the next important hand operated part, the clutch comes to the left so you can use it along with the throttle... leaving the other hand lever for a brake. It is the front because that is where the bulk of stopping power comes from so the rear brake on a motorcycle gets relegated to the right foot. (notice it's the right and not the left... I would think because of dominance again.) So that leaves the left foot to shift gears.

I think that societies where riding a motorcycle or scooter is more prevelant that N.A it would make sense that those who do both switch one of either the bike or motorcycle's systems to match up... the motorcycle is more complex, so swapping the levers on a bike make more sense.

That's how I would think it came about... but what do I know? I don't ride a motorcycle.
 

·
Derailleurless
Joined
·
9,122 Posts
russw19 said:
II still do think it has to do with right-hand dominance in people. That is why on the motorcycle the throttle is on the right
But then it would stand to reason (to me, anyway) that the dominant (Right) hand would operate the dominant (Front) brake on a bicycle.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
48,237 Posts
Speedüb Nate said:
Reasons why Euro-style (Right=Front) makes more sense:
* More closely matches motorcycle setups
* For Right-handers (Lefties can skip this part):
— Grab Bottle, Pick Nose, Adjust Nutz, Swat WNVI Mosquitos w/ right hand, meaning left hand is operating rear brake in classic "Oh Sh—!" panic stop situations.
— Have finer motor skills in right hand meaning improved front brake modulation.
* Signaling turns while riding involves two arms: left arm for left turns and right for right.
You forgot: Cyclocross flying dismounts. When you have the right hand on the toptube and the left on the bar while standing on the left pedal at 15 mph you do not want to use the front brake if you need to control speed.

After 25 years, left-rear is normal to me.
 

·
Motion activated
Joined
·
3,241 Posts
Grip Shift plain sux with right-front braking. You can't down shift and brake at the same time.
 

·
Derailleurless
Joined
·
9,122 Posts
Steve71 said:
Grip Shift plain sux with right-front braking. You can't down shift and brake at the same time.
I dunno on that one, Steve, but technically I agree with what you're saying. I've got a single twist-shifter on the RH side for my Speedhub setups along with a Right-Front lever setup. I've been running moto-style for maybe four years now, or whenever it was I switched to discs.

In any case, I switched the levers back to normal for my sister to ride, and afterward I rode it that way for three rides. I've gotta tell you that while mentally I knew what was going on (no OTB surprises), I missed the extra control my right hand offered. Switching them back put a smile back on my face.

Yeah, I've probably just grown used to the setup, but I've never run into the braking/shifting dilemma you brought up. Mabye because I can drag my rear brake for the half second it takes to shift, then get back on the front brake without missing a beat.
 

·
Motion activated
Joined
·
3,241 Posts
It's only a real problem when I'm braking hard (both wheels at imminent lockup) from 20-30mph into a tight corner. With triggers, I can keep turning the cranks (slowly and when I choose to) while working my way down though the gears so my legs are always in their 'power band' all while I'm braking at the limit of traction. With grip shift, I have to do my gear changing before I hit the brakes, which also means pedaling without resistance at speed, often while standing and trying to absorb some of the trail when I'd prefer to have the cranks flat.

Not many people seem to have this issue though, so I guess I'm just a bit anal about how I set up for a corner. I like to heal-toe in my car as well.

I figured that it would be better if you just had to let off the rear brake to run though the gears. If I were to lift off the front for the time it takes to change from one end of the cluster to the other, I'd over shoot the corner by several yards.
 

·
"El Whatever"
Joined
·
18,889 Posts
Steve...

Low-normal (Rapid Rise) works very well with gripshiters and front brake right.

Usually when you brake you only do downshifts. By twisting your hand forwards while pulling the front brake lever (in a rapid-rise twister) you can do both and the movement is very natural (at least to me). Also, when you make upshifts you twist the grips like in a moto (towards you to accelerate).

I had a (crappy like hell) Shitmano C-201 gruppo which worked that way and I really loved it. The new dual controls seem more complicated to me for shifting+braking than the old rapid-rise gripshifter with front right brake.
 

·
A wheelist
Joined
·
5,991 Posts
Travis Bickle said:
Last week on our local Wednesday night ride one of the new riders, an older fellow with a motorcycle background was asking if he could switch his levers to right/front, left/rear. I switched his cable discs over and we got to talking about why the levers are backwards in North America. All I can think of is for signalling. I signal right turns by holding my right arm out so it doesn't make any difference to me. Any other reasons?
I'm in N.Am and my levers aren't backwards. I use left/rear, right/front. It's the only way that makes any sense to me. I'm right handed. If I'm gonna scratch, wave, drink, pick, adjust, I'm gonna do it with my right hand. If I have one hand left on the bars it sure as hell isn't going to be in control of a brake that has the ability to make me impersonate Superman.
 

·
Motion activated
Joined
·
3,241 Posts
Mike T. said:
Rhubarb. I do it all the time and have for years.
How :confused: I don't recall what incarnation of the twist shifters I have, but you have to twist you wrist about 90 deg to go from you highest to lowest gear. How can you do that while modulating the brake lever with the same hand? :confused:

Do you 'roll' the grip shift between your thumb and index finger while keeping the rest of your hand in a fixed position or something? Still seems far from ideal, as it doesn't leave much to hang on with....
 
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Top