Are Brake Levers Universal?

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Other than the brakes, engine braking can assist in helping to slow the car. However, bikes only have the brakes to rely on. It is, therefore, crucial to select the right brake parts such as levers during a replacement and not to assume a single type fits all bikes.

So, are brake levers universal? No, they are not. Back when you were learning how to ride a bike for the first time, this period was characterized by frequent falls and crashes with each episode causing some bruises and minor damage to the bike.

On the occasion of each of these falls, the lever, is commonly one of the parts that get damaged requiring to be replaced. It is closely attached to the handlebar and gets crushed when the handlebar comes in contact with the ground during a crash.

In a bike, brakes cannot be applied without a functioning lever. The lever is at the start point in the initiation of the braking process. Upon pulling the lever, the mechanism that brings the bike to a halt or slows it down is initiated. Care must therefore be taken when replacing the lever, to ensure it is the right fit for the bike.

Here in this article, you will learn about the different types of levers, the basis of their differences, how to select the right lever for your type of bike, and other related issues to levers and bike brakes. So, sit back and relax as you are presented with a rundown of everything about the bike levers and how to select the right type for your bike.

While the foot is used on the brake pedal in a car, the fingers are used to pull on the lever. This makes the lever and brake pedal similar in terms of function. Some bikes have two levers, one on each handlebar. Others, however, may have only one which may be small enough to allow for a single finger operation.

When pulled, the lever depending on the brake type uses either the cable system or hydraulic to stop or slow down the rotational movement of the bike tires. Each bike type has a specified brake lever designated for it. Brake levers can therefore not be used interchangeably without consequences.

For instance, the designated lever type for road bikes is the short pull or standard lever type. The name implies firstly that the lever works with a cable type of brake and pulls on it for a short length of cable. On the other hand, mountain bikes and BMX uses the long pull and dual pull levers respectively. 

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How do you determine the right brake lever for your bike?

Accidents involving bikes are likely to cause more serious injuries than when you crash with a car. With cars, an accident may only cause damage to the car parts and other cars or surrounding structures. In this case, you may only have to pay for property damage and get a physical examination done to rule out any serious injury.

However, even with a helmet and other protective gear, a bike accident is more dangerous as the rider is completely exposed while riding and falls straight to the ground upon crashing. In the absence of open wounds, you may suffer a concoction or traumatic brain injury, fractures, or others. Therefore, the need for having a trustworthy brake may be more in bikes than in cars.

When the lever is not carefully selected, the consequences start from installation. It is difficult to fit the wrong type of lever on your bike particularly when the lever is not of compatible diameter with the handlebar where it is fixed into.

The very first question to answer when attempting to determine the type of lever that is best for your bike is what type of bike you own. Is it a road bike, a mountain bike, cyclo x or BMX or another exotic/customize bike? So, when this is out of the way, you will have a good idea of which type of lever to go for.

The next pertinent question while attempting to determine the type of brake system you have on your bike. Similar to a car, bikes have different types of brake systems, the commonest ones being the cable brake system and the hydraulic brake system. Each of these is compatible only with a certain type of lever.

After these two major considerations, you may now wish to determine the dimension of the handlebar to make sure the lever fits perfectly and does not become too installed. These are therefore the three most important factors to consider before installing a new lever on your bike.

You cannot afford to throw the manufacturer’s recommendation out the window. Read through the recommended brake type or type of bike for which the manufacturer has designated the lever before the purchase and installation. 

Manufacturers who offer a refund policy may not honor such if the buyer fails to install a lever on the right type of bike or brake system. Guarantees of refund or replacement are often conditioned to several days of usage, a proper following of instructions, and other similar conditions. The manufacturer reserves the right to honor the policy.

What are the types of brake levers?

Brake levers come in various designs, offering every buyer the opportunity to select the design, color, and type of brake levers that suits their bike and meets their standards. Irrespective of the type, brake levers are commonly installed on the handlebar to ensure closeness to the fingers which are used to pull the lever to slow down the speed of the bike or bring it to a stop.

The cable type of brake system is seen in most bikes out there. The cable runs from the brake lever where it is attended to the bike wheel. The effect of a pull on the lever is transmitted through the lever’s other brake parts such as the calipers which clench on the rotating wheel to slow its motion or stop it completely depending on the intensity of the grip.

The pull brake levers are the type of lever used with the cable brake type. These brake levers are of 3 types deepening on the light of the cable they pull. These include the short or standard pull brake lever, the long brake lever, and the dual brake lever as their names imply.

The short pull or standard brake lever

A short length of the cable is drawn in when the standard brake lever is pulled. It is designed to work with the brakes of bikes such as the BMX. The cable causes the caliper to clench on the wheel bringing about the effect of the brake. So, standard brake levers are used with caliper type of cable brakes.

The standard brake levers have also been used in the cyclo X bikes. These bikes are famous for their cantilever brakes. This means that the standard or short pull brake levers are in addition to the caliper brakes compatible with the cantilever brakes as well.

If you are a bike owner who is unsure of their type of bike or brake system, consult a bike expert first before purchase and installation. Bike installation is quite simple and hassle-free, however, brakes are not to be gambled with. If you are unsure about the repair or replacement process, it is best to use the help of an expert to ensure your safety while riding.

The long pull brake levers

This term is used to describe the length of the cable drawn by the lever when pulled. Although they work with cantilever brakes, they are more specific for the direct types. The long pull brake levers are therefore found commonly in mountain bikes that come with this type of brake.

Wrong brakes may cause the pull to feel harder than usual or softer than expected. The brake response and general performance are also linked to the type of brake lever and the installation of a compatible brake lever.

What do bikers consider when selecting a brake lever?

Color, type of design, and other nonfunctional qualities are some of the qualities considered by bikers out to get a new replacement for their brake levers. 

The bike handlebar is commonly the first part of the bike that is looked out. Therefore, most bike owners attempt to make this area look sleek and enticing. This may include the installation of a fancy-looking lever to draw attention to the bike.

A lever with a short blade is also preferred by some as this allows for use of a single finger to operate the brake lever. Given that these properties do not have any bearing on the function of the brake lever, a buyer has the full liberty to choose what he fancies.

Are Brake Levers Universa – Conclusion

Brake levers are not selected based on their design or looks, rather, the type of brake lever is dependent on the brake type, bike type, and the dimension of the handlebar. If you have any further questions about the brake lever, leave this in the comment section below

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