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What sides are your brakes on??

  • 02-02-2022 2:34pm
    Registered Users Posts: 953 ✭✭✭ Tim76

    Hi all,

    I recently bought a new a bike and noticed that the brake levers are on opposite sides to my old bike. To explain, on my old bike (a Giant) the left hand lever operates the rear brake and the right hand lever operates the front brake. To me this seems to work perfectly for countries where you drive on the left (although, as to why a Taiwanese bike has this set up remains to be seen) as it leaves your right arm free to signal and you can carefully control your speed using the left lever to activate the rear break. Also, as I'm right handed, I can use my right hand to drink from the bottle and my left hand again to manage the speed if needed. Finally, when you have to stop at a junction you can slow the bike with the left hand hand and move up the rear cassette with the right hand using the right lever at the same time - I would imagine trying to use the right lever to activate the rear break and change gears at the same time would be difficult.

    For all the reasons outlined above, not to the mention the fact that my reflexes are accustomed to the left/rear - right/front set up, it would seem like switching the controls on the new bike would be the way to go. However the new bike (a Trek) has hydraulic breaks with internal cabling which complicates matters a bit, so now I am considering switching the Giant to the Trek set up (I will still be riding both bikes for the foreseeable). Even though I am struggling to see any advantages with having the rear break on the right hand side!

    Anyway, just wondering what set up everyone out there is using and if indeed there is any advantage to having the rear brake on the right?

    Am I just better off biting the bullet and paying to get the Trek switched over to my old set up? The last thing I want is to be coming down hard on a front disc brake in an emergency situation!



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    It's not a particularly difficult switch to make. If you go back to the shop you bought it from, I'd imagine they'd do it for small money

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,633 ✭✭✭ fat bloke

    Yeah I prefer left rear braking too. My newest (to me) bike is the opposite and I intend to get it rectified.

  • Are there not regulations as to how the brakes are set up on bikes entering different countries? It's determined for one by the side of the road you ride, I know there is more to it but just can't recall what, something to do with prioritising the rear break and hand signals.

    Anyway I've had brakes swapped for free in the past when buying a bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 953 ✭✭✭ Tim76

    I don't know about regulations but the left lever/rear brake set up seems to be the standard for left-hand drive countries like the UK and Australia. While the opposite is true of the Continent and US.

    Aside from that though, the more I think of it, being able to reduce the speed with the left lever/rear brake while moving up rear cassette at the same time before stopping seems pretty crucial. Especially if you want a quick getaway when the light turns green. Any right lever/rear break guys out there to advise how they manage this scenario? I know you can slow the bike with the front break but i generally just use that to fully stop the bike and only after activating the rear brake first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    I know it's done by default on different sides depending on the country, and it seems to broadly correspond with the side of the road you would cycle or drive on, but I don't think it's a thing that's regulated for.

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 45,201 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    I know you can slow the bike with the front break but i generally just use that to fully stop the bike and only after activating the rear brake first.

    they saying goes is that the back brake is for slowing down, the front brake is for stopping.

  • Registered Users Posts: 953 ✭✭✭ Tim76

    Exactly. How are you meant to gently slow and change through the gears at the same time if the right leaver does both or am I missing something here?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,215 ✭✭✭ saccades

    When I bought my MTB from the UK, the shop had standing orders that any export had to be built with the brakes the opposite way around to the UK. Despite Ireland having the same brake set up as the UK. Not too much of a pain as the levers were reversible but made me chuckle.

    @Tim76 with finesse. Shimano had XTR flappy paddle shifters out for a while which were fitted to a demo bike I had. In theory it could be great, in reality my head nearly melted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 792 ✭✭✭ jrar

    My most recent purchase was a European make so the set up was straight Continental i.e. l/h lever for front brake, r/h for rear - so I asked the shop to change it over which they did no problem.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    Yeah, this really isn't a big deal. If you're any way handy at all, you could do it yourself. Otherwise it's an easy job for the lbs

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,216 ✭✭✭ Breezer

    My understanding is that the UK, and only the UK, has the rear on the left and the front on the right. Any bike I’ve had in Ireland is the opposite way.

    As for slowing down and shifting down at the same time, I’ve never really thought about it. So I’ve just grabbed my bikes indoors and gone through the motions, and it seems I just use different fingers for each action. The fact that I’ve never really thought about it suggests to me that it’s something you’ll get used to easily enough. But if it bothers you, it’s an easy switch. UK bike shops do it pre-sale for literally every bike they sell.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    All my bikes, and any bike I ever had, was left hand rear brake

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,216 ✭✭✭ Breezer

    Interesting. All bought new in Ireland? Perhaps imported via the UK and the shops here didn’t bother changing back? I don’t think we’ve any legislation on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    All bought in this country. I've seen two Peaugots that were the opposite, but I always assumed it was because they were French bikes

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 45,201 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    the only bike i've ever had with the brakes a la mode francais was a secondhand bike bought off joey100 here on boards, because he's clearly a deviant.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,216 ✭✭✭ Breezer

    I stand corrected!

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,633 ✭✭✭ fat bloke

    Motorbikes also follow a right = front brake standard. It doesn't really matter I guess to any particular rider as long as you're consistent. You just don't want to grab a handful of the wrong lever cos if you lock up the front then you're hitting the deck!

  • Registered Users Posts: 774 ✭✭✭ alentejo

    I bought an Orbea some years ago and it has the brakes set up as per continental Europe, Warnings over the bike though. I think all orbeas at the time were the same

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,180 ✭✭✭ cletus

    Now that I think if it, a mate of mine got an orbea 18 months ago, and it had the continental setup

  • Registered Users Posts: 194 ✭✭ WOT

    I’ve 2 bikes that I use regularly.

    One is left - rear, the other is right - rear

    Occasionally confuses me, keeps me thinking. Don’t think I have a preference really.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 953 ✭✭✭ Tim76

    The brother has 2 Trek bikes and they are both set up a la mode francais.

    I'm guessing it's like the petrol tanks of cars, the side is determined on whether it was produced in a left hand drive country or right.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,868 ✭✭✭ secman

    Just in from a spin on a Trek, I'd actually have to go out and check it😃.

    I tend to ease on both brakes when using them, pet hate of mine..using brakes on the bike , especially ona downhill, sacrilege 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 953 ✭✭✭ Tim76

    Don't think I could cope with that drama - especially given some of the drivers out there! I've had some very close calls and hitting that rear brake a millisecond before the front one is the only thing that has saved me. If I encounter a similar situation on the Trek, with it's current set up, and the reflexes kick in then I'm arse over tit onto the road.

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 23,143 Mod ✭✭✭✭ CramCycle

    I'm gonna go against the grain here. Mine are set up conti style and I think it is better (for me). No issues whatsoever. ALthough I still laugh at a college friend who took my bike after a few beers and faceplanted in a puddle.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,154 ✭✭✭ Idleater

    I also have always set up my bikes with the same brake-as-derraileur. Front shifter, front brake etc. Never had an issue braking and shifting (if needed) or with indicating (right which is the "more cautionary") and maneuvering in traffic. Also MTB, road, city and single speed (with back-pedal coaster).

    YMMV I guess.

  • Had a French housemate do the same on my non-French brakes when he borrowed my bike. Back then I never knew there was a difference until he arrived back in a jock having come off at the bottom of our road which was downhill and a 90 degree right. Thankfully he was ok and so was the bike which I still have as it happens.

    To this day I'll always check getting on a new bike.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,848 ✭✭✭✭ Wishbone Ash

    Most of the world seem to manage it that way.

    All bikes I've ever had have been rear/left. It can be a bit disconcerting when descending a wet mountain abroad on a hired bike and locking up the rear.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,868 ✭✭✭ secman

    Emonda's are left/front

    Domane is left/front

    Pretty sure the Plantet X is the same as I had to check it last weekend as back brake was a bit sticky.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,930 ✭✭✭ Stone Deaf 4evr

    I always thought it was to do with the idea that most people are right hand dominant - so that hand is better conditioned for finesse, something that is generally preferred when dealing with the front brake so as to limit the potential for launching yourself over the bars. I always thought that was why motorbikes were set up the same way.