Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

How to: position your brake and gear levers

Posted by Matt | January 9, 2009 | 2 comments so far

I’ve recently gotten myself a rather trendy pair of white ODI lock-on grips for my On-one Inbred. Well, it seemed the right thing to do to compliment the white paintwork.

When I came to fit them I realised I needed to move my brake and gear pods inboard to accommodate their slightly longer length so I thought I’d take the opportunity to set everything up correctly.

Generally I was quite happy with how I had things arranged before but this tweak has definitely made riding the On-one a more pleasurable experience. My main gripe in the past has been that the shifter pods were slightly fouling the hand grip which meant that I was crabbing my hands slightly to reach them to change gear and also had less space to use the grips.

So, when I fitted the new grips I moved the shifters and brake levers further inward. Normally I’d butt them right up against the grip but I’ve now moved them about 1/2 an inch (15mm) further away (inward). Not only do I now have a more comfortable grip but the brake levers also fall to hand more naturally, allowing comfortable two (or even one) finger braking. Out on the trails I’ve been revelling in how much less self-conscious I am riding now that the controls are ideally placed.

I often see people also make the mistake of having the brake and shifter pods angled too high on their bars which makes comfortable braking and gear changing tricky and tiring over a long ride. The secret is to loosen both the brake and shifter pods and rotate them so that when you’re sitting on the bike they are in a straight line to your natural hand position, as if you can imagine your arm has been extended past and through them.

Once you have that alignment, tighten them up and you’ll find things feel much more intuitive. You might want to tweak a few degrees either way but generally they’ll be positioned about right. I always make sure my brakes are aligned like this and reckon it’s the cheapest brake upgrade you can make.

Recently I swapped bikes with Mark so he could ride my On-one classic for a comparison as he has an Inbred 456. I found his bike poorly set up and uncomfortable, mainly because his brakes were angled much higher than I’m used to. He must have agreed because his first comment after handing back my bike after a decent ride was ‘that’s the most comfortable hardtail I’ve ever ridden!’ And those bikes are essentially stablemates.

So take the time to get your bike comfortably set up and maybe play around with what you have already. My experience has been really positive—it really can make a difference and won’t cost you anything for a change.

Filed under Tips in January 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 2 comments on ‘How to: position your brake and gear levers’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

  1. Andy says:

    One minor addition for you:

    When setting up your controls, you are looking to have a straight line between your wrists and the forearm when you are in the ‘attack’ position.

    The reason for this is that bent wrists mean that any force travelling up through the bars is transferred into your bent arms (which act like suspension). If the wrists are bent the force stops at the wrist joint causing discomfort and potential long term problems.

  2. Mandog says:

    Watch out for arm pump when levers and arms are in line. This article talks about having a “break” in the wrists.

Leave a comment…

Have your say – we'd love to hear what you think.

If you have something to add, just complete this comment form (we will not publish your email address).

*Required information.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.