Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My girlfriend has recently bought her first road bike. While the frame size is pretty much spot on and comfortable for her, she finds that the brakes are difficult to use and she ends up with pain in her hands after longer rides. I think the issue arises because when she has the top of the hood in between her thumb and forefinger, her fingers only just reach the levers.

Has anyone else encountered this problem, and what have you done to fix it?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If the problem is that the levers are too far out from the bars, that may be fixable. Some brake levers come with small rubber inserts that you can use to reduce the distance to the levers.

share|improve this answer
I spoke to the bike shop today, and this is what they have suggested. We'll see how well this works, otherwise it may be a change in shifter. – deemar Oct 17 '10 at 6:11
My girlfriend had her bike serviced today and got the little spacers fitted. Apparently it has made the world of difference and she now feels much more in control on the brakes. – deemar Oct 25 '10 at 7:46
@deemar - Glad to hear it! – Neil Fein Oct 25 '10 at 14:55
Yeah, the spacers should be the first attempt at fixing the problem. Brake setup will be a bit touchier, and wheels must be truer, since the space between pads and rim will be reduced, but a good shop should be able to set up that stuff OK if things are in reasonably good condition. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 28 '11 at 22:00

Shimano and other companies make women's specific shifter/brake levers that are designed for small hands. These tend to come on women's specific bikes, but any reasonable bike shop should be able to special order a pair. While moving the lever itself may help her reach the brake when she's in the drops, it's never going to reduce the distance from the hood, so you really will need new shifters.

share|improve this answer
also look for 'youth' sized ones. They may be just womens shifters but then again. – curtismchale Oct 5 '10 at 18:52
This may end up being the solution we need to go for, but I'm keen to see what other options there are. This would be a fairly expensive modification to the bike. – deemar Oct 6 '10 at 0:24
@deemar, You said she recently bought the bike. If it was new (or in good condition), you should be able sell/trade the old levers to help offset the cost of the replacements. If it was from a bikes shop, they'll probably swap them out and charge you only the difference in price. – kevins Oct 6 '10 at 1:23

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.