New answers tagged history
If you look at drawings of old bikes, both types of brake configurations are depicted. This supports the idea that it was merely a design choice with no significant pros and cons over other configurations other than aesthetics. I suggest that it just so happens that builders in the place and time period you cited used this design because it was fashionable. ...
A cleaner appearance. A standard lever will have an unattractive clamp. Also, the rider may wish to use multiple hand positions on the bar & the clamp could be in the way of a desired position.
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