Please excuse my terminology, I have a Specialized Tricross (2008) with Shimano Tiagra STI levers, and convenience brakes on the top of the bars, running through the same cable.

Naturally, adjusting brakes is easy enough, but I have a very sharp pull on the top brakes (flat bars, if I can call them that) - and my STIs pull almost all the way to the stop before even engaging.

Can this be a case of badly adjusted brakes? I asked my Bike shop to service the bike (minor service) - and it came back more or less like this, it's not dangerous, at all - but I like a very short pull on my brakes after a nasty TFCC injury that still isn't recovered.

I've checked the manuals for the STI levers (I expected some kind of internal setting I could crank on these, and have them take up the slack from the top-brakes)

Whilst we're at it, what's the proper name for these inline top-brakes?

  • "Interrupter Brake Levers" is the proper term, though they're also sometimes called "cross levers". sheldonbrown.com/gloss_i-k.html
    – freiheit
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 16:52
  • Thanks @freiheit - the tip "Instead of pulling on the inner cable, interrupter levers activate the brakes by pushing on the cable housing." leaves a little clue - hoping I don't have to get my bars re-taped when I get them done! (Time to try the LBS, I guess) Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 17:58

2 Answers 2


The inline brakes are called interrupter brakes, or cross brakes.

It almost sounds like the pull of your inline cross breaks is meant for V-brakes, while your STI's are set for cantilever. From the details you provided, its hard to say what is going on.

If your brakes are set really loose, then both levers would bottom out before engaging, or would be rubbing the rims.

If they worked before, the shop did some work, and now they don't, well then its pretty obvious you need to return to the shop and have them fix it properly.

  • Thanks for the comment, I did my best linking the bike (2008 Specialized Tricross). The shop haven't ruined it, it's never been quite to my liking, the interrupter brakes have the perfect pull, but there's a lot to be desired on the STIs. Perhaps it's time for a new set of cables! And some proper shop work. Commented Dec 30, 2010 at 16:53

(Looks like this is a road bike with cantilever brakes?)

The problem with interrupter brake levers is that there isn't a way to adjust them independently of the main brake levers. Normally to make your brakes more sensitive you would shorten the brake cable, but this will affect both levers -- so if your interrupters are snappy already, they'll become even more so to fix the STIs.

You may want to look at switching to interrupters with less "pull" -- it sounds like the ones you have pull more cable than your STI levers.

Also consider your riding style and dial in the brakes that you use most often. If you're mostly on the flats then it's fine as-is. If you ride mostly in the drops or on the hoods, tighten up the brake cable until the STI lever feels right and go easy when using the interrupter. That's the position you'd most likely be in when going fast anyway and you'll want the extra braking power.

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