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My bicycle currently looks like this: enter image description here

Can I move the brake levers from the side to the front, so it looks like this?

enter image description here

How do I go about it, and is it good idea? I'm new to riding this kind of a bicycle and I feel very uncomfortable leaning so far to the front to hit at the brakes!

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    It sounds like bike fit may be an issue. It shouldn't be a stretch to reach the hoods position (you can brake from the hoods or drops with a regular road setup). When riding the hoods should be easy to reach (like that is where you naturally rest your hands). You may need a shorter stem, or you may need to raise the bars. Local bike shop can likely help. – Rider_X Sep 5 '17 at 20:26
  • Also the levers themselves may need adjusting especially if you've got small hands. – Chris H Sep 5 '17 at 21:30
  • It's not really a fit issue. If anything the bike is slightly smaller than ideal for my height. It's just that I'm not used to riding bikes with drop down handlebars. I just feel way more comfortable sitting upright. Thanks for the tips, though, @Rider_X and Chris – Vinod Vishwanath Sep 5 '17 at 21:49
  • @VinodVishwanath - handle bars that are too low is a fit issue. A bike that is too small may not have enough stack height on the front end as it was intended for a smaller rider. Riser stems can be used to raise the handle bars further, you also may need a longer stem if the bike is small. A bike shop can probably help. – Rider_X Sep 5 '17 at 21:52
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Not really. The levers in the second picture are commonly called "interrupter" levers, and are usually used in addition to the levers you've already got.

I think you'd find that if you simply tried to relocate your existing levers, they wouldn't fit against the tops of the bars very well, and the way the levers are curved would cause them to bump into the handlebars before you had fully depressed them.

You could replace your current levers with interrupters (at least some interrupters are designed so they can be used alone). I'd advise against that: riding from the "tops" of the handlebars can make handling a little dicey, and this would lock you into braking from a less-controlled position. You can ride on the brake hoods or the "ramps" just above them and still apply a fair amount of leverage to the brake levers while being in a position that's reasonably comfortable and controlled.

If your bike is the one shown in the top picture, you can also raise your stem. I think that if you give the forward position a chance, you'll adapt to it. If not, you can replace your handlebars with flat bars (you'd need new brake levers for that as well).

  • Thanks for the detailed answer! I suppose I'll just give the forward position a real try. Cheers! – Vinod Vishwanath Sep 5 '17 at 20:59
  • @VinodVishwanath This GCN Video explains the various positions you can normally put your hands in. Do check out the hoods, too. – David Richerby Sep 5 '17 at 21:04
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    Since those brake levers are the only brake levers, they probably aren't interrupters but some sort of cheapo MTB brake lever or something. – whatsisname Sep 5 '17 at 23:27
  • Great answer - 100% correct. I'd possibly add that interrupters (aka Cross levers) are just brakes not brifters, and don't offer any gear shifting so you need a single speed or some other way to change gear, like separate gear levers, or electronic shifting buttons. Both brifters and cross levers/interruptors is the best answer here. – Criggie Sep 6 '17 at 8:08
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    @whatsisname interrupter levers can be installed without main levers. The part that normally pushes against cable housing pushes cable ferrule instead. No special design needed. – ojs Sep 6 '17 at 10:03
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Yes, you probably can achieve the desired result, though not the way you described. Some bikes come with the standard levers, as shown in your first photo, PLUS additional levers that run parallel to the crossbar of the handlebars, exactly where you want them. Perhaps interrupter lever is another name for them, but extension levers is what I know them as.

Though not always the case, many, if not most, good quality brake systems can be modified by adding the extension levers as an aftermarket modification. Good systems use screws to hold the levers in place, so that they are replaceable. Those are easy to add extensions to.

If yours have rubber hoods on them, as in the photo, the modification includes punching a hole through those, so that the extension can be bolted on. If you bought your bike from a good bike shop, they should be able to do it for you in less than an hour, unless yours are not suitable for modification.

If, for whatever reason, you can't/don't want to do that, you can replace the entire lever system with one that already has the extensions, like this one; https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LIFBEGA/ref=s9_acsd_zwish_hd_bw_bEf0F_c_x_w?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-11&pf_rd_r=Y4C1DVZ2RBB2KN05YXVY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=35be4e2e-4268-5a73-9f8b-dcbcdf18a280&pf_rd_i=3494211

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    Extension levers and interrupters are not the same thing. Extension levers are little death-inviting levers that activate the normal drop-bar brake levers, and do a poor job of it. Interrupter (or cross/inline) brake levers work by pushing against the housing instead of pulling on the cable, and so can deliver a full, proper lever throw, which extension levers usually can't. – whatsisname Sep 5 '17 at 23:30
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    In short, you should never recommend extension levers to anyone unless you want them to die. – whatsisname Sep 5 '17 at 23:31
  • @whatsisname This is definitely a recommendation of extension levers -- see the Amazon link. – David Richerby Sep 5 '17 at 23:57
  • Extension levers also really can't be added to existing levers. DaveInAZ might like to provide some proof. – ojs Sep 6 '17 at 10:07
  • @whatsisname - got an example of these all-mighty interrupters? – DaveInAZ Sep 7 '17 at 22:14

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