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I have a Schwinn Letour bike which has brake handles that can be gripped from two different points, but the whole brake handle is a singly body of metal, as can be seen here:

enter image description here

I am wondering what this kind of brake handles are called?

  • Just FYI there are four distinct hand positions there. 1) the tops with fingers over the top 2) the corners/shoulders with fingers going down the outside 3) the hoods, with the thumb's web pressing into the brake body, thumb inside, and fingers wrapped around to the forward lever, and 4) the drops where you're bent over and grabbing the lower part of forward lever. – Criggie May 30 '18 at 7:08
  • Note that, in most cases, the "suicide levers" can be easily removed by just unscrewing the levers' pivot screws. I would say that the levers have been removed on about 3/4ths of bikes I see equipped for them. – Daniel R Hicks May 30 '18 at 21:23
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I was hesitating to flag this post as a duplicate of Why don't brakes come with 'Safety Levers' any more?, but the other post is rich in the names of those "dual-pull" brake levers which in fact answers the OP's question.

So the names are:

  • Dual pull
  • Safety Levers (manufacturer's term)
  • Extension Levers (Sheldon Brown)
  • Suicide levers (wikipedia)
  • Auxiliary levers (wikipedia)
  • Interrupter levers - these are the additional brake levers placed along the brake cable. Although their position is similar to those mentioned above, they operation (and effectiveness) is different.

I hope this gives the OP enough possibilities to chose from.

  • @Carel, you're right, I've adjusted my answer accordingly. – Mike May 30 '18 at 8:40
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    In this case I would recommend the OP to get rid of the suicide levers and install interrupter levers if he really must. Those are proven to be effective by many cyclocross racers and not being a liability like the (un)safety levers. – Carel May 30 '18 at 9:37
  • @Carel, another possibility for the OP is to keep those for the looks and originality of the bicycle (if desired) but not to rely on them as an effective mean of losing velocity. – Mike May 30 '18 at 9:59
  • Thank you for the thorough answer!! I am sad to hear that they're actually not that safe.... – Cupitor Jun 4 '18 at 6:21
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It's just worth mentioning that there are modern levers that serve the same purpose but are much safer. If you're trying to emulate the setup above you shoudl use the new products.

They are known as cyclocross or interrupter levers and are discussed here and here. Other names include crosstop and inline.

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Those are drop bar brakes, with an auxilliary brake lever for the tops.

They are also known colloquially as "sissy bars/levers" for people who can't or won't ride on the hoods.

Some people refer to them as "suicide brake levers" because they don't brake as well as the hoods directly.

They are not brifters, or STI, or ergo-anything. Those are purely brake levers and have no function of shifting at all.


Where would you find them? Bike-Boom bicycles would be a prime candidate, dating from the mid 70s through to perhaps the late 80s.

Racing bikes would not have these - they would lack the boss on the brake-lever body.

Your pictured bike is a bit of an abberation too - the brake is not a caliper, it seems to be a cantilever with a fixed mount point at the top of the headset. Most boom bikes would be a simple single pivot side pull caliper.

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    the brake caliper pictured is called "center-pull" - a well-known product of French MAFAC. – Mike May 30 '18 at 7:11
  • @Mike good spotting! If it were canti we should be able to see the mounting bosses. – Criggie May 30 '18 at 9:06
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    the reflector in the picture may obscure the canti bosses should they be there. Nevertheless, AFAIK cantilevers and V-brakes put considerable pushing force on the fork blades and lightweight race front forks are not made to withstand those forces, hence cantis are not used on road bikes. – Mike May 30 '18 at 9:29
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    On a Schwinn of that vintage/quality I would not expect Mafacs, but DiaComps. – Fred the Magic Wonder Dog Jun 2 '18 at 0:43

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