I'm trying to find out the correct name for the brake levers that are on a bike so that you can ride in a nearly upright position? I had an old Schwinn 10 speed that not only had the regular brake levers on the drop down handlebars, but it also had a set so you use them when you're riding in an upright position? I'm hoping someone can tell me what they're called from my vague description? Thanks

  • Noted we don't have anything about brakes or brake levers in the terminologiy index. bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/… Anyone feel like writing up entries ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 1:56
  • Just wanted to add that my Motobecane Cross Uno bike purchased earlier this year came with both sets of levers, and the handlebar ones worked fine. Couldn't find out what they called them, though. Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


There are two sorts of brake lever that would suit this description - given mention an older ten speed you're probably remembering these:

enter image description here
Sometimes called Suicide Brakes, or secondary levers/safety levers or something similar. They're not common any more because the braking effect is low, probably for mechanical advantage reasons.

Not recommended unless you're going for original-look. I have one on my 80s bike and its just for show - I never use it.

enter image description here
The more-modern version is a Cyclocross interruptor brake lever like these. Functionally they're similar, but pull the inner separately to the outer, they don't pull the existing brake lever for you.

These brake levers work fine, and function either in concert with dropbar brake/shifters as pictured, or can be used as brake levers by themselves if you're on a flatbar bike.

Again, these are mostly cable-brake based, but there are also hydraulic versions of the interruptor brake. Shimano's GRX groupset has them as an option.

Given you're looking for a new bike, this doesn't fit your need, but...

The third option is to either learn to brake with existing drop bar brakes, or look at upgrading to more modern brifters. The difference there is that the whole hand position has improved over time, and now braking from the hoods position works much better than older dropbar brakes.

Compare these with the first photo and you can see how different the angles are. https://images.immediate.co.uk/production/volatile/sites/21/2020/04/Orbea_Orca_OMX12-87b8784-scaled.jpg?quality=45&resize=768,574

See also Braking on a vintage road bike

  • 1
    A lot will maybe depend if OP has hydraulic brakes or standard pull / rim brakes. I can comfortably brake with one finger on the hoods on my bike but my mates one with similar levers but rims brakes is a whole different animal to brake effectively with minimum effort
    – Dan K
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 10:41
  • @DanK an "10 speed schwinn" would have been 100% be cable-based rim brakes. The question implies OP wants to buy something newer, so good point to consider what the new bike might have.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 12:53
  • We used to call the old school ones "lazy brakes" for those too lazy to use the drop position.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 13:13

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