This question may just be too basic, but was unable to find a direct answer. People seem to assume that a brake lever hood* is a given, but I'm wondering if it's necessary or really does all that much to protect from the elements.

*I am aware that sometimes "hood" refers to the whole apparatus, and sometimes to just the rubber/ silicone/ whatever protective cover. I am referring to just the protective cover.

Background: I've an old Raleigh Competition bike that I cleaned up and tuned a couple years ago. Just the other day, the drop handlebar snapped in half.... Anyway, I acquired a new handlebar for it, and I'm getting new wraps, but the brown brake lever "hoods" are original and basically falling apart. I pried them off, and honestly with the black-silver scheme, I think the bare silver brake lever apparatus looks fine on its own. And getting just replacement hoods looks like an additional $30+... which... I mean I might as well get a whole new braking system. Anyway, once I re-wrap the handlebars, things will be pretty much locked in place, so I'm wondering if there'd be any detriment to just riding around without hoods.

Original handlebars (with road patch)

New handlebars with bare brake levers

  • 3
    How did the bars break? I hope you are all right.
    – Robert
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 0:28
  • 1
    Fortunately, it didn't break at high velocity! I just kinda snapped off as I was getting moving from a stop. I did have another person sitting on the back, but I don't think I was putting a lot of weight on the handlebar... so... ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Anyway everyone was unharmed. Just sad. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:28
  • 1
    I have my hands on the hoods 90% of the time, so would insist on them for that reason. Many years ago when I was more flexible I rode in the drops most of the time and never on the hoods. If you don't want to use hoods it may help to raise the handlebars. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


Lots of bikes don't have a brake lever hood. They are a "nice-to-have" to make the human/machine interface more comfortable.

  • 3
    However those brakes that expect a hood will be designed in the expectation that it's present to cover up any hard edges (some of which may be what keep the hood in place). So a test ride is in order, and not just once round the block. This may be without bar tape, or with a cheap temporary solution.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 5:57
  • That's good to know, thanks! I've done some test-riding and it feels fine, but so far just around the block. One of the brake levers jangles around a bit, but it did that with the hood on as well. Should be more secure one I finalize the positioning and wrap the bars. The more awkward thing is getting used to the different shape of drop bar! Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:32
  • Not just hard edges, but also pinching.
    – shoover
    Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 18:26

I think it will be fine even without the hood. But if you are really worried about contaminants, you can wrap it with regular bar tape, maybe do a nice pattern with a neat transition. For extra protection you can add some thin plastic foil underneath.

Here is a video from RJ The Bike Guy showing how to wrap vintage style handlebars with levers similar to yours. No rubber hoods are present on his levers either, but he doesn't bother to wrap the levers, just does an X pattern around them. You could try to wrap the levers too, to get more area covered.

Another alternative would be to make a DIY hood cover from a large diameter heat-shrink tube, but these may be difficult to find too.

  • Interesting; can you send a link to an example of what you mean? When I put the new handlebar wrap on, it should cover the base of the brake levers and secure them. Commented Oct 5, 2023 at 15:34

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