Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An New Old Bike and Reversible Brakes

I've found a bike for training on in Johannesburg.  It's nothing fancy.  It's scratched and scraped but everything is where it should be - mostly! - and works.  It's got V-brakes, front shocks (lockable) and it's got the little holes needed to fit a carrier.  It doesn't have a steel frame but I'm giving up on that requirement for now.

In short, it's a perfect bike for my Jo'burg training and if it feels right, I might use it for Angola.  It was also very cheap - is that the catch?

There's one small snag - currently being sorted out by the bike shop - which I found out when I test rode the bike and nearly flew over the handle-bars:  the brake levers on many mountain bikes these days are the opposite way around to the way I'm used to.  So when I pulled the left hand lever I was engaging the front, not the rear brake.  Glad I figured this out in the courtyard behind the bike shop and not hurtling down a mountain! 

Who's bright idea was this anyway?  I've been cycling for about 36 years and I've never come across a bike with brakes set up this way.  I must be getting old.  When I pick it up this afternoon the old order will have been restored!


scfrd said...

Interesting. Maybe that's an American thing. All my bikes have had the left brake lever activate the front brake.

Paul said...

Hi scfrd!

Thanks for your comment! Yes, I think you're right about the brakes. A friend of mine says it's to do with what side of the road a country drives on. However, I'd like to hear from some Europeans because I don't remember this from when I hired bikes in the Netherlands or when I rode in Germany. Fortunately it's a simple procedure to have them swapped around. Otherwise I'd have a potentially interesting time re-learning 30-odd years of habit, at the cost of going over the top from time to time!

Happy cycling!

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