01 April 2011

Brompton brake levers

As I mentioned in my initial thoughts the biggest disappointment with my Brompton is the performance of the brakes. The cable oilers I fitted helped to some degree but I decided to try some different brake levers too.

I bought a pair of Shimano R550 levers in black. At £15 for a pair they are only about £5 more expensive than a replacement pair of Brompton levers but they are much more solidly made (and no doubt a bit heavier for it too). There are other levers around, but the important thing to check is that they are suitable for calliper brakes rather than V brakes.

These levers are much narrower where they attach to the handlebar than the Brompton levers. This means that if you use Ergon grips they need to be cut much less than with the standard lever (although they do need to be cut all the way around).

At first I found the levers a bit hard to use, but I realised that this was because I’d positioned them similarly to the old levers and they were facing almost straight down making them hard to reach. I adjusted the handlebars back to about vertical (when unfolded) which allowed me to position the levers at close to 45 degrees and still fold the bike. In this position they are much more usable and importantly feel much more positive than the original levers.