Thursday January 14th 2010, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Observational Review

I like new parts on my bike. I like bike components in general. I get excited about them, I enjoy analyzing and figuring out how the manufacturer did things, why they did things, and if I agree either way. I do this, and feel this way, about even some of the smallest, insignificant, and non-tech heavy, inexpensive components. I’m no snob, I’m just a mechanic.

I’ve got a new lever on my ‘cross bike. It now matches (ergonomically) the right-side shift/brake lever. I’m stoked on it, I’m stoked on this mid-level bike. I think it should be deemed higher than mid-level, it probably is. There; I said it; therefore, it is. Why should I be stoked out on a new lever on my bike? Well, because it feels better, it feels right, and just looks right as well. The new bars are rad shit too! FSA Omegas. Shallow drop, because I don’t need to be all deep, nor do I need “ergo bars”. Their bends are garish, and honestly, they feel like they put my hands even further from the levers while in the drops. Shallow feels like my hands are right where they need to be in an aero position. Second choice is the classic curve bar, just like my Cinellis. The Ritchey WCS Classic is right up there too for modern bars. Good stuff.

Back to those levers. Now my ‘cross bike has ergonomically matching levers. I’ll admit, I thought I was all unique by putting a black Tektro left brake lever on my ‘cross bike to run it as a single ring set up. Found out soon enough I wasn’t the only one doing such a crazy stunt. I really just wanted to set the bike up with SRAM Force because a.) the shifter was an ’09 model, b.) due to a. the shifter was inexpensive, and because of—the most important to me—c.) I wanted to experience and experiment with some different road components. Besides, what mechanic rides a stock bike, right? I already know what 105 rides like. But c.) is what I do, but not like how a lot of other folks do it. I wanted to learn more about what riding SRAM is like, what working with SRAM is like, and what durability, reliability, and sexiness with SRAM is like, but once I see all that, I don’t just toss it aside like a half eaten cookie. I learn the most about a product by developing a long-term relationship with it. I’m going to find out how that ’09 shifter works a year or more from now instead of the cursory roll in the hay, the quick in-and-out, that some other mechanics may perform. Which wrench knows more in the end? I’m sure it’s debatable, everything is.

Learn I did, and like I did too. Actually, still learning and liking to this day. SRAM road is cool stuff. I’m pretty sold on it, but this isn’t a review on SRAM shifting, but rather a review on SRAM braking—sort of. Tektro lever out, SRAM 900 single speed brake lever in. The color match isn’t perfect, but the feel is, and honestly that’s infinitely more important. Were I so inclined, I evidently can install front shifting guts inside this brake lever and be able to shift a front derailleur. Were I so inclined—if I had a operable front derailleur. In fact, these single speed brake levers might even be a way to inexpensively replace a SRAM shifter that was crash damaged, i.e. not covered under warranty, i.e. wink wink. You should look into it.


Offering an ergonomically similar brake lever should be something Shimano might want to consider. Does the new Campy have shiftless brake levers available? I know they used to.

Now while I admitted earlier here about not liking ergo bend handlebars, this isn’t to say I think ergonomics are a bad, or unnecessary, thing. Au contraire! I think the big brands are finally figuring out the issues with ergonomics, sticking to the focus we’re discussing here: hands. Shimano and Campagnolo have both released fantastic new grips on their road levers this year past; SRAM, being fairly new, by default did so too. As far as I know, SRAM’s have a couple things the other big two don’t and that’s adjustability, with both the brake lever reach and the shifter lever reach—independent of each other. Thoughtfully executed, and exactly the kind of manufacturing and design feature I totally lose my rocks on.

As far as the actual braking action goes. Snap snap, just like a ‘cross bike should. Were they actually cabled to brakes that stopped on a dime, I wouldn’t doubt for an instant the levers would perform perfectly.

IMG_0172.JPG IMG_0598.JPG

This has been my daily rider for quite a while now, hence the plethora of pictures of it on flickr.

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