I had a recent ride on a different bike setup and had a couple of close calls with rear skids, I really didn't put that much thought into it then, putting it down to newish brake pads and clean braking surfaces, but a recent post by SUS  about " new brake cables (replaced them when converting to right-hand drive)" and also while perving at a recent picture :  had me plotting to rob a bank thinking and had a second look at my bikes, it then also struck me that it was after a service on my commuter-roadie sometime last year when the cabling were replaced I did sort of notice the cables were running differently (and I needed to get some Lizard skin patches to protect the frame from cable rub - come to think about it I think it wasn't to really protect the frame- I think its more I didn't like the dirt/scuff marks) but I didn't think much about it at that stage either.

So now when I'm riding my commuter-roadie (which I spend most time on), it seems I have been reactively braking with my right hand first and a touch heavier compared to my left hand - and it is setup for the right lever operating the front brake. 
I've found that this is setup applies to the many other bikes in the LUG ... the Giants, the ToysRUs bike, the Kona, the Aldi bikes, all of which of never had their shifters, cables changed. 
I am yet to check the foldie, but come to think of it, I always felt there was some thing different about the brakes - but since I rarely go over 30kmh on that I had never - you guessed it, really thought about it either.

But on the weekend roadies, the right levers are linked to the rear brake. 

Granted on the one I'm more used to, I didn't have any skidding issues (other then the one singular near skid many months ago when descending Galston pretty quickly) but on the new setup it seems my habit/perchant for leading with the right is a little disconcerting when braking.

Naturally I did a quick consult with Rule#73 which implies that the cable from the right levers should go to the left housing stops, which leads to the rear brake. (and makes that nice cable curve in the picture above)


So (before you had a chance to look at your bikes and setups) to the questions : Is there a "standard", international or otherwise to which lever operates which brake ?

PS: Answers involving baacons are disqualified.

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I read the rest of the standard and a few things jumped off the page. The section about brakes seems to suggest that selling bikes with disk brakes is illegal in Australia. As is selling bikes without front and rear chain guards. I assume the rear one is the silly plastic spoke protector. But front chain guards for all bicycles? Does a front derailleur double as a chain guard under this standard? Or is basically every high end road bike in non-compliance with this mandatory standard? Maybe their bullet points are misleading.

• Brake friction pads are securely attached to the backing plate or holder and, when applied, touch only the wheel rim.

Protective guards

• For all other bicycles—the upper junction of the chain and chain wheel has a guard that can only be removed using a tool.
Derailleur gears fitted to rear wheels have a protective guard.

Penalties and consequences

As a supplier you may identify or be made aware that the bicycles you supply do not comply with the mandatory standard. If this occurs, you must immediately withdraw the product from the market.
Further action such as initiating an immediate product recall may also be required, depending on the particular circumstances and level of risk.
Supplying products that do not comply with a mandatory standardis an offence under the Trade Practices Act 1974.
Fines for non-compliance are:
• up to $1.1 million for companies
• up to $220 000 for individuals.

Carlos there have been two new versions of the AS since the one that had that FD clause was active. You have an old copy as far as I can tell.

All my bikes have the right lever operate the front brakes. This is particularly handy on my 'city' bikes as I can change gears and brake with just one hand on the handlebars (hub gear shift & rear derailleur shift is on the right). Front brake is what I use for 99.9% of my braking... even in the wet.

One hand on the handlebars allows me to carry things with my left hand (parcels, umbrella, etc.). The only thing I can't do is ring my bell... which is on the left... so I have to put my hand back on the left for that.

Contrary to herzog's comment, I can stop very quickly using only the front brake even and one hand on the handlebars... but it's the sort of thing that takes practice (and you don't want to practice IN an emergency). The only time I'm likely to use both brakes or bias the rear a little is if I'm *really* worried about traction... but I try and avoid going fast so as to need to brake in the first place if this is the case.

I had a chance to look at the foldie/Dahon today and it's Left to Front brake cabling.

Front brake is what I use for most of my braking as well.

Anyway there are really 3 solutions for me.

1/ Do nothing and adapt to the different setups.

2/ Organise to swap the weekenders cabling to Right-to-Front-brake brake cabling (2 bikes)

3/ Organise to swap thecommuter to Left-to-Front-brake (1 bike) - I'm leaning toward this option as I've planning to get some work done on this bike sometime soon, that is if the LBS bothers to get back to me.

Do #3. Keep it consistent. Seriously, you'll regret it the first time you have to react to quickly to think about it, get it wrong and end up going over the bars or skidding into something.


Swapping brake cables around is easy. You can always follow Si's Bike Maintenance Rule #1: "If you haven't done it before, allow yourself half a day to do it and do it when you can get to a bike shop to fix up any blunders."


Get some electricians tape the colour you want/need:


You will probably not need to cut (resize) the cables. You can probably reuse the cable ends if you are delicate with some pliers.

It's definitely a good idea to pick a system and stick to it for all your bikes.


Also if you ride motorcycles, your pushbikes should always be Right/Front.


In an emergency braking scenario, you want your instinctive response to grab the correct lever no matter what you're riding.

The issue with a bike in a retail store being sold the "wrong" way around is that if someone was seriously hurt (Damian mentions a case and there are others) then the non-compliance with the mandatory standard would be a red rag to the insurance company. Most product liability policies have an "out" for the insurer for what is called an "error in specification". So the retailer and the brand owner would likely end up wearing the damages between themselves. That could be substantial enough to financially ruin the retailer.

The same issue applies in reverse, for example, in the USA where an Australian designed bike sold with the cables around the wrong way for the USA may not have full protection for liability insurance.

A solution is to ship the bike from the factory with the brake cables not connected to the brake levers.  

As an aside, the Australian buyer of a bike from an overseas retailer bought on line has no protection other than what the seller decides at their discretion to provide.

Paul, your ability to do an unprepared rapid front brake stop one-handed is impressive! But remember these standards have got to be something that works best for the average punter, not Danny Mackaskill.
The, riding posture, geometry of the bike, and "twitchiness" of the setup are going to affect how achievable this is. These factors can vary a lot based on the rake of the forks, head angle, stem length. The power of the brakes also comes into play. Eg: front brake on hydros can be very powerful even with a single finger, meaning the riding needs to be well braced before grabbing the lever.
In general, if the average punter grabs a handful of front brake for an emergency stop while riding one handed (and therefore unable to brace), they are going to be thrown heavily to the ground.

Of course it depends on which bike I'm riding - I should have mentioned that minor point! - and how fast (or not) I'm going. It's much harder to pull off on the road bike... almost impossible, to be honest, for a really hard stop. The omafiets is easy as pie.

One of my checks when taking a bike out (or borrowing a bike) is the brake efficacy (the whole 'system' - road surface, tyres, brakes, brake cable adjustment, etc).

Heard a nasty story the other day about a MTB rider who borrowed a friends bike for a ride and it was hooked up the US way. He ended up with several broken ribs after going OTB.

I bought my Bianchi in the US and had them swap the cables around for me so I didn't grab the wrong one by mistake (especially given that bike was my child carrying bike when Miles was young)

Yeah it's probably even more critical in MTB applications to stick to one system. (Difficult on a borrowed bike though!)
If the bike is descending a 60 degree incline, it doesn't take much to flip it.


I can't say I'd be using too much front brake (or any) there! Great shot.


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