Thursday, February 3, 2011

Brake Levers

When It comes to brake levers I'm a fan of Shimano.  The shape and size just fits my hand well.  When it comes time to select a lever however there is three criteria that I wanted these levers to fill, and that is they have a quick-release mechanism, an aero type lever and use SLR (Shimano Linear Response).  SLR is a fancy way of saying that there is a spring the lever that to me makes braking feel easier lighter to the touch (best way I can describe it).  As far as I can tell, Shimano only released a few brake levers that incorporated a quick-release.  The highest end lever was a part of the Sante groupset of the late 80's which fit in between Dura Ace and 600 Ultegra, and was considered a semi-pro groupset.

Shimano Sante BL-5001, with SLR, quick-release and 268g.

The other levers that also had a quick release/aero combo were the Exage group.  I for one think that the Sante group is pretty cheap and tacky looking, with it's white anodizing and (usually white) hoods.  The Exage levers aren't really much to get really excited about either, aside from the quick release function they are pretty standard levers.  The way its hoods are shaped, its similar in style to the Shimano AX groupsets, but with dimples.  As well, the Exage Motion levers have a nicely etched logo and polished silver levers.  There were two quick release models that were released under the Exage label, the Motion (BL-A251) and the Sport (BL-A451).  The main difference between these two levers were weight (BL-A251, 306g & BL-A451, 270g) and the small, rubber filler cutouts and painted logo on the sport lever.

Shimano Exage Motion, BL-A251, with SLR, quick-release and 306g.

Shimano Exage Sport, BL-A451, with SLR, Quick-release & 270g.

All of that said, the whole reason for wanting to have a quick-release is for use with the center-pull brakes, as they don't have any quick-release type mechanism.  If I decide to go with a caliper style brake, the quick-release won't be at all necessary and I will probably use the same levers I have on my other bicycle, the Soma/Tiagra BR-400 or the fancier Dura Ace/Ultegra BR-600 levers.  Out of the three above, since the levers mechanically are all identical, weight is barely different, all you're left with is looks.  In my books the Exage Motion, BL-A251, levers look the nicest and therefore would be my levers of choice.

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