Cycling is a great sport for both fun and exercise, and it is important that cyclists make sure that the individual parts of the bicycle are well cared for and replaced when necessary. Brake levers are an important part of the bicycle, and are available in many different types of brake, materials and sizes and the buyer must understand the range of items available to them as well as how to go about purchasing them on eBay.
Some brake levels are designed to be used with certain kinds of bicycles, as different types of bicycles will be used in different situations and environments and may have special designs or requirements. The main bicycle types are:
Road bicycles are the most common type of bike, used by many people around the world, and so the levers used for these bicycles are the most varied and versatile. Since these bicycles are less likely to be used for speed racing or mountain biking, the buyer can place more emphasis on design and shape over extreme gripping power – a strong brake is sensible, but it will not have to operate under high stress like speed or uneven movement.
BMX and mountain bikes are a kind of bicycle that require a specialised design because of the strain the bicycle will be under as well as the fact that the brakes may be needed at a moment’s notice and will also be needed to grip when on very uneven surfaces. Brake levers for these bicycles typically have a slightly more curved shape; often have rubber grips and sometimes even individual grooves for fingers to prevent hands from sliding around whilst cycling.
The brake levers for race or time trial bicycles are specially designed to be fitted to the shape of the bicycle handles. Race bicycles typically have vertical handlebars that are fitted very close together, and as race bicycles move at great speed it is necessary that brake levels be powerful and quick to respond to the slightest pressure.
Types of Brake
When looking to purchase levers, the buyer also needs to consider the kind of brake the lever will be controlling. The way brakes work can vary a great deal and the brakes must be adapted to suit the item they are attached to. The main kinds of brakes the buyer will see levers specialised for are:
- Calliper Brake
- Cantilever Brake
- Disc Brake
The buyer can use the search preferences to identify the kind of brake they need to buy levers for. It is important that the buyer purchases the appropriate brake lever as the incorrect item may fail during use or not even work at all.
There are many different materials used for brake levers, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages, as well as properties and specialised uses. The main materials used are:
The alloy used in bicycles is typically a blend of aluminium, a popular metal for many sporting items and equipment.
- Aluminium alloy is very lightweight.
- Alloy is rust resistant, which is important if cycling in a wet or humid climate.
- Alloy is not as strong as steel, and is more prone to damage in a crash.
- Alloy is difficult to repair, as aluminium is not very flexible and can be hard to reshape.
Carbon fibre is actually a kind of plastic, and it is a popular material used for high-end sport and racing bikes due its special properties.
- Carbon fibre is an incredibly light material.
- Carbon fibre has a very rigid structure, and does not bend under pressure like regular plastic.
- Carbon fibre is very easy to damage in a crash or fall.
- These bikes will also be extremely difficult to repair if damaged, and any damaged parts will likely have to be replaced.
- Carbon fibre is often considerably more expensive than other materials.
Steel has been the traditional material for bicycles for many years, and is still in frequent use today around the world.
- Steel is a very strong and durable material.
- Steel brake levers will also be considerably easier to repair than alloy levers.
- Steel is considerably heavier than alloy and carbon fibre.
- Steel is also prone to rust.
Buyers should try to avoid regular plastic brake levers, as they are very likely to break during a crash or when pulled too hard, and are not durable at all. The ideal material for the buyer will likely rely on the type of bicycle they have, as well as what they wish to use it for. For casual cyclists who cycle for pleasure or on their commute then they may wish to opt for less expensive but still strong and durable steel or alloy. Carbon fibre is costly enough that it is often used solely for specialised racing bicycles – they are not suited to mountain or BMX biking because of their vulnerability to damage.
Size of the Brake Levers
The buyer may wish to consider the size of brake levers, particularly if they tend to hold the bike handlebars in a certain way or if buying break levers for a child’s bicycle. It is important to purchase specialised break levers for children’s bicycles, as they will not only need to be smaller and closer to the handlebars to accommodate for smaller hands, but also easier to depress.
There are some large brake levers available for those buyers who either hold the handlebars quite far away from the centremost point where the levers would be anchored, or if they prefer to press the break lever down with their entire hand.
Apart from the main aspects of material and type, the buyer should consider the other factors that are likely to affect their final choice, such as:
- Grip – the cyclist should consider the handles of the break levers themselves, and may wish to purchase extra items to ensure that they are able to get a better grip on the levers – especially important if moving at speed or if the cyclist’s hands are sweaty. There are lever hoods made from rubber that can give the buyer the extra assurance that they will be able to get a purchase on the brakes when needed.
- Wires – if the buyer is wishing to purchase an entirely new set of break levers, they should make sure that the appropriate wires are included with the levers. It is possible for old wires to rust from the inside, so it may be better for the buyer to replace the entire set when replacing the levers.
- Strength – it may be of particular concern to buyers that the brake is able to not only completely stop the bicycle, but that it is also easily pulled. This may be an issue for those buying break levers for a child’s bike, as they may have more trouble completely depressing the bicycle enough to activate the brakes completely. Some break levers are listed as 2 finger operations, which means they can be pulled by only two fingers – allowing the cyclist to keep control of the bike whilst not having to use much effort to slow it down.
- Adjustability – the buyer may wish to ensure that no matter the size or shape of brake lever they purchase, it can be adjusted to suit them and their bicycle handles. Many levers feature a small screw on their sides, which allows the buyer to adjust the distance between handle and lever – and therefore enable them to reach more easily. There should be some distance left however, as otherwise the lever will not be able to bend enough to bring the bicycle to a full stop.
Buying the necessary spare parts for bicycles can be a confusing process, with many different kinds of material, brake and bike type to choose from and even then a massive range of brands, designs and even colours still to look at. This guide should be of help to buyers as they begin to search for the ideal brake lever in terms of material, type and size, and then go about purchasing their item on eBay.
When searching for brake levers on eBay, buyers should keep in mind the added security benefits they will receive by using PayPal, eBay’s preferred way to purchase with additional eBay Buyer Protection.