Modern brake levers on vintage bike recommendations

Foreigner

Old School Hero
What brake levers - ergo etc. would you recommend for a 70s lightweight? Looking for comfort and ability to brake from the hoods due to wrist issues. Old Tektro R200A in brown would be perfect, but these are not available any more. Anyone tried TRP RRL ones? Not that keen on plastic housing, otherwise they do look ok in brown/drilled silver.

Cheers
 

Nabeaquam

Dirt Disciple
How about something like these? Their not Shimano so shifting is a slight tad sluggish, but they always work. Their Chinese from eBay. Cross brakes are a handy thing to add. They are on a 1970s Japanese Univega set up for road and gravel. It’s amazing how nice a modern cockpit is on a vintage road bike. When I was 74 I rode this bike 76 miles on gravel and another time 102 miles on the road. The nice thing is you have so many hand positions that your wrists stay pain free. The bar tape is thick two sided sponge weather seal tape that is compressed by the foam bar tape. I love it, no wrist pain.D751B93B-BD6E-41AF-94B6-63BD4F97F846.jpeg
 
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vcballbat

Retro Guru
Hi, i have theTRP levers on my Ribble as I wanted run indexed downtube shifters with modern brake levers that were comfortable for long stints riding on the hoods. Not only are they really comfy and light to use on the hoods they look pretty cool and retro with most of the grey plastic body covered by the tan hoods. Also they have a neat spring loaded quick release button. I think there's other colours and non drilled versions available as well.

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Jonny69

Senior Retro Guru
I have very recently made the transition from downtube shifters to brifters. Before that, it was just Shimano aero brake levers.

I have 10-speed Shimano 105 (5700) and 10-speed SRAM Rival with carbon levers. The SRAM looks the coolest out of the two and easily has the most cred. However, having used both for commuting and weekend rides, the Shimano outperforms the SRAM in almost every way. Shifting is far lighter and more accurate with the Shimano, plus you have the added advantage of being able to downshift while braking. You can't do this with SRAM and you'll be surprised how often you want to do it when approaching traffic lights. I wouldn't want to say one hood is more comfortable than the other, because they're both on different bars and this means the position is slightly different on both. For what it's worth, I find the Shimano ones on Ritchey Comp Streem bars comfortable, but the SRAM on Deda Piega uncomfortable. SRAM do a singlespeed ergo shaped lever if you don't want brifters.

Other things to make your braking life easier (which takes the load off your wrists):
-Use matching modern calipers to go with your modern levers. If you mix and match (for example) Shimano br-1050 single pivot calipers with your modern levers, you have to pull the levers really hard. With the matching calipers, it's much easier.
-Use a high quality pad like a Swisstop so you don't have to pull as hard.
-Use alloy rims. Steel and carbon rims require more squeeze.
-Avoid canti brakes. You don't have the mechanical advantage so they're hard work.
-Add Crosstop brake levers as suggested above so you have another position.
-Raise your bars.
-Double wrap your bars - you'll be surprised how much load this takes off your wrists.
 

Foreigner

Old School Hero
Thanks to all for the answers. I intend to stay with DT shifters as the bike in question is a 1970s frameset with modern-ish 700 wheelset/7sp block, so it was spread from 120mm to 126 already and don't plan (well not yet at least) to change this to accommodate modern 130mm rear hub.

I'm going to change current Universal Super 68 calipers to new, I guess long drops though and the appropriate levers. Extra padding on bars will be provided by some gel inserts that go on under the bar tape I got from Wiggle years ago and if not good enough will double-tape instead.

Perhaps a modern bar with better hand rest area is a good addition too, so all good ideas, thanks chaps. Now let me find a good wrist surgeon to sort my issues - tanner atrophy is the main one - and let me ride painless (sort off at least).

Bike in question pic below.
 

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pigman

Senior Retro Guru
the biggest difference for me (arthiritis in hands) was the move to a more modern shaped handlebar, where the top part of the curve flows into the lever, this being so for both brifters and gearless brake levers. my cinelli 64s are now consigned to the shed box

Regarding brifters, in terms of comfort i find best is Horned campag, then domed campag, then shimano 5600/6600. 5700/6700 are so fat and uncomfortable to hold (i cant spread my index finger and thumb) and the concealed cable arrangement looks as though it has been forced, the movement is stiff compared to others
 

Foreigner

Old School Hero
Thanks @pigman - looking at some modern compact bars, but it may be that a stem conversion will be needed. Alternatively I may switch to flat (still vintage looking) type as have other bikes that are slightly more comfortable in the cockpit area.
 

pigman

Senior Retro Guru
Thanks @pigman - looking at some modern compact bars, but it may be that a stem conversion will be needed. Alternatively I may switch to flat (still vintage looking) type as have other bikes that are slightly more comfortable in the cockpit area.
I use deda zeros, but I believe deda piegos are the same bend pattern but with a 26mm centre instead of the 31.7 modern oversize
 

Nabeaquam

Dirt Disciple
Bars with a long flat top are not as comfortable for me as one with a gentle slope. It’s not that comfortable for me to reverse my grip on flat bars, but it is on sloped ones. Track bars are not comfortable for me, no flat spot at all there. I’m 75 so I have hand pain, poor grip and finger contractures. I can still ride a little over 100 miles a day with my setup. I had carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists about 6 years ago so my wrists are now good. The heavy padding under the foam bar tape helps, as does the hoods. It takes awhile each spring to get my shoulders strong again. I use an old mountain bike stem to put me very upright and I only use the drops for coasting or for a brief hand position change.
 

dirttorpedo

Senior Retro Guru
I'm a big fan of IRD Power Ratchet brake levers. I've got them on my modern steel gravel bike with 10 speed dura ace bar ends and I'm thinking about getting another pair or two for some other vintage bikes I've got. They can take friction or indexed levers and you can run whatever cogset you want in the back.


Gevenalle (formerly retroshift) sells a similar version based on the Tektro levers too.
 
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