Brakes for small hands

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Brakes for small hands
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Posted: Jun 13, 2021 at 12:05 Quote
I'm looking for upgrade recommendations for the stock SRAM Guide R brakes that came with my 2019 Juliana Furtado Need a brake system that is designed for and/ or has real adjustment for smaller hands. I wear size small women's gloves, meaning my hands are in the "normal" range for women, but are much smaller than typical man's hands.

I'm considering the Hayes Dominion with SFL (single finger lever), about which Hayes says "With the SFL option, the Dominion is the ideal brake option for any rider with smaller hands. Hayes product development team set out to design a brake system specifically designed for a smaller ergonomic profile."

Can you describe actual experience with the Hayes SFLs? (I can't find a review of the SFL setup, even on Hayes website) Or have you found other brake solutions for smaller hands? I've heard good things about Shimano SLX as an upgrade to the SRAM Guide R's, but only from guys who don't have the small hand issue. Also, I've received recommendations to try a larger rotor (Juliana stock is 180mm). Seems like bigger rotors and downhill brakes might be overkill for me. I only weigh 120 pounds and the suggested fixes are for (or coming from) much heavier and more aggressive riders. While I do some aggressive downhill riding, I don't aspire to rock Whistler's A-line.

More backstory... now that my stock SRAM brakes have a couple years / about a thousand miles of wear, it is no longer possible to adjust them to bite like they should (especially the rear brake.) Five trips to my local bike shops: new pads, bedding the brake pads (by a 180# mechanic instead of 120# me), multiple brake bleeds, replacing parts in the brake lever (brake cylinder, barb), etc. After all that, the brake power is only just acceptable. The brake touchpoint / engagement / bite point is so close the the bar that I have to mount the brake levers really far inward to keep from crushing my knuckles. That far inward brake lever mount location (brake perch) makes it so that I can't reach the shift levers easily with my thumb, let alone while still covering the brake lever.

I'm no bike mechanic and I may not be using the right vocabulary. Here are more possible keywords for what I'm trying to solve: Too much cable slack. Too much throw. Too much lever throw, or how far the lever has to move before the brakes actually engage.

As a side note, what I've already done:
1. Replaced the brake pads
2. Adjusted the brake lever reach adjust screw to max (closest possible to bar)
3. Installed shift levers at the outer position on the brake lever Matchmaker mounting clamp (as close to my thumbs as possible)
4. Cheat: After brake bleed, removed the wheel and brake pads, manually reset brake piston position inboard of normal so that brake pads are closer to rotors (hacking the contact point for for earlier bite on lever squeeze) It was a super fussy trial and error process as it is easy to overcompensate and create rotor rub. I don't recommend this as it was a pain and only resulted in minimal improvement.
5. Cheat: After brake bleed, overpressurized the brakes with additional fluid so that the bite point was farther from the bars (again, this is hacking the contact point for for earlier bite on lever squeeze) #5 is the most effective tweak.

Posted: Jun 17, 2021 at 7:42 Quote
i am a kid (M) so i know what having smaller hands is like. magura brakes a=have very adjustable levers with muiltiple adjustment points. a bit on the pricey side but here's and example

Posted: Jun 24, 2021 at 14:25 Quote
Yup my 5yr old and 9yr old girls both run Maguras. My 9yr old particularly likes the 1 finger magura levers. As said above they are all very adjustable. I will say the levers that have the tooled adjustment (torx) screw seem to adjust more than the ones with the tool less thumb twist knob.

My MT8s with the thumb knob don’t adjust nearly as much as the screw ones.


Posted: Sep 24, 2021 at 15:10 Quote
Thanks for the Magura recommendations!

UPDATE I went with Hope Tech 3 E4 brakes. The dual adjust for brake level reach and bite point control worked for me. My hands are at the edge the design envelope for the Hope brakes so they might not be a fix for everyone facing the small hand reach issue.

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