Video: Jordi Talks Brake Lever Position & Arm Pump in the Latest Episode of 'Dialed'

Apr 6, 2020
by FOX Factory  


In episode four of Season 2, DIALED follows Jordi as he shows the best way to optimize brake lever setup to avoid annoying arm pump.

bigquotes“It’s interesting to see how little people think about the other points of contact of your bike affecting how your bike rides”

What do you want to see the DIALED crew cover next? Comment below!


96 Comments

  • 72 0
 thought this about having three balls or something
  • 4 0
 Even though I have an even number of testicles I found that while it’s still feels awkward to have my levers up it does give your finger a better platform for stability...plus it’s nice that this wrist position works almost as well at pulling 2 testes up as it does a third one.
  • 4 0
 That's only if you run them horizontal or above
  • 5 0
 You never want to pull on your ball cable
  • 2 0
 E3:Extra-testicle. Good movie.
  • 3 0
 Yup, deathgrip solves many problems, except one.Big Grin
  • 23 0
 “It’s interesting to see how little people think about the other points of contact of your bike affecting how your bike rides”

Big people too!
  • 2 9
flag vinay (Apr 7, 2020 at 1:44) (Below Threshold)
 It is even more interesting to see how just because people have different preferences and styles, they seem to assume that others just didn't think about how they set up their bikes. I year ago I attended a clinic and the instructor insisted I'd set up my brake levers so that I'd operate them with the index fingers instead of with the middle finger. I tried it for that clinic, tried it for a couple more weeks, never got along with it. Set it up for middle finger braking and all was good again. Sure that instructor may still have the perception that I initially didn't think of it and he was of much help because I was open minded enough to give index finger braking another shot.

Either way, for middle finger braking you can tilt the brake lever more downwards because the middle finger is longer than the index finger. Also, I leave the clamp loose enough to swivel the assembly up and down depending on the situation. I sometimes tilt the lever more downwards for static practice (trackstands, hops) and slide it back up for riding again. Just like others like to adjust their saddle height on the fly, I think it doesn't hurt to adjust brake lever angle on the fly.
  • 8 0
 @vinay: middle finger braking? You cray cray. Everybody knows there's only one valid use for the middle finger...
  • 2 2
 @vinay: I’d listen to your instructor and just your index finger. Might feel weird at first but it’s way better than using two fingers.
  • 3 2
 @thenotoriousmic: Yeah, and you lose a ton of grip using your middle finger for breaking.
  • 6 0
 @Garethccc: What's really cray is Jordi running clipped in while barefooted.
  • 4 0
 @rrolly: Jordi could claim that spinning the pedals with your arms and steering with your feet whilst licking your rear tire is the most optimal method of piloting a modern mountain bike and I'd still give the guy props. He just seems so trustworthy.
  • 3 0
 @thenotoriousmic: How long would you say it takes to get used to index finger braking? I think I moved from index finger braking to middle finger braking back in 2004 or so. It took me less than a week to get used to it and prefer it over index finger braking. After this instructor suggested to get back to index finger braking I tried it for over two months (four rides a week on average) and even though I got better at it, it never (or at least in those two months) got as comfortable as middle finger braking.

Not sure about the two finger braking you mention. I don't think I've ever done that with hydraulic disc brakes. As for grip, I actually feel it gets better when using middle finger braking because you maintain a wide grip on the bar. When you release index finger from the bar (for braking), your grip gets narrower. Apparently some like it like that, I prefer the wide grip.

The question I now have is. I've spent years riding with index finger braking and I've spent years riding with middle finger braking. And I've decided I prefer middle finger braking. Out of all those who claim index finger braking is better, how long have they actually tried middle finger braking. Just wondering, to put their claim in perspective.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: sorry dude I thought you was using two fingers. I’ve never even heard of anyone doing that. Just sat here giving my fingers a wiggle and I’ve got way more dexterity and control with my index finger but that’s just me. Do what works for you.
  • 2 0
 @Garethccc: your mom told me there's two uses....
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Yeah, I agree that if you (and by you in this entire post I mean a rider in general) hold the bar and only extend one finger, you can typically extend the index finger further than it is to extend the middle finger instead. But it is still sufficient, at least for me. Though indeed it helps to tilt the brake lever slightly lower. It doesn't change the orientation of the hand (which is what Jordi is going on about), it is just because the middle finger works under a slightly different angle than the index finger does. As for control, it probably depends on what you practice. It appears @Garethccc does have a purpose in mind but hasn't seen enough opportunity to actually practice that. If you learned to play fingerstyle (bass)guitar, learned to type with ten fingers on a mechanical typewriter you've learned to apply force and control with your fingers other than just the thumb and index finger. And once you've got that, it isn't too hard to also use that to operate a powerful disc brake.

Either way, my comment wasn't meant to convince others that my way of braking would be better for everyone. By all means experiment and find what works for you. It may very well be different from what I prefer and that's all fine. My initial (downvoted hence apparently quite offensive, sorry for all who got butthurt, didn't mean to) comment was merely going against the statement that just because people set up their bikes different from how you would do it yourself, would imply that they haven't put any thought into it. And just because they are open minded enough to give your suggestion a shot doesn't mean that after some proper testing it ends up as their preferred setup. With all respect to Jordi, I consider that a pretty arrogant mindset. Only if people indeed admit to have never put any thought into their setup you can actually claim that they haven't. In the case of hydraulic disc brakes, I would say this is rarely the case. Simply because you need to reorient them for bleeding every now and then so when you're done, you're going to set them to what you're most comfortable with.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I should have said grip strength* Scientifically its the strongest finger for grip.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: cant even brake with middle finger, becasue Im short "fingered" and my brakes are always set like they get me max power at lever being lets say 5mm away from grip... so, with middle finger braking I push lever in to my index finger without getting some power on brake/calliper.
With this position I never got arm pump and I always love to ride all trails top to bottom without stoping, if possible.
Moving brake lever more out, I get arm pumped very quickly...
  • 1 0
 @cebe: Yeah obviously it doesn't work for everyone and it won't work for every brake master either. I prefer middle finger braking so I'm using a master that has the pivot relatively far from the bars. If I'd use one with the pivot closer to the bars I might indeed squeeze the index finger too. Unless maybe with those very curved levers like what Danny MacAskill is using, which seem to clear the index finger if you'd pull with the middle finger.

Either way, I'm not here to say middle finger braking is better for everyone. I merely said that the ideal setup for middle finger braking is just different from what is ideal for index finger braking. As much is the ideal setup for short fingered riders vs long fingered riders.
  • 20 1
 See a lot of poor saddle positioning. Both fore/aft positioning just set in the neutral, and the max height of the dropper set too high.

I know these are the main two adjustments to get the center-of-gravity between wheels and to optimize pedalling dynamics. Assuming the stem/bar combo and frame sizing is correct for the rider, could you try to explain how to set up and how adjusting one of these components affects the other parts and the way a bike feels and handles?

I also know there are a lot of opinions on this (and even moreso on PinkBike), and I also know a particular riding style (XC vs DH) also affects the setup of this critical contact point.

Tackling this could help a lot of riders improve their dynamics. Thanks in advance!
  • 3 0
 I'm getting off your topic a little but I haven't see great information about this: How to select the best dropper- correct length for your height, seat tube insertion, stack height, etc.
  • 2 1
 I find that if the best saddle height is to have your leg lock out while your heel is on the pedal. When you move back to the ball of your foot, the height should be perfect. As far as saddle positioning, the most comfortable for me is to put the seat a bit more forward on the rails and lower the nose so its not digging into my sensitives on long fire road climbs. Its the one good thing I picked up from pro XC bike setups. OTW down, seat positioning doesn't matter because it's dropped anyway.
  • 1 0
 @Thustlewhumber: having heel on the pedal and your leg lock out, is a astarting postion for your height... from there you are looking for your saddle height - up/higher. Smile
  • 10 0
 Any thoughts on bar sweep? Seems like a little more sweep would also contribute to a more elbows down, relaxed position....
  • 5 0
 Id also like to learn more about how bar sweep and rise affects body positioning. I prefer my bars rolled a bit more forward than most. What comes into play when positioning your bar roll and bar leth? And how will this affect weight distribution and suspension?
  • 1 0
 I run SQ-lab bars with either 12 (enduro) or 16 (xc) degrees of backsweep. Love it. Feels weird for the very first ride but ever since it's awesome (at least it works extremly well for me.. Guess its also a rather personal preference..) Will never go back to "straighter" bars...
  • 13 2
 the definitive cure to arm pump is to just ride more!
  • 6 0
 @foxfactory Two things I'd like to recommend chatting about:

1) Seat height - seems many DH pros run their seats moderately high, assuming for control. General consensus among most am riders is go as low as you possible can which is contradicted by looking at pro bikes, thoughts or comments?
2) Tire pressure - what is the range of pressure we generally see on the bikes, front vs rear?
  • 4 0
 Mine are 35 degrees ,and I like the levers not far from my brake finger and that they really start engaging more close to the grip ,and don’t give me that on off feeling brakes. Hey how about talking why some pro DH ,ENDURO,XC,etc.,people are running with their hands in the inside of the grips leaving almost one or two fingers of bar width ,are they running to large of the bar or ,protecting their hands or what ,almost (ALMOST)like bmx’ers ,cause I ride with my hands on the edge of them so.........
  • 2 0
 the BMX bar thing is weird cause it just feels nice to have an inch or so of space on either side (i think its to do with strength on the grip when the arm is more perpendicular to the bar), I recently cut my MTB bars down 20mm and noticed my hands actually stayed in the same spot, but the gap at the end got smaller, I think the bigger bar gives more flexibility for hand position and the DH tracks at least arent narrow ar all these days. And I think you would struggle to find a load of enduro or xc racers running bars any wider than 780.
  • 1 1
 @jimbothekid: So I'm 6'1" and my new bike came with 780's.

I always catch my hands working their way inward after long descents (I haven't cut them out of laziness). I still feel the industry has gone a bit cray with the width. 760 for me seems to be the cat's meow. I also do notice super wide bars influencing trail riding- they feel fine when you're on 4-6' wide manicured trails, but I don't much access to those.
  • 1 0
 @schofell84: I disagree with the industry going crazy, 800mm+ bars are great for taller guys, especially for fast and rough DH, you can always cut them down as you mentioned. At 6'4 I couldn't go narrower than 780.
  • 1 0
 @jimbothekid: at 6'4" you're an outlier though.
  • 3 0
 What advice do you have about lever position in relation to grips? For example, the end of the lever should be over the index knuckle. So it needs to be scooted away from grip 1 inch. Is there some sort of standard measure people use?
  • 5 0
 Your index finger should be 90 degrees to the bar and the end of the lever shouldn’t hit your middle finger but it should be very close.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I'll give it a try... thanks
  • 7 0
 It is similar to lever position and has a huge affect, both the distance inboard and lever reach can have the same effect to arm pump. This is also depends on how strong your brakes are or properly bled so there is no pump or fade.... both of those add to pump as well since you will be pulling harder or pulling more to get bite.

Levers inboard - the more you can move them closer to the stem so you only have one finger on the lever will leave more fingers (middle finger being the strongest) to stabilize on the bar. If you use 2 fingers to brake you then are relying on the 2 weakest fingers and your thumb to hold the bar. It forces you to rely on the brake lever to stabilize the bars, thus adding to arm pump and unknowingly dragging the brakes. To measure it find out where you ride the grips normally and point your index finger, slide the brake lever inboard until only the first knuckle catches the hook on the lever. Adjusting the lever reach may change this distance as well.

Lever reach - The closer to the bar that you can make the reach be without bottoming out on the grip the better. What this does is allows your index braking finger to not have to extend out to reach the lever and have your other fingers stabilize your hand. When it is close to the bar your finger can relax in order to reach and pull the lever thus letting your other fingers relax to hold the grip. The other benefit is when it is closer it is easier to have more of your finger over the lever blade making it less effort to pull. **close reach requires a good brake bleed and good pads, you will feel when you need a bleed or new pads very easily with them close. So it is a good physical reminder when to service your brakes.
  • 8 5
 Great stuff! Simple tweak I first read about in Dirt, I think it was Rob Warner talking about it. But then... we are told to buy carbon bars to reduce arm pump since they are so compliant and dampen vibrations Big Grin or maybe they don’t.

Don’t forget to do barbell row and deadlifts, then kettlebell press with holding kettlebell upwards, not hanging. Hang on chin up bar after chin ups or pullups. Grip strength! Increase it!
  • 5 1
 I find it crazy how they say carbon bars are soft and compliant but traditional carbon wheels are stiff. So which one is it, stiff or compliant? All I know is after snapping a carbon bar I think I’ve had enough.Alloy bars it is!
  • 17 1
 @philmtb99: One of the advantages of carbon is that it's not one thing (stiff or compliant). They can make it stiffer or more complaint with the layup and product dimensions. Aluminum is more limited.
  • 4 2
 @philmtb99: I believe that's a bit of misinformation. It's not that carbon bars are soft and compliant but rather they absorb vibration better. Try smacking a carbon bar against a pole and then do the same with an aluminum bar. The aluminum will vibrate more than carbon. Typically though the carbon bar is stiffer than Aluminum. But I'm with you. Aluminum bars for me. Renthal to be specific.
  • 9 2
 @philmtb99: It's both.

Because carbon has a significantly higher tensile strength than aluminum, if you build a component in carbon to the same strength of the AL version, it'll be more flexible, and if you build a carbon component to the same weight as the AL version, it'll be much stiffer.

Carbon wheels go the stiff route because they have to withstand rock impacts and not fail, which is why gravity carbon rims aren't that much lighter than AL ones.

Regardless, just because you snapped carbon bars doesn't mean that alloy bars wouldn't also have failed. But I suppose folks are super eager to jump on the "omg my carbon bars/wheels/cranks/frame failed, the material can't be trusted!" bandwagon...
  • 4 2
 @emarquar: they would have failed just as much as my carbon bars, if not earlier! BUT alloy doesn’t fail as abruptly and explosively as carbon and if you value your teeth remaining in your mouth and not on your stem, which I do, go for alloy bars. That being said I have carbon wheels and love them even if they’re stiff AF!
  • 1 0
 I got rid of carbon bars for some ally renthals a couple of years ago and havent looked back
  • 1 4
 @jeremy3220: @Rdot84 @emarquar These are theoretical properties of the material. Execution in reality of a carbon mtb bar or rim is that they are harsh and stiff. If you hit carbon bar into a pole and then ride it then you should apply for Darwin award. The only thing that makes people like carbon bars is numbers on kitchen scale and post purchase rationalization
  • 2 0
 @jeremy3220: informative post is informative.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I've done back to back testing with alloy and carbon bars and found the carbon bar to feel less harsh. That doesn't necessarily apply universally of course but it's more than just theoretical.
  • 2 2
 @jeremy3220: What carbon, what alloy. Theory, theory and theory again supported by anecdotal evidence of “feel”. A 100g 800mm carbon bar or 300g carbon rim made with quality materials and manufacturing methods are surely compliant and possibly stronger than any alloy bar/ rim. But manufacturers add more material because of specific requirements of MTB, like durability, hit resistance - which inevitably decrease compliance.

I haven’t perceived any change between alloy/ carbon renthals = no point buying carbon renthals. RF next have been reported by many as the harshest bars in the world, even on this site. Vibration damping argument is ridiculous for mtb where most taxing forces are coming from big hits. It’s not like you are participating in Paris- Roubeaix. Then some come with exotic brands to say these changed everything, yeah too bad nobody can check that.

The only bars that are guaranteed to decrease your arm pump and general fatigue are made by Rogue and Eleiko.
  • 2 0
 Idea: how about suspension setup for regular joe riders vs aggressive shredders. My trail suspension setup is quite different than someone elses' regardless if we weigh the same. Ed at Fox talked a lot about yanking volume spacers quite a bit on 36's to open up that deeper travel as he setup hordes of people at the last interbike. It was interesting to hear from guys with experience with not just racers but average riders too.
  • 2 0
 My brother saw rob warner had his brakes set up almost horizontal in 1998 at a race and figured he would try it . It gave him less arm pump and a better more comfortable riding position,being the younger brother I just did what he did and never have had any major issues with arm pump when it came to race runs.
Anyone who rides my bike thinks I’m a a massive weirdo
  • 1 1
 I don't think anyone needs to ride your bike to realise you're a massive wierdo, @greginvan.
  • 2 0
 So why does it take a video before folks are considering changes to their cockpit?

I’m amazed at how easy it is to tweak your cockpit, and yet most folks don’t try to make it more comfortable.

All we worry about is geometry Wink
  • 1 0
 I have to turn myself in - for approximately 20 years I rode with my levers set up so that they form that straight line in the horizontal position as Jordi demonstrated in the video. I am a former XC rider/racer that has switched to more of a down country/trail riding style because I'm overweight and bluntly really enjoy the steeps. 2 years ago the local bike mechanic who is essentially a free rider told me to rotate my levers up. I can recall making fun of him and calling him a moron for even suggesting it. A few months later I realized who the moron was and did indeed rotate them upwards.

As Jordi has stated - the arm pump pretty much disappears or becomes manageable with this subtle but significant change -please keep up the great videos!!!!!!!!!!.
  • 1 0
 I feel like this has a give and a take. The take is that putting all my weight in meat of my hand makes my hands go numb eventually. Damn nerve endings.

Not everyone has this problem but it's a bitch for me on all sorts of bikes. My curse for being "small boned".
  • 1 0
 @jordanaustino: Agreed - I have the middle aged office engineer underpowered subtle office hands that do not help me out on the long descents.
  • 1 0
 @jordanaustino: Do you have any evidence there are more nerve endings in the meat of you hand compare to your thumb forefinger intersection?
  • 1 0
 This is all super relative. The lever position mentioned in the video might work for 90% of riders but some of us don't have normal proportions. I'd be more interested in seeing a diagram that shows brake lever position relative to leg/torso length ratios and palm size to finger length ratios as well.
  • 2 0
 Finger length effects your brake reach, not the angle of the levers?
  • 3 0
 That was great, thank you!

Could you do an episode on choosing and setting up a handle bar please? Up sweep, back sweep and rotation. Sweet as!
  • 1 0
 Decreasing lever reach made a massive improvement for me along with flattening the lever angle a little as well. Used to run them right out but suffered mega fatigue on long descents on trails away from home. Brought them in and, after freaking out a few times (no brakes!!) got used to it and won't be changing back anytime soon.
  • 1 0
 I had mine really flat for a while and started having some wrist pain. I was able to eliminate that by rotating them down slightly, they are still around the angle of the ones i the video I just overdid it a bit to start. I really like them flatter, but something to watch out for if you roll them back..
  • 2 0
 I think over rotated levers came from riding tiny bikes back in the day and being over the front when you stood up, or riding so far off the back that you almost needed extra purchase on the bars to hang on.
  • 1 0
 I only see BMX guys clinging to the vertical arrangement. "Ok guy, you do you" ...
  • 1 0
 Tire pressure.

With tubeless tires. More and more people running stiffer sidewall tires. Different tire sizes. Etc....

Tire pressure is crazy. I personally just kinda run at 25. If I feel I need to go up or down a bit I do it. But usually not more than 2 PSI. But I was riding a mullet hard tail that was running a 2.8 in the rear and was running that with like 17/18 in it.

Then you toss in Slopestyle guys running freaking 80psi and downhill guys... etc.

I'd be curious to hear what some of these EWS guys and hardcore trail guys like Jordi and a few other FOX folks think about tire pressure on modern trail bikes.
  • 2 0
 And the optimal pressure changes a bunch when you switch size and casing. I run less pressure in a 2.5 tire than a 2.3 with the same tread and casing, and less pressure in something like a double down than something like an exo with the same tread and size. I drop something like 6 psi going from a 2.3 Maxxis EXO to a 2.5 Maxxis DD.
  • 1 0
 This makes total sense but I run all my bikes with near vertical levers. Im average height and weight etc. I don't get arm pump ever. Only Fort Bill flat out runs have given me arm pump. I must have a weird body or something as it feels really comfy for me to have 'em facing down...?
  • 1 0
 how about the cleat position on your shoes.. we saw a few month ago on grave´s instagram, some tips about his unusual position of the cleats., they wero no int the position of max power/transfer of energy, but in that position he felt mor comfortable about the force he absorving or getting under his foot/ llegs.

Would be awesome to hear some tips/feelings form pros or even jordi.. bbecause i ssume the foot position on the pedals play a huge rol about the feeling of the suspension setups.
  • 2 0
 @foxfactory

maybe there is something for one of the next episodes

bar roll -> cockpit ergonomics, position on the bike
bar width
bar up and back sweep
axle to crown measurements for setting up the bike
  • 1 0
 i can see where jordi is coming from, but my vein of thinking for lever angle has been more about the angle of the index fingers and how far i have to pick up those very important fingers to reach out to get up and over the levers.

also crucial in the equation, is to think about how close one likes to run their levers to their bar. if your levers are real close to the bar then having the angle a little downward is not soo bad (think all your knuckles and fingers in a straight line). if you run your levers way out from the bar then having the index fingers up and out the whole time, at least IMHO is awkward.
  • 1 0
 Lever Position makes all the difference in the world. This is 100% correct and Is the #1 thing people who experience arm pump should do. I also think it allows you to ride your bike looser as you are not gripping as hard.
  • 1 1
 And your arms roll back and puts more weight over the front wheel.
  • 3 0
 Over the years I've been slowly moving my leavers up higher and higher, might go bump them up a bit more now.
  • 1 1
 Best explanation I have seen so far. thanks! I got a similar tip from a fast enduro racer. it was to rotate the dropper lever and shifters up so they are the most usable when you are hammering in a standing attack position. The XC way of having those levers rotated down for attacking climbs is the opposite of what we need for DH and Enduro. I thought that was smart too
  • 4 0
 Can we talk about that fork? What frame is he on?
  • 1 1
 Jordi what’s you opinion on using this stuff

us.wplbike.com/collections/frontpage/products/forkboost-4oz

It definitely does what it says and draws the dust out that is sitting in the top of the fork seal but is it ok to use, I have heard arguments that it will also be drawing some dust past the seals too, although I can’t see that if the seals are in good nick.
I always wipe the stantions before and after using it.
  • 1 0
 Motocross racers figured this out 20 years ago....they are off the back of the bike most of a race just like a Downhiller is on a gnarly descent, run em flat, it's where it's at....
  • 1 0
 Hello. First of all, great video! But i still didn't solve my arm pump problem... i am running Shimano XTR M975 brake levers and i don't know exacly how to position them!
Can you help me Jordi?
Thanks
  • 1 0
 Would love to hear Jordi thoughts on leverage ratios. Not so much on what’s better (linear/progressing) , but how they effect suspension, valveing, setup etc
  • 3 1
 Jordi what is your opinion on full suspension BMX bikes?
  • 2 0
 Ok I'll bite..... why would you do this? Seems like if tricks are the goal you some some pop, if racing is the goal, you lose some power.
  • 1 1
 Those gyro wrist exercise devices should help as well, at least to strengthen forearms. They can give a pretty decent workout.
  • 1 0
 @ 3:33 When my students say it makes "total sense", but really have no clue.
  • 1 0
 Used to get arm pump, then switched from SRAM to Hope brakes and it went away Smile
  • 1 0
 I used to get arm pump, but after I started braking by sticking my foot between the rear wheel and frame it magically went away. Science!
  • 2 1
 Any tips on doing a no foot can or even a one foot can ?
  • 1 0
 not longer DIALED but BLEED.
  • 1 0
 having my brakes flat-ish makes my hands go numb.. any advice?
  • 1 0
 We need a lever angle poll NOW!!!
  • 1 1
 hey @bretttippie - what's the difference between pink & purple?
  • 1 0
 Bla-bla-bla))))
  • 1 0
 Levver.

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