Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

New Cockpit- Shiny Bits, Plus Leather

I recently changed handlebars on my A. Homer Hilsen. Going from the 48cm Dirt Drop bars to the same model in the 52cm width will hopefully provide a more natural position for my arms and give better stability for the loaded bike. The clamp bolt on one of the brake levers was somehow stripped or cross-threaded and seized in the clamp, necessitating the use of the handy Dremel tool to cut off the clamp.

cut clamp on brake lever


old brake lever and new

The old, broken lever is on the left. In the foreground is the clamp which slips over the handlebar and is held in place with the bolt through the lever shown on the right

I decided to replace both brake levers with Tektro’s new TRP levers. Aesthetically, these might not be everybody’s cup of tea, especially this drilled out version. The levers themselves have a somewhat tortured looking shape and the hoods have the almost obscene protrusion of STI style brake hoods. But using these levers, it quickly becomes clear that this is a case of form following function. The long, flat hoods provide a comfortable platform for the hands and the shape of the levers fits the fingers naturally. Somehow the design even manages to provide more mechanical advantage – my side-pull brakes seem smoother, more responsive and more powerful. The flared out lower part of the levers are easy to grab either from the hoods or the drops.

The silver button is a cable quick release.

This optional plastic shim rotates the top of the lever for a flatter hood position. (I used it)

TRP lever, front view

While I was at it, I decided to try to clean up the Brooks leather bar tape which had turned almost black from accrued hours of contact with my grubby mitts. I filled the sink with warm water and a little bit of dish detergent and lightly scrubbed the tape with a dish washing brush, rinsed it off and immediately installed it. Wrapping the bars with wet Brooks tape does a couple of things: it lets the tape stretch so that it wraps smoothly and when it dries out it conforms like a skin to the handlebars. A light coating of Brooks Proofide after the tape has dried completely adds back moisture and effulgence. This is the second or third time I have removed and re-applied this wrap, wetting it each time first, so, even though the Brooks leather tape is more expensive than other materials it is extremely durable.

This tape started life as "honey" colored. This is after washing the tape and re-applying it.

Washed and treated - Lustrous!

1 comment… add one
  • Nathan L August 10, 2012, 2:23 pm


    I actually dig the look of my RRL’s but wasn’t the happiest with the angle. Did your shims come from TRP? Do you happen to have a picture of the more flattened out hood angle?

    Feel free to email me 🙂


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