It’s not uncommon for women to buy a new road bike, and struggle to reach the brake and gear levers when riding in the drops.
The result is often nervousness and quite understandably a hesitancy to ride in the drops – which are best used when descending and often cornering.
The good news? It’s actually very easy to adjust your shifters to bring the lever closer to the bar – which is exactly what people with smaller hands need. Doing this will infinitely increase your confidence on the bike as you’ll feel significantly more comfortable handling your bike when you know you can brake with ease when required.
We’ve taken a look at how you can adjust the reach when using Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo shifters – though Campy users might be disappointed with what’s to come.
Shimano Shifters that are Shimano 10 speed or older
Before you do anything, it’s best to let off your brakes, as the changes you make will alter the cable tension. When you’re finished, you’ll flick the brake back on and use the barrel adjuster to ensure the brakes are responding as quickly as you’d like without dragging on the rim.
In the case of older Shimano shifters, you will use a small rubber ‘shim’ to adjust the reach.
Shims are available to buy, but you need the right shape and size for your shifters and they can be a bit tricky to find. Your best bet is to ask a local bike shop if they have any, or if they can order some in.
Once you’ve got your mitts on a pair of correctly fitting shims, you simply need to pull back the brake lever cover, and place pressure on the brake to open it.
You’ll notice a slim piece of rubber just below the hood. Grab hold if it, and apply a little pressure – it should slide out easily. Replace it with your new shim, and you’re done!
The difference may seem minor, but your new shim will move the shifter position enough to bring the levers closer to the bars in a way that you’ll notice when riding.
All this done, flick the brakes back ‘on’ and adjust them using the barrel adjuster so that they’re not rubbing on the rim, but stop the wheel quickly when you apply the brakes.