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Old 10-02-2010, 06:04 PM   #1
trixter
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Default moving front brake to left side

After 20 years of looking and a bit longer thinking about it, I have decided to finally consider maybe think about getting a bike. There is just one problem, I need both the clutch and front brake on the left side.

I am sure a lot of people will think this is odd but for me it is required. Long story short I have one hand. I can work either the throttle or the brake. I have decided to move the brake since that is likely the easier of all the choices (for reasons other than the parts).

I have done this on bicycles, its just a clamp on assembly. A friend did this on a dirt bike when I was a kid, however I have a few questions about this process.

From what I understand (and I may be wrong) smaller bikes (dual purpose types usually) are like bicycles, where it is just a lever pulling a cable. If this is correct (if not tell me ) on most bikes (I understand they are all different) is there room to bolt the lever onto the left side along with the clutch?

If it is moved to the left side is there usually enough rotational play to have the two levers close together? How close? I would potentially need to be able to work them independently as well as at the same time, so I have to be able to get my fingers in between the two levers but also be able to grab around both and squeeze. On a bicycle (its getting old with that comparison, isnt it?) this is not a problem because the levers are thin enough and can be placed just a bit more than finger thickness apart. I am able to grab either or both without looking - its almost natural that they are that way.


On larger bikes (anything with brake fluid) this is more complex. Just flipping the lever over would mean that the brake system would suck air. Does anyone know of way to do this (even if its buying a replacement part)? Can the reservoir be mounted on the other side of the lever (ie is it just a hole in the lever that the fluid parts bolt onto)? Is the hole tapered on one side, such that it will really only go on one way? I know, everything is different based on model and make, but I have not seen any of these up close so I cannot even guess if this is an option. I really do not want to use my thumb to squeeze, I think that grip pressure and grip speed would be compromised, particularly in an emergency.

With the larger bikes, would there be space for both levers on the left side? Most handle bars are bent just after the lever bolts on, which limits the space in which you can mount things. In addition, lights or other controls may be present there. I can slide the clutch a bit more towards the outside of the grip if that is all it takes, but if its highly unlikely that I would be able to get the two levers close enough to grip both at the same time it would be a moot point.

Thanks for any input that can be offered.
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trixter View Post
Thanks for any input that can be offered.
While you probably could do most anything given enough time and money.......and maybe even could learn to use the new arrangement fairly good.........

I think it is a bad, BAD idea, mostly from a safety point of view.

And there ARE other alternatives.
Scooters with an automatic transmission come to mind first.

Then there are bikes with ABS, linked brakes, where just using the brake pedal should be all you need.

If the budget is really tight, have a look at scooters. Some of them are faster and handle just as good as a medium sized bike.

If the budget isn't so tight, an ABS bike might work.
The new Honda NT700 might be a good choice.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:45 PM   #3
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I've never ridden one, but some bikes now have ABS. My guess is that it is an expensive upgrade since the technology is so new.

I would guess that custom makers may already have the hydraulic lines and CPU attachments for the change-over. Good luck, and keep riding.

Edit: Easy Rider 2, hey, great minds think alike.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:27 PM   #4
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Though this person had some pretty serious custom billet fab work done to get the job done... old parts or ebay parts could get the same thing done:
A Few Ideas.
I think i would try a thumb lever for one of the brakes.
Maybe would use a thumb lever for throttle too (this would be easy as most four wheelers use thumb throttles and would be easy to adapt).

Did a yahoo search and came up with some interesting options.

edit:
If i didn't have a right hand i think i would:
Use left for clutch (stock) and thumb for throttle (modded/flipped quad throttle; could use same throttle cable). (shorter grips would easily facilitate the 1/2" needed for a quad throttle...... would just need to add a spring return to the throttle at the carb/FI--easy)

I'd put front brake on right foot (would have to reroute custom hoses).

Rear brake on right 'hand'(since u say you could operate one there) (would require rerouting custom hoses).

Shift with the left foot (stock).
{i would switch the brakes as i imagine i would be more precise with right foot than right hand... in such situation; i'd rather lock up rear than front; but i don't know your dexterity}

(could have rear brake and shift on left and front brake on right foot but would be clumsy since couldn't rear brake and shift at same time easily.)

(or shift with left thumb via an electric shift setup (readily available) and put front brake on left foot) (so many different options)

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Old 10-03-2010, 01:43 AM   #5
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Virtually all modern street bikes use hydraulic brakes these days.

Most times the brake and clutch have to be operated simultaneously. It's not an either/or situation. Trying to control both with the same hand would be a recipe for disaster.

The simplest solution would be a linked brake system, which operates both brakes in the correct proportion when either control is used. It comes stock or as an option on several different bike models.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:56 AM   #6
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Get a bike like the Honda DN-01 that is an automatic. No clutch to worry about. I believe that Ridley make a entire line of automatic bikes.
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Old 10-03-2010, 04:57 AM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions. To address them (I think I got them all):

I did not know linked brakes existed, although last night as I wrote this I had thought that would be neat if it did but thought of the complexities of just hooking both to the same control. I discounted it because of how you may want to apply uneven pressure between the two and knew that it would not be something I could wire up easily, knowing that there are proper systems that do this helps a lot. Combined with ABS that would be a good combination and solve a lot of the issues I thought might arise from such a system if I did it myself, even for "normal" riders.

I was reading up on the 2009 CBR600RR which has a system like this, although it appears that if you use the rear break, it will only engage the front if there is lockup which may not be what I want. Certainly more reading on this topic is required, but now that I know what to look for I can do that. The option on the 2009 CBR600RR (and 1000) is $1000, so it is not something that will break the bank, I expect other models with similar technology will be roughly similar in price. Who knows, the insurance deduction for having this might even pay for the upgrade after a few years I am just guessing ABS gives a similar deduction to a bike as it does to a car.

Thumb levers are something I really dislike. I ride my dad's quad (all my mom will let him have after his accident about 40 years ago) and it has a thumb lever which I have a bit of an issue with.

I never really considered automatic transmissions much, although I had been told of them. My personal preference is a dirt bike/dual-purpose or a street bike. I discounted an automatic mostly because last I looked (which was long ago) none of these had automatics. Something also feels wrong about it

I also seem to recall now hearing someone mention long ago about an automatic clutch, where you still shift but there is no need for a clutch as that is taken care of automatically. I dont know if they knew what they were talking about, but remembering this gives me something else to feed into google to see what options exist. I know that in cars this type of arrangement exists, so the technology is certainly there - I just dont know if it is small and light enough to exist in a bike. Google should tell me.


As for working the hand levers with the same hand, the idea was that I would be able to work them independently or in conjunction with each other. That is why I was so concerned with being able to mount them close enough that I could grip both.

What I am thinking I might do when I return from Russia is get a 200cc dirt bike. Because of California's mandatory emission sticker law this is a green sticker only bike. That is fine, because I can ride it on the road around my property (which is green sticker suitable, private set of roads). This gives me terrain to practice on as well, some parts are paved, some are gravel, some are rutted, the list goes on. Its only a $1000 bike (new) so it is not a big deal if I dump it (other than pavement can be a bit hard). Its a whole different thing when the bike is 10-20+ times that cost. This also lets me see what works and what doesn't in a place where there is virtually no traffic (just the neighbors and there are not many of them). And I will always be able to take it camping once I have figured out how I can deal with it.

I can then take that knowledge, along with the information I now know to research, and get a bike I can ride on the street. Research alone is fine, but without actually doing it I may find that in practice something does not work as I think it should.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:05 AM   #8
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I misspoke, and cant find the 'edit' button. not street bikes so much as sport bikes for my preference.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:37 AM   #9
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I discovered this which may solve most of my issues. efmautoclutch (dot com - post count is too low to do a url)

Basically it is an automatic clutch which they claim will fit onto any bike out there. You can still use the lever however it is no longer required. I have contacted them to see if it would be suitable for me personally...

I would still need to move the front brake to the left side though. I am unsure if this is possible given the fluid reservoir, which must be 'top side up'. Can anyone offer any suggestions as to whether it appears that this would be something that can be done?


I am starting to discount an integral/linked braking system as the answer to my problem. While it may be nice, there are some scenarios that I did not initially think of that make it not the only solution.
shifting into the initial gear at a stop - right foot should be on the ground
rear tire blowout - you may not want the rear brake applied
mounting/dismounting
There are probably other scenarios where front brake only (or mostly) would be ideal, but these are things that make me think I need to find another solution to my problem.

So about that front brake lever ...


thanks for the input so far!
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Old 10-03-2010, 08:37 AM   #10
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Just to give some ideas of what I was talking about in the initial post (pictures are easier than words I think) ... I am unable to post images due to being new, I put a " dot " in the url which needs to be "."

I found someone who makes a dual hand lever system, although they are kinda pricy for what it is (about $2k). This is how I have done it for a bicycle - mentioned above - although I had slightly more space in between the two levers so I could work the bottom only, top only or both at the same time.

bit dot ly/9FviM1

The other option which I am less fond of is to make the opposing. As a kid my father originally did this for my brakes on a bicycle and gripping was bothersome to me.
bit dot ly/cL0sPX
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:30 PM   #11
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Everything is totally doable.

You can make it work with some creative engineering. I've contacted you. I'd love to help out on this project.

I just finished with the KLX250 cam chain tensioner project and am ready for something new.

It's an adventure I'd welcome the challenge to help with. I have already worked with a linked brake system and have some hydraulics experience along with a lot of years in bikes.

Give a call.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trixter View Post
I misspoke, and cant find the 'edit' button. not street bikes so much as sport bikes for my preference.
The edit button disappears after a few minutes; REALLY maddening sometimes.

Some comments:
Any sport bike model with an R in it (generally) is a slightly modified racing bike. LOTS of power and twitchy on the throttle. Treading lightly here......but riders who HAVE all their limbs intact sometimes have trouble handling them. Not sure they would be a good choice in your situation. The riding position often puts pressure on both hands/wrists.

Just keep an open mind; look for linked ABS brakes and don't completely dismiss automatic clutches. Riders who have them generally have good reports......after they get over the "just doesn't seem right" bias.
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Old 10-03-2010, 01:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trixter View Post
I am starting to discount an integral/linked braking system as the answer to my problem. While it may be nice, there are some scenarios that I did not initially think of that make it not the only solution.
All of those "scenarios" can be easily handled by a slight change in riding technique.......well, except the blown tire, which ABS might handle better than YOU can. The linked ABS still HAS a front brake lever,which is available to use when you don't need the throttle.

To be totally honest here, it sounds a LOT like you already have your mind made up and are going to rationalize away other possibly better solutions.
I hope not.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy Rider 2 View Post
To be totally honest here, it sounds a LOT like you already have your mind made up and are going to rationalize away other possibly better solutions.
I hope not.
No, and when I started this, while I wanted a dual lever system (mostly because that is familiar to me since that is how I do it on bicycles) I did not know anyone made them. Before I posted this the original plan was to move the throttle over to the left side, but that too changed. I did not know that auto clutches were available until I started on this quest, and while I have considered them some of the issues with them in relation to engine braking and hill stops make me think they may not be for me. I live in a hilly area, so hill stops are likely to occur.

While I have discounted certain things such as an automatic transmission, that is due to personal preference. I discounted an auto tranny in my jeep as well

Ultimately it boils down to what I am comfortable with and what I am familiar with. To claim that I am rationalizing things away sounds like a preemptive comment in case I somehow do not pick your ideas as the perfect solution for me personally, especially when I have not made a final decision and have only stated the direction I am currently leaning towards.

As for the comment about the 'R' bikes, I am aware of that, and I had no intention of getting a 650 initially,, I just used that as an example for the integral braking since I know that model has it. In fact I had talked about the 200cc dual purpose initially mostly because it is only $1k new and dumping it would not hurt as much (financially, physically it would probably be about the same). short of a used bike (which I had looked at) I do not think I can find anything else for about $1k, so in that instance its price that is the limiting factor.

The goal of this thread, for me at least, was to try to find out what options are available so that I can pick from the options what is best for me, both price, features, and usability. This includes not just any modifications, but which bikes those would work on, allowing me to exclude all bikes that are not suitable for my needs.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy Rider 2 View Post
All of those "scenarios" can be easily handled by a slight change in riding technique.......well, except the blown tire, which ABS might handle better than YOU can. The linked ABS still HAS a front brake lever,which is available to use when you don't need the throttle.

I totally missed this the first time through. I said that I was discounting it in a specific context. Perhaps that was not clear, but there were other words present than just discounting it. As I am missing my right hand, an integral braking system would (on some models) let me use my foot only to control both brakes with no mods. This means that I would not use the right hand lever at all. I then found reasons (largely by reading what others said) why having that lever in a way that I can use it would be a good idea.

The point was that I must have it in a way that I am going to be able to use it. Specifically I said that ABS and integral braking might be a good idea, just not as the solution to my problem. So whether or not I get integral braking (which is a totally different discussion) I need the lever usable by me, which means moving it to the left side (there are reasons I dont want it as a 2nd foot pedal).
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trixter View Post
As I am missing my right hand, an integral braking system would (on some models) let me use my foot only to control both brakes with no mods. This means that I would not use the right hand lever at all. I then found reasons (largely by reading what others said) why having that lever in a way that I can use it would be a good idea.

The point was that I must have it in a way that I am going to be able to use it.
I hope that you realize that this is a very difficult discussion......for folks who don't know EXACTLY what your situation IS. Some of what you said led ME to believe that you might still have some very limited functionality with your right "hand". Apparently that is not the case so some of my comments might be inappropriate. Sorry for that.

I think that you will find the integrated braking on a true SPORT bike is set up quite differently than on a street bike......because the objectives are somewhat different.

Your "research" is still just getting started; all I am cautioning against is completely eliminating ANY possibility at this point because the whole story might not be in yet.

And I think, in the end, you might have to sacrifice a "personal preference" for something that is practical and functional. An automatic clutch, for instance, has little impact on engine braking and actually helps hold hills.

I think it is time I quit before I dig a deeper hole.
Good luck in your search. I hope you find a perfect solution.
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