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Pros: Cross-top levers are really nice for riders whose bikes are too big or whose handlebars are too wide. Some people find it easier to balance coming into a barrier on a 'cross course and braking one-handed if their hand is closer to the stem. Brakes are available when sitting upright and riding the flats.

Cons: Sitting upright and riding the flats can be a great position for climbing. Depending on the handlebar, though, sticking an extra brake lever there may interfere with that position. They get in the way of mounting lights, computers, etc. They introduce more friction to the brake run. The hand position that can use them is narrower and takes weight off the front wheel - I found it pretty unstable.

Honestly, I think they're most often a crappy solution to an ill-fitting bike. Before spending money on them and cutting the housings on your wife's bike to install them, you should really make sure that her handlebars actually fit her and are in the right place for riding on the brake hoods to be practical.
 
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