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left brake lever/rear brake. Does anyone do this? I've heard that it's common practice in Europe. Sorta makes sense. Shorter cabling, more direct path to component, cleaner look. In the end one has to use both brakes anyway. Thinking about doing this on my Domane. Are there drawbacks? Just wondering before I make the switch.
 

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Not that it is the end all be all, but to the best of my knowledge the vast majority of the pro peloton is left/front, right/rear. Additionally, if you take a good look at the front brake caliper it is clearly designed to accept cable routing from the left brifter. That being said, either way will work just fine.
 

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US components are designed opposite because someone sometime decided that the rear brake is your primary brake and when doing hand signals your free hand runs the rear. I was going to switch my road bike because my mtb and street bike are both front right but I haven't felt the need after transitioning without incident.
 

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I don't think there's really any cabling advantage. The benefit usually cited is based on the fact that most people are right-handed, so there's some value in working the front brake with the hand capable of greater strength and control, so you can better modulate the brake that does most of the work in the most critical situations.

The only drawback would come if you don't have ALL the bikes you ride set up that way (including borrowed or rented bikes, etc.) so sometimes in a panic stop your instinctive actions might be backward. I have, however, heard people with bikes set up both ways say it's not a big deal switching.

I've left mine with the "conventional" left-front setup, including on my fixed-gear bikes which have only a front brake. I'm right-handed, but don't have any problem operating the brake with my left hand.

Again, I don't think there's any cabling/looks advantage that would make it worth the trouble to switch.
 

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The usual convention is that in countries that drive on the left, the front brake is on the right and for those that drive on the right, it is a “rear right” set-up. So, in mainland Europe, it is a rear right setup but in the UK and Ireland, the front brake is on the right (Sheldon covers this). However, that’s only a convention and the UK and Irish Pros riding seem to mostly run with a rear right set-up. I’ve used and am happy with the cabling and use of either set-up.

(BTW, if you look at photos of Pantani, you’ll see he always used the front right set-up, which was an old Italian convention, despite Italy driving on the right.)
 

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In the old days, many European bikes were delivered with right-front / left-rear brakes. I used to switch them because I'm a lefty and wanted the front brake on my left hand.

Nowadays the left-front / right-rear setup seems to be pretty standard. I think this is because it separates primary braking away from your shifting hand (majority of action on the right).

On modern motorcycles, it's "go" (throttle) and brakes on the same side (right), and clutch and shift on the left. This makes sense, since you rarely apply throttle and braking inputs together, but you often brake and shift at the same time. When you are applying throttle and brakes together (engine speed matching or advanced riding techniques), it's easy because the brakes on most sportbikes can be applied with one or two fingers.

On a bicycle, it makes sense to be able to shift either up or down while still applying brakes for slowing in a turn or approaching an intersection. This would be difficult using the same hand with either classic shifters or modern brake-shifter designs.
 

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the length of the housing is not that much shorter, not enough to make any meaningful difference. basically you want to do this because it 'looks better'? :skep:
 

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Are there drawbacks? Just wondering before I make the switch.
Well, the only potential for "drawbacks" here is that your frame might be designed for left-lever->front-brake setup, especially if it uses internal cable routing. It is not a major issue, but it is there.

For example, the rear brake cable entry hole might be located on the left side of the top tube. When you route the cable "the American way", i.e. from the right lever, it makes a nice gentle curve around the headset to enter that hole. It also behaves well when you steer.

If you attempt to route the cable from the left, you will end up with much more aggressive bend in the cable, which will also behave a lot more "stubbornly" when you steer.

The same will, of course, apply to externally routed frames with cable stops on the left side. I don't know whether it is an issue in your case.

Other than that there are no drawbacks, only benefits.
 

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The only drawback would come if you don't have ALL the bikes you ride set up that way (including borrowed or rented bikes, etc.) so sometimes in a panic stop your instinctive actions might be backward.
Actually I did that on purpose with my commuter bike vs. my road bike. Since I rode through the winter on the commuter I didn't want the front wheel to be the "panic stop" brake because on slippery roads I wanted the back wheel to lock up first. It was a minor difference but it helped. In a true panic stop you're sliding your butt off the back of the saddle and clamping down hard on both brakes.
 
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