Evaluating Brake Lever Options for Road Bikes: Short Pull vs. Long Pull

road bike brake levers

Road bikes are an exciting and adventurous mode of transportation. However, it’s important to understand the different components that make up a road bike, especially the brake lever.

Short-pull and long-pull road bike levers are two types of brake levers that can be found on road bikes.

Road calipers, cantilevers, and BMX brakes all require “short-pull” brake levers, while linear-pull brakes require “long-pull” brake levers.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at these two types of road bike brake levers and understand their key differences.

Short Pull Levers

Short pull levers are a type of brake lever that is designed to work with road bike brake calipers.

Advantages of Short Pull Levers

Let’s take a closer look at what makes bike brakes so special:

  • Lighter weight
  • Responsiveness,
  • Compatibility with a wide range of brake calipers.
  • Easier to set up and maintain than long pull levers

Disadvantages of Short Pull Levers

Short pull levers are not without their drawbacks:

  • Reduced stopping power
  • It may not be compatible with all road bike frame designs
  • Reduced durability
  • Difficulties with fine-tuning
  • Discomfort for some riders with larger hands

road bike brake levers

Long Pull Levers

There is a type of brake lever that use a longer cable pull to activate the brake caliper on a road bike.

Advantages of Long Pull Levers

Let’s explore what makes long pull levers the ultimate choice for riders:

  • Increased stopping power
  • Increased durability
  • Easier to fine-tune for optimal performance
  • Better modulation

Disadvantages of Long Pull Levers

Let’s take a closer look at the drawbacks you need to know about:

  • Heavier and less responsive
  • More difficult to set up and maintain
  • It may negatively impact performance and comfort.

Comparison of Short Pull and Long Pull Levers

FeatureShort Pull LeverLong Pull Lever
DefinitionLevers with a short cable pull, typically less than 20mmLevers with a longer cable pull, typically between 20mm and 30mm
UseIdeal for applications requiring high lever force with limited spaceIdeal for applications requiring low lever force with more space
ExampleDisc brakes and shifters for MTBRoad bike shifters, cantilever brakes
AdvantagesHigh mechanical advantage, compact design, easy to install and maintainLower mechanical advantage, more space to mount components, better modulation
DisadvantagesLess modulation, less clearance, potentially less durableLess leverage, more complex routing, potentially less responsive
CompatibilityUsually compatible with hydraulic and mechanical disc brakesUsually compatible with road bike derailleurs, cantilever, and road caliper brakes
Mechanical advantageHighLow
Leverage ratioDepends on the length of the lever armDepends on the length of the lever arm
DurabilityDepends on the quality of the leverDepends on the quality of the lever


Road bike brake levers play a crucial role in determining the comfort and performance of your cycling experience. Whether you choose short pull or long pull, it’s important to find the right fit for you and your bike. Don’t let the mystery of road bike brake levers hold you back, make an informed decision and enjoy the ride to the fullest!