Trail Tech: Clever levers

Tricks from the pros on how to unclutter handlebars

The modern mountain bike is complex. Handlebar-mounted levers for seemingly every possible function lets us control the fork, rear shock and seatpost with the flick of a finger, but can also create a rats nest of cables connected to an array of buttons and levers made by different manufactures that often don’t play well with each other. If not for the trend towards wider handlebars there would be no place to fit all these buttons and knobs! Here a few pros show us their one-off improvements.

Professional racers can be quite picky about cockpit setup. If you stop by the pits at any major event you’re likely to spot a couple personal touches here and there. Enduro racers generally run a single chain ring, which frees up a bit of handlebar real estate that than can then be devoted to clever lever adaptations.

The Fox DOSS remote with its two larger levers is rather ungainly when mounted on top of the handlebar. However, it functions quite well on the underside of the handlebar, particularly when it takes the place of the front shift lever. Transition Factory Team racer Lars Sternberg took things one step further, hacking a front Shimano XTR shift lever to function as his DOSS remote.

The Fox-sponsored athlete found he didn’t use the shorter, black lever that lowers the DOSS to the intermediate (40mm) drop position. “I can find that position fine with just the main lever,” he said. 

A Shimano front shifter can be make to function as the remote for a Fox DOSS seatpost

Sternberg removed the upshift paddle from the XTR shifter and customized the internals. The result is a clean, ergonomic and, admittedly, expensive dropper remote that allows him to run the CTD remote for the Fox Float X rear shock on the left side of the handlebar.

Dropper post remotes aren’t the only culprits; remote lockout levers can be equally cumbersome. We spotted enduro racer Jerome Clementz using a front SRAM Grip Shift lever to operate the Fox DYAD RT2 rear on his Cannondale Jekyll last fall. 

“I prefer this setup because I don’t to take my thumb off the bar to operate a remote,” said Clementz. “I find I use the travel adjust much more this way,” he added.

Braking, rear suspension and seatpost control in a very tidy package

Clementz combines this with a Reverb remote mounted to the underside of the XO Trail brake for a very clean system that seldom requires him to loosen his grip on the handlebar.

While, yes, it is a bit disappointing that there is a need to hack mechanically sound components in order to make them more compatible with their human human users, experimentation is the next step in the evolution of components that merge engineering with the ergonomics that are lacking from many remote levers currently on the market.

What about you: have you hacked a shifter or remote lever to make it work better for you?

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