DIY: Converting Ergopower to Super Dummy Lever


by Mark V on Jan 31, 2012 at 9:02 AM

Dummy lever start Start with brand new Veloce Powershift Ergo levers

Dummy lever step 1

Dummy lever step 8 Finish sanding, righthand unit is a dummy lever and left hand is the most comfortable brake only lever created by mankind

When it comes to the ergonomics of dropbar levers, Campagnolo absolutely nailed it with their third generation Ergopower. I want these for my fixed-gear handlebar, but unfortunately the levers have that annoying and useless shifter mechanism. So in order to convert a new set of Ergopower levers into something really useful, namely the most comfortable brake levers ever, here’s what you do.

1 Gut the shifters.

2 Cut the cross section of the shifter cavity into thin cardboard

3 Trace cross section onto 2x4”

4 Start carving

5 Keep carving. The righthand unit is purely a dummy lever, so the goal is to completely fair in the gap underneath the body and replace the brake blade, since without the shift mechanism there is no return spring to keep the blade from rattling without a brake connected. With lefthand unit, you’re trying to fair in the underneath and as close to the blade as possible while still allowing the blade to complete its travel all the way to the handlebar.

6 Now that the carving and sanding is done, ideally I’ll get these painted to protect the wood and to improve aesthetics. I’m still considering options for that.

After the jump, see photos of intermediate stages.

Dummy lever step 2

Dummy lever step 3

Dummy lever step 4

Dummy lever step 5

Dummy lever step 6

Dummy lever step 7

Dummy lever finish but no paint

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Wouldn’t using one of the identically shaped Tektro levers be a whole lot easier?

That is a misconception.  I have the TRP levers; they are NOT identically shaped.  They’re not even comfortable.  The only thing they have going for them is a return spring.

Still, seems like a lot of work and money for something you could just buy for $20. Tektro’s RL340 is a decent enough Ergo imitation, but the best is the pre-STI 105 or 600 lever. You can still find these in parts bins or bike co-ops, although, without the qr on the lever. Also, stoker hoods aren’t that hard to find.

I have used all of those that you have described.

mechanically, the best levers off all time are the Dura Ace BL-7402 levers that were introduced for the BR-7403 1st-gen dual pivot brake.  All metal construction, return spring, and they had a brass-bushing on the pivot.  After wearing out 2-3 Shimano 105 levers at the bushing, I switched to the DA lever. 

the problem with all the pre-2000s designs (and sadly the newer TRP/Tektro) is that they do not match up well with the newer handlebar shapes such as Deda’s RHM styles, FSA’s compact, etc. Those bars have evolved for newer integrated levers.  those levers have clamp bands that attach high on the body, so as to make room for shifter mechanisms and they also are contoured to give a really flat transition from the handlebar’s ramp.  compared to that, older designs on newer bars have a really awkward humped transition, a really uncomfortable perch for your hands when you use the hoods.

conversely, today’s integrated levers don’t work with older “crit” style bars like TTT Gimondi bend or Cinelli 65, bars that have large radius, rounded shoulders.  unless you fit the lever really far down on the hook, the newer lever’s clamp ends up on the portion of the ramp that starts bending inboard on to the shoulder, and the lever ends up weirdly angled relative to the hook.

If i was still using a 40cm (o-o) Gimondi, I’d keep using the BL-7402 levers. I’m using a 38cm (o-o) Deda bar that has the RHM style bend.  I wanted a flat transition from the ramp to the lever, and I wanted to be able to use the points of the hood as an additional hand position.  the TRP/Tektro fails for the transition smoothness and is oddly bulky and uncomfortable when trying to brake. also, the latest Tektro levers all seem to have a weird ridge at the op of the lever body.  it’s really not comfortable. 

it’s mystifying to me how Tektro managed to include almost all the bells and whistles in a single purpose lever and yet make a lever that is bulkier, less ergonomic when braking from the hoods, and less suited to modern handlebars than any of the integrated levers from the Big Three.

I think the wood setup is pretty slick, but for brake levers, I FAR prefer the SRAM ergonomics.  To me they still have the best pistol-grip feel of anything on the market.

SRAM are pretty good, but i wanted the extra pointy hood of the Campagnolo.  if we were talking about shifter ergonomics, i’ll take SRAM hands down

If wood isn’t your style, this would be an ideal component to fabricate with a makerbot.