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Best bike brake levers

Brake levers
(Image credit: VORCOOL)

Whether you're replacing a broken lever or building a bike from scratch, the brakes are undeniably the most important part of your bike. Aside from making sure your brake pads are replaced when they're worn, it's vital that your bike has working brake levers that fit your hand size and are easily within reach from your natural riding position.

Most importantly, it's always a good idea to replace plastic brake levers with metal ones, since they're a lot stronger and more durable, whereas plastic levers can bend if there's an impact.

That's why we're making it as easy as possible for you to choose the best bike brake levers, regardless of whether you're buying them for a road bike, hybrid, mountain bike, or kids bike.

Most versatile

Timoo Bike Brake Levers

(Image credit: Timoo )

Timoo Bike Brake Levers

Simple metal brake levers that work for caliper and side-pull rim brakes and disc brakes

These aluminum alloy brake levers are incredible value for money, offering a pair of sturdy and durable levers which are easy to install, light in weight, and offer good spring quality.

The digital paint coating is hard-wearing, looking like new for longer, and they can even be paired with road disc brakes for a flat bar conversion.

Best for cantilever

Tektro Fl750 Canti/Clpr Sl

(Image credit: Tektro)

Tektro Fl750 Canti/Clpr Sl

Brand-name silver levers that work with cantilever and caliper brakes

These Tektro levers are designed to work with caliper and cantilever brakes alike, and are very easy to set up. 

They feel good in the hand, are made of durable metal for long-lasting use, and the silver finish would look great on a vintage bike with silver components.

Best for road caliper brakes

SHIMANO BL-R400 Road Drop Bar Levers

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano BL-R400 Road Drop Bar Levers

Big name component for a drop bar road bike

The aerodynamic design of these Shimano brake levers makes them ideal for a drop bar road bike using caliper brakes. 

They're compatible with both single- and dual-pivot brakes and feature a comfortable hood shape so you can rest your hands on them for as long as you need to. 

Best for MTB

Avid FR-5 Bicycle Brake Lever Set

(Image credit: Avid)

Avid FR-5 Bicycle Brake Lever Set

Built-in bend zone for crash protection

When you're mountain biking there's always a risk of falling, so it's important to protect your bike and components (as well as yourself!) as much as possible from damage.

Brake levers can often be a casualty of this, snapping or braking on impact. These brake levers from Avid have a specially-designed 'bend zone' that means rather than shattering under force, the levers will absorb and bend so it can be fixed afterwards.

Best for kids

VORCOOL Kids Bicycle Brake Lever

(Image credit: VORCOOL )

Vorcool Kids Bicycle Brake Lever

Easy to operate with small hands

It's easy to replace broken brake levers on your little one's bike. These simple levers from VORCOOL are easy to set up and small enough to work with their hands.

These universal brake levers will work with all kids bikes and handlebars with a diameter of 2-2.3cm wide.

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Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike