brake levers are the main components of the brakes and as hydraulic brakes are dominating the industry more and more with each passing year people do try to mix different tastes as in the case of levers and calipers but things are not that simple and there are certain limitations to everything with every manufacturer making their own standard rather than following an international system which causes miss conception in people as well
The short answer to this topic is
All brake levers are not universal in the case of mechanical disc brakes you cannot use the v-brake levers without the proper knowledge of them being short pull or long pull if you know this difference then they can work
And as far as the hydraulic disk brake system goes
All brake levers are not universal in the case of hydraulic disc brakes as well road bike levers will not work on MTb and vice versa or the performance may lower too much or become too high and there are fluid type differences and manufacturers’ standard differences as well even in same fluid category
As far as the mechanical disk brakes go you might need to tune in on the caliper and make some adjustments on that part otherwise and be mind full of short pull levers and long pull levers those courses depend on you and your choice of the levers other than that there is no compatibility issue in a mechanical disc brake system.
the shorter explanatory version of this is that there are some basic concepts that you should understand about hydraulic brake levers and calipers
- Brake levers of the same brand with the same fluid types (mineral oil/DOT fluid) will work just fine
- Brake levers with the same fluid type (DOT/Mineral oil) but of different manufacturers/brands won’t work with each other
- Levers of the same cycling types will work with each other while others won’t without proper upgrades that I have explained below (MTB on road and road on MTB)
- Different brand levers (Shimano levers or SRAM levers) with different brake calipers and horses (Magura) won’t work with each other even if they do efficiency will be either too high or too low
These are some basic points or you could say this is the summary of this topic and if you had like to know more read along.
Levers with the same fluid type and different manufacturers don’t work :
Levers of the same fluid type for example if you take a Shimano caliper and use a Magura or some other brand lever that uses the mineral oil as well and use that it will work but it will there are 2 things that can happen
- the efficiency will increase too much
- Or it will decrease too much
Both these things will damage your brakes if they work far too well your rotors and pads will wear faster and even though you may have better brakes you will run the risk of twisting your rotors on the other hand it will not work very good and the brakes will become sluggish in both of these scenarios it will affect your brakes SO the
the best choice that you can make in this scenario is to use the same manufacturer’s lever (Shimano caliper with Shimano levers) but you can swap between the different models for example Shimano has brakes model “X” and model “Y” this combination will work whether you buy one from the lower end (lower price levers) or higher end (higher price levers) in both situation those levers will work but
Different manufacturer calipers and levers will not work together so you have to be careful around that the reason for that is the amount of fluid and the shape of the housing, in case of the amount different brand levers will have a smaller or larger piston in the calipers and the second thing is the hoses the outer diameter of the different manufacturers might be same but inner can be different so that can affect the amount of fluid in it and the levers may not be up to the task.
Mixing matching levers of different bikes :
When it comes down to mix-matching levers between different bikes for example if you put road bike hydraulic brakes levers on a mountain bike or vice versa it won’t work straight away because of different hosing but it can work with proper hosing
Let’s say you had like to put mtb levers on a road bike then there are certain things that you should remember
road hydro hosses are sometimes smaller than mtb hosses so if you are trying to pair up road levers with Mtb calipers you will also need mtb hosses
and if you are trying to use road calipers on mtb which you definitely do not use, but if you are trying to put them on an XC bike then you would need smaller hosses otherwise brakes will lock out too much
But remember that the conditions will stay the same you would need the same brands of brake liquid or a liquid that can be used as an alternative and opposite liquid levers will not work for example SRAM levers and horses on Shimano calipers.
As for the conformation road, the hydro lever usually uses BH59 levers while mtb hosses use BH90 hosses
These are all the things you need to keep in mind while making changes.
can you swap lever positions on your bike?
Swapping lever positions on a bike doesn’t affect the braking in any way if you swap your front brake from the right side to the left and rear brake it won’t pose any problems as long as you have the same length hosses for that swapping positions of the levers however doesn’t affect braking or anything in any way whether it be a hydraulic, mechanical or cable disk brake a cantilever or other brakes types, of course, you would need to keep check of the length.