I thought I’d post a little mechanic’s trick I use for those of you who are anal retentive about having perfectly identical lever throw/reach on each of you brake levers. It all starts with this cheap-o brass caliper that I picked up for $10:
Let me start by saying this: Of the half dozen or so measuring tools I keep in my travel toolbox, this is easily the shittiest. Horrible surface finishes, crusty movement, the graduations are not accurate, sharp edges, etc. But this one thing I use it for it does very well. If you’re the kind of person that just has to have nice things, Starrett makes a similar tool out of stainless steel for about $250.
What’s useful about these is the contour of the jaws. They are the perfect shape for fixing between your grip and brake lever. So you can find a fixed point on your lever to measure the resting position, and then make sure the caliper reads the same on both sides of the bar. The reading on the caliper won’t be an actual measurement of how far apart they are, since you are not using the actual inner jaw measuring faces to take the measurement. It’s just a reading you are using as a reference point.
When reading the point of lever engagement, it can be pretty tricky to reading if you are using your hand to pull the lever down, since it’s hard to be consistent with how much force your hands are putting into the lever, especially if you use a different hand on each side. But if you use an elastic band you can get a reasonably consistent amount of force on the levers, provided you use the same elastic band on both levers.
A couple photos to illustrate:
I picked this guy up at Lee Valley, but I’m sure they are fairly common at corner hardware stores. I’ve seen plastic ones out there that are even cheaper.