Fine-tune your MTB controls like an XCO pro

Brakes too far out?
Bikes come from the factory or shop with the brakes slid out to the inside edge of the grips. For many this places the lever blade too far outboard, reducing the brake’s power, leverage and sensitivity.

Perfect power
Slide the controls inboard – you’ll need to move the shifters as well as brake levers to get it dialled. The nearer the end of the lever you pull, the less force you use, and the more sensitive and progressive the brake power delivery will feel.

Angle the shifters
On SRAM shifter pods and Shimano XTRs you can adjust the position of the shifter in relation to its clamp. With SRAM this is a separate clamp mount position (shown). It’s a sliding clamp bracket on Shimano XTR.

Switch the shifters
Brakes with long lever blades may be so far inboard that mounting shifter pods inboard of them would put them out of reach. Refit shifters so clamps are between the grip’s inboard end and brake lever clamp.

New angle
Brake lever angle is a matter of taste – mostly. Your ability to pull the lever should dominate. A 45 degree drop keeps your hands in line with your arms when you’re seated, but raise them if you attack downhills a lot, where elbows are dropped.

Dangle angle
A small amount of rotation can make a huge difference to how cleanly you can hit the shifters – don’t think they have to press against the brakes. This is especially true of SRAM shifters, which can be fiddly with certain brake levers.

Bar rotation
Bars have sweep and rise angles, so rotation in the stem clamp really affects how comfortable/secure under the hands the bar feels. Try a few degrees either way – most bars have sighting lines to help.

Screw up
Keep the bolts for your bar controls well greased and regularly inspected. They need to be just tight enough not to move when you use them, but you want them to move if you crash, as this saves them and the bar from unnecessary damage.