On Your Right?

On Your Right?

Written by Peter Barrett, on March 25, 2024

When we are lucky enough to pedal faster than our fellow riders it is common courtesy to say “on your left” as you pass. Unless you find yourself in Australia, as I did recently. In the land of Oz, and many other countries too, cars and bikes use the left lane for travel. Also, locals set their bikes up with the brake levers the opposite of ours - rear brake on the left and front brake on the right side. 

I was interested to know exactly why some countries, such as Australia, ride their bikes this way. We call this set-up “moto style” since that is the way that our motorcycles and scooters are situated. On my trip down under I conducted an informal survey to learn why they switch sides with their brakes. I asked the head of Lazer Helmets Sean van Waes, who lives in Belgium, and he responded with “wait - they’re different here?” He was in for a surprise. While Simon Gerrans, four-time Tour Down Under winner, answered “it’s because we ride on the opposite side of the road, of course.” Which makes the most sense to me. 

Personally the only time that I really noticed the different brake set-up was when riding very slow in a group and trying to avoid riders in front of me. At speed the brakes feel the same as long as you don't grab just one of them! Interestingly enough some riders take this habit with them when they move elsewhere. It isn’t uncommon at Contender Bicycles for a customer to ask that their brakes be installed moto-style. Either way will work. Just remember, that if you’re riding in Australia you will need to say “on your right.”

1 comment

  • I raced motorcycles for 20 years before getting dragged into mountainbiking in ’96. All of my friends that got me started had their bikes moto style so I was that way from day one. Thank you for setting up my brakes that way on my recent purchase.

    Scott Schaefer on

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