After having a read of an article about the old couriers in France I decided I would try a conversion of my old Andre Bertain bike to a porteur style. This isnt a a fixed gear courier type conversion to strip it back and get more performance/cool/wow factor from it, more the creation of a more relaxed, gentlemanly sort of ride as befitting a frame that is knocking on for 52 years old.

First point of order is that a lot of the parts on it are quite old and in keeping with the theme (MilRemo bars and pedals, sachs-huret gears, Blumeils guards, RonKit bits etc), second of all and most importantly is I am trying to do it on the cheap. Very cheap.

I've flipped the handle bars and polished them up after stripping the bar tape off so they now are now sweeping back rather than dropping down and I quite like the way they are and how it makes it more 'sit up and beg'.

The problem is the brakes, I've now shifted them down so they sit in a position where I can get enough leverage to brake quite reasonably but are a tad awkward. Given that the brakes are traditional type side pulls could I swap the levers over to a shorter handle? Similar to bmx levers in length would be best or A N another type of lever that didnt curve into a drop bar but angled out a bit more to create more leverage?

Any suggestions?

I'm trying to find a cheap solution to braking so I can then fixate on the front rack and how I can work together a rack and a old wooden wine crate.