While combined brake and gear STI units remain the default option for new and production road bikes, they’re not ideal for everyone-especially crossers, rough stuff tourists and single speeders, so it’s a relief to find good quality classic aero brake levers such as these Shimano 600 are alive and well-particularly should losing an older groupset prove too great a wrench.
Shapely classic lines meet with modern detailing to complement bikes from the Eighties onwards. Anodising and build quality are excellent and unless wantonly abused shouldn’t tire quickly. Responsive return action springs are a boon for riders with smaller hands but those like myself raised on the more positive springs associated with Campagnolo, Modolo, Sachs might find them a touch light. Good performance isn’t limited to modern dual pivot side-pulls, I’ve paired the R600s to various brands of traditional wide arm cross cantilevers and old fashioned centre-pulls without compromise – they are standard equipment on some multi use road bikes with cable operated discs too. However those with a fondness for Vs are better served by dedicated drop levers from brands like Dia Compe and Cane Creek.
They fit on most bar shapes ranging from classic Maes pattern drops through to the more extreme, flared variety popular amongst the fixer/cross fraternity thanks to the widely adaptable band clamp accommodating bars between 23.8 and 24.2mm and those with a preference for the pursuit/cut down variety will be pleased to learn these fit nicely-useful for time trialists and road fixers, especially given their modest (260gpr) weight. However, working bikes and/or conversions are better served by its cheaper Tiagra sibling.
Sixty odd quid seems quite a bit to shell out for levers but remains a very cost effective way of retaining an older, prized groupset and considerably cheaper than replacing a broken STI lever. Taking a tumble along a forest trail aboard my rough stuff tourer resulted in only very minor cosmetic damage.
Good value and extemely versatile performance road levers
road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano R600 brake lever
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
These are traditional, high quality aero brake levers for riders such as tourists and crossers who consider combined STI units too fragile for such duties and owners of classic road bikes wanting to retain authenticity. They're very good with pursuit bars too-something for everyone really.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shapely anodised levers with light action, positive return springs and shapely, ergonomic hoods complete the package. 260g complete weight, compatible with bar diameters between 23.8 and 24.2mm
Tiagra might be a better choice for winter trainers and those on a budget.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Aside from a personal preference for stiffer springs, the Ultegra levers are extremely versetile, offering great modulation and feel with most braking systems so should have wide appeal. Durability is also impressive-our test pair taking a tumble off-road with only very, very minor superficial damage-easily polished out upon our return.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Classic lines, great build quality, nice hoods.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lever action a little on the light side for me personally.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)