Optimal lever placement and set up on the bike can go a long way toward creating an enhanced feeling of control and well being. I often see riders who have their lever ends lined up with the ends of the bar. While this might look correct, it creates a situation where braking and position are compromised.
Levers should be more inboard with the lever end closer toward the inside edge of the grip, so that when we place our hands on the bars with our elbows slightly out, our index finger naturally hooks the end of the lever hook. By having such a position, our elbows will stay out while braking, instead of being forced in as our fingers slide on the lever in search of the hook at its end.
Another important aspect of such a set up is that it allows us to adjust the levers so they start braking closer to the bars. It’s common for me to hear riders say they can’t run the levers close to the bars because they start to pinch their own hands as they try to brake. If this is the case, it means the levers are too far outboard on the bike, and need to be moved in. As you brake, you should be able to pull the lever almost to the bar with your index finger while missing your other digits. Being able to have your levers close to the bars will enhance your grip and stamina on the bike, as you create increased grip strength when your braking fingers are close to the bar.
Another lever adjustment we want to take into account is the angle of our levers relative to the ground. I often see riders running their levers really far down toward the ground. While this might work well for many riders if it feels comfortable, there are benefits to running brake levers a little flatter, or more parallel to the ground. By moving the levers up closer to the height of the bars, our shoulders flatten, allowing the bike to move into the forearms, and not so much into the shoulders. This can save tremendous energy over the course of a ride, while also lowering our effective center of mass.
Of course there is a lot of personal preference involved in lever setup, but in doing some tweaking, you may find you can create a greatly enhanced feeling of control on your bike.