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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 09-11-05, 08:07 AM   #1
jon(A)rchy
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Hills, Brakes, etc...

The one thing that can get me to think about putting a front brake on my fixed is a hill...more specifically, the very steep kind with a busy intersection at the bottom. I live in a city that was basically built on a series of seven hills. Granted, there is alot of flat terrain on which I feel confident about my abilities, but there have definitely been some downhill moments that have shaken my guts and confidence. Any suggestions from more seasoned riders on hill tactics/technique? I haven't crashed yet, so mabye I should just stop worrying and keep on keepin' on. As far as I know, I am the only one in my city riding brakeless, so I don't have much of a support group from which to gather tips. That said, thanks for your help!
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Old 09-11-05, 08:11 AM   #2
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redundancy is your friend...opinions will vary.
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Old 09-11-05, 08:19 AM   #3
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there are alot of variables to take in when going downhill. i just try and keep my speed low either by standing and "absorbing" the force or if there is room, slalom. another thing is of course skipping or skidding, which i can't afford to do too often, because good tires are expensive. but i think practicing these type of techniques is important if you're not going to put on a brake. if the hills are really that steep maybe you should just put on a brake.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:36 AM   #4
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sounds like you need a brake.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:54 AM   #5
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Ive been riding brakeless for the past 2 months and I live in a town such as yours, hills and flat terrain. Im pretty good at keeping a slow pace down hills but I know if an emergency situation arised I would have to dodge it because I wouldnt be able to stop, which could be good or bad. My new bike is coming pretty soon and I opted to keep a front brake on. Not to use but just to have in case of a true emergency stop. I popped my chain going downhill, and brakeless the other day. Lets just say it scared some sense into me.
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Old 09-11-05, 12:09 PM   #6
junioroverlord
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You can always walk too. Thats what I do when it gets a bit too hairy.
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Old 09-12-05, 10:10 AM   #7
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my front brake doesn't get much use really, but it has served me well in the past. there were two occasions where i lost the ability to stop using my feet while approaching busy intersections, and my brake was there.

slightly ot: i saw a bike locked up outside the bar the other day that was a breakless fixed gear with no clips. a whole new level of insanity.
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Old 09-12-05, 02:59 PM   #8
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I ride a lot of long hills, and I use a front and rear brake. On long hills, once my cadence gets so high that I can't maintain smooth, continuous pessure on the pedals, I'm not able to control my speed without a brake. In that situation, the front brake makes the bike more unstable, but the rear brake brings it back under control instantly. I actually use the rear brake on the fixie more than the one on the road bike.
No matter how you brake the rear wheel- back pressure, skidding or a caliper- no rear brake will stop as well as any front brake. That is just a result of the laws of physics, and there is no exemption from those laws.

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Old 09-12-05, 05:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killsurfcity
slightly ot: i saw a bike locked up outside the bar the other day that was a breakless fixed gear with no clips. a whole new level of insanity.
not all of us can ride broken bikes...

my straps are hella loose, don't think they've ever really had an impact on pedaling or braking. I might just not be thinking about it when I use them.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:28 PM   #10
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I ride a lot of hills and get plenty of use out of my front brake. I see a few people without brakes in the area and they crawl down hills, fighting the pedals. Different strokes for different folks. I like to ride fast, use 49x16 gearing and I'm too cheap to waste good rubber skidding.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:44 PM   #11
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i rode fixed with platforms for over a year. you get good at skids. but yeah its pretty sketch.
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Old 09-12-05, 06:00 PM   #12
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I ride w/o brakes, straps, chain, or shoes...I'm FREEEEEEE -eeahh!
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Old 09-12-05, 06:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killsurfcity
my
slightly ot: i saw a bike locked up outside the bar the other day that was a breakless fixed gear with no clips. a whole new level of insanity.
Mighta been mine if you live in downtown Toronto I like to ride the ragged edge of disaster
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Old 09-12-05, 06:39 PM   #14
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it's hilly where i live, and so i have a front brake - only because of the hills. i've been glad of that more than once.
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Old 09-12-05, 07:34 PM   #15
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I was hauling around a corner on the Chester Creek Trail here in Anchorage (paved bike path) and as I rounded the corner there was a big bull moose in the middle of trail. I grabbed the front brake and skidded the rear a bit and made a quick u-turn. If I wouldn't have had the front brake I would of skidded right past (or into) the big bassturd! I think mating season is starting so I didn't want to risk trying to just blow past him.
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Old 09-12-05, 07:44 PM   #16
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Man, I hate getting "moosed"
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Old 09-13-05, 07:37 AM   #17
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Typical moose. They always hog the multi-use trails. Jerks.
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Old 09-13-05, 09:08 AM   #18
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learn how to skid, its not that hard. i have tons of fairly nice tires i got from a local coop and i rotate it regularly so its not too bad but thats how i do it. theres a super crazy steep hill on my way to work that i have to make a right turn on halfway down so i just skid the last 10 yards and do a skid turn at the bottom. skid turns are sweet.
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Old 09-13-05, 09:09 AM   #19
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oh yeah and brakeless fixed down a big hill necesitates a helmet, at least in my book
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Old 09-13-05, 11:02 AM   #20
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In my business, failures are presumed. So call me a poseur, but I have brakes on the front and back-just in case. I'm much too heavy to be using my legs only when going downhill. I'm getting better at it, but I'll never not have at least a front brake.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honduraz10
learn how to skid, its not that hard.
One point: just imagine if the chain broke when going downhill (or if you somehow injured your knee!) A set of brakes sure would be nice at that point...
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Old 09-13-05, 01:11 PM   #21
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legs are brakes and bombing hills is alot of fun!
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Old 09-13-05, 01:59 PM   #22
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I was riding down a hill once, and my lockring stripped and came off (so the cog followed). I just put my foot on the back tire and stopped. It was a little un-nerving, but that's how we used to stop when I rode brakeless BMX. As far as skidding without clips, skipping seems to be impossible on platforms. I don't even ride my track bike without clipless anymore, clips don't seem to offer nearly as much control.
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Old 09-13-05, 05:49 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formulaben
One point: just imagine if the chain broke when going downhill (or if you somehow injured your knee!) A set of brakes sure would be nice at that point...
imagine if this guys puts on a front brake and uses it as a crutch to not learn a decent skid, then the brake fails (whhich i've had happen twice on my nice road bike and ive never broken a chain) and then he cant stop. i think its the same situation. and i think no matter what the theory is if someone gets a front brake their skid wont be near strong enough to rely on, especially going downhill. but thats just my .02
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Old 09-13-05, 05:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grunk
I was riding down a hill once, and my lockring stripped and came off (so the cog followed). I just put my foot on the back tire and stopped. It was a little un-nerving, but that's how we used to stop when I rode brakeless BMX. As far as skidding without clips, skipping seems to be impossible on platforms. I don't even ride my track bike without clipless anymore, clips don't seem to offer nearly as much control.
yeah that way works, i had a firend with a brakeless ss that stopped that way. clipless is definitely the way to go; its good stuff
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Old 09-13-05, 06:16 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honduraz10
imagine if this guys puts on a front brake and uses it as a crutch to not learn a decent skid, then the brake fails (whhich i've had happen twice on my nice road bike and ive never broken a chain) and then he cant stop. i think its the same situation. and i think no matter what the theory is if someone gets a front brake their skid wont be near strong enough to rely on, especially going downhill. but thats just my .02
...which is precisely why he shouldn't do it. I have 2 brakes on mine. If one were to learn these types of tricks, sure, take the back one off, but until then I think prudence should rule the day. But then again, I actually enjoy my health...
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