Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 55
  1. #1
    Senior Member john_and_off's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    new bedford/boston
    Posts
    487
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Dangerous without a rear brake?

    This is my first post on these forums, so I'm sorry if there's already a thread about this, but I've searched most the threads already and haven't found an explicit answer, so here it is:

    I'm a college student who rides for fun. Biking is my main form of transportation (I go to school in Boston and don't like the T) but mostly I just ride for fitness and because I enjoy it. I've been riding road bikes for years - never as a serious racer or anything - but I'm very at ease on two wheels. Recently, some friends who ride fixed gear convinced me (by letting me try their bikes!) to convert my road bike to fixed because of the interesting feel, better traction, lots of fun to ride, etc. etc. (you know all the reasons already, I'm sure )

    I've picked up all the components that should be necessary for the conversion, and I'm ready to start building in a week or two. I'm really excited to get out there on the conversion and start learning, but as lame as this may sound, my parents are uncomfortable with the idea (particularly because of the brake situation) and I want to put them at ease if I can.

    For me, a big part of the appeal of a fixed gear is the minimalism of it - I love the uncluttered look of the bikes, and love the idea of it being light to carry up stairs, etc... Everything I've read would suggest to me that a rear brake is superfluous on a fixed gear, so I'm ready to toss it (I know what you're thinking, but don't worry - I always wear a helmet, and I plan on running a front brake) but my dad, who was way into road bicycling back in his day, can't be convinced that this is safe.

    Am I misguided in thinking that a rear brake is unnecessary? If it truly would be an asset to me (I'm a conservative rider to begin with - no traffic dodging here) I'm prepared to suck it up on the aesthetics and keep it as a safety measure, but I'd really prefer to go with the minimalist look of a front brake if it's safe. What's your take on the rear brake? Can it be safely scrapped, given that I'm a conservative rider in a relatively flat city? If yes, does anybody know of any evidence to help put my parents at ease? Sheldon Brown actually has a whole page written on his take on the rear brake on a fixed gear (as unnecessary) so maybe that's all the proof I need, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    the pesto of cities
    My Bikes
    Davidson Impulse, Merckx Titanium AX, Bruce Gordon Rock & Road, Cross Check custom build, On-One Il Pomino, Shawver Cycles cross, Zion 737, Mercian Vincitore, Brompton S1L, Charge Juicer
    Posts
    7,016
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    My old conversion had a rear brake. It was nice as an alternate way to slow down when my legs got tired on long descents or in place of skipping during the few times I used the rack to carry stuff. Otherwise I didn't use it much.

  3. #3
    Iguana Subsystem dolface's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    san francisco
    Posts
    4,016
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    you don't need a rear brake, your legs do all the braking you need (and 90% of your stopping power comes from the front anyway)

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    354
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    it feels really weird once you get used to your legs constantly moving to use a rear brake, especially for a sudden stop. you can slow down all you need to with the front.

  5. #5
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    5,389
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    if it were a question of aesthetics, wouldn't you put a rear brake on for symmetry?

    anyway, i think you'll probably find that you don't need a rear brake, but if you ride and find that you need a rear brake, then put one on.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  6. #6
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    philly
    Posts
    2,116
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    i don't think it is a bad idea to leave it on till your legs develop the power to stop the rear wheel on their own (or forever really).

    but as a conservative rider i think you really won't need it, even while getting used to using the legs for braking. a front brake stops you pretty damn good!
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  7. #7
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    AZ
    My Bikes
    Cannondale SuperSix, Lemond Poprad. Retired: Jamis Sputnik, Centurion LeMans Fixed, Diamond Back ascent ex
    Posts
    13,893
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    In fact if you apply the front brake for a hard stop you will find it is too easy to skid the rear wheel with legs alone, but with legs alone you can better prevent a rear skid vs. rear hand brakes.
    My last 'roadie' ride I did fixed with front brake, there were a few times (a few more than usual) we were riding tight at 28mph and light turned red and I stopped faster that most others several of who skidded into the intersection.

    Al

  8. #8
    Senior Member john_and_off's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    new bedford/boston
    Posts
    487
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk
    if it were a question of aesthetics, wouldn't you put a rear brake on for symmetry?
    It's really the look of the cable running down the frame that I don't like.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone (and so quickly!)

  9. #9
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Sacramento CA
    My Bikes
    Too Many
    Posts
    5,762
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    If you are unsure then leave it on while you are learning. I will bet that you won't use it and will find out for your self that it is not needed, but find out for yourself.
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  10. #10
    blah onetwentyeight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    5,573
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    If it were a question of aesthetics I'd just put a bmx lever up by the stem.

  11. #11
    i am batman gregtheripper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    561
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    you don't need the rear brake. the only way it would be aesthetically be pleasing in my opinion is if you ran road levers on drops (balanced look).. but i've been fine with just a front brake for everything. its nice to have if you're going to run an ss freewheel though. also, where do you go to school? i'm at NEU.

  12. #12
    Senior Member john_and_off's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    new bedford/boston
    Posts
    487
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I go to BU - always nice to meet other Bostonians!

  13. #13
    Esse Quam Videri daibutsusan73's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Washington, DC
    My Bikes
    Bianchi Pista (I know, I know....But I'm slowly modifying her into ONE SEXY 8ITCH!)
    Posts
    223
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I only run a front brake. I don't skid or skip either. You can slow down quite a bit by simply resisting the motion of the pedals, then come to a complete stop with the break.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jimmy_jazz's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    My Bikes
    1985 Bridgestone 450, 1992 Trek 930 (SS Conversion), 2005 Bianchi Pista
    Posts
    195
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    The front brake provides the vast majority of the braking force anyway

    Most of the time on my road bike I only use the front.

  15. #15
    ... thelung's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    hell
    My Bikes
    some piece of s h i t
    Posts
    750
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    A rear brake would just be redundant and put more clutter on the bike.

  16. #16
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    The edge of b#
    My Bikes
    A whole bunch-a bikes.
    Posts
    5,401
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    I bomb down 6 mile descents in the mountains where I live with just a front brake. If it was an SS I'd definitely want a brake.

  17. #17
    Shadow Member simple312's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    brooklyn (chicago until july07)
    My Bikes
    bareknuckle fixed, cannondale track, nishiki conversion
    Posts
    189
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    if you are going to put a flip flop hub to have a single speed option, then you might want a rear break. if not no need. even on my non fixed bikes i usually just use the front break. but part of that has been having breaks that hardly worked in the first place, so rear was practically useless.

    edit: also once you get used to stoping with your legs, you probably wont use the front break either.

  18. #18
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    10,866
    Mentioned
    6 Post(s)
    Tagged
    1 Thread(s)
    Your dad is right.

    In the hands (and feet) of the average rider, fixed-gear bikes are not as safe as freewheeled bikes.

    [Ducks]
    [While waiting for them to reload]

    Not as safe for the following reasons:

    1) when you are locked in to constant pedaling you are not able to set your pedals when cornering or when jammed up on a curb by a passing car.

    2) It takes more physical skill and dexterity than required for a typical bicycle.

    3) It's hard as hel* to bunny hop over obsticles in emergency situations. Bunnyhopping is the holy grail of fixie skills to me.

    4) A fixie rider has "read the road" a LOT further ahead than a typical cyclist.

    5) If you ride brakeless, for one reason or another, one day, you WILL be headed down a hill that you may not be able to handle.

    6) Fixies can destroy your knees over time.

    So, yes, with that in mind, in the hands of the average cyclist, fixies are not as safe as a "regular" bike. If you are conviced that you can learn to handle the above situations (and convince your dad of such) then you are cool. If not, hey this IS as SingleSpeed forum, too ;-)
    Last edited by carleton; 04-25-06 at 03:08 PM.

  19. #19
    live free or die trying humancongereel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    where i lay my head is home.
    My Bikes
    bianchi pista workhorse, cannondale r1000, mountain bike fixed conversion
    Posts
    6,999
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    1) when you are locked in to constant pedaling you are not able to set your pedals when cornering or when jammed up on a curb by a passing car.
    shorter cranks.

    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    2) It takes more physical skill and dexterity than required for a typical bicycle.
    sure. but you'll get stronger over time. start with a lower ratio and work up.


    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    4) A fixie rider has "read the road" a LOT further ahead than a typical cyclist.
    wouldn't this be a safer way of doing things, not an added danger?



    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    6) Fixies can destroy your knees over time.
    CAN. yes, "can". they don't have to, though, and you don't have to let them.
    have:ea50 flats, black, light, stiff.
    144 bcd 3/32" 49t sugino track chainring, possibly 75.

    want: risers, light, stiff, 1", black if that can be
    144 bcd 46t or 47t chainring any kind or width

  20. #20
    cab horn
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Toronto
    My Bikes
    1987 Bianchi Campione
    Posts
    28,292
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Oh please. Fixies are no more dangerous than freewheels. Your post sounds like you're assuming the dudes going to go brakeless from the get go. It is no more dangerous then operating a machine for which you have little experience in.

    You seem to be putting fixie riders on some sort of holier, more elite than thou pedestal which is pretty wrong. Just as there are bad freewheel riders, there are also bad fixie riders. No one group is intrinsically better than the other because of the type of bicycle they are riding.

  21. #21
    blah onetwentyeight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    5,573
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by carleton
    Your dad is right.

    In the hands (and feet) of the average rider, fixed-gear bikes are not as safe as freewheeled bikes.

    [Ducks]
    [While waiting for them to reload]

    Not as safe for the following reasons:

    1) when you are locked in to constant pedaling you are not able to set your pedals when cornering or when jammed up on a curb by a passing car.

    2) It takes more physical skill and dexterity than required for a typical bicycle.

    3) It's hard as hel* to bunny hop over obsticles in emergency situations. Bunnyhopping is the holy grail of fixie skills to me.

    4) A fixie rider has "read the road" a LOT further ahead than a typical cyclist.

    5) If you ride brakeless, for one reason or another, one day, you WILL be headed down a hill that you may not be able to handle.

    6) Fixies can destroy your knees over time.

    So, yes, with that in mind, in the hands of the average cyclist, fixies are not as safe as a "regular" bike. If you are conviced that you can learn to handle the above situations (and convince your dad of such) then you are cool. If not, hey this IS as SingleSpeed forum, too ;-)
    1) is dealt with by 4. you ride smarter, you don't get smushed into a curb. If you're getting close enough to a curb to deal with pedal strike, you're probably going down anyway. And if you get pedal strike on cornering you're taking some pretty hard corners. Shorter Cranks help, yes. Ill get taken down by toe overlap way before I will with pedal strike.

    2) which you learn really fast.

    3) uhm... you just sort of hop. It's no leg over the handlebar skid... If you're positioning in the pedals isnt right, do a quick skip before you need tot jump.

    4) which is good. if the stupid moutnain biker who ran into my leg this morning in my commute had been paying attention, i wouldn't have had to cuss him out.

    5) which is why you learn how to stop by jamming your foot into your tire. or how to skid with your feet not in your pedals. I've slipped out in some monster hills, and I'm not dead yet. If he has a front brake I don't think its an issue.

    6) so get a bike that fits you.

  22. #22
    Senior Member john_and_off's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    new bedford/boston
    Posts
    487
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Thanks for the input, everyone! More or less, from everything people have said here, I've come to the conclusion that given my riding style (like I said, I ride pretty conservatively) and the fact that Boston is pretty flat, I should be fine with just a front brake.

    And Carleton, thanks for the input - I appreciate that you seem to be concerned for my well-being, but I'm not going to be going crazy or racing any time soon, so I think that I'm up for the challenge Like everyone's said here, I'll just have to work my way up. Thanks again!

  23. #23
    with love and squalor pixel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    490
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    if it were a question of aesthetics, wouldn't you put a rear brake on for symmetry?
    If you followed a traditional Beaux Arts schooling you would.
    If you have more of a modernist approach you'd wouldn't.

    "Form follows function." -Louis Henri Sullivan

    Side note: another bostonian here, I work in the architecture program at Wentworth.
    "Pretty girls make graves." -- Jack Kerouac

  24. #24
    Banned
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    GA
    Posts
    5,317
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by john_and_off
    Thanks for the input, everyone! More or less, from everything people have said here, I've come to the conclusion that given my riding style (like I said, I ride pretty conservatively) and the fact that Boston is pretty flat, I should be fine with just a front brake.
    There is one other issue that noone seems to have brought up. If you ride in crappy weather on crappy surfaces a rear brake will greatly improve saftey. There are situations where you not be able to stop as fast as possible with your front wheel as doing so would cause your it to slide and you to go down. In such circumstances back pressure on the pedals is a really crappy way to stop since it can not be applied evenly and will cause the wheel to slide and make you more likely to go down.

    if you ride on surfaces like these regularly you might want to consider dual brakes even on a fixie
    -wet brick
    -ice
    -wet leave covered crap
    -sandy roads

  25. #25
    Senior Member eddiebrannan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    NYC
    My Bikes
    DW
    Posts
    3,363
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by dolface
    you don't need a rear brake, your legs do all the braking you need (and 90% of your stopping power comes from the front anyway)

    always hear people say this (or 87% or 93%).

    makes me wonder how us brakeless types manage to stop at all really

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •