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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 02-17-07, 08:41 PM   #1
MajorA
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Absolute noob question about brakes

I'm pretty much a vintage road bike rider who just found himself with an extra frame that I decided would make a cool singlespeed. I pretty much have a picture in my brain of what I want it to be ... drop bars with a front brake only, among other things.

I've seen singlespeeds with small brake levers mounted on the bars right next to the stem. What's the preferred brand and model for those levers, and is fitting them to vintage-diameter road bars a hassle? Thanks, guys.
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Old 02-17-07, 08:48 PM   #2
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If you're planning on a singlespeed, it would be in the rider's interest to have a front and rear brake, as it is basically the same as a geared bike when it comes to slowing down, stopping, and you don't want to have to rely on one stopping mechanism. IMO
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Old 02-17-07, 08:50 PM   #3
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They're called cross or in-line levers. There's 4-5 companies selling almost exactly the same lever with different branding. Get what ever is cheap. They are usually 26.0 or 31.8mm with a shim included to take them down to 26.0mm. I use mine on 26.0 bullhorns fine, and occasionally put them on a set of mountain risers with another shim without a hitch.
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Old 02-17-07, 09:12 PM   #4
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One brake will be fine.
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Old 02-17-07, 10:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deathhare
One brake will be fine.
... if you never ride in the rain, in the snow, or on any surface with sub optimal traction.
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Old 02-17-07, 10:31 PM   #6
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here we go...
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Old 02-17-07, 10:38 PM   #7
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Perhaps the OP means fixed, and not single speed as in single speed.
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Old 02-17-07, 10:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mander
... if you never ride in the rain, in the snow, or on any surface with sub optimal traction.
+1
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Old 02-17-07, 10:56 PM   #9
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think of it this way

the time spent to bail off the bike when your the rim brake on the front fails to stop you in rain or snow

is far less than the time it would take to put a rear brake on

youd have to bail dozens of times before it would be

worth putting a rear brake on
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Old 02-17-07, 11:01 PM   #10
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Its not that you fail to stop, you will stop very fast with that kind of setup if traction is bad, by wiping out on your hip. It just hurts a lot and you may get run over soon afterwards.
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Old 02-17-07, 11:37 PM   #11
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Make it a frickin fixie.... totally.
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Old 02-18-07, 12:16 AM   #12
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I rode for 15 years with one brake and a freewheel. Zero incidents. Maintain your **** or it doesnt matter if you have 5 brakes and an anchor to throw.
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Old 02-18-07, 01:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deathhare
I rode for 15 years with one brake and a freewheel. Zero incidents. Maintain your **** or it doesnt matter if you have 5 brakes and an anchor to throw.
Are you talking about a coaster?

Yes, it is possible to ride with only one brake as long as you ride a lot slower whenever the conditions are bad and have the small modicum of luck required to never pull the stop off the end of the cable. But why the **** would you? You can't even use any of the asinine rationalizations that people use to justify riding a brakeless fg. The sole reason you are left with is because you are a reckless **** who wants to look cool to other ******bags safety be damned.... good for you for being a dumbass it's still bad advice to give.
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Old 02-18-07, 01:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
Are you talking about a coaster?

Yes, it is possible to ride with only one brake as long as you ride a lot slower whenever the conditions are bad and have the small modicum of luck required to never pull the stop off the end of the cable. But why the **** would you? You can't even use any of the asinine rationalizations that people use to justify riding a brakeless fg. The sole reason you are left with is because you are a reckless **** who wants to look cool to other ******bags safety be damned.... good for you for dumbass it's still bad advice to give.

You dumbass. Where do you juvenile rats come from?
....oh GA
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Old 02-18-07, 02:03 AM   #15
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I've run the cheapie nashbars and the nicer specialized on a flip n chop. The Specialized have a very nice feel, very ergonomic. BUT If you want drop bars, I'd use regular brakes instead so you have the hoods for an extra hand position. The cross lever is popular because it's small and works well with homemade bullhorns and other alt bar setups, but it's not useful or comfortable if you plan on using it a lot. As a back up lever in cyclocross, or as an emergency fixie brake it's fine, but they really don't make for good dedicated brake levers. If I were to build a single speed with drops, I'd use two aero levers and two brakes. That's assuming you really mean single speed, and not fixed.
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Old 02-18-07, 02:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutret
Are you talking about a coaster?

Yes, it is possible to ride with only one brake as long as you ride a lot slower whenever the conditions are bad and have the small modicum of luck required to never pull the stop off the end of the cable. But why the **** would you? You can't even use any of the asinine rationalizations that people use to justify riding a brakeless fg. The sole reason you are left with is because you are a reckless **** who wants to look cool to other ******bags safety be damned.... good for you for being a dumbass it's still bad advice to give.
on the singles speed single brake thing I agree
on the brakeless fixed I disagree but I wear a hemit and ride with low gears it also helps to live in flat town usa
if I lived in a hilly place I would either gear down further or put brakes on my bike or ride my geared bikes
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Old 02-18-07, 02:17 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garagegirl
I've run the cheapie nashbars and the nicer specialized on a flip n chop. The Specialized have a very nice feel, very ergonomic. BUT If you want drop bars, I'd use regular brakes instead so you have the hoods for an extra hand position. The cross lever is popular because it's small and works well with homemade bullhorns and other alt bar setups, but it's not useful or comfortable if you plan on using it a lot. As a back up lever in cyclocross, or as an emergency fixie brake it's fine, but they really don't make for good dedicated brake levers. If I were to build a single speed with drops, I'd use two aero levers and two brakes. That's assuming you really mean single speed, and not fixed.

or he could use standard aero levers with cross / interrupt levers like they were intended to be used
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Old 02-18-07, 08:11 AM   #18
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This kind of got said above, but for clarity, there are two models out there:

-Specialized: Very nice, ergo setup, haven't personally used them but they pass the "I've never heard anybody complain about them" test
-Cane creek/nashbar/forte (performance)/tektro/some british company rebrands them as well. Also very nice, have a reach adjustment but they're a little crunchy when you screw it all the way down for really small hands. They're all the same thing, my performance ones have tektro mold marks on the inside. I think cane creek has a version with 3 holes drilled in the lever to save 5.2 mouse farts of weight, and there is a carbon fiber version that is the same shape.
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Old 02-18-07, 09:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deathhare
I rode for 15 years with one brake and a freewheel. Zero incidents. Maintain your **** or it doesnt matter if you have 5 brakes and an anchor to throw.
clearly you pedal bikes but don't ride them.

back on topic, paul makes a sweet "e-brake" lever.

Last edited by isotopesope; 02-18-07 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 02-18-07, 10:18 AM   #20
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so, op, since you're a vintage bike fan this whole argument might not be painfully familiar yet. i think part of the confusion comes down to nomenclature. sorry if you already know all this, i tend to err on the side of caution...

"fixed gear" refers a singlespeed bike that doesn't coast. most of us choose to slow the bike with our legs, using that as a primary means of stopping. i and others run a front brake as well in case a situation, either environmental or mechanical, requires another means of stopping.

technically a fixed gear is a singlespeed. but when people on this board say "singlespeed," they're referring to a bike with a freewheel that only has one gear. you can't use your legs to slow down and therefore need to rely on your rim brakes to stop. yes it is quite possible to run only a front brake on a singlespeed. in emergency stops the front brake is doing nearly all the work.

but the same redundancy arguments apply. it's not likely that your brake will suddenly cease to work but it is possible. if you regularly ride in traffic or are not comfortable "bailing out" at speed, there's a strong case to be made for a rear brake on this type of bike. i wouldn't ride without one.

but of course, these are personal decisions and have been debated to death. a search of the forums for "brakeless" will reveal more than you care to read. make your decisions based on your priorities, you are the one who will have to live with them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garagegirl
If I were to build a single speed with drops, I'd use two aero levers and two brakes. That's assuming you really mean single speed, and not fixed.
exactly. the great thing about drop bars is the variety of hand positions. if you are in fact freewheeling, then a cross lever means you have to keep your hands on the tops (unless the cross lever is in line with a regular drop lever). with a fixed gear, you don't need to keep your hand on the brake, so it makes sense. for ss, i'd go with drop levers or flat/bullhorn bars.
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Old 02-18-07, 02:36 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtyphotons
"fixed gear" refers a singlespeed bike that doesn't coast. most of us choose to slow the bike with our legs, using that as a primary means of stopping. i and others run a front brake as well in case a situation, either environmental or mechanical, requires another means of stopping.

technically a fixed gear is a singlespeed. but when people on this board say "singlespeed," they're referring to a bike with a freewheel that only has one gear.

It's the square/rectangle thing.
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Old 02-18-07, 04:23 PM   #22
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Well if he does really mean fixed, and money doesn't matter, go for the Specialized.
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