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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 08-11-07, 04:56 PM   #1
brinskan
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SS rear brake only

So I am about to convert my bike over to a single speed, but I am questioning if I really even need a front brake. I like the simplicity of having less, but my BMX roots enjoy coasting so fixie ain't the move yet. Anyway, I was wondering how many of you on single speeds run back brakes only, or find themselves using the rear brakes more. For years my BMX bikes only had rear brakes and i find myself only using the rear bikes on my Road Bike. I think I've only used the front brake a few times in the rain and once to do a no-footed endo to prove that I can do it on a 700c bike.

Now I understand that technically because of weigh transfer the front brake does more work, but I still use the rear more.
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Old 08-11-07, 04:57 PM   #2
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Most people here will tell you its a bad idea but you should do what you want.

Last edited by deathhare; 08-11-07 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 08-11-07, 05:07 PM   #3
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if you like finding yourself under tires of another vehicle do it. Or you can be like Ted Shred and fred flintstone it with no brakes.

Try not to make your bike look cool cause function over form any day. remember those things are there to help save your life

I like it when people say 'I like the simplicity of it' cause it translates to 'it just looks cooler' and don't think I haven't been in the same boat because I am a culprit of it too until I realised brakes are good, especially front brakes. If you want the 'simplicity' look of it... have a 2 finger handlebar brake going to the front... you will barely see the thing.

In the end you are going to do what you want to do anyways.
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Old 08-11-07, 05:16 PM   #4
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I would consider front brake only on a freewheeling bike a bad idea. Rear brake only I would regard as just plain dumb.
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Old 08-11-07, 05:19 PM   #5
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Most of your braking power is in the front-- going back only would be a very poor idea. Having only a front brake on a SS is more than silly (if the front brake fails you're ****ed), but having only a back brake simply doesn't make sense (unless of course you're looking forward to that OH ****! moment).
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Old 08-11-07, 05:21 PM   #6
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You guys do realize there is a huge culture of BMX street riders that have been riding freewheel/rear brake only for a loong time?
And yes, they go as fast or faster than most people on this forum.
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Old 08-11-07, 05:29 PM   #7
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op thanks for spelling brake correctly

if you are smart enough to do that why not be smart enough to have two brakes

Last edited by doofo; 08-11-07 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 08-11-07, 05:34 PM   #8
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It depends on how and where you are going to ride it for one thing. For another, just try it yourself and make a judgment about whether you can stop or not.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by deathhare View Post
You guys do realize there is a huge culture of BMX street riders that have been riding freewheel/rear brake only for a loong time?
And yes, they go as fast or faster than most people on this forum.
So all this time there has been a huge culture of people who should've been using a front-brake as well as their rear-brake? I don't suppose they wear helmets either.

The answer to this question is quite simple: Use both front and rear brakes. You stop faster with a front-brake than a rear-brake for more than enough reasons (Sheldon has an article regarding it). With fixed-gear your legs/drivetrain is sort of like your rear-brake, so you have two independent ways of stopping yourself. With a freewheel in the rear, you need to find a second way to stop, IE rear-brake. Using a rear-brake only leaves you wide open to the vulnerabilites of locking up your rear wheel and skidding; it's not something you want to happen when you're trying to avoid hitting a garbage truck.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:23 PM   #10
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You guys do realize there is a huge culture of BMX street riders that have been riding freewheel/rear brake only for a loong time?
And yes, they go as fast or faster than most people on this forum.
You see, that is the thing. I think I am so used to only have a rear brake that even though I have two brakes, I still only use the rear. But some of you may be correct, in that oh **** moment, I might be looking for the front brake too and it doesn't really save me that much weight.

Now as for it being a worse idea than a SS with just a front brake, you are all bugging and do not understand the physics of a bike. While yes, on all vehicles weight transfer puts the most stress on the front braking system, it does not actually relate the same way to a bicycle as it does to a car. On cars almost 90% of the braking is done up front, even most motorcyclists depend on only the front brake, but that is because of the increased stability of these vehicles due to their vehicle to driver weight ratio. Anyone here who has jammed super hard on a front brake on a bicycle while moving their weight forward understands what an endo is. So because of this most riders will use both front and rear brakes on a bike, usually jamming the rears while modulating the fronts. This lets the rear wheel take the initial job of scrubbing off speed and slowing inertia, then the front is used to continue to slow the bike after the initial point of decreasing speed. Without using the front brake with the rear brake the front of the bike can become unstable. Because if there is too little weight up front, the wheel could lock up and skid, which is way harder to control that a skidding rear wheel. And again, too much weight forward and ya endo. This does not happen when you only use only the rear brake. For years simple bikes have come equipped with only a rear brake. I doubt there is a single bike that ever came with JUST a front brake. This all said, I am still weary about removing the front brake, and that is why I asked if anyone else has done it. I am guessing no, simply out of fear of being lambasted by the internet collective.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:33 PM   #11
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S' no big deal, just bmx style, but bmxes are for tricks not serious transportation. I wouldn't ride regularly in traffic on a setup like that. However it's still safer than brakeless fg and forum member cierrecart has some awesome looking slick tires ss mtb conversions with rear brake only.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:40 PM   #12
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You guys do realize there is a huge culture of BMX street riders that have been riding freewheel/rear brake only for a loong time?
I was one of them. I raced both NBL and ABA BMX back in the day, and I was old enough that my folks let me ride my "race" bike on the street (not like my brother who had a "race" bike for track use and a "thrasher" bike for street use).

When I was doing that, I was riding on the sidewalk pretty much all the time. The only time I was on the street was when I hopped off the curb to avoid someone on the sidewalk and hopped back on. Or on those rare streets that didn't have sidewalks. Riding in traffic, as a part of traffic, was foreign to me.

Now on my roadie or fixie, riding in traffic, as a part of traffic, is par for the course. Braking is different when one of your escape routes isn't "bunny hop up the curb and ride across the parkway to go around the obstacle."

Run rear-only on your BMX bike. But I wouldn't do it on a freewheeled road bike.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:40 PM   #13
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rear brake is enough. i friend also with bmx roods works on an singlespeed mtb with just a rearbrake and is damn fast. i ride fixed brakesles so i have only a rearbrake too. we both survived a lot of alleycats...

sometimes itīs nessesary to drift with the rearwheel around something so i think frontbrake only wouldnt be as good as rearbrake only
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Old 08-11-07, 08:45 PM   #14
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Riding in traffic, as a part of traffic, was foreign to me.
I grew up in NYC, so traffic is all I know.
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Old 08-11-07, 08:50 PM   #15
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I run only a coaster brake on my SS.
No big deal. Never had any problems.
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Old 08-11-07, 09:25 PM   #16
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try that emergency stop/slowing down a hill while doing 40mph. let me know how that goes
+1
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Old 08-11-07, 09:58 PM   #17
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This thread is quite possibly the most ironic thing I have ever seen.
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Old 08-11-07, 10:29 PM   #18
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i'm poor, so i can only afford one single digit ultimate. i put it on the back. i commuted 5000+ miles in the last year. i'm hell on a rear tire, but unsafe? hardly....
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Old 08-11-07, 10:52 PM   #19
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Can someone please explain why the rear brake is a bad idea? I know everyone says so and seems to think that peer pressure alone should be reason enough, but I just don't see what the problem is, especially considering the number of coaster brakes on the road.
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Old 08-11-07, 10:52 PM   #20
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I think it goes something like 60% front 40% rear as far as efficiency goes I use both on my ss conversion and non on my fix I work on my ss however and joy ride on my fix
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Old 08-11-07, 11:10 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by vpiuva View Post
Part 1: we do understand what happens in the real world because we ride on the road
Part 2: you don't ride on the road much, do you?
Part 3: fixies often come this way, eg. Bianchi Pista

for the rest of you with only a rear brake. try that emergency stop/slowing down a hill while doing 40mph. let me know how that goes

I've been riding on NYC streets for the past 15 years. I spent one summer as a messenger, but apparently I should bow to your post count. And as for the front brake question, I obviously was not refering to fixed gear bikes. I meant name one freewheel bike that comes with a front brake only. (oh and PS the Bianch front brake is a LBS thing, it comes with no brakes)

Now, I agree with you and Tim that at 40mph, it might be best to have two brakes. And this post was mostly me thinking out loud, but I have yet to see any of you to actually make real arguement as to why, instead you all just speak off your internet laurels...
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Old 08-11-07, 11:12 PM   #22
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You guys do realize there is a huge culture of BMX street riders that have been riding freewheel/rear brake only for a loong time?
And yes, they go as fast or faster than most people on this forum.
This front vs. rear vs. both vs. none argument has been popping up a lot latley. I have to agree with the BMX point, I rode BMX for years and the rear brake has always been adequate, not only for me, but for all the people who have been doing it for all these years. And honestly how often do you ever hear of someones rear brake just flat out failing?
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Old 08-11-07, 11:17 PM   #23
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Front brake for me please...

I have a single speed with a coaster brake, but years of riding a motorcycle has taught me the love of a front brake. I'll be adding a front brake to my bike before next week is done... My back brake just wants to skid too much for my comfort. Plus I had a hip replaced on the left leg, so it can't kick backwards as hard as the right leg can yet, so in a panic stop... pedal placement is very hard to do sometimes.
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Old 08-11-07, 11:29 PM   #24
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Can someone please explain why the rear brake is a bad idea? I know everyone says so and seems to think that peer pressure alone should be reason enough, but I just don't see what the problem is, especially considering the number of coaster brakes on the road.
Coaster brakes go on beach cruisers and childrens bikes, not practical transportation.

The problem with a rear brake alone is that it cannot stop you anywhere near as quick as a front brake. A front brake alone is a bad choice too because in poor traction situations it can cause you to bail (in a move that a TdF commentator called "the front brake mistake"). Ultimately for a practical bike you need a way to slow both wheels.

But this is the forum where we ride brakeless fg, which is essentially a bad rear brake, so do what you want. The bottom line is, just because something is dumb doesn't mean you can't pull it off and have fun with it.

Last edited by mander; 08-11-07 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 08-11-07, 11:58 PM   #25
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I have yet to see any of you to actually make real arguement as to why
All I have is my own opinion; that being at the speed road bikes and fixies roll, in the traffic where road bikes and fixies often find themselves, it's best to have both wheels braked.
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