King of the Hipsters
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Bend, Oregon
Bikes: Realm Cycles Custom
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For maximum braking power, a front brake designed as a front brake works best.
That said, for a brake intended as an emergency brake, should one throw a chain, a rear brake has some merit.
A few years ago I rode over the crest of a hill onto 1/4" thick clear ice.
I back-pedaled and my rear wheel spinned backwards.
Unconsciously, I tapped the front brake and the front wheel went out from underneath, resulting in four broken ribs and a punctured, collapsed lung.
I got back on my bike and rode five miles to the Emergency room where they put in a chest tube.
I eventually had three chest tubes and went a month without work.
If I had not had a front brake, I think I could have ridden through it, or onto the side of the road, or at least clipped out before I fell, and, perhaps, have fallen better.
That said, I recommend either a front brake or two brakes.
A rear brake alone looks too weird.