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  1. #1
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    How quickly should I be able to break?

    (ignore the break/brake typo, thanks)

    Hello. I'm pretty new to fixed gear riding. I bought a cheap bike off of craigslist that had mostly new parts but a used shimano front brake. I don't know very much about bikes so I can't tell if the brake is good or not. I've ridden some bikes before where as soon as you tap the brake you stop almost instantly. My front brake slows me down to a stop pretty well, but its definitely not super fast and there is no way I'm going over the handle bars. I have a really steep geering 44x14 right now (came like that.. and I didn't know better), so I think that is making it harder to stop, but I plan to go down to a 44x17 (and then adjust the chainring size as needed. does this seem like a good budget concious strategy?).

    I'm going to be biking primarily in Boston, so I want to be as safe as can be. I'm basically just wondering how fast that front brake should stop me if I'm going at a good urban/city pace.

    Thanks for your help!
    Last edited by Zomar; 04-18-08 at 08:13 AM. Reason: brake not break haha

  2. #2
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    you most likley need to adjust the front break any bike shop should be able to do it for you for a few dollars. Good luck with your new bike and stay safe. Dont forget to get some lights.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Pfutz's Avatar
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    well most people who ride fixed gear break after about 2 weeks and just put a freewheel on.

  4. #4
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    did you break your brake?

  5. #5
    jjh
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    hopefully you have ridden some and are comfortable riding in/with traffic. i lost my urban riding cherry in boston on my road bike - i blame boston/cambridge for all my bad habits. if i would have done it on my fixed gear there would have been a good chance i would have been a casualty.

    BTW, your bike has brakes

  6. #6
    Senior Member nayr497's Avatar
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    Zomar: take it slow and easy at first. If you are riding in a major city and not much of a cyclist, jumping into that storm while riding fixed is potentially a big challenge. You should ride your fixed gear around in parking lots/paths for awhile until you feel quite comfortable on it. If you just jump into rush hour traffic and the whip between your legs is not comfortable for you, that could be trouble. I rode in a major city for a few years and it can be dangerous.

    Beware of doors, jaywalkers, buses, etc. A tip that might help you out as well: keep your eye on crosswalk silhouette flashers...they'll tell you when people might be crossing and more importantly, how much time you have to clear an intersection...as in, if the light is about to change and you need to put the hammer down.

    As for brakes. If you only have one brake, are new to fixed gear riding, and new to urban riding, I'd say you should upgrade. I have used cheap, low end double pivot caliper brakes as well as older single-pivots. They stop, but take some time/distance. I upgraded to a Shimano Ultegra caliper and have Kool Stop pads with it on one of my rides. I can stop on a dime, or as it was yesterday, right before I plow into a fat-arsed woman running in front of me.

    It is worth the money and you can get a single caliper on eBay for a pretty good bargain. Check out the Ultegras...you can usually find a roadie upgrading to Dura Ace who has old parts for sale.

  7. #7
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    Thanks for everyones help. I'm actually living in the suburbs until september, but I plan to use the bike as my main means of commuting and daily transportation once I get back to living in the city. Hopefully that will give me enough time to get comfortable with my bike and get all of the right parts I need.

  8. #8
    Senior Member 04jtb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    Zomar: take it slow and easy at first. If you are riding in a major city and not much of a cyclist, jumping into that storm while riding fixed is potentially a big challenge. You should ride your fixed gear around in parking lots/paths for awhile until you feel quite comfortable on it. If you just jump into rush hour traffic and the whip between your legs is not comfortable for you, that could be trouble. I rode in a major city for a few years and it can be dangerous.

    Beware of doors, jaywalkers, buses, etc. A tip that might help you out as well: keep your eye on crosswalk silhouette flashers...they'll tell you when people might be crossing and more importantly, how much time you have to clear an intersection...as in, if the light is about to change and you need to put the hammer down.

    As for brakes. If you only have one brake, are new to fixed gear riding, and new to urban riding, I'd say you should upgrade. I have used cheap, low end double pivot caliper brakes as well as older single-pivots. They stop, but take some time/distance. I upgraded to a Shimano Ultegra caliper and have Kool Stop pads with it on one of my rides. I can stop on a dime, or as it was yesterday, right before I plow into a fat-arsed woman running in front of me.

    It is worth the money and you can get a single caliper on eBay for a pretty good bargain. Check out the Ultegras...you can usually find a roadie upgrading to Dura Ace who has old parts for sale.
    +1 to this
    Quote Originally Posted by cc700 View Post
    i jam my thumbs up and back into the tubes. this way i can point my fingers straight out in front to split the wind and attain an even more aero profile, and the usual fixed gear - zen - connectedness feeling through the drivetrain is multiplied ten fold because my thumbs become one with the tubing.
    A group for all Dawes Galaxy owners to give and recieve information about them
    http://flickr.com/groups/dawes_galaxy/

  9. #9
    Banned zelah's Avatar
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    i break pretty quickly if cars stop in front of me

  10. #10
    partly metal, partly real sp00ki's Avatar
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    you should be able to lock up and do a mini endo if you're really moving and some jerkoff opens a door on you when you're pinned between the parking lane and a new jersey transit bus.
    Quote Originally Posted by bonechilling View Post
    Road [racing] is one of the only sports where adult men can compete in a non-scholastic setting, so inevitably 8/10 racers are fiercely-competitive nobodies. It's fun as hell, but it's also the foremost refuge of defeated and aging jocks, turned middle-management types.

  11. #11
    n00b Mofopotomus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    It is worth the money and you can get a single caliper on eBay for a pretty good bargain. Check out the Ultegras...you can usually find a roadie upgrading to Dura Ace who has old parts for sale.
    This is a great point. Only problem is I want the Dura-Ace versions. Those suckers are sooooo smooth.

  12. #12
    superpredictable
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  13. #13
    Raving looney
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    Clean your rim and get new pads. Road brakes don't tend to be as powerful as V-brake/cantilevers found on most common mountain bikes, etc. - but they still work.

    Get a shop to check they're not a pile of crap, and swap the pads out, clean your braking surface and just make sure you know how fast it'll stop you (go to a parking lot and do drills). Learn to read the road ahead while looking in peripheral vision for random stuff, use both brake and legs to stop if in a hurry, etc. - Use common sense and don't argue with boxes of steel, your skin isn't as forgiving as their body panels.

  14. #14
    partly metal, partly real sp00ki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mofopotomus View Post
    This is a great point. Only problem is I want the Dura-Ace versions. Those suckers are sooooo smooth.
    i ride the campy veloce skeleton brake (wanted black, refused to pay for record). works really nice, quite strong (feathering is pointless on fixed), pretty sexy.
    if you need silver, it also comes unpainted (or go with chorus, but again, too pricey).
    Might be worth finding someone to split the set up with, unless you can find a non-paired brake being sold on ebay.

    note: the rear is single.
    Quote Originally Posted by bonechilling View Post
    Road [racing] is one of the only sports where adult men can compete in a non-scholastic setting, so inevitably 8/10 racers are fiercely-competitive nobodies. It's fun as hell, but it's also the foremost refuge of defeated and aging jocks, turned middle-management types.

  15. #15
    I can haz? TheScientist's Avatar
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    faster than these guys if you want to live

  16. #16
    superpredictable
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    If the brake pads aren't dry-rotted, take them off and file down the surfaces a bit. If they are dry-rotted, replace them. Then clean your rims twice with a rag and degreaser, then once more with water. Put a drop of chain lube on the pivot point of your calipers. If your brake cable looks corroded and dirty, replace it, as well as the housing. Adjust your cable tension so that the pads rest about 2-3 mm away from the rim when not being used. For more info see www.parktool.com

  17. #17
    jjh
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    Quote Originally Posted by nayr497 View Post
    Zomar: take it slow and easy at first. If you are riding in a major city and not much of a cyclist, jumping into that storm while riding fixed is potentially a big challenge. You should ride your fixed gear around in parking lots/paths for awhile until you feel quite comfortable on it. If you just jump into rush hour traffic and the whip between your legs is not comfortable for you, that could be trouble. I rode in a major city for a few years and it can be dangerous.

    Beware of doors, jaywalkers, buses, etc. A tip that might help you out as well: keep your eye on crosswalk silhouette flashers...they'll tell you when people might be crossing and more importantly, how much time you have to clear an intersection...as in, if the light is about to change and you need to put the hammer down.

    As for brakes. If you only have one brake, are new to fixed gear riding, and new to urban riding, I'd say you should upgrade. I have used cheap, low end double pivot caliper brakes as well as older single-pivots. They stop, but take some time/distance. I upgraded to a Shimano Ultegra caliper and have Kool Stop pads with it on one of my rides. I can stop on a dime, or as it was yesterday, right before I plow into a fat-arsed woman running in front of me.

    It is worth the money and you can get a single caliper on eBay for a pretty good bargain. Check out the Ultegras...you can usually find a roadie upgrading to Dura Ace who has old parts for sale.
    the crosswalk silhouette flashers really don't apply in boston. tourists are the only ones who obey them

  18. #18
    alright now ahand's Avatar
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    ^BU kids are lemmings. i have to yell at them and dodge even more of them every morning on my way downtown. boston is pretty flat unless you're coming from the north end or allston/brighton area. 44x17 should be good if you're running a front brake.

  19. #19
    tinydr
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    Like everyone else has said, inspect your pads, check the brake cable tension... etc. Calipers aren't like cantilevers, but you should be able to stop quite quickly, try using the brake in conjunction with the drivetrain to stop (when I was messengering in Boston I rode 45 x 13 with a front brake; I could stop on a dime).

    MBTA buses can be a pain if the drivers choose to make your life difficult. If you'll be riding through Cambridge watch out for people opening car doors without looking (by keeping an eye on parked cars rear/driver-side windows and sideview mirrors you can often tell there's someone inside about to get out)... in the Backbay and Downtown/Financial District expect to have problems with pedestrians jaywalking...

    You will learn the traffic signals as you become accustomed to your route, knowing them can be very helpful.

    If you have any specific questions related to riding conditions in different areas, feel free to ask...

  20. #20
    tinydr
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahand View Post
    ^BU kids are lemmings.
    Northeastern students are no better... in the first few weeks of nice weather in the spring it only gets worse (and spreads, on the first sunny day all of the office workers downtown start jaywalking while looking at the sky; as opposed to their usual tactic of pretending they don't see anything: if you don't see something, it can't hit you, right?)

  21. #21
    alright now ahand's Avatar
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    yeah huntington is hell during nice weather.

  22. #22
    jjh
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    i had a great experience with a jaywalker on boylston street. i was cruising in the bike lane, but traffic was stopped. i missed her with my bike, but unfortunately my shoulder didn't. i felt bad for a while until she started *****ing at me for breaking her cell phone and scuffing her prada bag.

  23. #23
    partly metal, partly real sp00ki's Avatar
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    i love hitting morons who don't look when crossing a red.
    i do my best to miss you, but if you're that oblivious (esp on a cellphone), i'm leaning into you with my shoulder.
    i value my pace far more than your phonecall.

    (it's also good to keep a list of quickly accessible insults to add to their injury if they decide to mouth off. anything followed by "fat f*ck" works brilliantly)
    Quote Originally Posted by bonechilling View Post
    Road [racing] is one of the only sports where adult men can compete in a non-scholastic setting, so inevitably 8/10 racers are fiercely-competitive nobodies. It's fun as hell, but it's also the foremost refuge of defeated and aging jocks, turned middle-management types.

  24. #24
    Senior Member sandwiches's Avatar
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    Just adjust your cable tension to a point that you are comfortable with. Turn the barrel adjuster until the calipers are a decent distance away from your rim.

  25. #25
    spins pedals Zomar's Avatar
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    I go to Northeastern, pedestrians aren't very nice around here. Me included sometimes although I don't walk in front of moving objects so that they have to slow down. That's lame. Well I do sometimes with cars because I don't really like cars but not with bikes or anything like that.

    What's a typical distance from hitting the brake&stoppingdrivetrain to being stationary if you are going full speed on a flat? Some of you said you could stop on a dime, but what is that really? I'll definitely take a look at my brake and replace anything if necessary, but I could just be making a big deal out of nothing.

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