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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 08-11-08, 01:16 PM   #1
thebeard
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Single Speed Brake: Front or back?

So I am only going to use one brake on my single speed I'm almost done with. I've got one good side-pull brake to use. I know when using two, and stopping fast, you should use about 75% front, 25% back brake. I am way more dominant with my rear brake. But, looking through a lot of pictures, I see that most people are putting solely front brakes on.

I would rather have a back brake only. I know that there is more skidding involved in a quick stop, but I grew up only using my back brake...literally. Therefore, I feel more comfortable with a back brake.

The main question:

Is there any sort of crucial advantage to having solely a front brake on a single speed?

Thanks guys!

Max
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Old 08-11-08, 01:18 PM   #2
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For a single speed (ie freewheel), you should have 2 brakes.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:24 PM   #3
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You have more stopping power on the front. But you should have both brakes so you don't fly off your bike if you have to make a hard stop.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:27 PM   #4
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I grew up on a single rear brake as well; gotta love BMX.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:44 PM   #5
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Most of the bikes you see on here with only a front brake are fixed gear (no coasting) so in effect, the pedals double as a rear brake. Running a rear only on a SS would be roughly equivalent to riding fixed with no brakes or a SS with a coaster brake only. Certainly, lots of folks do both of those things.

The argument for having both is similar to the argument for running a front brake with a fixed gear. There is safety in redundancy. Should something happen to your ability to brake on the rear wheel, the front is still an option. If you're comfortable putting all your faith in a single brake then that's fine. Lots of folks get by with a single method of braking everyday.

That said, I'm putting 2 brakes on my SS build because I don't trust them to be 100% reliable (and because my frame came with 2 brakes and some cool holders for the rear cable welded to the top tube that I like the look of with cable in them). My decision is based 80% on function, 5% convenience, and 15% looks.

Your decision is totally up to you.
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Old 08-11-08, 02:00 PM   #6
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On a true singlespeed, you should have both, as you'd have no (good) way to stop should the one go out. If, however, you're on a fixed gear, and can therefore apply back pressure as a brake - or if you really want to just have one, then the brake should be on the front.

There's nothing about having a rear brake (other than the additional, extremely minimal weight of the cable and calipers behind the center of gravity) that'll keep you from "fly[ing] off" under maximum braking, as the rear wheel will already be completely unweighted and any brake back there won't be at all effective. Now, under certain conditions, e.g. slippery roads, rear braking is safer than front braking, but it's never more effective.
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Old 08-11-08, 02:07 PM   #7
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if you must run a single brake on a ss, then I say rear in the rainy/snowy/muddy conditions and front in everything else. understeer on a bike is a beyotch!
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Old 08-11-08, 02:35 PM   #8
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looks like he's in nebraska which means ice is probably a minimal concern...
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Old 08-11-08, 02:43 PM   #9
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fg: front
freewheel: both

don't try to rewrite physics; definitely don't try to fake the funk.

speaking of faking the funk, anyone see the chubby guy ridding around phila with the coaster brake and too-shorts on his pretend tarck bike?
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Old 08-11-08, 02:46 PM   #10
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Last edited by theBEAR; 08-03-10 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 08-11-08, 02:48 PM   #11
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Why so angry careBear? Need a hug?
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Old 08-11-08, 03:54 PM   #12
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I rolled without a rear on my ss bike for a few months. Everything was fine but it made me nervous. Never again. Now I have a front brake on my fixed gear bike, and the ss is turning into a townie bike. It has canti bosses and will be getting the Mafac style cantis from Velo-Orange.
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Old 08-11-08, 04:06 PM   #13
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On my SS I added a front brake. It just makes sense to use both wheels to stop -- back pressure on the rear and calipers on the front. When all else fails, your helmet dragging on the pavement works, too.
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Old 08-11-08, 04:55 PM   #14
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I always wondered why people were always running one front; the fixed gear thing makes sense. I just got some new brake stuff today, so I'll be running two. Thanks soo much to those of you that reasoned in your post.

No thanks:theBEAR
WTF is your problem, man? I don't even know you. Grow up.


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Old 08-11-08, 05:02 PM   #15
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I always wondered why people were always running one front; the fixed gear thing makes sense.
Not just the fixed gear thing, but physics as someone mentioned. In the vast vast majority of situations, a front brake is the only brake you need/should be using as it's more effective than back brakeing by a good margin. Using both brakes at once is not advised by some people as it can lead to fishtailing.
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Old 08-11-08, 05:47 PM   #16
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both brakes ******bag. one brake is a horribly dumb idea on your single speed. quit being stupid.
Maybe you should drop the "cool dude" part
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Old 08-11-08, 05:54 PM   #17
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Not just the fixed gear thing, but physics as someone mentioned. In the vast vast majority of situations, a front brake is the only brake you need/should be using as it's more effective than back brakeing by a good margin. Using both brakes at once is not advised by some people as it can lead to fishtailing.
That's right, i pretty much used only front brake even on my geared bike. However it's a good idea to have two, but you'll most likely be fine with just a front. I have never had a brake fail on me ever so far, so it has to be a rare occurrence. And even if it happens, you can use your leg on the back tire to stop.
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Old 08-11-08, 06:03 PM   #18
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The front has more stopping power. But you should really have both so you don't fly off the bike if you have to make a hard stop.

Explain how two brakes prevents unintentional flight
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Old 08-11-08, 06:04 PM   #19
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both brakes ******bag. one brake is a horribly dumb idea on your single speed. quit being stupid.


Wow. Newbie on the Pista pulls out the hostility card.
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Old 08-11-08, 06:35 PM   #20
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Explain how two brakes prevents unintentional flight
If you only have a front brake, it is easier to flip over the bars if you slam them on?
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Old 08-11-08, 06:49 PM   #21
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fg: front
freewheel: both

don't try to rewrite physics; definitely don't try to fake the funk.

speaking of faking the funk, anyone see the chubby guy ridding around phila with the coaster brake and too-shorts on his pretend tarck bike?
sounds like me, but I have a real tarck bike
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Old 08-11-08, 07:43 PM   #22
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Maybe you should drop the "cool dude" part
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Wow. Newbie on the Pista pulls out the hostility card.
self proclaimed 'cool dude'.

what a champ.
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Old 08-11-08, 07:47 PM   #23
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Run both brakes on the SS or I'm not your friend. I swear.
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Old 08-11-08, 08:42 PM   #24
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Run both brakes on the SS or I'm not your friend. I swear.
Yeah, like I said, I'm going to run two. I was just confused, as stated before, from all the pictures I had seen. I understand the physics aspect of it; hence the reason I assumed using a back brake would be more sufficient being that only using a front brake (with no coaster) in a quick stop would not stop the momentum of the rider.

Again, thanks so much guys. I'm glad 99% of you give me the information that I need.

Max
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Old 08-11-08, 09:26 PM   #25
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only using a front brake (with no coaster) in a quick stop would not stop the momentum of the rider.
hmm? typo? any deceleration caused by either tire results in load transfer off the rear and onto the front. the reduced load on the rear reduces its braking ability while the increased load on the front increases the braking ability at that end. so, the harder you brake with a rear brake (or back pedal pressure with a fg) the less tractive ability it has. on the other hand, the harder you brake with the front brake the more tractive ability it gains.

anyways, using any brake (alone or with one on the other end) in any stop (quick or slow) nearly by definition stops the momentum of the rider. the exception is when you screw up (or have bad luck) and tires slide or you endo resulting in the nasty shiny-side-down sort of situation. but, the front will be able to decelerate the rider more quickly.

-kyle
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