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  1. #1
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    Why no fron brake on fixed gear

    I'm looking for people's take on why they do not use front brakes on fixed gear bikes. I get the all but useless nature of the rear brake and also get the idea that the front brake just isn't used often and I know that specific use bikes for tricks/track/etc. don't need them but I'm talking about what I'll call "real world use" fixed bikes. I know in my case as my track standing ability slowly improves along with my all around fixed gear abilities the front brake isn't a regular part of my riding but I'll give a few examples of why I'm asking:

    1. Hauling a trailer. I know everyone doesn't do this but pulling a BOB full of groceries makes a front brake a necessity.

    2. The other day I was out for a ride and a car overtook me just to make a turn into a 7-11 right in front of me. No amount of skills in the world would have allowed my to avoid him without a front brake. Period. As it was, if my hands were not on the flats I would have never pulled the brake in time to give me that split second I needed to throw myself out into traffic to ever so barely avoid him. I was actually shaking for a few minutes after it was so harrowing.

    So, while my examples show a fair amount of bias in my opinion I am not closed minded on the topic. Please chime in.

  2. #2
    shtface Cy Trivialities's Avatar
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    cuz its cool.

  3. #3
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    Cy,

    Sure. No brakes gives the appearance of uber skills and of course nothing looks cleaner. But, can you take it to the next level for me with examples of skillsets that essentially replace a front brake and of more importance how those skills are developed? That is why I'm saying I'm open minded about this. You see, I know at least for right now that a front brake is a practical reality for me. But, if there are those out there who have managed to build skills that make real world riding reasonably safe without a front brake and they are willing to share the "how to's" of those skills I absolutely want to know. Hell, even if I keep a front brake forever having additional avoidance and stopping skills can only be a good thing

  4. #4
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    troll

  5. #5
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    Awareness and defensive riding.

    Always assume drivers DO NOT see you; pretend you are invisible.*
    Give yourself ample braking distance; anticipate escape routes should obstacles appear.
    Don't pull a trailer; just get a bigger mess bag and toss it in.

    If there is NO amount of skills that would avoid a situation, "Period.", how can you ask us for skills to handle a situation?




    * (an all-black bike makes this feat of the imagination easier)

  6. #6
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    a_elephant,

    Thanks. Your question is fair. In that situation I would not have faired well. But, the situation was extreme. What it did was raise the question in my head. Obviously, people who go brakeless find themselves in similar (if not quiet as extreme) situations and come away entirely whole. Maybe I should have asked the question and been clear with my asking about skills used. Being aware, defensive, etc. are good and always worth noting. However, unless I plan to go through life at 3mph or less more would be needed.

    A bigger messenger bag will not do what I want. I often use the trailer for shopping and Dec-May I use it to haul my ski/snowboard gear to train stations or bus pickup zones. I can't bring home a week's worth of groceries for 5 in a messenger bag but I sure can with a BOB trailer and 2 BOB bags. I don't mean that in a smart-ass way.

  7. #7
    Senior Member REMspeedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a_elephant View Post
    Always assume drivers DO NOT see you; pretend you are invisible.*
    Give yourself ample braking distance; anticipate escape routes should obstacles appear.
    exactly what goes on through my head as i'm riding through the streets of las vegas. I anticipate the drivers actions before they make it. You have to think for them because they surely aren't thinking of you. I also beleive a brake can't save you from everything.
    null

  8. #8
    click. click click.
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    Well, there's the amount of skill and pretending you're invisible and what not..but what happens when your chain fails and you're riding fast oncoming an intersection not fairing your game? Or how about a classic case of going down hill? You better hope you're clear minded enough to know when or how to bail or to use your foot as a brake. Shoot, I was going maybe 5 mph when my chain came off in a parking lot (busy at the time, but no impending danger) and I freaked. I didn't know what to do, luckily I had enough time to coast and put my foot down. I didn't even think of using my foot on my wheel though... So, in my opinion, a front brake is necessary just in case. I'm glad that happened to me the way it did. And I don't really trust my cheap KMC chain anymore.. Another 2 cents: having a brake is that extra confidence for you to go faster. With all of that said, It kills me to throw a brake on my bike, it is so aesthetically pleasing to see a clean brake-less bike.. oh well. I wanna live.

    Ride smart out there people!

  9. #9
    click. click click.
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    ****, I'd be scared to ride in vegas! So many red lights run!

  10. #10
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    ALaS,

    Yes, that's the type of thing I'm talking about. Again, I'm not looking at this from a negative point of view. I'm genuinely wanting to know what skills people are using to stay safe riding the way they choose to ride and what they did to develop them. Clearly, no one was born with such attributes therefore they were learned.

    Goodness, I'm starting to really pick this question apart in my head and see where it could lead to all sorts of negativity. I'm interested in why people ride brakeless from both voyeuristic and practical standpoints. I'm assuming that once the decision is made to go brakeless that desire for continued health and well being come into play causing people to proactively develop the skills needed to both enjoy cycling in their chosen way and to remain healthy. So, if others have done it maybe I don't have to reinvent the wheel and maybe I can actually work on the brakeless skillsets before ever actually trying. Clearly, riding this way requires specific and honed to the point of second nature skills.

  11. #11
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    In addition to what has been said, be aware of everything at all times. This doesn't just mean watch cars in your lane ahead of you or around. It means cars in the other lanes that could be turning into yours, side streets or oncoming. Like has been said, I act as if no car whether how obvious it should be, can't see me. If you're not comfortable with taking into account everything that could happen and having the skills you need to ride that way, then don't. Brakeless isn't for everyone and personally I'd rather have people riding brakes than getting hurt.

    Also, get a good chain and take care of your drive train, it really never should be coming off.
    Last edited by inertiadreamer; 06-30-09 at 03:15 AM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member steveymcdubs's Avatar
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    HI INTERTIADREAMER.

    a (IT WOULDNT LET ME TYPE IN ALL CAPS)

  13. #13
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    It's not practical to ride brakeless; people do it because it looks cool. It's also true there's one less component to buy, service, and replace if stolen or broken but riders go brakeless because it looks cool.

  14. #14
    dsh
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
    It's not practical to ride brakeless; people do it because it looks cool. It's also true there's one less component to buy, service, and replace if stolen or broken but riders go brakeless because it looks cool.
    This is what it boils down to. The justifications you'll hear will be on how it's possible to achieve some standard of safety while brakeless, but no brakeless rider will ever claim that brakeless is as safe as riding with a brake. If they do make that claim, they're wrong or lying.

    It's up to you to decide how much that extra margin of safety is worth. A really skilled brakeless rider might only be 5% less safe than the same rider with a front brake, and maybe the cool factor is worth that extra 5% risk.

    Remember, we with brakes already do this by running front brake only. Sheldon stated pretty explicitly that there are some situations where rear wheel braking is safer than front wheel braking, and if your chain drops while riding on snow going down-hill... oh no! You're less safe than you'd be with two brakes!

    So we with front brakes only are sacrificing maybe 1% safety margin for the cool-factor of not running two brakes, but it's trading safety-for-cool nonetheless.

    But remember, we with two brakes do the same thing by not wearing one of these every time we leave the house. It's pretty common sense that if you're in an unavoidable collision, you're going to be safer wearing full body armor than just a helmet.

    So we with just helmets are sacrificing some safety margin for the cool-factor of not wearing full body armor every time we ride.

    Everything is a compromise. You just need to decide where on the scale you fall: Full body armor, two brakes, one brake, brakeless. I personally think one brake is the best balance.

  15. #15
    Senior Member REMspeedwagon's Avatar
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    lol who really wants to debate (argue) over this dead horse topic.. Of course its not safer. But I and a lot of others seem to do it just fine. Besides i wouldn't like to ride my road bike in traffic, but my brakeless fixed seems to do better. Not for fashion either.. Whens the last time yall seen a picture of my bike? I'm not trying to show off.
    null

  16. #16
    GO, Mordecai! Syncmaster's Avatar
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    I run a front brake. When I need to pull an emergency stop ie. like when a car cuts me off like in your example, I pull the front brake and skid hard on the rear wheel. This combo allows me to have some pretty solid stopping power. Although I've found that when I'm riding fast and hard enough, and a situation comes up where I need to avoid being hit or running into a car that pulls out in front of me, I usually find myself instinctively skidding/braking in a swerve to avoid the obstacle, since there's no way I can come to a dead stop.
    I like bikes.

  17. #17
    jpdesjar
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    I feel like I am a more cautious and aware rider now than I was when I had my front brake to rely on. I have to always look ahead and prepare to slow down where as if I had a brake I could really speed and possibly get myself into a scenario where I would have to slam on the front brake to stop. There have been a couple of instances where I had to skid to avoid a car but I don't feel riding brakeless is reckless it just makes you change your riding style.

  18. #18
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    Thanks everyone. I think DSH bottled things well and it appears I'm asking a question that doesn't have proactive answers. Fair enough. Again, I appreciate the input.

  19. #19
    Senior Member das_pyrate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhamlax View Post
    I find small children (under 5 works best) to be exceptionally light and very easy to trick.

  20. #20
    ¡Senor Member! time bandit's Avatar
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    agree with the pirate.

    this is beating a dead horse. if you want this forum's opinions on the matter, use the search key. this thread has been posted 341223652341 times.

  21. #21
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    Lately, for me no brakes means riding with sharpened awareness of death which naturally means a sharpened awareness of life and its value. This encourages me to keep my mind entirely on what I am doing. To stay in the moment and to cherish all life means making decisions that have everyones best interest in mind.

    Obviously, much of what I have said could be used to argue in favor of running brakes.
    Whatever you do, cherish life and have fun.

  22. #22
    Señor Member Understanding's Avatar
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    i remember someone a while back had the the sig "if you want to run brakeless, take your finger off the lever" while i don't skid, i can slow down by resisting the pedals without using the brake.
    Quote Originally Posted by Geordi Laforge View Post
    the C&V forum sure is going to suck in 20 years.

  23. #23
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    Time Bandit and others,

    I did use the search key before posting the original thread. I might have used the wrong key words. I searched for "Brakes" "No Brakes" and "Brakeless". Of course, a number of threads popped up but going by the thread titles I didn't see any matches. I did not open the threads because again I didn't see anything relevent in the thread headings and wasn't interested in reading every single thread that just happened to have one of those words buried somewhere in the posts. It was not my intention to beat a dead horse. I mean I doubted it was somehow a previously unheard of question but....

  24. #24
    ¡Senor Member! time bandit's Avatar
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  25. #25
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    Time Bandit,

    OK, feel free to write slowly and use small words because I'm not feeling terribly bright right now - walk me through how you got those results.

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