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  1. #1
    puppy mangler
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    A question about brakes on fixed gears

    I am going to install a front brake soon.
    I hear that it is best to just install a front brake because you are controlling the back wheel speed to an extent. I have been riding my fixie with no brakes for a few days and know what they mean now, but can someone elaborate this?

    Was there some percent calculation for example, if you stop slow down the back wheel you lose this percent of speed and when you brake the front wheel you lose this amount so a back break wouldn't be useful... yeah that might have made no sense, but if someone understands, please answer.

  2. #2
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    Puppy Mangler,

    The front brake accounts for about 70% of braking power.

  3. #3
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    Not exactly the answer to your questions, but a front brake will supply 75-80% of your stopping power (those are the percentages I recall reading). For a good primer on front brake theory, see this Sheldon Brown article.
    Single Speed Outlaw
    Riding Bikes and Drinking Beer.

  4. #4
    puppy mangler
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    no actually, both of your answers were cool. so the front brake owns the most of your potential stopping power.

    another question though, if you were going at high speed, since the front brake has so much stopping power... and you braked really hard, would you not go flying forward?

    i am installing front brake on my track bike regardless, but is it just something to keep in mind?
    Last edited by Hobartlemagne; 08-18-09 at 04:50 PM.

  5. #5
    BFSSFG old timer riderx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by databike View Post
    another question though, if you were going at high speed, since the front break has so much stopping power... and you braked really hard, would you not go flying forward?
    Read the S. Brown article I posted, it details this. In short, learn to use the brake properly and it will not be an issue.
    Single Speed Outlaw
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  6. #6
    puppy mangler
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    ah yes, half way through, great article.

    thanks sir.

  7. #7
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    Certainly, there is a brief learning curve. I think a smart way of doing it it to find a nice, flat, empty street and ride down it first slowly and apply the brake and then lap after lap increase your speed and get a feel for how the brake works. At some point you will lift your rear wheel off the ground a bit. You will have found the limits of safe braking. Take it easy, don't run too fast too quickly and you'll get it without incident.

    Additional piece of advice - buy the best brake and lever your wallet can handle. No need to go boutique but stop by your LBS and ask which road brake has the best stopping power. You said you own a track bike so I could be erroneously assuming fork is drilled for a brake.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by databike View Post
    no actually, both of your answers were cool. so the front brake owns the most of your potential stopping power.

    another question though, if you were going at high speed, since the front break has so much stopping power... and you braked really hard, would you not go flying forward?

    i am installing front breaks on my track bike regardless, but is it just something to keep in mind?
    i thought this would be a problem for me to. until a car carrying a little old lady pulled out in front of me while i was travelling about 20-25mph. i braced for a flip-over-the-handlebars-face-slide-on-concrete type of crash, but never happened. maybe because the geometry of my bike places my ass almost right over the rear wheel, idk, but i have pulled that lever as hard as possible going as fast as possible, with no face and teeth smashing results. but props on staying on the safe side and investing in a brake.

  9. #9
    yesterday you said tom.
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    just be aware of your surroundings and pump your brake a few times lightly to stop. Only brake hard when you have to.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TimArchy's Avatar
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    There are situations where something happens so suddenly that the required braking force would probably send you over the bars. Your options will be to crash or to crash. If the obstacle is fairly low, it is probably a better idea to un-weight the front wheel and see if you can roll over it. if it is taller you're just screwed.

    For the other 99% of situations that require hard braking, the proper technique will prevent you from going over. Practice and experience are key.
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Frank
    I will derive power from their cries of despair. My crank a speedy dervish, spinning and spinning through the darkest night that anyone with the audacity to try and suck my wheel will ever see...

  11. #11
    puppy mangler
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldfixguy View Post
    Puppy Mangler,

    The front brake accounts for about 70% of braking power.
    man, the puppy is okay. it was just a freak accident. it was only my second day riding fixed with no brakes too. and its not like i'm telling people to put brakes on, my friends ride with no brakes but they are pro. i think i just need way more miles before i could ride brake less.

  12. #12
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    I was at the bike shop today and mentioned that I was thinking about putting on a brake. They put one together for me out of stuff in the parts bin, and set it up for nothing. Very cool guys.

    I can't say I love the way it looks, but for me the bike is a tool, and I think it's a more effective tool with the emergency brake (legs are still the non-emergency brakes).

    I doubt it will make me less careful, but if it does, I can always take it off. Here's hoping I'll never have to use it.





  13. #13
    Paste Taster Retem's Avatar
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    when I need to use my brake in an OSB manner I ten to modulate the brake and lean my weight beck over the rear of the saddle

    plus read sheldon's site read it all and you will become a master of the velocipede
    I am dyslexic so bear with my posts.... [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  14. #14
    Ride for Life wearyourtruth's Avatar
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    before posting, a "noob" should always ask themselves "could this have been answered by first visiting Sheldon Brown

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  15. #15
    puppy mangler
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    i hate you guys

  16. #16
    King of the Hipsters
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    Quote Originally Posted by databike
    ...if you were going at high speed, since the front brake has so much stopping power... and you braked really hard, would you not go flying forward?
    Very accomplished and experienced riders have gone over the front in an emergency stop, and so it can happen to anyone.

    Dual pivot caliper brakes have the highest stopping power, of the non-disk and non-linear types of brakes.

    I have never ridden a Dura Ace front brake, but from the reviews, the Dura Ace seems to have the best stopping along with the best control/moderation.

    Someone who has ridden a Campagnola Record or Sram Red might disagree.

    For about three years I rode with a Cane Creek Super Light Single Pivot caliper brake, and it did not have enough stopping power to put over the handlebars, no matter how hard I might have tried.

    I found that with good back pedaling technique and a relatively feeble front brake I could stop as fast as I've ever stopped, without fear of going over the front.

  17. #17
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimArchy View Post
    There are situations where something happens so suddenly that the required braking force would probably send you over the bars. Your options will be to crash or to crash. If the obstacle is fairly low, it is probably a better idea to un-weight the front wheel and see if you can roll over it. if it is taller you're just screwed.

    For the other 99% of situations that require hard braking, the proper technique will prevent you from going over. Practice and experience are key.
    Eeh, not sure I agree. If you are wise, then you've taught your body that when you brake, you also need to brace. If you're bracing there's no way you'll flip over. Maybe I've got a weak brake; maybe I just haven't braked hard enough the times when I've been faster than my bracing response. Maybe I oughta knock on wood right about now...

    Anyway... when I brake hard it basically looks like I'm doing a bike throw... ass behind the saddle, arms braced. No way I could flip over.

    Last edited by queerpunk; 08-18-09 at 05:45 PM.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  18. #18
    King of the Hipsters
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    I think when riders go over the handlebars, they do so because the front tire stops moving in the frame, the tire patch sticks and doesn't skid, and the whole bike and rider roll over the front wheel.

    At my local bike shop, Webcyclery, when they finish a mountain bike with disk brakes, they test ride it and make it stand up on the front wheel by using the brake.

    They release the brake at the top of the wheel stand so they don't go "over the handlebars."

    If they did not release the brake, or modulate it, they WOULD go over the handlebars, and not because of anything they failed to do with their arms, but because the brake has enough power to stop the wheel and the tire has enough stickiness to not skid.

    I've seen them stand the bike up on the front tire and balance there as a trick, and they do it with the front brake.

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyrano138 View Post
    I can't say I love the way it looks, but for me the bike is a tool, and I think it's a more effective tool with the emergency brake (legs are still the non-emergency brakes).
    For god's sake, how many puppies do you have to run over? Clearly, your legs aren't up to the task of stopping you.

    I doubt it will make me less careful, but if it does, I can always take it off.
    Oh my god.

    Here's hoping I'll never have to use it.
    Use it. Do it for the puppies.
    1988 Miele Azsora

  20. #20
    Senior Member
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    I laughed.

  21. #21
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    so i dont know if this mfr edited his original post, but did he kill a puppy and follow up saying he's still riding brakeless

    jesus christ

  22. #22
    puppy mangler
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    Quote Originally Posted by sealed View Post
    so i dont know if this mfr edited his original post, but did he kill a puppy and follow up saying he's still riding brakeless

    jesus christ
    no i didn't edit my post. there is another post with my puppy story in depth found here :
    Brake on my fixie, what do you guys think?

    this was posted after. i haven't ridden my bike yet since then, i'm waiting for my brakes to come in. the puppy didn't die, like i keep saying. it is fine. and again, i'm not preaching to put brakes on, my friends ride brake less, but i don't have enough experience to ride brake less yet.

  23. #23
    Fixed-gear roadie JacoKierkegaard's Avatar
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    The original was a small child, then it was edited down to a puppy, and now it's just been expunged altogether.
    2008 Masi Speciale Fixed

  24. #24
    puppy mangler
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    Quote Originally Posted by JacoKierkegaard View Post
    The original was a small child, then it was edited down to a puppy, and now it's just been expunged altogether.
    um no, i never said "a small child." i haven't edited any of my posts since i joined a few days ago.

  25. #25
    King of the Hipsters
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    A person fully committed to killing puppies doesn't need a front brake.

    In fact, the mere presence of a front brake could dilute a person's intent (y'know, like a parachute on a kamikaze pilot?), and thus allow some puppies to escape.

    We don't have very many puppies running around where I live, and so I have to settle for squirrels.

    I haven't killed one of the little critters, yet, but I have a new, silent drive train and I have my hopes.

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