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  1. #1
    Boots lost in transit tiiger's Avatar
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    Rear brake on an FG: Why, or why not?

    I've pretty much decided on a Steamroller... got a line on a nice used one (cream).

    I haven't had a bike with drops for 20 years, and I was remembering how I like to ride: with my hands on the brake hoods. (Honey, where's my flame suit?!) Since the Steamroller has no rear brake, and in turn, no old-style brake levers, I'd need to add these parts.

    Well, as luck would have it, I have the still-near-mint Ultegra 600 gruppo from my old Trek 660 (that I crashed after less than a week of riding), and thought... hmm... maybe I take the Ultegra levers and brakes and slap both front and rear on the Steamroller. (Assuming the calipers fit. If the calipers don't fit, then I could still use just the levers with the uninstalled stock rear brake.)

    I plan on riding fixed, so general consensus is that you don't "need" the rear brake, but... would it be so wrong to do this? Is the reason to leave off the rear brake simply for style? or weight? or 'cause that's how we do things around here and you ask too many questions and go away? or what?

    EDIT: IF THIS IS HALLOWED GROUND, AND AN ANNOYING SUBJECT, GO AHEAD AND CLOSE IT AND BANISH ME TO THE DUNGEON. I'M A NOOB HERE, BUT AM ALL TOO FAMILIAR WITH TABOO TOPICS. (GO ON THE MARTIN GUITAR FORUM AND SEARCH FOR THREADS ABOUT "WINGS.")
    Last edited by tiiger; 04-22-10 at 09:27 PM.

  2. #2
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    There's nothing wrong with having a rear brake, it's just that it isn't really necessary with a fixed gear. However, a front brake is necessary for emergency hard stopping situations. I happen to ride with only a front brake on the road, and often go without using it for weeks, however, there have been situations when I've needed it to avoid an accident. In wet weather (slippery conditions), you only want to brake in the rear, but with a FG you can do that by backpedalling. Regardless, you still want both brake levers so you have the hood riding position, which is the one I use the most.
    Last edited by TejanoTrackie; 04-22-10 at 09:40 PM.

  3. #3
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    Its fine, as long as you're not inclined to grab it in a panic-stop, or drag it in a fast turn. Your ability to maneuver and your balance can get screwed up because your feet get locked into place by the brake.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sharpsandflatts's Avatar
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    you don't need a rear brake but if you want to put one one for symmetry or to use with your old hoods and levers, go for it. it certainly won't hurt you. having 2 breaks can be nice for really steep descents to alternate braking so as not to over heat your front rim. but if i remember correctly, minneapolis is pretty flat, no?

  5. #5
    Delusional Laserbrain Germanicus's Avatar
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    If you decide to forgo the rear brake, there are other solutions for your hands:

    Cane creek makes a dummy hood to rest your hands on. It is made for the rear rider in a tandem bike.
    http://www.canecreek.com/component-o...ct=ergo-stoker
    &
    Problem solvers offers a solution to allow two brake levers to operate just the front brake.
    http://www.problemsolversbike.com/pd...doubler2_1.pdf

  6. #6
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    In all seriousness, how about just going Single Speed with it?

  7. #7
    Boots lost in transit tiiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sharpsandflatts View Post
    if i remember correctly, minneapolis is pretty flat, no?
    I'm in St. Paul, and you'd be surprised! We're near the Mississippi, and our office is very close to the river. My morning commute has a spot where I probably get going around 40 mph on the hill going down to my office.

    (This is one of my hesitations about going with a fixed-gear bike... not so much the descent, especially with brakes; it's the going up that will be the real test.)

    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    In all seriousness, how about just going Single Speed with it?
    Because of the above, maybe I will. I'd like to try it out as an FG first... see if it suits me. If not, SS it is. I just hear about so many people who say "tried the thing out with a freewheel for a time, and FG is just so much more fun..."

    Nobody knows but me. (Or I will eventually...)

  8. #8
    poppawheelie
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    I've been riding my fixed gear with F/R breaks recently and its way better than 1 or 0. Way more stopping power. I think people underestimate the rear break in combination with the front break. I'd like to think it takes a lot stress off my forks as well.

  9. #9
    Fresh Garbage hairnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Germanicus View Post
    Cane creek makes a dummy hood to rest your hands on. It is made for the rear rider in a tandem bike.
    http://www.canecreek.com/component-o...ct=ergo-stoker
    Why bother with that? Just use your pair of regular of levers and connect one to the brake

  10. #10
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    A rear brake on a fixie can be useful when touring. When you're bike is really loaded down and heavy and you're flying down a hill your feet and a front brake will still stop you, but it's a bit of effort. With a rear wheel that would be less effort. Also, when I toured on my steamroller I felt like I wasn't letting myself go as fast on the downhills because I wanted to stay in control, if I had a rear brake I probably would have done some of the descents much faster. On an unloaded bike I don't think a rear brake really adds much stopping power, because under normal circumstances you can provide more than enough rear braking power.

  11. #11
    coasterbrakelockup lz4005's Avatar
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    If you put a rear brake on a Steamroller, remember that you'll have to use zip ties or some other fastener to hold the cable to the frame.

    You can put as many damn brakes on your bike as you want. Go nuts with it. Or just use a dummy hood so you'll have somewhere to put your hand.
    Ride lots, have fun, skid often!

  12. #12
    Boots lost in transit tiiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lz4005 View Post
    If you put a rear brake on a Steamroller, remember that you'll have to use zip ties or some other fastener to hold the cable to the frame. .
    way ahead of ya

    req for images of add-on housing stops

  13. #13
    abandoning fly:yes/land:no's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
    Its fine, as long as you're not inclined to grab it in a panic-stop, or drag it in a fast turn. Your ability to maneuver and your balance can get screwed up because your feet get locked into place by the brake.
    what does that mean?

  14. #14
    King of the Hipsters
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiiger
    My morning commute has a spot where I probably get going around 40 mph on the hill going down to my office.

    (This is one of my hesitations about going with a fixed-gear bike... not so much the descent, especially with brakes; it's the going up that will be the real test.)
    Fixed gear riding on the street has its own joys.

    Try forgetting about 40 mph descents and instead start thinking about controlling your speed with your pedals.

    Gear way down to 61 gear inches (44 tooth chain ring and 19 tooth cog) and learn to spin.

    Ride with a good front brake, but also try to not use the front brake.

    As your skills improve, you might find that, even without the 40 mph descents, your commute time remains the same with a low geared fixed gear bike as with your geared road bike.

  15. #15
    Boots lost in transit tiiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
    Fixed gear riding on the street has its own joys. Try forgetting about 40 mph descents and instead start thinking about controlling your speed with your pedals.
    This is a good point... (I mention the 40 mph not because I seek thrills, but only to emphasize the nature of the downslope.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
    Ride with a good front brake...
    What quality is the stock brakeset on the Steamroller? If the Ultegra brakeset fits, would you swap? (Even if just the front?)

  16. #16
    Ride for Life wearyourtruth's Avatar
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    i ride front and rear on one of my fixed gears. it's not necessary but it's nice.



    the main reason people don't run brakes is that when the fixed gear boom first started, it was fueled by the desire for a clean, simple bike. no frills, no cables, no **** to break or clutter the lines of the bike. this lead to a lot of track bikes with no brakes hitting the street. as the fad grew, more and more people were finding that average joe (or even awesome experienced messenger) were having a lot of close calls and/or wrecks. the standard has now become a front brake, really because of necessity. between the front and back, the front provides more braking power, is "cleaner" in appearance, and easier to install (slightly). i am not sure the rear brake will ever catch on as common to see on fixed gears, but the only reason it isn't there is for looks. i know some bikes aren't drilled for a rear brake, but i would say that's for looks too. not that an un-drilled brake bridge looks "nicer" but it looks more "legit" as a "track" bike.
    before posting, a "noob" should always ask themselves "could this have been answered by first visiting Sheldon Brown

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  17. #17
    Senior Member preston811's Avatar
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    this thread wouldn't be complete unless someone linked this:
    http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

    Cheers on Steamroller+Twin Cities, I have one myself and may be moving there soon..
    Last edited by preston811; 04-23-10 at 11:49 AM.

  18. #18
    Member dr. spectrum's Avatar
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    Riders like Phil Chadwick and Emily O'Brien have rolled 1200 km in 90 hours with a rear brake on a fix. Good enough for them, good enough for you or for anyone who wants to give you the evil eye over it. It might be a bit belt-and-suspenders but so what.

  19. #19
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Funny you should mention a Trek 660, because it makes for a damn fine conversion frame.



    I rarely use the rear brake, but I have occasionally flipped the wheel to the free side and you want two brakes with a freewheel.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  20. #20
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I run both brakes on my long distance FG, especially helpful on very long descents. Your hand will tire very quickly from the constant braking when running just the front brake.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  21. #21
    Boots lost in transit tiiger's Avatar
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    Well that settles it, then. It's not a fashion show. Form follows function. Plus, I think the rear brake adds design symmetry.

    Oh, wait, I don't have the bike yet. I guess I can make the decision after I actually get the durned thing.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by fly:yes/land:no View Post
    what does that mean?
    Locking your brake means locking your wheel, and locking your wheel means locking your cranks. Having your cranks locked in one places make it more difficult to change your center of gravity.

    Also, that kind of instantaneous resistance on your legs is probably bad for your legs in general.

    I see the merits for touring, though, and I know a back brake on my FG saved me from at least one big collision.

  23. #23
    Delusional Laserbrain Germanicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairnet View Post
    Why bother with that? Just use your pair of regular of levers and connect one to the brake
    Which is why I included a link to that as well.

    That is the way I would go.

  24. #24
    abandoning fly:yes/land:no's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
    Locking your brake means locking your wheel, and locking your wheel means locking your cranks. Having your cranks locked in one places make it more difficult to change your center of gravity.

    Also, that kind of instantaneous resistance on your legs is probably bad for your legs in general.

    I see the merits for touring, though, and I know a back brake on my FG saved me from at least one big collision.
    interesting take. i have never locked up my rear wheel on my standard bike, so i didn't think of it as a real danger.

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