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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 10-01-10, 01:29 PM   #1
ppc
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Best method for stopping with your legs

Alright, so what started as a quick ride of my old bike for sh!ts and giggles is turning into a serious re-discovery of riding fixed. I had forgotten I actually like the bike, even if it kills my butt, back, neck and wrist. I even bought it a proper chainring (one that runs true) and a nice BMX chain, and installed my old Brooks saddle on it.

Back when I rode this bike as a teen, I used to slow down essentially by honking backward. For stopping in a hurry, there's the brakes, but being a tightwad, if I just have to slow down on a safe road, I tend to use my legs to save the pads. Never in my wildest dreams did I think of skidding back then, as tires are expensive when you're a penniless teenager.

But since I keep reading about skid stops in this here forum, I decided to give it a whirl on my local cycle path. After an hour practicing, I could do it pretty good. I could even load the rear wheel hard enough to make a convincing stop.

Trouble is, it's not all that convincing: I stop faster with the normal method of honking in reverse, hard but nice and round, and keep the rear wheel turning. This sounds logical to me: if you try to backpedal with as much gusto as you can manage, you exert the maximum deceleration force your muscles can muster. If you skid, you exert less than the maximum deceleration force, else the rear wheel would regain traction and start spinning again. Not to mention, the rear-end fishtails all over the place. Finally, it's a surefire way to kill my knees, which are already shot and really don't need that.

So, is there more to skidding than just style? I admit it looks pretty damn fancy, but I fail to see how this is a better way of slowing down without using the brakes. Am I missing something here?
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Old 10-01-10, 01:33 PM   #2
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nope you're exactly right. It is not a better way of slowing down.
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Old 10-01-10, 01:34 PM   #3
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skidding is not better than brakes. u're not missing anything.

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Old 10-01-10, 01:35 PM   #4
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it is quite clear that skidding is not the efficient way of stopping quickly. there is no better way of slowing down/stopping than using a brake. if you must get into skid stop, SKIP stop is better. works like ABS on a car.
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Old 10-01-10, 01:43 PM   #5
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No no, I didn't compare stopping with your legs and stopping with brakes. Nothing stops better than brakes. I was comparing slowing down by trying to reverse the rear wheel hard but letting it spin, and skidding. My conclusion is that skidding slows you down less - and more dangerously - than honking in reverse.
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Old 10-01-10, 01:46 PM   #6
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definitely agreed. Skidding and stopping are two very different things.
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Old 10-01-10, 01:55 PM   #7
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I think I can stop a lot faster by skidding (than just resisting forward motion with legs). When I try to slow down fast with resisting, it just makes me bounce all over the place and hurts my knees more than initiating a skid.

Think about it like a back brake on a bike. The rear wheel only skids when maximum braking force is applied. If you apply less than maximum, the wheel doesn't skid.

I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me.
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Old 10-01-10, 02:10 PM   #8
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I think I can stop a lot faster by skidding (than just resisting forward motion with legs). When I try to slow down fast with resisting, it just makes me bounce all over the place and hurts my knees more than initiating a skid.
I follow the pedals and pedal round in reverse, so to speak, if that makes sense, and I don't bounce, even at high RPM.

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Think about it like a back brake on a bike. The rear wheel only skids when maximum braking force is applied. If you apply less than maximum, the wheel doesn't skid.
Actually once a tire starts skidding, the braking force decreases considerably. That's why ABS was invented, to keep the wheel spinning and braking right at the edge of locking up.

Also, since your legs are a lot weaker than a brake, you have to unload the rear wheel to initiate the skid. The only way you could get the maximum braking force out of a skidding tire is if you reloaded the wheel just enough to keep skidding, right at the edge before the tire would regain traction, which is almost impossible.
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Old 10-01-10, 02:59 PM   #9
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skids are just for fun. You know how u wear socks and run across a room with smoooooth floors and stop running and slides? (well i do, don't judge ) it's like that. For fun.
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Old 10-02-10, 12:12 AM   #10
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Yeah it sure is fun - albeit expensive in tire rubber - but the problem is that some people rely solely on that to stop. Scary...
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Old 10-02-10, 02:39 PM   #11
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It's pretty easy to stop well enough at cruising speed ~15 with proper technique. But I think most of the time people will be regulating their speed from point A to B rather than relying on skidding to stop on a dime. It's a difference experience, similar to snowboarding. If you want to haul ass than get a brake or a roadie
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Old 10-03-10, 12:04 AM   #12
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I tend to do that too (regulate my speed, anticipate), but sometimes when you gotta stop, you gotta stop. Even if you're careful, it just takes a dog crossing the road out of nowhere, or that kid you're carefully trying to overtake who suddenly looks behind and veers off in your path. Just for that, riding brakeless would scare me to death.
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Old 10-03-10, 12:24 AM   #13
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You get your toes, wrap it around the brake lever. SQUEEZ
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Old 10-03-10, 12:27 AM   #14
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Think about it like a back brake on a bike. The rear wheel only skids when maximum braking force is applied. If you apply less than maximum, the wheel doesn't skid.
Sorry, that's incorrect. Take a physics class and you'll understand. Sliding friction is less than static friction. The maximum braking you can achieve with the rear wheel is when it is on the threshold of skidding (but not actually skidding.) Less relevant but more important: the maximum braking you can achieve on an upright bicycle is when the front brake is applied enough that you're on the threshold of lifting the rear wheel (this only applies to clean dry pavement.) A front brake alone will stop you about twice as fast as a rear brake alone.
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Old 10-03-10, 12:30 AM   #15
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Nope, you're wrong, Jake.

He's right.

Ignorance is bliss.
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Old 10-03-10, 12:43 AM   #16
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Nope, you're wrong, Jake.
Thanks a lot Vixtor! Now I feel stoopid Haha
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Old 10-03-10, 07:16 AM   #17
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I don't skid very often. I find that if I can't reduce my speed with my legs in time, skid hopping does the trick.
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Old 10-03-10, 10:55 AM   #18
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I like to compare skidding on a fixed gear to power sliding on a skateboard, if anyone knows what that means. If you do it long enough, you will stop. But especially at high speeds, it is an ineffective way of slowing down, and is mainly done because it's fun and looks kewl.
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Old 10-03-10, 12:02 PM   #19
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power sliding, haven't thought about that in a while...good analogy...
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Old 10-03-10, 12:13 PM   #20
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It also reminds me of skiing seeing the guys from MASH going down the SF hills skidding back and forth.

PSA: "If you pizza when you should french fry you're gonna have a bad time!!"
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Old 10-03-10, 12:16 PM   #21
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PSA: "If you pizza when you should french fry you're gonna have a bad time!!"
you've never had fried dough with powdered sugar on top?
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Old 10-03-10, 01:38 PM   #22
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power sliding, haven't thought about that in a while...good analogy...
It reminds me of Super Mario Kart
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Old 10-04-10, 04:48 PM   #23
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It also reminds me of skiing seeing the guys from MASH going down the SF hills skidding back and forth.

PSA: "If you pizza when you should french fry you're gonna have a bad time!!"
Snowboarding. 2 plankers don't look nearly as kewl.
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Old 10-04-10, 05:13 PM   #24
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If your going to waste the time to stop with your feet everyday. Waste your time atleast putting on a brake.

Let me guess. You dont think brakes are cool.
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Old 10-04-10, 05:16 PM   #25
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I like to compare skidding on a fixed gear to power sliding on a skateboard, if anyone knows what that means. If you do it long enough, you will stop. But especially at high speeds, it is an ineffective way of slowing down, and is mainly done because it's fun and looks kewl.
^^^Well put.

I haven't been riding fixed for too long. I rode my bike for a month without a brake (before I learned to skid). Regulating speed from a distance is what most worked for me, but at the end of the day theres no more alternatives than these, and that's it.

Riding fixed with a front brake has enabled me to haul @$$ and stop on the dime when I need to. And I must add that I don't use my brake much. Skids are cool as hell, though.

I only skid to whip my fancy bike around.
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