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Brakes or Brakeless?

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Brakes or Brakeless?

Old 02-01-18, 08:30 AM
  #1  
Rei_Takata
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Brakes or Brakeless?

It's as the title says, I just want to get an honest opinion. I am currently riding a State Cycles Black Label V2 with Sram S600 crankset, 48:15 ratio. Am I killing my knees? Or is this okay for mostly flat street riding? Tell me what you think!
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Old 02-01-18, 08:40 AM
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I don't know if your asking about the gear ratio or weather stopping by resist pedaling is hard on the knees.

These are two separate issues. A front brake is a must on any bike ridden in urban conditions because braking distance by rear wheel braking is too great. Front brakes are the only reliable way to make a hard stop in an emergency.

I've been riding fixed for 50 years, and use the front brake so rarely that its mostly for show. But its saved me from likely crashes countless times. I won't say it's ever saved my life, but I know its saved my fork.
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Old 02-01-18, 09:07 AM
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Brakeless is perfectly cool if you only ride five-miles per hour.
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Old 02-01-18, 10:57 AM
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Old 02-01-18, 11:13 AM
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gimme a break!


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Old 02-01-18, 11:37 AM
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Are you riding exclusively on a velodrome? Think carefully before you answer.
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Old 02-01-18, 11:40 AM
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Old 02-01-18, 01:00 PM
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brakeless singlespeed is the only answer.

Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Are you riding exclusively on a velodrome? Think carefully before you answer.
the world is my velodrome.
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Old 02-01-18, 01:16 PM
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Three observations: First is the simple fact that stopping takes twice as long with just a rear wheel brake (or legs) than either brakes on both wheels or just a good brake on the front wheel. Simple physics.

Second: I've been riding fix gear 40 years. I have never talked to, met or heard about anyone riding fixed as long as I have who doesn't use brakes. Ever. (Are there any brakeless riders still riding? Still alive? You'd think I would run across one of them sooner or later. I have always ridden based in cities, been visible and had my eyes and ears open. I notice fix gear riders.)

Third: 48 X 15 is a huge gear! Knees, acceleration, braking and climbing all suffer in a gear that high. I ride a 43 X 16 when I am in form. 42 X 17 a lot of the time, sometimes lower. Feeling rally frisky and strong, perhaps a 15. With a 48, 18 max.

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Old 02-01-18, 01:37 PM
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If you want to ride brakeless go for it. People here will freak out and lecture you about it, but plenty of people do it.

Eventually you will either get hit or get older and you'll decide for yourself to put on a brake.

I rode without a brake for many years till my body didn't like it anymore and I got tired of my wife nagging me about it.
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Old 02-01-18, 01:42 PM
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Stay on the closed course velodrome on your brake-less track bike or die in a traffic accident.. your choice.




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Old 02-01-18, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
If you want to ride brakeless go for it. People here will freak out and lecture you about it, but plenty of people do it......
No lecture BUT

As long as someone understands that braking distance is severely compromised without a front brake, it's their decision. The front brake issue also applies to any bike, since best case rear wheel braking distances can be double that of front brake distances.

Folks should also know that in some places, laws require a front brake on all adult bicycles (except track bikes on tracks). That rule applies regardless of what is used to brake the rear wheel, so the argument that fixed braking counts is moot.

Failure to have a front brake can be used to support a charge of criminal negligence in the event of a crash, costing you the right to sue a driver who cuts you off, and in the extreme where someone you hit dies, can result in a charge of criminally negligent homicide. (this isn't one of those "you'll die" scare warnings, Recently in the UK someone was convicted of the British version of that charge).

So, this is strictly a rider's choice sort of thing, as long as the rider understands the implications. If I were to meet a brakeless rider on the street, I wouldn't say anything, not am I invested in whatever anyone here does. But, if asked, I feel obligated to make sure people understand the implications, and aren't fooled into believing that it's possible to be safe in an emergency without a front brake.
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Old 02-01-18, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by nightfly View Post
I rode without a brake for many years till my body didn't like it anymore and I got tired of my wife nagging me about it.
Same. And riding brakeless was the tip of the iceberg of stupid things I did in my early 20's. I have a hard time telling younger people not to do stupid stuff that I did myself, but I do have two brakes on my fixed-gear these days.
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Old 02-01-18, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Stay on the closed course velodrome on your brake-less track bike or die in a traffic accident.. your choice.




With respect, this is the kind of response that sounds more like those hairy palms warnings we got as teens, and is too easy to ignore.

It's very possible to safely ride fixed wheel/brakeless in traffic. But, it will make a difference in an emergency, saving the bike or fork, or preventing some injury.

Many years ago in Manhattan, I was cut off close by a cab stopping for a fare. This was a sure collision, but I was bale to use the front brake to stop the bike and pitch myself onto the trunk. I doubt my life was at risk, but the brake for sure saved the fork and possibly spared me some road rash.

Inn any case, possibly the best argument for a front brake (even if it doesn't work) is legal. In the event of a front end crash (your front end) lack of a brake opens you to a claim of contributory negligence, and can cost you any settlement that you might otherwise collect.
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Old 02-01-18, 02:23 PM
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we do offer a range of responses..

Mgr of a shop in SF Marina district (in the 80's) was proud of his find, a British off season training bike.
a fixed gear rear dropout with clearance, and mounts for mudguards front and rear, and mounts for brakes front and rear..
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Old 02-01-18, 03:46 PM
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If you need to ask, put on a brake. Then with time you will know the answer.
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Old 02-01-18, 03:54 PM
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You probably won't die if you don't ride like an idiot. If I were you, I'd get a brake. Don't plan on doing any fast group rides without one, and recognize that if you do show up to a fast group ride on a brakeless bike, you are being an *******.
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Old 02-01-18, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
You probably won't die if you don't ride like an idiot. If I were you, I'd get a brake.
In other words, it's suspected that you're probably going to ride like an idiot.
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Old 02-01-18, 05:31 PM
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I've done it for a few years and lived to tell the tale, so I can't tell you not to. But most of us who have tried it run brakes after a while, if that tells you anything.

Other downsides: You'll go through tires quicker, probably ride slower than you're capable and not look cool to anyone, especially not experienced fixed riders. Unless you're trying to chill in SF with Mash I guess.

Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
You probably won't die if you don't ride like an idiot. If I were you, I'd get a brake. Don't plan on doing any fast group rides without one, and recognize that if you do show up to a fast group ride on a brakeless bike, you are being an *******.
Definitely a paceline no no.
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Old 02-01-18, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
In other words, it's suspected that you're probably going to ride like an idiot.
Humankind has forfeited its right to the benefit of the the doubt at this point.
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Old 02-01-18, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
Humankind has forfeited its right to the benefit of the the doubt at this point.
I wholeheartedly agree.
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Old 02-01-18, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Scrodzilla View Post
In other words, it's suspected that you're probably going to ride like an idiot.
It doesn't matter what we think. The OP will do what he will, and that's fine by me. At least we know he has the info needed to make his own decision.

Sometime back this summer I got the "where's your helmet?!" from a hipster on a fixie w/o brakes. Normally that would make my blood boil, but the irony was priceless.
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Old 02-02-18, 01:21 AM
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Put a brake on. Riding brakeless looks cool (which is pretty much the only upside there is to riding brakeless), until you slam into the back of a car.
Riding brakeless probably isn't enough to kill your knees if you avoid excessive backpedaling and skidding, and have the bike correctly fitted, but you are much more likely to kill your knees in a crash by tearing your ACL or something similar.
Riding brakeless also puts other people at risk. A guy in the UK was sent to jail because he killed a pedestrian while riding brakeless.
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Old 02-02-18, 07:55 AM
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Not worth your 'life' man.
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Old 02-02-18, 11:24 AM
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Just started riding fixies me: Go brakeless!
Replacing tires every month and hating downhills me: get a Front brake.

I know guys who still go brakeless, some of them ride real slow that it seems pointless. Other guys are those crazy professional alleycat guys that seem kissed by fortune that lets them run red lights without getting a ticket or getting slammed by a car- until they do. It's really annoying to see them run the red selfishly, without considering others, mostly because they can't stop.

So yeah, get a brake. It's a bike, make it work right.
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