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Ever try a rear brake only on a fixed gear?

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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)

Ever try a rear brake only on a fixed gear?

Old 07-17-22, 09:55 AM
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20t
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Ever try a rear brake only on a fixed gear?

Curious if it would offer any tangible benefits. Could slowing the bike with legs+ rear brake be faster than legs only or at the very least lighten the load of the legs to keep them less fatigued? Would definitely be a plus if a broken chain occurred giving you a real braking option. I would think riding downhill, a rear brake would be nice to have when your legs are spinning like mad. Curious of your thoughts/experiences.
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Old 07-17-22, 11:39 AM
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I've only ever used a front brake on a fixed, and it worked so well I wouldn't bother to try anything else. Use your legs to slow and the brake to stop; it's a pretty elegant solution, really.
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Old 07-17-22, 11:49 AM
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Yes, a rear brake will do all of those things. But why leave off the brake that will reliably stop you twice as fast unless either you live in a world where hard braking is never needed or the consequences of not being able to don't matter to you?

I use my rear brake as you suggest. I use my front when I actually want to stop or do it in a hurry. I alternate between the two to keep rim temperatures down on long descents. (And I grab both brake levers as handles when I want to climb.)

It is simple math and physics to show that a front brake will stop you in half the distance that the world's best rear braking can do. Every 10 years or so I break out paper, pencil and calculator and do it from scratch. Same answer every time. (Oh, the numbers vary a little depending on where I locate the center of gravity of the rider, bike weights, etc. But that 2:1 never varies a lot.)
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Old 07-17-22, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Yes, a rear brake will do all of those things. But why leave off the brake that will reliably stop you twice as fast unless either you live in a world where hard braking is never needed or the consequences of not being able to don't matter to you?

I use my rear brake as you suggest. I use my front when I actually want to stop or do it in a hurry. I alternate between the two to keep rim temperatures down on long descents. (And I grab both brake levers as handles when I want to climb.)

It is simple math and physics to show that a front brake will stop you in half the distance that the world's best rear braking can do. Every 10 years or so I break out paper, pencil and calculator and do it from scratch. Same answer every time. (Oh, the numbers vary a little depending on where I locate the center of gravity of the rider, bike weights, etc. But that 2:1 never varies a lot.)
I understand a front brake will stop you faster than a rear. The point of the topic is more about if a rear brake on a fixed gear is worthwhile or rather, how worthwhile. Like for the people who donít run brakes at all, how much could they benefit from adding just a rear brake. I think what got me thinking of this question is that I use my rear brake to modulate speed a lot more than I ever use my front. I think if I had to have a bike with just a front or rear I would choose rear. I know that isnít a choice that needs to be made, more of a hypothetical to just think on.

What handlebar setup are you using? Iím having trouble picturing using brake levers as handles during a climb.
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Old 07-17-22, 02:00 PM
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I run front and rear. The rear only would work to help modulate speed as you discussed, such as long downhills. Though the front will work better.
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Old 07-17-22, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 20t View Post
I understand a front brake will stop you faster than a rear. The point of the topic is more about if a rear brake on a fixed gear is worthwhile or rather, how worthwhile. Like for the people who donít run brakes at all, how much could they benefit from adding just a rear brake. I think what got me thinking of this question is that I use my rear brake to modulate speed a lot more than I ever use my front. I think if I had to have a bike with just a front or rear I would choose rear. I know that isnít a choice that needs to be made, more of a hypothetical to just think on.

What handlebar setup are you using? Iím having trouble picturing using brake levers as handles during a climb.
I use regular drop handlebars and road brake levers or preferred, semi-pista bars with nice rounded "shoulders" that both offr great climbing hand positions on the tops and don't bone-bruise my forearms rocking the bike climbing out-of-the-saddle. One bike has true pista bars. The usual hands on top and behind the hoods when riding the flat don't work so well but they have all the other advantages and are deep. My hands love 'em.

The true pista bars (with the levers in active use!)


Semi-pista bars
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Old 07-17-22, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by 20t View Post
Ever try a rear brake only on a fixed gear?
Why bother? On a fixed gear, you can already brake the rear wheel using your legs, and rear wheel braking efficacy is limited by tire traction (once you start to skid, more braking effort will not slow you any better). Run a front brake and get more/better braking power.
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Old 07-27-22, 12:39 PM
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Old 07-27-22, 01:10 PM
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I had only a rear brake on my first track bike, acquired in 1964, and also my second, bought in 1982. Since the seatstay bridge wasn't drilled on either bike (nor was the fork, of course), I cobbled together a brake mount using a Pletscher rear rack mounting plate and a Mafac brake both times. That setup didn't work all that well, but it enabled me to ride everywhere I wanted to. It was only decades later that some manufacturers began selling fixed-gear bikes with fork crowns and seatstay bridges drilled for front brakes.

If your fork isn't drilled for a brake, it's a much better idea to replace it with one that is drilled, but, yes, a rear brake is much better than no brake at all. The main advantage is that your stopping power is independent of how big a gear you're using and of the gradient you're riding on.
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Old 07-28-22, 03:39 PM
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If you don't want to drill your frame for a brake caliper, there are a couple options still. First, there are brake mounts that clamp to the fork blades onto which a caliper can be fitted. And there are steer-tube plug mounts that insert into the steer tube below the fork crown to provide a mount point for a caliper. These sometimes have clearance problems with tightly-coupled track frames.


https://www.tracksupermarket.com/hac...no-clamps.html
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Old 07-29-22, 09:07 PM
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If you are only going to have one brake always the front. The only reason to go rear brake only is if you are on flat paths by the beach on a beach cruiser or some odd set up for someone who is differently able but even then plenty of options for braking with one lever or alternatively.
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