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Safety Brakes

Old 02-27-07, 04:54 PM
  #1  
Larry64
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Safety Brakes

Anyone running front and REAR brakes for road safety or just in the front? I know the new Schwinn runs both. Ya, I know, another brake thread, don't bite my fu*&^^g head off. I'm a road rider and it's my first fixed gear.
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Old 02-27-07, 05:03 PM
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i built a fixie for a friend and installed both brakes because:
i installed aero levers on ergo bars; what's the point not having both hoods? secondly, dummy levers are dumb; might as well make it functional if it's going to be there. thirdly, he was planning on running it as a single speed as well.

however, your legs control the rear wheel, so you really could get away with just the front.
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Old 02-27-07, 05:05 PM
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I have both front and rear brakes, exactly for isotopepope's reasons (well, first and second anyway). But I probably use my legs 75% of the time, the front 20% and both 5%.

Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
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Old 02-27-07, 05:35 PM
  #4  
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I'm planning on building a cruiser/rain bike fixie with full brakes. That way I'll feel comfortable running BMX platform pedals so I can ride in non-funny looking shoes.
My friend is already riding the same thing.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:28 PM
  #5  
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I have always ran front and rear brakes because no one has ever given me a reason otherwise that has anything to do with bike performance.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:29 PM
  #6  
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read this.

https://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

Braking--Front, Rear or Both?

Since your bike has two brakes, one for each hand, if you want to stop as safely as possible, you need to pay attention to how you use each of them.

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom says to use both brakes at the same time. This is probably good advice for beginners, who have not yet learned to use their brakes skillfully, but if you don't graduate past this stage, you will never be able to stop as short safely as a cyclist who has learned to use the front brake by itself.

Maximum Deceleration--Panic Stops

The fastest that you can stop any bike of normal wheelbase is to apply the front brake so hard that the rear wheel is just about to lift off the ground. In this situation, the rear brake cannot contribute to stopping power, since it has no traction.

Won't I Go Over The Bars?

The rear brake is O.K. for situations where traction is poor, or for when your front tire blows, but for stopping on dry pavement, the front brake all by itself provides the maximum stopping power, both in theory and in practice.

If you take the time to learn to use the front brake correctly, you will be a safer cyclist.

Many cyclists shy away from using the front brake, due to fear of flying over the handlebars. This does happen, but mainly to people who have not learned to modulate the front brake.

The cyclist who relies on the rear brake for general stopping can get by until an emergency arises, and, in a panic, he or she grabs the unfamiliar front brake as well as the rear, for extra stopping power. This can cause the classic "over the bars" crash.

Jobst Brandt has a quite plausible theory that the typical "over-the-bars" crash is caused, not so much by braking too hard, but by braking hard without using the rider's arms to brace against the deceleration: The bike stops, the rider keeps going until the rider's thighs bump into the handlebars, and the bike, which is no longer supporting the weight of the rider, flips.

This cannot happen when you are using only the rear brake, because as soon as the rear wheel starts to lift, there is not more braking force generated by it. Unfortunately, though, it takes twice as long to stop with the rear brake alone as with the front brake alone, so reliance on the rear brake is unsafe for cyclists who ever go fast. It is important to use your arms to brace yourself securely during hard braking, to prevent this. Indeed, good technique involves moving back on your saddle as far as you can comfortably go, to keep the center of gravity as far back as possible. This applies whether you are using the front, rear or both brakes. Using both brakes together can cause "fishtailing." If the rear wheel skids while braking force is also being applied to the front, the rear of the bike will tend to swing past the front, since the front is applying a greater decelerating force than the rear. Once the rear tire starts to skid, it can move sideways as easily as forward.

If you don't believe me, perhaps John Forester can convince you...see his Entry in the rec.bicycles FAQ on Front Brake Usage. (Unfortunately, the maintainer of that site has a habit of breaking links, so you may need to go to the rec.bicycles FAQ index to find the article.)

Learning to Use The Front Brake

Maximum braking occurs when the front brake is applied so hard that the rear wheel is just about to lift off. At that point, the slightest amount of rear brake will cause the rear wheel to skid.

If you ride a conventional bike, the best way to master the use of your front brake is to practice in a parking lot or other safe space, applying both brakes at once, but putting most of the effort into the front brake. Keep pedaling as you brake, so that your legs will tell you immediately when the rear wheel starts to skid. Practice harder and harder stops until this happens, so that you will learn the feel of stopping fast, on the edge of rear-wheel liftoff.

Some cyclists like to ride a fixed-gear bicycle, that is, a bicycle that does not permit coasting. When you brake hard with the front brake on a fixed gear, the drivetrain gives you excellent feedback about the traction situation at the rear wheel. (This is one of the reasons that fixed gears are favored for winter riding.)

If you ride a fixed gear with only a front brake, your legs will tell you exactly when you are at the maximum brake capacity of the front brake. Once your fixed gear has taught you this, you will be able to stop any bicycle better, using the front brake alone.

If you find the fixed-gear concept intriguing, I have a major article on Fixed Gears for Road Use on this site, and also a page of Fixed-Gear Testimonials from happy converts.

When to Use The Rear Brake

Skilled cyclists use the front brake alone probably 95% of the time, but there are instances when the rear brake is preferred:

* Slippery surfaces. On good, dry pavement, it is generally impossible to skid the front wheel by braking. On slippery surfaces, however it is possible to do so. It is nearly impossible to recover from a front wheel skid, so if there is a high risk of skidding, you're better off controlling your speed with the rear brake.

* Bumpy surfaces. On rough surfaces, your wheels may actually bounce up into the air. If there is a chance of this, don't use the front brake. If you apply the front brake while the wheel is airborne, it will stop, and coming down on a stopped front wheel is a Very Bad Thing.

* Front flat. If you have tire blowout or a sudden flat on the front wheel, you should use the rear brake alone to bring yourself to a safe stop. Braking a wheel that has a deflated tire can cause the tire to come off the rim, and is likely to cause a crash.

* Broken cable...or other failure of the front brake.
* Long mountain descents, when your front brake hand may get tired, or you may be at risk of overheating a rim and blowing a tire. For this situation, it is best to alternate between the front and rear brake, but not to use them both at once.

When to Use Both Brakes Together

Generally I advise against using both brakes at the same time. There are exceptions, however:

* If the front brake is not sufficiently powerful to lift the rear wheel, the rear brake can help, but the best thing to do is to repair the front brake.

Typical rim brakes lose a great deal of their effectiveness in rainy conditions, so using them both together can reduce stopping distances.

* Long or Low bicycles, such as tandems and long-wheelbase recumbents have their front braking limited by the possiblity of skidding the front wheel, since their geometry prevents lifting the rear wheel. Such bikes can stop shortest when both brakes are applied.

Tandem caution: when riding a tandem solo (no stoker on board) the rear brake becomes virtually useless due to lack of traction. The risk of fishtailing is particularly high if a solo tandem rider uses both brakes at once. This also applies to a lesser extent if the stoker is a small child.

Last edited by genericbikedude; 02-27-07 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-27-07, 09:33 PM
  #7  
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two brakes good no brakes bad
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Old 02-28-07, 07:04 AM
  #8  
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in before the flame war!

nothing wrong with two brakes. and if it's a flip flop that may be run as a singlespeed, two brakes make sense.
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Old 02-28-07, 07:42 AM
  #9  
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I serve as the "go-to" guy for a number of my friends who are not as into bikes as I am. One day, during the recent sloppy weather here in NYC, a buddy of mine calls up and says something like:

-"Hey, I think my brakes are broken."
-"Oh?"
-"Yeah, I came up to an intersection and hit the brake, and then slid into it and almost got hit by a car."
-"Were you using the front or rear brake?"
-"The rear"
-"Right."
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Old 02-28-07, 07:43 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by doofo
two brakes good no brakes bad
No animal shall sleep in a bed... with sheets.

I don't have a rear brake, it totally saves me around 200grams or something. I like my dummy lever.
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Old 02-28-07, 07:48 AM
  #11  
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Hooray for dummy levers! Maybe I should start a "Dummy lever fixation" thread...

Anyway, I totally agree that it makes sense to have front and rear brakes if you plan on also running it singlespeed. Otherwise, why bother? It's kinda fun learning how to slow your bike with your legs.
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Old 02-28-07, 07:49 AM
  #12  
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I thought we already covered this.

Fixie: rear brake not necessary. Can't hurt, of course, esp. if you ride lotsa big hills.
SS: rear brake not necessary, but recommended, especially in winter or for unskilled rider.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:10 AM
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Stopping/slowing down with a brake is not the best solution to all or any emergency situations. Its just the one you may have learned if you ride with brakes.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:14 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by deathhare
Stopping/slowing down with a brake is not the best solution to all or any emergency situations. Its just the one you may have learned if you ride with brakes.
It sure as hell beats stopping or slowing down without one and is unquestionably the best solution in plenty of situations.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by dutret
It sure as hell beats stopping or slowing down without one and is unquestionably the best solution in plenty of situations.
Stopping or slowing down is not the only or best solution for anything.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by deathhare
Stopping or slowing down is not the only or best solution for anything.
uhhh yeah keep telling yourself that.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by dutret
uhhh yeah keep telling yourself that.
I dont have to tell myself that. I RIDE my bike, so i know it.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:31 AM
  #18  
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I think there is a case for having a rear brake if you carry lotts of stuffon a rack or big hills or you are acustomed to using the rear brake to skid round things, or if it make you happy.

Edit: This should be fun /\
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Old 02-28-07, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by deathhare
I dont have to tell myself that. I RIDE my bike, so i know it.
while typing, apparently. since you never stop.

guys, the op RIDES his bike too, and has a question about it.

can we leave the bull**** machismo for the next thread that mentions the word "brake?"

thanks.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by deathhare
Stopping or slowing down is not the only or best solution for anything.
every now and then - like this morning, for example - an articulated bus will pull out of the right lane after picking up passengers and make for the left lane. if it's right before the light (like this morning), then what it does is create a big ass wall across the entire road.

since i can't fly yet, stopping was the best solution.



that said, in all of this brake conversation, i have this to add: if you are riding a fix with a front brake, i strongly recommend that you do not try to skid or put significant backpressure while frontbraking. in my experience, it's sort of difficult to stay in control.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:34 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by dirtyphotons

guys, the op RIDES his bike too, and has a question about it.

can we leave the bull**** machismo for the next thread that mentions the word "brake?"

thanks.
x2
duret thinks anyone that makes a statement about anything is against brakes or something. Brakes are good, theyre very good.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:36 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by deathhare
I dont have to tell myself that. I RIDE my bike, so i know it.
people also know that we didn't evolve from apes. That doesn't make them right.

If you have never been in a situation where the best option was stopping or slowing down you are either, lucky, inexperienced, or lying to yourself. You can't predict everything and not only are situations where there is nowhere to go inevitable(though uncommon if you ride safely) there are many situations where not stopping may not result in instantaneous injury but will put you in a more dangerous position then stopping would have.
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Old 02-28-07, 08:38 AM
  #23  
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Wow. deathhare has a split personality.

And my comment regarding rear brakes for SS should read "very warmly recommended".
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Old 02-28-07, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by queerpunk
that said, in all of this brake conversation, i have this to add: if you are riding a fix with a front brake, i strongly recommend that you do not try to skid or put significant backpressure while frontbraking. in my experience, it's sort of difficult to stay in control.
very good advice
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Old 02-28-07, 08:51 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Wow. deathhare has a split personality.
Nah, people just cant read posts sometimes. They make too many assumptions before their giddy click of the reply button. MUST ATTACK!
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