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ft. brake only ok for switching to freewheel?(16 posts)

ft. brake only ok for switching to freewheel?SmogRider
May 28, 2003 3:48 PM
I'm looking into converting from f/t fixie to a flip-flop hub with fixed/freewheel. Is it safe to just run the front brake only? It's all I got at the moment, or should I reinstall tke rear brake/lever? Anyone doin' that?

mostly flat bike paths, streets, etc. Some hills.

May 28, 2003 4:22 PM
Riding fixed you have great control over your real wheel so a front brake is enough. Put a freewheel on and the front brake is no longer enough since you have no control over the speed of the rear wheel.
Agreed ...Humma Hah
May 28, 2003 4:54 PM
... in fact, a lot of us prefer both brakes even for fixed gear on the street. We're used to both on our other bikes and singlespeeds, so tend to like them fixed as well.
It'll work finetimfire
May 28, 2003 5:10 PM
Don't worry, it'll be fine. Theorectically there isn't any need for a rear brake. You can stop just as fast with just your front as you could with two brakes. A rear brake is more of a back-up measure in case your front fails. While I have seen it happen (one of my friend's brakes cables snapped on him), it's really rare. So what it really boils down to is whether or not you want to give yourself that back-up. (I have to admit that at the momonet I've got about 1500 miles racked up on my beater-bike SS that only has a front brake on it. I've just been lazy about installing the rear brake.)

It's my personal opinion that it's safer to run a freewheel with just a front brake than it is to run a fixed gear with no brakes. A front brake is more efficient than a skid, and while I've never personally had a brake fail, I've had multiple chains break on me.

What I would suggest is if you will be spending the majority of the time on the fixed side, don't bother with the rear brake. If you plan on spending the majority on the free side, yes, get a rear brake. If it's going to be 50/50%, then it's your choice.

My worst crash ...dzrider
May 29, 2003 4:24 AM
I had tied a shirt around my handlebars and it came loose and dropped into the front brakes. When I came to I was strapped on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. The primary purpose of the rear brake is to slow the back wheel so that it doesn't overrun the front and flip the bike when you put on the front brakes at high speed. I'm very comfortable with just a front brake on my fixie. With a freewheel I want front and rear.
I don't know what theory you subscribe to...Steve_0
May 29, 2003 5:19 AM
two brakes stops faster than one. Admittingly, the front does the majority of the decceleration, but that doesnt mean the rear doesnt help.

Why do you think cars, motorcycles (and even bicycles) have rear brakes?
re: ft. brake only ok for switching to freewheel?ukiahb
May 28, 2003 10:52 PM
I have only a front brake on my fixie, but plan to install a back brake after a recent close call....some $&^#^!#%nearly killed me by cutting me off while she was making a left turn and afterwards I felt I could have stopped faster in a panic situation w/ two brakes. The single brake works fine for normal FG riding though...
I did it and don't recommend it...biknben
May 29, 2003 4:47 AM
I rode with just a front brake on a bike that I flip/floped from fixed to free. When riding free it never felt comfortable braking with just the front. If I was in the process of a turn or the road was wet it was scary.

Get yourself a rear brake!
the frt brake has sufficed for mectisevn
May 29, 2003 7:48 AM
mostly flat bike paths, streets, etc. Some hills.

for that type of riding I dont see the issue. if you had said you were going to do fast group rides with lots of drafting that would be another thing but it sounds like a more mellow use is planned. if the rear brake makes you feel more secure than by all means bolt it on. but, as it was already said-the front brake has more stopping power than the rear and will stop the bike adequately in all but the rarest circumstances.
I rode front brake only on my single speed mt bike for 3 years of 44 mile daily commutes through metro traffic and bike paths without feeling the need to reattach the rear brake (or crashing because of its departure). it simplified my bike, made it easier to maintain and it worked.
I have no brakes on my fixed gear but on the occasion I have used a freewheel with it Ive only used the front brake. no problems, no crashes. I wouldnt consider a rear brake unless I lived in the colorado or the alps. in my less than humble opinion youll be fine either way but do what you feel safe with.
If your LBS offered brake pads with 20% better braking power ...Humma Hah
May 29, 2003 8:05 AM
... would you be interested?

A bike may get 80% of its hard straight-line braking from the front-wheel, but that means the rear adds 20%, and that may mean stopping in 16 ft rather than 20, which is OK by me.

Braking into a corner, I want equal braking front and rear. I have this funny objection to my front wheel skidding as I brake into the first third of a turn, approaching the apex.

And on long hills, I kind of like having twice the heat dissipation capacity. The reason I added a front brake to the cruiser was that the coasterbrake overheated after about 500 ft of altitude loss when I needed it to control speed. The reason I added the rear was the front was not enough!
I wouldn't if the pads weighed an extra lb and requiredctisevn
May 29, 2003 8:42 AM
double the maintenance and $ upkeep. the only downside to adding the rear brake is weight, added maintenance, and depending on your perspective-appearance. the upside is better braking and depending on your perspective- safety. kind of like wearing a camelback, youll have more water, youll stay hydrated better and easier but its heavy and youll look like a tool.
"You'll look like a tool?"Humma Hah
May 29, 2003 9:25 AM
Why would anyone wearing lycra tights possibly worry about what their Camelback makes 'em look like?

OK, how 'bout the brakes allow you to corner at up to a 40% higher speed? That gets significant on a fixie to singlespeed transition, because a fixie is limited in bank by pedal clearance, whereas a singlespeed can lean over as far as traction of the most skittish wheel will allow, and if the front wheel is doing all the braking, that's the weak link.
"You'll look like a tool?"ctisevn
May 29, 2003 9:40 AM
mostly flat bike paths, streets, etc. Some hills.

for that type of riding I dont think its an issue. if youre planning on cornering at speed (something I really miss since riding mostly fixed...) the rear brake would be a worthwhile addition. for flat terrain and MUT type paths its just dead weight to me. youre right about the camelback though, I guess I should have said youll look like more of a tool.
Just about died with one brakeLC
May 29, 2003 1:57 PM
Sometimes weird stuff happens and you just need to stop now! Not 5 ft down the path and into that dog (lost some skin and scrapped up some nice bike parts), or coming down a steep driveway onto a busy street in the middle of a lane (my near death experience). If that truck driver had not been real sharp I would have been dead for sure.

Do I really need that rear brake 99.9% of the time? No, but I sure as hell got one now!
yikes. Thanks all - I'll go for a rear brake if I freewheel it.SmogRider
May 30, 2003 9:01 AM
I do it but I don't recommend it.KG 361
Jun 1, 2003 1:27 PM
I've been using my free-hub side of my Bianchi SS for riding with my kids on some flat bike routes around here. I keep meaning to reinstall the rear brake but keep finding other things to do with my time =)Trust me, you CAN'T stop very quickly with just a front brake.