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do i really need brakes?(21 posts)

do i really need brakes?Js Haiku Shop
Dec 10, 2001 11:26 AM
inherited an '85 c'dale last week from a friend ("free to good home"), had some time last night: pulled all cables, brakes, derailleurs, bottle cages, ferrules, computer, shifters, brake levers, blah, blah off the bike until it's just frame, fork, stem, headset, bars, cranks, bb, pedals, wheels, QRs, seatpost and saddle. cut the foam bar wrap off (no kidding!) and installed some cork.

checked the great sheldon's page last week and discovered he has a similar model/year converted to fixed. it's not a horizontal (or even near) rear dropout frame, but semi-, and leaves a little margin for adjustment.

since my saturday rides are mostly flat, what real benefit would be had by installing a front caliper brake and lever? would resisting the pedals/locking the rear wheel (27", btw) not be sufficient? or is this a deathwish? noticed many bike messengers in the big cities riding fixies w/out brakes at all...jes' wonderin.
Perhaps on your "post my message" button...(NM)Me Dot Org
Dec 10, 2001 11:30 AM
re: do i really need brakes?morey
Dec 10, 2001 11:30 AM
Back in the 50's my fixed had no brakes, used a leather glove to help stop the front wheel. This was in Manhattan!
apologize for double-post! nmJs Haiku Shop
Dec 10, 2001 11:31 AM
If it were me....Greg Taylor
Dec 10, 2001 11:37 AM
...I'd put brakes on it. At least up front. I'm a chicken, and do both front and rear on my fixed, more for redundancy than a real need. The messenger dudes are a breed apart...
If not for you, do it for the wife & kid.MB1
Dec 10, 2001 11:42 AM
Plus any sane human will find him/herself going much slower and not riding in as many places without a brake on their fixte.

Try it with a brake first then if you still think you would like to try without-don't squeeze the lever!!!
good point nmJs Haiku Shop
Dec 11, 2001 5:45 AM
Fair Questiongrzy
Dec 10, 2001 11:44 AM
Brakes are totally optional - just realize what the options imply.

Got carz/pedestrians/dogs/etc.? It's not that you need the brakes all the time or even very often, but they'll be that one time you wish you had them. Leave the high risk stuff to the yonger crowd - their bones mend faster.

BTW - you really don't "need" a helmet either.

To answer your question: the real benifit on your Saturday ride would be to be able to spend the afternoon somewhere other than an ER. Turn it around - what's the REAL benifit of NOT having brakes?
Hey grzy, been by the Pescadero Flamingo house lately?Zignzag
Dec 10, 2001 12:18 PM
They've got the Christmas decorations up. Very impressive! Lots of redwood sh!t on the road from the recent storms, though. Ride safely.

That was you who posted about the Flamingo house, right?
Dec 10, 2001 1:47 PM
No, I haven't been byy recently - sounds like we need to plan a ride thata way - not too surprised that they're into the spirit of the season. Too bad I missed going up there over Thanksgiving to bring back a bird for the oven..... ;-) Thanks for the tip!

Yeah, the redweed stuff is all over the place - blowing about 40 on the coast today. Although it's deadly on the road, it can be quite fun on the trails. It's still a bit slippery, but it makes things quiet and allows one to slide the bike more. Still, when it bunches up under the wheel it does make things exciting.
re: do i really need brakes?morey
Dec 10, 2001 11:53 AM
You really only need brakes when you have to stop. It is best to have them!
Yes to the brake(s)brider
Dec 10, 2001 12:14 PM
Let's see... Do you REALLY need the brake? Well, look at the reality of locking up the rear wheel. If you've got the cahin right, there's no chance the chain will skip off the cog. But if it isn't... Also, have you ever tried to lock up the rear before? At speed? It's not easy, and most likely would buck you off the bike. Now let's say for instance you DID get that back wheel locked. Ever wonder why anti-lock brakes stop a car faster? Because they DON'T lock up the wheel. rolling friction is higher than sliding friction. You will have better control and shorter stopping distance with at least a front brake (and if you're going at any appreciable speed, a rear brake as well). You've got the mounts for brakes, I'd suggest using them.
If you don't run brakes for any other reason...Straightblock
Dec 10, 2001 12:27 PM
in California the Vehicle Code states:

21201. (a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it
is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one
braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

Something similar is probably on the books where you are. I don't know about you, but I can't guarantee that I could skid on demand without brakes in any situation. I was involved in a cycling accident last year(bike vs bike, the other rider's fault), and the insurance investigators went out & checked for skid marks. Imaging trying to defend yourself in an accident investigation involving a bike with no brakes.
No - you need a long holiday in a dark room (nm).Manwithabrain
Dec 11, 2001 1:30 AM
Think of it this way...muncher.
Dec 11, 2001 1:34 AM
Imagine the situation where, with a little speed on, you somehow managed to get a foot unclipped. And then need to stop fast.

Then what?

Suggestion - Put the brake on, and see how it goes. Then leave it there, unless you really can't live with the sheer dead weight of it.

Be safe.
re: do i really need brakes?Woof the dog
Dec 11, 2001 5:26 AM
I don't advise it, but you could put just a front brake caliper without any cables. If you need some more stopping power, you could just squeeze the lever parts of the caliper with your hand. Its hard to do it fast, and you should watch your hand. It hurts as well because of all the sharp parts.

I have a c'dale from the same time. Boy is it stiff!!! I think I know why all the retro people are afraid of al. these days. They don't realize it all changed though.

Flaming June

ouch nmJs Haiku Shop
Dec 11, 2001 5:47 AM
thanks, all. front brake only. nmJs Haiku Shop
Dec 11, 2001 5:47 AM
Endo Specialistgrzy
Dec 11, 2001 9:47 AM
My brother used to pull this stunt. He got tired of doing endos. To think that you only need the front brake demonstrates that you don't understand the dynamics of braking. You'll soon have new appreciation, but I doubt we'll hear about it.
Not really,Tjeanloz
Dec 11, 2001 9:50 AM
I'd agree if this were a freewheel equipped bike, but a fixed gear, I think you can provide all the rear wheel braking needed with your legs. Especially with some practice.
brilliance shining through againLOL
Dec 11, 2001 12:51 PM
ever ride a fixed gear? apparently not. your answer demonstrates that you don't understand, but I doubt we'll hear about it