The place for fixies and other rides without gears
I just got a bike fixed with front brake only. I think its fine as long as you don't jam it on, and you can use your legs to resist as well.
If i was going with a single speed setup i would get front and rear brakes as you are likely to pick up more speed down hills etc.
The front brake is for stopping and the rear just helps brushing off some speed.
Wouldn't mind upgrading to a road bike quality front brake when these wear out.
I rode 9 months of last year on a fixed/free bike with only the front brake. I am in Canberra so it is a little easier to get away with. Originally, I only had the front as it was a 27" conversion and only the front brake had enough reach. I now run both front and back after I had two not-so-good experiences. The first involved our local handy council mowing guys leaving mounds of grass all over the bike tracks. If I even looked the wrong way at these my front wheel would skid and I'd almost lose it. Granted my skills aren't the best, but I'm no nuff-nuff either. So, I changed my route until the grass was gone. Then I started riding Black Mountain every week. Well, I always wondered how hot my front rim was getting after the descent as I tended to periodically wash off speed on the way down. One day I reached down and put a finger against the side ofe the rim. A string of profanities and a burnt - as in the skin was white for a week - finger made me reconsider very seriously only having one brake. I couldn't believe that that much heat was in the rim. More to the point how could I have not blown the tyre off? So, next week I did not brake at all except at the very end to stop. **SIGH**, finger was only white for three days this time...
So now I run front and back and am shortly moving over to drums front and back. The heat in that rim just scared me way too much, wouldn't want to fall and dirty up my nice frilly skirts now would I?
It's obvious that having two brakes is safer than having one. I used to ride a single speed with just one front brake for many years as a courier. I rode a single speed and one brake to keep maintenance and repair costs down - simple was best for me then. Going fixed saved me a few dollars every few months on replacing freewheels where the bearings had died.
Now as I'm older and want to be safer, I would not feel too comfortable with just a front brake on a bike with a free wheel (in case cable snaps or other brake failure). However, on the fixed gear I feel that you can obtain great speed control with the back wheel, teamed up with the front brake... all is good. It would be catastrophic if a cable snapped and I lost my chain at the same time, unlikely I'd hope.
Yes, just one brake can be dangerous, but you also need to be able to ride what you have, in the weather/road conditions within you own riding ability.
Sorry for the rant, hope that helps.
For a little while I road 3-speed with a coaster brake and a front hand-brake. I actually found it beneficial to have the lever on the left, leaving my right arm free to signal. I also found that I only used it when coming to a complete stop, as the coaster would allow me to bring my speed under control.
I like having the rear brake so I can signal right (whilst steering with my left hand) and come to a stop if I need to without braking too hard and crashing hehe.
Also in crap weather, I prefer having the rear brake as well. I want to avoid braking with the front only to avoid washing it out passing over slippery manhole covers or the like.
Im completing my build this week and I'm only running a front brake. Mainly because I'm guessing I wont be needing two because of the fixed drivetrain brake thing. I guess I wont actually be needing the brake at all after a period of time but I will keep it on. I spose' whatever you feel comfortable with you should do, if you don't like the thought of running one brake, then don't, run two. If your a fearless hipster then run none.
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