Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

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Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby maccayak » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:00 am

I have noticed that lots of bikes only have a front brake. Why front and not rear as I always thought rear was safer?

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by BNA » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:09 am

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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby hitchhiker » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:09 am

I prefer two brakes but if I had to choose one I'd take the front, better stopping power
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby rkelsen » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:35 am

I'd agree with the post above. Most of my braking comes from the front. From higher speeds, I think the front works better because in such circumstances your weight tends to shift forward on braking. This has the effect of unloading the rear wheel, which can start to skid instead of gripping the road surface to slow you down.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby ejayt » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:42 am

You might also be seeing fixies too, which don't really need a back brake as much as a single speed/geared bike as you can control the rear braking with the pedals. A front brake is still very important though.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby Crittski » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:57 am

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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby sogood » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:04 am

Crittski wrote:What about one in the middle??

http://manilafixedgear.blogspot.com.au/ ... -bike.html

Stupid! The bike will be brakeless if the chain snaps. And the rider can receive inside calf skin burns.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby jimsheedy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:05 am

If the bike is a track frame there is no holes for brakes ( unless it is quite old as track cyclists in the early days used their bikes for primary transport as well, brakes were removed for the track) It is pretty simple to put on a new front fork that is drilled for brakes. As above front braking is the most efficient.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby mikesbytes » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:25 am

I've ridden my track bike along a bike path and it was horrible to ride, no vertical compliance at all. Do not recommend modern track bikes be used as fixies
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby riddy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:29 pm

Mostly it is fixed riders using a front brake with foot retention (removing the need for a back brake). But there are a lot of singlespeed riders out there using only a front.

For the singlespeeders, as far as I can tell it is mostly out of (a) ignorance, (b) a misguided belief that all they need is the front, (c) general hipsterdom and fixie-aesthetics, or (d) (and rarely, from what I have seen) because they don't have a drilled rear brake bridge, but generally (d) falls under (c) because if you want to ride singlespeed then don't ride an undrilled track frame!

I commute on a fixed gear with a front brake. My commute is only about 3km through the Melbourne CBD, and I love riding track geometry and fixed through the city. Makes a fast, fun ride that is easy to zip around traffic (especially with 38cm bars!). I also like the absolute minimum maintenance, riding everyday all weather. With good foot retention you can stop very fast on a fixed gear with a front brake. In fact, I feel far more secure on my fixed than on my roadie when riding in the city, and especially in the wet when you have direct control to your back wheel.

But as for a front brake only singlespeed, it is pretty ridiculous in my opinion. Sure most of the braking power comes from the front, but you get control from the back. Unless you are an experience rider and know how to properly position your weight, it is very easy to throw yourself over the handlebars, especially when taking evasive action. This can also happen to a newbie riding a fixed gear, but being connected to the rear wheel means you have a lot more control (unless you don't have foot retention). And, as a city or commuting bike, it is good to stay in control!
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby riddy » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:00 pm

mikesbytes wrote:I've ridden my track bike along a bike path and it was horrible to ride, no vertical compliance at all. Do not recommend modern track bikes be used as fixies


Maybe not modern track bikes, but a good 1980s-1990s steel track frame can be a whole lot of fun.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby gururug » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:15 pm

Most do it for aesthetics or a failsafe. Personally, I almost always use both on a SS.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby PeteV » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:57 pm

BOTH!
25 years ago I use to blast around a BMX track and the local streets with only a rear brake because it looked cool and you only wanted to lock up the rear for impressing your mates with skids. I've ridden single speed for commuting for the last couple of years (single speed, not fixed/track etc) and I would always have front and rear brakes on a bike. I mostly use the front to wipe off 80% of my speed and the rear helps with the remaining 20% and stops me going over the bars.
I am currently looking at building a new bike and the first thing I am researching is which brakes would be best for it!
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby hartleymartin » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:19 pm

Generally speaking I tend to use the rear brake to control my speed and then the front to make the stop.

In the days when shearers got around by bicycle it was usual yo have a rear coaster brake only and leave off the front mudguard so you could jam your foot between the front wheel and the downtube. I tried this a few times - works quite well, but takes quick thinking and is not something you want to have to depend on!

I've also seen quite a few bicycles with a rear cable-operated brake only, but I wouldn't want to be riding real fast on one of those.

Polo bikes tend to have brakes to the rear. Not sure what the primary reason for this is, but I suspect it is to allow riders to flip their handlebars around 360 degrees. They also tend to have pretty low gears anyway - I'm lead to believe about 52 to 60 gear inches.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby sogood » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:24 pm

hartleymartin wrote:Generally speaking I tend to use the rear brake to control my speed and then the front to make the stop...

It really doesn't matter which brake one uses at 10-15km/h...
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby gururug » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:27 pm

hartleymartin wrote:Polo bikes tend to have brakes to the rear.


In polo, your right hand is always holding the club, so there is little use for a brake on the right. Lots of low speed maneuvering means a rear brake is a smoother option, anyone who has done a motorbike license test knows the value of a rear brake at low speeds.

Most pro's use a single "dual control" lever mounted on the left which actuates front and rear simultaneously.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby hartleymartin » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:04 pm

sogood wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:Generally speaking I tend to use the rear brake to control my speed and then the front to make the stop...

It really doesn't matter which brake one uses at 10-15km/h...


Believe it or not, I do ride faster than this quite often on my tourer. One thing I also noticed in Europe was that most people tended to ride much slower - at what I would call a "comfortable pace", than we do here.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby landscapecadmonkey » Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:33 am

on my commuter fixed gear.. . two brakes. its a hilly, quick ride 80% on streets'

for my other europa conversion around the lake at Ballarat, just the front, for aesthetics and 'just because'

would like the leg muscles and foresight to run no brakes... just for sh1ts and giggles, but feels far too risky at this stage.

front brake on a steel bike often seems to bend the front fork under load excessively. might be totally fine, but wouldnt like to test that flex under extreme load
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby HLC » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:36 am

landscapecadmonkey wrote:front brake on a steel bike often seems to bend the front fork under load excessively. might be totally fine, but wouldnt like to test that flex under extreme load


First I've heard of this. If I saw my steel fork bending under excessive load, I'd throw it in the bin.

I would expect that from a carbon fork or a bike made out of recycled coke cans (either of which I wouldn't ride if the fork was prone to flexing).

That means its time to get rid of the rust bucket kerbside frame with no structural integrity left and find a nice stiff steel track frame. No issues with mine brake or no brakes.

And FWIW if you are going to run a brake, on a fixed gear a front will suffice, SS, front is borderline ok but I'd run both. No point trying to make it look like something it's not.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby Kempie » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:12 pm

HLC wrote:
landscapecadmonkey wrote:front brake on a steel bike often seems to bend the front fork under load excessively. might be totally fine, but wouldnt like to test that flex under extreme load


First I've heard of this. If I saw my steel fork bending under excessive load, I'd throw it in the bin.


I agree, I'm sure the the coefficient of friction between the tyre and the road is not that high
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby landscapecadmonkey » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:11 pm

Kempie wrote:
HLC wrote:
landscapecadmonkey wrote:front brake on a steel bike often seems to bend the front fork under load excessively. might be totally fine, but wouldnt like to test that flex under extreme load


First I've heard of this. If I saw my steel fork bending under excessive load, I'd throw it in the bin.


I agree, I'm sure the the coefficient of friction between the tyre and the road is not that high

Yes, after some further riding today... with rim brakes it doesn't seem to affect the fork that much. i have another steel framed bike with disk brakes, and must have been overlaying that experience... definitely wouldnt use just the front brake only on that bike. I must just have poorer brakes on my fixed gear, as i seem to need all that the front and rear can offer while getting around town. Or perhaps its the reverse, because i have both brakes, i tend to go faster, and think about braking later than i normally would if i only had front.... or none.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby HLC » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:47 pm

I reckon your headset is just loose causing your fork to flop around. Because disc-brakes shouldn't cause a fork to bend at all. The design makes it impossible.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby Petee » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:01 pm

maccayak wrote:I have noticed that lots of bikes only have a front brake. Why front and not rear as I always thought rear was safer?

Geoff

As far as i know it is only kids bikes with a front brake only?

All other bikes have two brakes for two reasons:

More braking power
There is no chance of the bike flipping forward with a swift stop.
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby Mulger bill » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:01 pm

Petee wrote:Even using massive amounts of front brake only There is no chance of the bike flipping forward with a swift stop. If the rider uses their bodyweight properly.


Edited for clarity :wink:
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby y3ntil » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:43 pm

gururug wrote:
hartleymartin wrote:Polo bikes tend to have brakes to the rear.


In polo, your right hand is always holding the club, so there is little use for a brake on the right. Lots of low speed maneuvering means a rear brake is a smoother option, anyone who has done a motorbike license test knows the value of a rear brake at low speeds.

Most pro's use a single "dual control" lever mounted on the left which actuates front and rear simultaneously.


What about us lefties eh? :wink: Also, making the brake lever on you bike pull the front or back by putting the cable into either brake. Just Front brake isn't bad either, just need to learn not to go over the bars suddenly :lol:
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Re: Brakes on a Single Speed! Front or Rear?

Postby rkelsen » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:17 am

HLC wrote:I reckon your headset is just loose causing your fork to flop around. Because disc-brakes shouldn't cause a fork to bend at all. The design makes it impossible.

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