No Brakes + Flat Tire = ???

I’m currently running a front brake, but have been thinking about taking it off because I never use it and it looks sort of stupid, however last night I found myself really needing it. Riding home down a long hill spinning like mad when I found my rear tyre suddenly flat, managed to stop using the front brake, but it got me to wondering what happens to people running “sans” brakes in this situation, can you skid stop on a flay tyre or do you just crash and burn?

Yes you can skid stop on a flat tyre but it will not be as effective as an inflated tyre. You also run the risk of separating the tyre from the rim which will be worse. Better to resist to a stop rather than skid or hop. Or you can jam your foot between the tyre and the frame.

Having a big crash looks sort of stupid too. Don’t take off your brake bec you think it’s stupid. Remove because you have the skills to ride without it.


i’ve always wondered about the whole brakeless thing.
i’ve ridden brakeless, and with a front brake, and with front and rear.
fastest you can ride a fixie is with both a front and a rear brake. next fastest is front brake only, and slowest is brakeless.

now, don’t get me wrong. i like riding brakeless. it’s a purer, cleaner form of riding, and it does change your perspective of the ride. any ride. just like everyone says it does. but it isn’t really very practicle sometimes.
not when you think about it.

then again, and lets be brutally honest, fixies are not an effiecient, easy form of cycling in the first place. and still we love them.
but why?

yes, for some of us it’s the cool factor. that feeling that you are in the hipster exclusive club. hopefully that’s a minority.

yes, for some of us it’s a harkening back to our youth. the longing for days gone. that’s probably a minority too, given the average age of us.

yes, for some of us it’s the belief that it gives us preternatural powers of biking awesomeness. the whole use the force luke thing to avoid dying a messy death. again, probably a minority as usually the first REALLY close call invests us with an avareness of our own mortality, and the frailness of the flesh.

yes, for most of us it is a mix of all of the above, and much much more.
and yet perhaps the biggest thing that continues to draw people to this ineffiecient, hard, and sometimes dangerous form of cycling is the connectivity that comes with it.

connected to the bike. you are constantly aware of the bike and what it is doing.
connected to the other road users. constantly aware of every other person and what idiocy they are about to commit.

and most importantly, connected to the other people who ride fixed.
i have never, not once, failed to get a hello and a smile out of a fixie rider i see on the street. and it’s rare that that is the least you get. more likely you will get a conversation, including details of the build, the last ride, the next problem, and when all is said and done, an offer of a drink and ride when next you can.

i’ve riden and raced cross country, downhill, road, weekend hack MTB, club roadie, you name it, and fixies are the freindliest, most helpfull of them all.
i’ve literally been lying on the side of the road bleeding from the head and had a pack of roadies race past, a herd of peds walk on by, and a clump of cars not even notice and yet the lone fixie stopped, helped me up, gave me his last tube, the use of his cell phone, and a can of coke. the only reason he didn’t give me the shirt off his back is because i’m a fat bastard and it wouldn’t fit.

now somewhere in all of this should be a return to the original point of this post, so i’d better get on with it. riding brakeless is a specialised, demanding skill, and one that is in many cases dying out. and honestly, as much as i love riding brakeless, i do believe that it has had it’s time.

with the increase in an american style litigation culture in this country it is only a matter of time until someone gets sued for hitting someone while riding brakeless and the wheels start rolling on the “track bikes for the track only” bandwagon.
now i know that this is going to start a whole mess of argument, just as it does every time you get 3 fixies together, but 20 years ago i use to ride a modified triumph chopper with only a rear brake, girder springer forks,no indicators, no speedo, and no helmet(i have yet to find out what i was thinking, or what i was on)

as much as i hated and still hate the legislation and interferance that lead to the demise of my cherished ride, i have to admit it was a death trap, no matter how cool or how much work i had put into it.

please don’t take off the brake just because you hardly ever use it, and you think it looks sort of stupid.

please don’t become the person who runs mother teressa over on a cross walk (and you know it will be her, and not a poster child for birthcontrol).
try a nice little shorty lever next to the stem and a nice unobtrusive line for the brake cable.

if it’s hardly noticible, maybe you can curb the inclination to remove it for no real reason.

hopefully we can get over the whole divid between people who ride brakeless and those who don’t. it’s not about who’s cooler, or more skilled, or has the largest amount of midiclorians in their blood, it’s about being part of a minority community who really do get on together.

and i challenge anyone to prove to me that they are faster riding brakeless than with a front brake. anyone, anywhere, any country. you can push a higher gear, run faster downhills, and shorten your stopping distance by 60%+ running a brake, all of which adds up to faster riding. say you like the simplicity, or the look, or the cool factor, or anything you want, but never use the line that it makes you faster. it doesn’t.

umm, wow, it’s really late and i only meant to put up a short post mentioning a couple of points. this sort of hit a nerve i guess. i am aware that no-one in this thread mentioned that riding brakeless made them quicker, and that most of this post is a bile filled rant against… something.

in my defence i just finished a 90 minute arguement on a chat with some muppet who swore that the reason he rode brakeless was because (a) he woz so up wit skilz that he didn’t need one, and (b) not having one made him a quicker rider. all of this dispite the fact that king knobjockey is currently on crutches with a broken leg from turning himself into a hood ornament because he couldn’t stop in time to avoid a light that turned red at the bottom of the hill.

if you like riding brakeless, ride brakeless. if you don’t don’t.
but if you currently have a brake fitted to your bike, why remove something that may cure you of a life shortening problem one day.
after all, it really only needs to do it once doesn’t it?


That for me is the best post in this site.

Well said.


Well said TK.

I edited your post to put some blank lines just to make it easier to read.

I think there wouldn’t be too many ways to say it better Lupine.

I’ve been thinking lately why I’ve been riding around these last few months sans. After riding bikes all my life with all different types of brakes, canti’s, V’s and even 8" disks that stop you in a heart beat, but all out in the country. So why am I now riding sans in the city where you would think it most needed? I think it’s to slow myself down rather than go faster. Pre-sans I’d got myself into a few situations that gave me I fright, simply because I knew I had the brake there as a backup if need be. Since removing it I’ve entered that ring of ‘You become more aware of your suroundings’, and slowed down in the process, which I’ve found to be quite good for my mental and physical self!!! Ramble rambele ramble…

I vote Lupine’s post gets blogged on the front.

So how come you keep crashing? :wink:


its not supposed to be easy to read!

Love the replies guys.

I’m going to keep the front brake, I don’t think I’d enjoy the ride as much without it. I think I’ll invest in a nicer calliper and lever so it actually works a bit better and looks a bit neater

How about these?

I just scored a pair off the 'bay and they’re sweet!

Hey mj, want to sell one of them to me? :smiley:

Sorry, my girlfriend has spoken for the other one… :wink:

Damn! Haha.

How much did they cost you on Ebay? And do you still have the seller’s name? They look like just hte kind of thing I’m after. All silver, mmm.

You can buy them new from here

They were slightly used second hand, so were an one-off thing.

These look rather trick too

odyssey also make some real nice chrome levers if you could handle running a bmx lever on your bike.
sucks that the hardware used in them isnt chrome though

available from strictlybmx


anyone want it though? Odyssey Hinged lever (take it off at the track), filed out from 22.2mm (BMX bar) to ~ 23.8mm (road/track bar) with Shimano SLR brake. Pretty powerful, but a low profile brake and lever.

Given the cost of the lever, $40 shipped for the setup.

  • Joel