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Ride With One Brake - Front or Rear??

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Ride With One Brake - Front or Rear??

Old 07-23-19, 10:31 PM
  #26  
sdmc530
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I ride with a guy occasionally whos left hand is missing a few fingers after a butcher accident when he was a kid.

I am not sure of the specifics but his one “better” hand break lever runs both brakes. I have never explored how it works but i will now.

He used to only have a front brake and it was not working well. He said it was to dangerous and a bit tougher to control on hard applications. He tried the rear only but wasn’t good enough for a stand alone brake.

Just my knowledge with a bike rider that i know. I hope you get a solution though one brake just seems so dangerous to me
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Old 07-23-19, 11:48 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
Front brake only - not a good idea. Do a poll and ask how many long-time cyclists have gone over the front of a bike using just the front brake.
Flying over the handlebars and then screaming your head off that the front brake is dangerous is not the behavior of long time cyclists. It's that of idiots who don't know how to ride a bike.

I don't know how you managed to make it to 2000 posts without learning the correct way to stop isn't to crush the rear brake lever in an iron grip and do a big skid.

Squeeze the front brake lever gently at first then gradually increase your grip. Behold, you just stopped quietly, gently and in less space.
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Old 07-24-19, 01:18 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Cute Boy Horse View Post
Squeeze the front brake lever gently at first then gradually increase your grip. Behold, you just stopped quietly, gently and in less space.
This works great until something happens that you don't expect like it did to me the other day and anyone's instant reaction is to just to slam on the brakes .... if I'd only had a front brake I probably would have been over the handle bars OR the front wheel going in underneath me as it was on a loose surface on a bend.

A decision like this needs to be considered in what happens in the worst case / panic situation to avoid an immediate crash not what happens when everything's nicely under control and you have plenty of time on your side to think and "do the right thing" as human nature dictates you react totally differently in the 2 scenarios.
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Old 07-24-19, 08:24 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
This fixed gear rider, like many others, uses a front caliper *and* legs slowing the chain.

Why would there be two brake levers?
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Old 07-24-19, 08:35 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
I just re-read the OP and he's got hydro brakes. I'd bet that would make it a lot easier to run one brake lever to two brakes AND maintain good braking power.
Yep, simply connect both caliper lines, and the lever line, to a T-Piece (such as this Magura one). Hey presto, one lever operates both calipers...

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Old 07-24-19, 08:43 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
Front brake only - not a good idea. Do a poll and ask how many long-time cyclists have gone over the front of a bike using just the front brake.
I never have in decades of cycling. Nor do I know of any. I suspect that if it does happen, it involves a novice cyclist who is not well practiced in braking. I have lifted the rear wheel occasionally while braking, but that was on my trike

@DenBoy. Welcome to bike forums. I've been riding for years with my front brakes actuated by my right hand. I had a couple of trauma incidents involving my left hand and don't have reliable grip strength for emergency braking. Although I have brakes front and rear, I typically use the front when just slowing. I am of course always ready clamp down on both brakes if I have to stop quickly.
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Old 07-24-19, 08:47 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
Why would there be two brake levers?
a) they come in pairs
b) aesthetics
c) balance
d) somewhere to put my hand
e) all of the above
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Old 07-24-19, 08:55 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
This works great until something happens that you don't expect like it did to me the other day and anyone's instant reaction is to just to slam on the brakes ....
I'll also vote with the minority on this, I would pick the rear, choosing control over stopping distance. I've gotten out of a lot more pickles with bike maneuvering than with braking power.
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Old 07-24-19, 08:56 AM
  #34  
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If you only have one brake, it really should be the front. The only bikes with rear-only brakes tend to be cruisers and other bikes with coaster brakes. These bikes don't go to fast, but when they do, and an emergency stop is necessary, you generally stop with an uncontrolled skid in twice the distance that you would with a front brake.


Also, there are some misunderstandings here as to how F and R brakes work.

Under maximum braking, a rear brake generally has zero effect - your body's momentum shifts all your weigh onto the front wheel when stopping fast. What keeps you from going over the handlebars is your position on the bike and your ability to modulate the front brake - if your rear wheel starts to lift you have to ease off the front brake lever a bit, or put your body weight lower and further back, or else you flip the bike, and your rear brake has no effect on this process.

There are definitely situations (loose and slippery surfaces, cornering) where the rear brake is a nice thing to have, but when an old man blindly backs his big Buick out of a bush in front of you, your rear brake is meaningless.

I believe that a cable splitter (one lever to two brakes) is a good solution. Depending on the experience of the cyclist and how confident they are that they can navigate the trickier situations, the balance of front-to-rear brake power can be adjusted... probably tighter rear brakes for a less experienced rider, but that's just my assumption.

Also, someone mentioned the OP had hydraulic brakes... a one-lever-into-two-brakes might be a simple thing to rig up if you have enough spare hydraulic adapters and tees, but switching to cable brakes might be easier.
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Old 07-24-19, 09:16 AM
  #35  
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One thought here - if a splitter is used, it would be best if the brakes could be set up so the rear effectiveness is reduced to near half the front. (Ideally, that difference could be fine tuned.) As many have said already, it is the front brake that does the hard stopping. Too much rear and control of the back of the bike becomes an issue on hard stops.

My city bikes are set up with Mafac Racers in front; powerful but mushy brakes. My rears are (I think) Weinmann centerpulls, Schwinn labeled, considerably less mushy but also a lot less effective as brakes. Since I run full length housing on the rear brake, the feel and lever pulls end up about the same , but a lot less happens when I apply the rear. End result? Really good stopping power in real life situations. Bikes stay very well behaved. (Those two bikes are some of my best stoppers ever on 35(?) year old centerpulls. A set of each, Mafac and Weinmann with the Mafac rear bolt swapped for a longer hardware store bolt and a likewise shorter bolt the the Weinmann front.)

Perhaps the OP could use a larger disked front brake to get the same effect. Possibly slightly less effective pads in back. (Not a disc-bike ride; just thinking out loud.)

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Old 07-24-19, 09:35 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
... and an emergency stop is necessary, you generally stop with an uncontrolled skid in twice the distance that you would with a front brake.

...
+1 I'm an engineer type. I have several times sat down and calculated stopping distances. Simple physics. (No, I do not claim that you can stop in X feet from Y speed. I just calculate the relative distances it takes to stop using full possible braking using just the front, just the back and both. But both is a no-brainer. Exactly the same as front alone. As said above, in a really hard stop, the rear tire is barely touching the ground and completely useless for slowing.)

Every time I do those calcs using a typical rider on a typical bike, I get the same results. A ratio very close to 2:1. Front brake stopping the bike in half the distance of just a rear. (Rider height, center of gravity and the front-center distance of the bike vary the end result a little. Getting the front wheel further forward helps as does getting rider weight back and down.)

And an observation re: the rear wheel skid (popularized by the brakeless fixie crowd). Anyone here recall the competitions we had as kids to see who could skid the furthest? One rear-brake-only coaster bikes? We used to get 25-50 ' coming down not-so-long hills. (Something to consider long before you see those brakelights.)

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Old 07-24-19, 01:46 PM
  #37  
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Even though the front brake is the more important one 95% of the time, if I had to choose one, it would be the rear. This is especially true for a mountain bike or anywhere loose conditions may be encountered.
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Old 07-24-19, 02:13 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
a) they come in pairs
b) aesthetics
c) balance
d) somewhere to put my hand
e) all of the above
That extra lever sure would tempt me to add something electronic to it. Like a horn, lights, or ray gun.
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Old 07-24-19, 02:19 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Even though the front brake is the more important one 95% of the time, if I had to choose one, it would be the rear. This is especially true for a mountain bike or anywhere loose conditions may be encountered.
My favorite use of a rear brake in loose conditions, with enough speed, was to skid the rear out for turning tightly or doing a complete 180. Steer with the rear as some might say.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:00 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
This works great until something happens that you don't expect like it did to me the other day and anyone's instant reaction is to just to slam on the brakes .... if I'd only had a front brake I probably would have been over the handle bars OR the front wheel going in underneath me as it was on a loose surface on a bend.

A decision like this needs to be considered in what happens in the worst case / panic situation to avoid an immediate crash not what happens when everything's nicely under control and you have plenty of time on your side to think and "do the right thing" as human nature dictates you react totally differently in the 2 scenarios.
It sounds like you don't know how to ride a bike properly and need to spend some time with an instructor. Especially since you haven't ridden in such a scenario you describe - or else you'd know a vice grip on the rear brake, while turning on loose surface, would also make the bike fall out from under you.

I remember when I learned to drive a car we were taught emergency stops. Which do you think is more difficult to make precise movements? A foot with a shoe on it? Or fingers, which evolution has gracefully given us? Are you typing by smashing your palms on the keys?

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Old 07-24-19, 03:06 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
That extra lever sure would tempt me to add something electronic to it. Like a horn, lights, or ray gun.
I've heard of some folks rigging up a bell. I'm sure it could be done but I'm not that clever.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:07 PM
  #42  
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Front brake has 90% of the bikes stopping power (rule of thumb). I've rode bikes with one brake, and prefer the front brake. It can cause the bike to flip when pulled with force, so most of the time I just gently squeeze it. In emergencies I'll pull with force, and the rear end comes off the ground. I adjust the brake as best I can to stop quickly, but not flip. If you can do that, I'd recommend the front brake. Otherwise, the rear brake with extra caution.

One other note: coaster brake. Not sure what modification crazy meant. If giving up the freewheel is an option, a coaster brake (peddle backwards) will solve the problem.


Originally Posted by DenBoy View Post
... I've been riding my Specialized hybrid (hydraulic discs) with just the (right hand) rear brake, but folks are suggesting that I re-plumb the bike to put the front wheel brake on the right hand lever. Good idea? ...
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Old 07-24-19, 03:09 PM
  #43  
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I can't believe the number of people suggesting just a front brake in ... first and foremost is safety ... if he goes that option, has to slam it on unexpectedly one day without the time to think and ends up flying over the handlebars or the wheel tucks in underneath himself and he ends up hospitalized with serious injury .... just make sure you leave your comments here so you be traced via your IP address and you can be sued for his medical care (and anybody else he may hit) thereafter for the poor advice you've given ... personally I think the comments are totally irresponsible as it's dangerous to even suggest it.

I'm sure this will create a few flustered responses .... I'm off on a 3 day cycle tour early in the morning so won't be checking in here in case anybody accuses me of throwing a grenade in the room and then disappearing as that's genuinely not the case bit I honestly think people need to think through the advice they're giving and the repercussions it may lead to.

I think 2 brakes or don't ride and just to save a bit of money to risk your own and other people's health is totally irresponsible.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:26 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
I can't believe the number of people suggesting just a front brake in ... first and foremost is safety ... if he goes that option, has to slam it on unexpectedly one day without the time to think and ends up flying over the handlebars or the wheel tucks in underneath himself and he ends up hospitalized with serious injury .... just make sure you leave your comments here so you be traced via your IP address and you can be sued for his medical care (and anybody else he may hit) thereafter for the poor advice you've given ... personally I think the comments are totally irresponsible as it's dangerous to even suggest it.

I'm sure this will create a few flustered responses .... I'm off on a 3 day cycle tour early in the morning so won't be checking in here in case anybody accuses me of throwing a grenade in the room and then disappearing as that's genuinely not the case bit I honestly think people need to think through the advice they're giving and the repercussions it may lead to.

I think 2 brakes or don't ride and just to save a bit of money to risk your own and other people's health is totally irresponsible.
One could always practice panic stops while shifting weight rearwards and feeling brake pressure until it becomes second nature. Then when you have to slam the brakes, you're really not slamming the brakes you're just stopping as fast as possible.

Gotta respect the slick and wet, too. If you're on a wet steel plate when you need to brake hard, well now you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Things do happen outside of one's control.

Besides that, grown men and women should be able to think for themselves and either listen to advice or ignore it. They can decide if what is suggested is beyond their ability or not. It's not like we are promoting the idea of jumping over cars with bicycles here.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:39 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
I can't believe the number of people suggesting just a front brake in ... first and foremost is safety ... if he goes that option, has to slam it on unexpectedly one day without the time to think and ends up flying over the handlebars or the wheel tucks in underneath himself and he ends up hospitalized with serious injury .... just make sure you leave your comments here so you be traced via your IP address and you can be sued for his medical care (and anybody else he may hit) thereafter for the poor advice you've given ... personally I think the comments are totally irresponsible as it's dangerous to even suggest it.

I'm sure this will create a few flustered responses .... I'm off on a 3 day cycle tour early in the morning so won't be checking in here in case anybody accuses me of throwing a grenade in the room and then disappearing as that's genuinely not the case bit I honestly think people need to think through the advice they're giving and the repercussions it may lead to.

I think 2 brakes or don't ride and just to save a bit of money to risk your own and other people's health is totally irresponsible.
A little dramatic?

So, if he sticks with just a rear brake and he can't make an emergency stop fast enough and ends up in the hospital, can he sue you (or me, since that is what I said I prefer)?

He was not asking if it is OK to use just one brake, he is asking WHICH ONE to use assuming he is already going that way. And did you miss the part where he can only use one lever?
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Old 07-24-19, 03:43 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
This works great until something happens that you don't expect like it did to me the other day and anyone's instant reaction is to just to slam on the brakes .... if I'd only had a front brake I probably would have been over the handle bars OR the front wheel going in underneath me as it was on a loose surface on a bend.
This is where training come into play. It's not the brake's fault. I have been in emergency stop situations, and have not gone over the bars. Take time to practice, and even time to simply think about what you would do in an emergency situation that requires heavy braking. It will help prevent panicking.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:44 PM
  #47  
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The danger of flipping over the front while braking with the front brake is real. But it is also small. You can learn to control stops with the front brake. I only use my front brake except occasionally. When the surface is loose, then front skidding is possible and a larger danger. That's when I use my rear brake.

A rear brake does not give you more control than a front brake on dry, hard pavement.
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Old 07-24-19, 03:45 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by MikeyMK View Post
Yep, simply connect both caliper lines, and the lever line, to a T-Piece (such as this Magura one). Hey presto, one lever operates both calipers...

I don't get it. This would cut in half the amount of fluid being pushed down each brake line. You would only be getting half the pad movement at each caliper.

I would think you would need a lever that pushed twice the volume.
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Old 07-24-19, 04:21 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by FiftySix View Post
One could always practice panic stops while shifting weight rearwards and feeling brake pressure until it becomes second nature. Then when you have to slam the brakes, you're really not slamming the brakes you're just stopping as fast as possible.
When I was much younger, we had 2 weeks of snow, I absolutely loved driving in it and got so used to it .... driving until I wanted to turn (a lot faster than all the other road users) and using the handbrake to turn in a controlled situation ... anybody watching and following me would have thought I was Finland's finest really driver and totally used to driving and controlling a car in those situations.
One day ... late for my own party, I knew the DJ was expecting to meet me at a certain time so was driving faster than I should in a panic to get there, went into a bend a bit too fast and in the snow and lost control ... my reaction .... instead of using the handbrake to control the turn (which 'd done for the previous 2 weeks) was to slam my foot on the brake and totally lost control of the car and was unable to steer it ... I was lucky I went up a bank and stopped 8" (literally) before the lamp post.

My best friend growing up, his grandfathers company provided artificial arms ... apart from war victims their biggest clients were motorcycle accidents and the most common problem, when they know they're approaching an accident, human instinct is to grab the brakes and cling onto them as hard as you can and the muscle memory doesn't let go.
This results in you holding on so hard, the bike hits the car .... or whatever it is you're braking to avoid ... and you get thrown over the top of the bike and your muscles don't let go and as you pivot over the top of the bike it literally rips your arms out of their sockets ... do you think they practiced slow braking????

My whole point is a our thought process totally absolutely goes to the wall in a survival situation which means you'll grab the front brake if that's the only one you have available and is asking to cause or at least worsen what the outcome would be with 2 brakes so to advise otherwise is irresponsible.

I'm sorry ... I'm really not having a go at anybody but I do think some of the advice is a bit under thought.

EDIT: This is the company I was referring to and my friend has been a director of the company for goodness knows how many years but started work there probably in around 1985 after finishing further education so I guess he knows a bit about what he was talking about https://www.steepergroup.com/orthotics/

Last edited by Witterings; 07-24-19 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-24-19, 05:01 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post
When I was much younger, we had 2 weeks of snow, I absolutely loved driving in it and got so used to it .... driving until I wanted to turn (a lot faster than all the other road users) and using the handbrake to turn in a controlled situation ... anybody watching and following me would have thought I was Finland's finest really driver and totally used to driving and controlling a car in those situations.
One day ... late for my own party, I knew the DJ was expecting to meet me at a certain time so was driving faster than I should in a panic to get there, went into a bend a bit too fast and in the snow and lost control ... my reaction .... instead of using the handbrake to control the turn (which 'd done for the previous 2 weeks) was to slam my foot on the brake and totally lost control of the car and was unable to steer it ... I was lucky I went up a bank and stopped 8" (literally) before the lamp post.

My best friend growing up, his grandfathers company provided artificial arms ... apart from war victims their biggest clients were motorcycle accidents and the most common problem, when they know they're approaching an accident, human instinct is to grab the brakes and cling onto them as hard as you can and the muscle memory doesn't let go.
This results in you holding on so hard, the bike hits the car .... or whatever it is you're braking to avoid ... and you get thrown over the top of the bike and your muscles don't let go and as you pivot over the top of the bike it literally rips your arms out of their sockets ... do you think they practiced slow braking????

My whole point is a our thought process totally absolutely goes to the wall in a survival situation which means you'll grab the front brake if that's the only one you have available and is asking to cause or at least worsen what the outcome would be with 2 brakes so to advise otherwise is irresponsible.

I'm sorry ... I'm really not having a go at anybody but I do think some of the advice is a bit under thought.

EDIT: This is the company I was referring to and my friend has been a director of the company for goodness knows how many years but started work there probably in around 1985 after finishing further education so I guess he knows a bit about what he was talking about https://www.steepergroup.com/orthotics/
I'm not picking on you either, Witterings.

My experience is with bicycles (obviously), motorcycles, and automobiles. I've been on motorcycles and in cars with invisible ice on the road. About all one can do is pucker up and stay as stable as possible in those situations and see how you come out on the other side. And yes, I've spun out on the times I did not or could not keep my vehicle stable. Which is why I made my comment on wet steel plates like found on a road undergoing serious utility repairs.

A slick surface is a slick surface. Only experience and practice can train one on how to handle that. One of my instinctual reactions on two wheels is to get my legs extended to act as outriggers if the bike feels like it's about to slide. That has saved me more than a few times through my years. I will admit my reaction times are slowing as I age, though.

I can't speak to the needs of people with disabilities having to panic stop. I do know that with enough practice (call it training) that the instinct to squeeze the brakes as hard as possible can be changed.

Just a few months ago I had a panic stop on my Norco on good pavement. The front brake grabbed the rim hard and the rear wheel lifted just enough to cause the rear wheel to lock up. However, I was so used to panic stopping from a combination of my motorcycle days and bicycle days that my body shifted rearward and went low by instinct. My bike came to a hard stop and I didn't hit the car that pulled in front of me. Sure, that bike has two brakes, but the rear tire offered virtually no grip on the road. I do know that if I only had a rear brake that day I would have skidded into the side of that car.
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