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What would you do if you could only use one brake?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway
View Poll Results: What would you do if you lost the feeling in you left hand?
carry on as normal hoping not to lock the rears up.
7
9.21%
relay on the front brake.
54
71.05%
swap the braking around, (rear braking with right hand)
7
9.21%
stop riding
8
10.53%
Voters: 76. You may not vote on this poll

What would you do if you could only use one brake?

Old 10-10-05, 11:08 AM
  #1  
russdaz
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What would you do if you lost the feeling in one hand i.e the left.

How many would ride and relay on the front, brake swap the brakes around, not ride any-more.

Is there a way to control both brakes with one hand?

Im interested in your thoughts, ideas, and any suggestions to overcome the problem.

Last edited by russdaz; 10-10-05 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 11:13 AM
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since expert riders use the front brake almost exclusively anyway, all you need is the front brake, so switch the front brake to the right brake control, and you'll be good to go. i would go slow on descents though because if you blow a tire, you need to apply your brakes to the good tire--otherwise you'll hit the deck. with only one brake, you won't have a choice.

Last edited by jtree; 10-10-05 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jtree
since expert riders use the front brake almost exclusively anyway, all you need is the front brake, so switch the front brake to the right brake control, and you'll be good to go.
I'm not an expert but that's exactly what I did, I never touch the rear brake.
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Old 10-10-05, 11:43 AM
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My rear brake on my MTB bike is left and on my RB it si the other way round and ever since geting my RB i yuse my RH anyway so i went for rely on front
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Old 10-10-05, 11:46 AM
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brakes are for wimps
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Old 10-10-05, 11:51 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by russdaz
Is there a way to control both brakes with one hand?
Yes.....but why? All you need is your front brake.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:04 PM
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I already break mostly with the front.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:08 PM
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Rely on the left and I'd probably go with a fixed gear so I could modulate the rear with the pedals. If it would work, I'd try to make one with a rear deraileur - a fixie but not a singlie. Down tube shifter for the front derailleur too - but I'd mount it on the right side.

Q - is the left hand functional enough to steer? Could it accomplish shifting?
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Old 10-10-05, 12:13 PM
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Are we talking about losing feeling in the hand during the ride? If so, I'd probably stop and check my bike fit. I think having a functioning hand is more important than having a brake, personally.

- Warren
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Old 10-10-05, 12:24 PM
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If I lost feeling in my left hand (I presume due to some sort of nerve damage?), I'd be as worried about steering as with braking.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jtree
since expert riders use the front brake almost exclusively anyway, all you need is the front brake,
You can get by with only the front brake, but I do not agree at all that "expert riders use the front brake almost exclusively." The only time using the front brake alone is safe, much less advisable, is when you are stopping in a straight line on dry pavement.

I understand that the front wheel provides most of the stopping power. I don't dispute that. My argument is that you lose too much control over the back of the bike. When braking with only the front brake in a turn, the back two-thirds of the bike wants to rotate using the headtube as an axis.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:30 PM
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Having seen enough people take head over heels and bike on top of them spills i will never ever use my front-brakes unless i am already using my aft brakes and its not enough. Even then i will apply the front much lighter then the aft.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:32 PM
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I think this poll is skewered. IT takes little or no effort to brake. If you can hold onto the handlebar with your left hand you can break. Shifting gears is a totally different story however. I know this from experience as last friday my hand went numb from cold. I could still break but i could not shift.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:37 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by russdaz
Would would you do if you lost the feeling in one hand i.e the left.
You didn't say what kind of bike and what you are using for shifters. There is various kinds of hardware available to operate two brakes from one lever. Check out triahlon and tandem suppliers.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:39 PM
  #15  
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Hmm some interesting comments.
i used to use both front and rear, but being a down hill racer to am used to controlling the back with the rear brakes to help take more speed tho corners. adjusting speed mid corner on the front does feel slightly weird, but getting used to it.

my road bike is setup front brakes right hand, rear left hand.

the reason for the lose of feeling is a damaged nerve, resulting from a car acident. my bike fit is good. maybe im mad continueing to ride.

Last edited by russdaz; 10-10-05 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:42 PM
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Loss of feeling or loss of control?
I still think that if you're capable of holding onto the handlebar then you should have more then enough ability to brake.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by TexasGuy
I think this poll is skewered. IT takes little or no effort to brake. If you can hold onto the handlebar with your left hand you can break. Shifting gears is a totally different story however. I know this from experience as last friday my hand went numb from cold. I could still break but i could not shift.

good point but i cant grip the bar properly. the thing with braking using my left hand is i usaully lock the wheel up if i try.
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Old 10-10-05, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by russdaz
good point but i cant grip the bar properly. the thing with braking using my left hand is i usaully lock the wheel up if i try.
Hmm I'd find another sports like swimming and/or use a trainer. Without proper braking and gripping I would be afraid that you might end up in another bad accident. You probably know best how these are effecting your riding skills, but that would be my 2 cents.
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Old 10-10-05, 01:05 PM
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Honestly, it doesn't sound to me like you should put yourself in positions where you need both your hands, like downhill racing, when you don't have the dexterity to properly handle those situations. Like other here, I'd hate to see you get injured even more seriously. Will your physical therapy eventually regain some of your feeling and control? In the meantime, maybe you should just satisfy yourself with hammering the flats?

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Old 10-10-05, 01:07 PM
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Have you lost feeling or lost use of the hand entirely? If you can still use the hand, why can't you use the brake? My cousing lost his arm in a motorcycle accident and recently rode his bike several hundred miles around New Hampshire, all the while taking pictures(do not try this at home). I think he left his bike just how it was. I'm saying this to make the point that there is NO reason to put awy your bike, just adapt and make the best of it. This same cousin modified his motorcycle so that he could control everything with one hand and proceded to ride it across the country. He didn't let it stop him! Oh yeah, I'd go for the front brake, I wouldn't convert to a fixie though. You've got to take risks in this situation, it's not like cycling was so safe in the first place.


EDIT: I see now that you cannot grip the bar properly, so forget braking with it but I stick by the rest of my post.
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Old 10-10-05, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by chroot
Honestly, it doesn't sound to me like you should put yourself in positions where you need both your hands, like downhill racing, when you don't have the dexterity to properly handle those situations. Like other here, I'd hate to see you get injured even more seriously. Will your physical therapy eventually regain some of your feeling and control? In the meantime, maybe you should just satisfy yourself with hammering the flats?

- Warren
nah wont get any better than it is.

i sold the mountain bike, and stick to the roads. i did stop cycling altogether for a while, but started to suffer depression. so took back up the roading again.
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Old 10-10-05, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
You didn't say what kind of bike and what you are using for shifters. There is various kinds of hardware available to operate two brakes from one lever. Check out triahlon and tandem suppliers.
I don't believe in this method of managing both brakes with one lever. There is still the issue of getting a flat and locking up the flat tire. With this option you double the probability of having to lock up the wheel that is flat from 50% to 100%. If you pull the lever managing both brakes the flat will certainly sieze up. A front brake is sufficient
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Old 10-10-05, 01:19 PM
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You can get by with only the front brake, but I do not agree at all that "expert riders use the front brake almost exclusively." The only time using the front brake alone is safe, much less advisable, is when you are stopping in a straight line on dry pavement.
Braking with the front is safe, including trailbraking, and most effective. Go watch motorcycle roadracing and tell me why they didn't all crash in the first turn. The rear brake is only used to square off the turn so you can get back on the gas more quickly.

I understand that the front wheel provides most of the stopping power. I don't dispute that. My argument is that you lose too much control over the back of the bike. When braking with only the front brake in a turn, the back two-thirds of the bike wants to rotate using the headtube as an axis.
If you are braking hard enough to unload the rear wheel the rear brake would be absolutely useless anyway.

Having seen enough people take head over heels and bike on top of them spills i will never ever use my front-brakes unless i am already using my aft brakes and its not enough. Even then i will apply the front much lighter then the aft.
They apparently don't know how to use the brakes properly and should seriously practice. Emergency braking is something everyone should be proficient at.
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Old 10-10-05, 01:20 PM
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Ah, darn, it's not going to get any better. I'm sorry to hear that.

f I were you, I'd build up a bike with a single chainring, get rid of the front derailer, and move the front brake and rear derailer to the same brifter on the right side. I'd also invest in the best front brake caliper and pads money can buy, so you always have enough stopping power. You can presumably use your bad left hand to at least steady the handlebar while you're shifting or braking, yes?

If I were you, I'd stay away from anything particularly hilly until you've gotten very familiar with the new set-up. Take it slow, and try to find enjoyment in other kinds of goals, like distance endurance, until you've mastered the new challenges. Good luck, and keep riding no matter what!

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Old 10-10-05, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by rushr
Braking with the front is safe, including trailbraking, and most effective. Go watch motorcycle roadracing and tell me why they didn't all crash in the first turn. The rear brake is only used to square off the turn so you can get back on the gas more quickly..
I don't know anything about motorcycling and its correlation to bicycling so I really can't respond.

Originally Posted by rushr
If you are braking hard enough to unload the rear wheel the rear brake would be absolutely useless anyway.
If you are using both brakes, you don't unload the rear wheel as much as when using only the front brake. The rear wheel stays on the ground and keeps the bike tracking in a straight line.

This whole front-brake-only thing is one of those ideas that works well on paper but, having seen too many real life crashes in my 30 plus years of riding, I have learned to trust my experience. I brake with both brakes and have never been unable to stop when I need to. I have never lost control of my bike while braking with both brakes. I have, however, earned a dandy case of road rash years ago when using only a front brake on a fixed gear bike.
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