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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, 02:51 PM
  #1  
DenBoy
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Ride With One Brake - Front or Rear??

I have a deformity of my left arm & hand, leaving me unable to use the left hand brake lever. 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? If you had to ride with brakes on only one wheel, which would you choose -- front or rear??

I'm not going to go to extremes with mods to give me both brakes. Yes, I did it with a tandem lever on my old 10-speed years ago - but the juice brakes don't lend themselves to such a cheap & easy solution.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:01 PM
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I think the consensus is that most of the effective braking force is at the front wheel.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:13 PM
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You'll definitely get more stopping power from just the front wheel but power is only part of the story. If you clamp your front wheel too strongly, you can cause your bike to do a front flip.

It's your bike. Just keep that in mind and don't go screaming down any hills that have a traffic light at the bottom.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:13 PM
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Look at the brake rotors of just about any car or motorcycle on the street. Notice how the fronts are almost always significantly larger. That is because they provide the vast majority of braking potential, due to weight transfer while decelerating, giving the front tire much more available traction to slow you down. As you brake harder, the rear tire has LESS traction and thus the rear brake becomes less important.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:31 PM
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For the sake of your teeth, look into a spliter.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:32 PM
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Without actually trying this....(keep this in mind...this post is 100% theoretical)....I would think you could rig both the front and the back brake levers to be on the right handlebar so your right hand could work both of them.

You might have to get creative to make them both fit. But as far as functioning you can easily move the left hand lever to the right side of the bar. It'll work just fine. But if you flip it over there is a chance the oil reservoir for the hydraulics could leak so you'll have to make sure it's tight. Then I'd think you could zip tie the front and back levers together so you only have to pull on one.

Again...this is theoretical. You've have to screw with it in person and see what did and din't fit. Plus you've have to figure out how to make your gear shifters work among all that.

I don't know if there is a hydraulic split that would let you have 1 lever work both brake lines. But that would make it easy.

Like I said...you'd probably have to get creative. But I bet you could rig it so both levers were on one side and worked together.

There are only about 100 things that could go wrong. So it would take a lot of experimenting to get it working well.

Or...just a second right hand lever and just move the front brake cable over to that one. That eliminates the upside down reservoir problem but doesn't resolve the "both levers are not designed to fit together on the same side" problem.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:34 PM
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I didn't read this thoroughly....but it looks like a write up of how to do what I said in the post above

https://www.velonews.com/2017/12/bik...ne-hand_453215
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Old 07-23-19, 03:36 PM
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There's a section devoted to questions like this: https://www.bikeforums.net/adaptive-...t-other-needs/
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Old 07-23-19, 03:37 PM
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JTEK and Problem Solvers both make splitters that enable you to either run one lever to two brakes, or two levers to one brake.

I tried the JTEK one to run two levers to one brake and the performance was disappointing.

But I think going the other direction - 1 lever, 2 brakes, might be more successful because theoretically the cable travel required for both brakes should be roughly the same.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:43 PM
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Front brake. The front tire gets loaded with the weight shift and gives better traction under hard braking. The rear tire lightens up and the rear tire skids so easily on its own.

If you are able to shift your weight rearward and get low while braking hard, flipping over the bars isn't an issue. If you can't shift your weight rearward, then just practice with the front to learn the limit of skid and nose diving.

The only times I've ever gone over the bars during braking is when I did it on purpose by keeping my body high and forward. Silly me had to see if it was true. That was on a 10 speed bicycle back in the day.

Edit to add: I swap my brake levers so the front brake is on the right hand. Just like British bicyclists and motorcyclists around the world do it.

Last edited by FiftySix; 07-23-19 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:50 PM
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Back brake vs. front brake.

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Old 07-23-19, 03:53 PM
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Front, every time.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:29 PM
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The front is more efficient for sure her but there are times I'd always us the rear ... anywhere that the surface is slippery either due to wet or loose surface as too much braking on the front will cause the wheel to skid underneath you especially if not in a totally straight line.

Also whenever I'm going downhill the rear does a lot of the work for the same reasons .... although sometimes you need the combination of both as the rear's not enough but I'd always balance it so any kind of skid comes from the rear rather than the front so it can easily be controlled / steered through.

Imagine going down a hill full pelt that's got a loose surface and you slam the front brake on, chances are the front wheel's going to go sideways underneath you slamming you to the ground, do the same with the back brake and it'll take longer to stop but you can just steer through the skid and possibly around any obstacle you were trying to avoid.

When I was a kid living in the US, I had one of the bikes that you pedal backwards for the rear brake, it wouldn't be cheap but it'd be a lot safer .... it may be worth looking into combined with one lever for the front brake.

Not a great choice to have to make but good luck with whichever way you decide to go.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:33 PM
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70% of your stopping power is front brake......

however..... Fixie riders only use rear brake, which is their legs stopping the chain.

How fast do you ride? if you only ride at moderate speeds then rear is acceptable. However front will still be most effective at stopping you regardless of speed.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Witterings View Post

When I was a kid living in the US, I had one of the bikes that you pedal backwards for the rear brake, it wouldn't be cheap but it'd be a lot safer .... it may be worth looking into combined with one lever for the front brake.
That's a great idea, except I think coaster brakes are limited to single speeds and three speeds. I'd guess @DenBoy would have to get a different bike to make that happen.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:42 PM
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Hope you're not in the UK - it's illegal o only have one brake here..

But a rear brake won't be too effective on a hybrid, so I vote for front - even though rear braking is more stable, certainly when braking one-handed.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:55 PM
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There are pluses and minuses to only-front and only-rear braking.

Front brake stops you faster, but has limitations. You can pretty much slam on the front brake if you're wheel is pointed straight ahead - you're not going to pitch yourself over the handlebars unless your on a fairly steep downhill (go ahead and try to lift your rear wheel by braking on level ground).

Turning while front-braking is kind of dangerous - the front wheel can lose traction and you go down fast. Turning while rear-braking you can do a semi-controlled skid.

You can adjust/learn/adapt either way: rear-braking you don't stop as fast (so always give yourself more braking distance), front-braking is more problematic when turning (so plan ahead so you don't have to brake in turns).

I imagine a brake splitter that does front and rear with one hand is the best solution, but I don't have any experience with that.
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Old 07-23-19, 05:58 PM
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I rode with a guy a while back who had essentially a half right hand - no fingers and half a palm, so he only had use of his left hand. Iirc he had a splitter enabling the left lever to operate both hydro brakes, and the left shifter - electronic Di2 or SRAM - operated the rear derailleur. He had what I think were called “climbing shifters” - bar top buttons, installed beside the shifter to operate the FD. The right hand lever was a dummy enabling him to rest his right hand on the hood. It was only when we pulled over for some reason that I noticed his setup and we got to talking - otherwise he held his own with the group
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Old 07-23-19, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval View Post
70% of your stopping power is front brake......

however..... Fixie riders only use rear brake, which is their legs stopping the chain.

How fast do you ride? if you only ride at moderate speeds then rear is acceptable. However front will still be most effective at stopping you regardless of speed.
This fixed gear rider, like many others, uses a front caliper *and* legs slowing the chain.

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Old 07-23-19, 06:20 PM
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One of my riding buddies invented a foot actuator for another cyclist who permanently injured her hand in a crash. It's a clever little device that can be added to an existing rear brake. You operate it with the heel of your left foot.

US Patent: Supplemental mechanism for actuating the brake of a bicycle

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Old 07-23-19, 06:23 PM
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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 would suggest you ask a moderator to move this question to the next forum down - "Adaptive Cycling - ..." You are far from alone when it comes to needing a one-handed control for the brakes. The solution may not be cheap but a trip to the doctor or hospital can be far more expensive.
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Old 07-23-19, 06:31 PM
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At last summers Triple Bypass I met a one armed cyclist. He was having absolutely no trouble descending huge passes, like Squaw and Loveland. Probably reaching speeds in excess of 50mph. To do that, you need to be confident in your brakes.

I glanced at the ride, definitely two rotors. Not only does the splitter work, it works well. It wasn't a 1x either. I think he had it all rigged Di2 on the remaining hand.

It was an adaptive marvel. I wouldn't quit without making it totally what you want.
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Old 07-23-19, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
Without actually trying this....(keep this in mind...this post is 100% theoretical)....I would think you could rig both the front and the back brake levers to be on the right handlebar so your right hand could work both of them.
.
I don't know if this is still true but this how Moto Guzzi motorcycle brakes used to work.
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Old 07-23-19, 08:43 PM
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I rode a near century to Brooklyn with a guy who has no left hand. Half his lower arm is missing. Strong climber. Look into mechanical solutions.
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Old 07-23-19, 08:52 PM
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As others have said, I bet there's probably some folks in the adaptive forum with some solutions, but 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.
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