Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gimmie A Brake!

Another public service announcement: If you are riding a fixed gear without some kind of brake other than your ability to backpedal, I beg of you, please put a brake on that thing. Seriously.

This will get me laughed out of FGBA (Fixed-Gear Badasses of America), but hear me out. My commute has one measly hill on it, just a couple blocks long, but on my winter 38x17 gear, I'm usually spinning like a gerbil on crack coming down that thing in the morning. Since I'm not terribly mindful of my maintenance in the winter, my chain has developed a little bit of slack. This morning, right when I'd hit terminal velocity, I hit a bump, the chain bounced just right, and there was a symphony of drivetrain noise that could only mean one thing: Thrown chain.

With my brake, I just slowed to a stop, put the chain on, and kept going. Without it, I would have been forced to either...

  1. Jam my shoe into the studded tire, probably ruining both (assuming I could think fast enough to execute this maneuver on ice without crashing, of course),
  2. Veer off the road into a crusty snowdrift, probably knocking my loose shoulder out of the socket (and definitely getting a chorus of jeers from the kids waiting for the school bus), or
  3. Keep coasting and hope that my momentum ran out before I got to the next busy intersection.
Given those alternatives, I'll choose "brake" every time, even if it makes me some kind of fixed-gear poser wimp.


john said...

I'm with on the brakes thing. In my case, I have two for my fixed Surly. Sometimes the terrain calls for 'em.

Steve Fuller said...

Bikes without brakes belong on the track.

Jason T. Nunemaker said...

John, that is one fine-looking Surly. If my Gordon ever died (perish the thought), I'd probably go with a Cross Check so I could do fixed in the winter.

Looks like you have some big tires in there, and unless I'm seeing things, you could probably still fit fenders... assuming it ever rained in Arizona. :-)

john said...

Thanks, Jason. They are WTB Interwolfs (would Interwolves be more appropriate?) in a 32mm. Not a bad do-it-all tire for AZ. Yeah, every time I think of going with some fenders, I suddenly don't require them.