Are Brakes for Flakes?
13.10.05 by Buffalo Bill
Are Brakes for Flakes? Or does no front brake = no f***ing brains?
The law requires pedal cycles with a saddle height over 635mm to have two independent braking systems with one acting on the front wheel(s) and one on the rear (Pedal Cycles Construction and Use Regulations 1983 and section 81 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). London couriers have been riding fixed wheel since messenger Year Zero (1983). Up until around 5 years ago, we always always rode with a front brake. However, a substantial minority now ride without a front brake. My own views on this are in the public record, but in the interests of even-handed debate, MT asked 2 experienced fixie riders from either side to contribute. Both these riders are now participating in the Moving Target Witness Protection Programme. Names have been changed to incriminate the innocent.
Brakes by Winston
Riding fixed wheel bikes without brakes in London has become an emotive subject. I am 100% for all London fixies riding with a front brake and here’s why:
You often hear of claims that some rider’s skill level on a fixed wheel bike is so high that they can stop in the same distance as a regular bike – well this may or may not be true, but however quickly you can stop, if you bolt a brake on to your bike you will be able to stop quicker!
As we couriers are paid piece-rate, the speed we can ride can massively affect our earnings; brakeless riders, knowing their ability to stop is not as good, ride slower…..I’m sure there will be many people who deny this but it’s a fact. We’ve all got a good idea who the fastest riders and top earners are in London and they all use brakes.
As a generally left leaning / socialist kind of person, I don’t just believe in the government looking after us as best it can, but also in having some kind of social / communal conscience. There are other more vulnerable people than you out there – Which leads me to:
Is being a courier is an athletic / image lifestyle choice for some, not that different from being a surf bum maybe? I have limited experience in three sports: competitive cycling, surfing and snowboarding. When you sign on for a race, head for the slopes or paddle out you can be sure that everyone else on the track, mountain or in the line-up are there knowing that their chosen pursuit is dangerous. They are all taking a shared and joint risk or they wouldn’t be there.
The street, the courier’s playing field isn’t like this. Pensioners, children, disabled people etc. have not agreed to share in YOUR risk but if you ride brakeless you are making them without asking.
By this I don’t just mean: ‘it’s naughty so don’t do it’, I’m talking about liability……
Consider the following (highly possible in London) scenarios:
A black cab / white van/HGV runs you over, it’s completely his fault. You’re injured, your bike’s broken – you think you might get compensation totalling your lost earnings and a new bike at least? If the driver or the cop spots you’ve got no brakes: that’s “contributory negligence”. You may not get a penny and that driver will be free to go and run someone else over without having received a single point on his licence.
You’re riding casually along Oxford Street when one of those idiot parents decides to use their child in a pushchair as a “traffic tester”. There’s an impact, you feel terrible, it’s not your fault and the policeman spots you’ve got no brakes…. Think about the consequences….
Well that’s it, except to say, if you do want to ride fast and brakeless with a bunch of people who enjoy it as much as you do and are more than happy to share your risk then see you down the track on Saturdays!
No Brakes by Jedi
This ones for the masses! yerr yerr what ever!
WHY NOT DRINK AND DRIVE
Dirty Donna in the house.
so to start, let it be known i never asked to write this, it was asked of me, if i would, init?!
so i agreed.
like a woman with no make up, bikes with out the brakes rub me up. “elegant and sexy” the way it should be.
It’s true i ride a brake-less bicycle. though the question that haunts me is, WHY THE CONTROVERSY! A lot of people seem to be getting by rather fine without them the whole world over, thru and thru the globe, complete which says enough in it’s self, one would believe.
IF THIS IS TO BE ARGUMENT,OF BRAKES VERSUS NO BRAKES, THEN I FEEL, IT’S ONE WHICH CAN’T BE ONE!
so why do it?
cause it’s fun…..and fun is FOLLLOW.UNDER.NONE
and that should speak loud enough for it’s self.
this is not to encourage, riding brakeless.
bikes should be a personal and enjoyable discipline and one should be able to ride as they choose with out being persecuted.
For this kind of behaviour to be viewed as a hard-core, macho, testosterone driven act, is not fair!
It’s quite the opposite, it’s a graceful expression of ones self and the ability to flow with the surroundings, which in turn inspires a better understanding of ones own.
If you choose to take this path, allow politeness to be your best ally and remember a good sense of humour is priceless.
If you think it’s dangerous – don’t do it: simple!
Action movie with messenger as central character
Win a copy of Fixed book
Catch-up: HoP blames me for everything, Frankencat 30th October, Cyclodelic at White Nights, Fixed book
The next big thing - fixies without handlebars
Latest news from Berlin - bring a brake!
Fixed Mag #3 launch Thursday 30th
God hates tyres - coming soon!
Fixie nonsense from Israel, hipster defined, Vanilla praised