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How to Stop A Fixed Gear Bike (Easily & Safely)

Stopping properly, starts now.

Blue fixed gear bike with no front brakes.
Blue fixed gear bike with no front brakes. Source: Unsplash.

If you are new to the fixie game, you hear that stopping can be difficult, and it is. If you don’t know how to properly stop, you can seriously do damage to your bike and, most importantly, yourself. So, let’s take a moment and answer the question: How do you stop on a fixed gear bike?

To stop on a fixed gear bike, slow down your pedaling cadence, and slowly apply pressure to your front brake. If you squeeze too hard, you risk locking the front wheel and flying over the handlebars. If you don’t use brakes, you will need to slow your cadence or do a skid-stop to slow down.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn how to stop a fixed gear bike with and without brakes.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on October 19, 2021, to include additional information regarding fixed gear and single-speed bikes.

Should you ride with or without brakes?

I recognize that some fixed gear purists would argue that brakeless is the way to go. There is undoubtedly a pleasure provided by a brakeless bike, and some riders have perfected this riding style and are very capable. 

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However, since brakeless bikes are illegal in a number of cities worldwide, I always recommend having at least one brake on your bike at all times.

You can also just remove it later if you really want to go brakeless for whatever reason.

How to stop a fixed gear bike with brakes

To slow down or stop on a fixed gear bike with front or rear brakes, pull on the hand brakes slowly. Do not suddenly stop pedaling; you need to maintain peddling on a fixed gear, even as you brake.

Press back slightly on the pedals to provide a little resistance while squeezing the front brake. Applying back-pedaling pressure should be supplementary; the primary stopping power should come from the hand brakes. Be ready to take your legs out of your toe cages or pedal straps to stay upright when coming to a complete stop.

If you don’t have pedal straps, below are a few great options worth considering.

Most fixed gear bikes use one front brake located on the front wheel, which is a legal requirement in most counties and municipalities. You can also install a back brake to improve stopping power.

Stopping on a fixed gear without brakes is a little more difficult.

Bike rear wheel and rear brake. Source: Viktor Bystrov, Unsplash.
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Bike rear wheel and rear brake. Source: Viktor Bystrov, Unsplash.

How to Stop on a fixie without brakes

If you want to ride your fixie on a public road, make sure it has a front-wheel hand brake. You’ll have trouble defending yourself if you cause an accident.

The only way to stop a fixed gear bike without a hand brake is by locking out the back wheel and going into a skid-stop. Slow the bike down using your legs, then abruptly reverse direction and skid your rear tire to get the desired effect.

The bike will slow down more quickly before getting into a skid if you lean forward a little bit while doing this. I don’t recommend it for safety (but it does look cool AF).

Stopping with your foot on the front wheel or between the rear wheel and seat tube is a method some people use to stop, but I definitely don’t recommend this. It will ruin your shoes, and it does not look cool AF). Not to mention that if you apply too much pressure, you might lock the front wheel, maybe your shoelace gets caught in there, and you’ll go flying over the bars. Ouch. Yea doesn’t do this, please.

How to stop on a track bike

A track bike is like a fixed gear bike, without any brakes, not even the front one. The locking mechanism on the rear wheel is usually the only braking system on a track bike.

When riding in a velodrome, you won’t have to worry about traffic lights or automobiles since you’ll be going around in circles at high speed. This also means that it’s not safe to make sudden stops. So, to stop, gradually reduce your speed to avoid losing control of the bike. Continue pedaling, but as your cadence drops, the bike will eventually come to a stop on its own.

A video called How to Stop Your Fixie from Pure Cycles YouTube Channel.

Conclusion

Stopping your fixed gear bike can be difficult, especially if you are new to riding, but now that you know the proper techniques, you should feel more comfortable on the road.

In this article, we covered how to stop a fixed gear bike with and without brakes. Here are some key takeaways:

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Key takeaways

  • To stop on a single speed bike, simply use the hand brakes
  • To stop a fixed gear bike with one brake, gently press the hand brakes while slowing down your cadence, low down your cadence as nessesarry to aake a safe stop
  • To stop on a fixe dgear or track bike with no hand brakes, skid-stop (safely)
  • do not use your foot to stop the front wheel
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So, are you riding fixed with no brakes, or are you on the safe side? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

2 Comments

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  1. Nice article but it reads like you hammered it out to meet a deadline. The conclusion is full of typos and hurts your credibility.

    A bit more info on how to do a slide would be great.

    Thanks

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