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I'm thinking of removing a brake(front or back) to reduce weight and simplify my bike. Which brake is most expendable? Its your average fixie road bike.

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Seriously, don't remove either. Your weight savings is negligible and the reduction in safety is huge. –  Ken Hiatt Dec 6 '12 at 21:10
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Unless you are an elite athlete, why not loose the same amount as the brakes weigh in body weight. You could also go to the toilet before heading out...... –  mattnz Dec 6 '12 at 21:39
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It would be more advisable to lose weight on the rider than to try to cut weight by removing one of the brakes. You could also consider gaining weight (as in muscle) to offset the huge burden of carrying the extra brake around. Since you have a fixie, you could get rid of the back brake since you can already slow the back tire with the pedals. However, this is a bad idea. Put a back brake on there, and you can have much more freedom with your gear ratio as you don't have to be able to lock up the back wheel. On my fixie, it's impossible to stop using pedal power in a short distance at speed. –  Kibbee Dec 6 '12 at 21:40
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To the person who downvoted: If you think the question has problems (is unclear, subjective, etc) please explain why. Don't just downvote because removing one brake is a bad idea; it doesn't mean this is a bad question. –  Neil Fein Dec 7 '12 at 4:13

2 Answers 2

Keep your front brake. It does the most work, it will stop you much faster than your rear brake ever could hope to. Take a look at a motorcycle, the front brakes are always much larger than the rear. Whenever you brake, on a bicycle, motorcycle, in a car, more weight is transfered to the front wheels, so the front tire has more traction to stop you with.

That said, sit down a minute and think about what you're going to do if you remove your rear brake, and one day your front brake stops working while you're going down a hill. Right about then you'll wish you had just put up with the extra 400 grams of weight.

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Beat me to it by a few seconds. The front brake is crucial, but removing any brake for weight reasons is generally a horrible idea. Fixie riders can get away with a single brake because they can use the drivetrain to skid the rear wheel, but road bikes don't have that luxury. –  Stephen Touset Dec 6 '12 at 21:09
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Also, in addition to simple brake failure, having only a front brake is particularly dangerous if you're ever in a scenario when you might lock up the front wheel. Ice, wet roads, loose gravel... a rear brake is a cheap insurance policy. –  Stephen Touset Dec 6 '12 at 21:11

This is an extremely bad idea, and it may or may not be illegal where you live. It's pretty common for the law to require you to be able to lock up both wheels on flat dry pavement.

Regardless, both brakes are important, and you shouldn't remove one for something a silly as weight reduction. The contact patch on your tires is small enough already without throwing away half your stopping power.

Your rear brake will slow you without impacting your steering, while your front break is responsible for ~60% of your stopping power. However, braking with your front brake while turning sharply will usually result in loss of traction of your front wheel, causing the bike to slide out from under you, so it's crucial that you keep your rear brake.

If you're still dead set on this course, remove the rear brake, it's the less effective of the two. Some day when you're cornering and a car pulls out in front of you, and your options are to brake and slide out or hit the car, you'll regret not having both brakes.

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Giving a percentage for stopping power in this way is misleading. In practice, the brakes provide stopping power in proportion to how hard you pull each the lever, with the rear brake tailing off to zero stopping power as the front brake is pulled harder. The rear brake may be capable of providing 60% of the stopping power (I'm not sure about the number) of the front, but due to weight transfer, the stopping power isn't simply additive. –  Stephen Touset Dec 6 '12 at 22:25
    
I wouldn't recommend this on a bike that wasn't a fixed gear bike. However, If the rider is proficient in using the drivetrain to slow and lock the rear wheel to skid brake, then I think this is fine. If the rider isn't very good at these skills, then I would recommend leaving both brakes on the bike. –  Benzo Dec 7 '12 at 15:45
    
Also, for a fixed gear bike, basically the drivetrain becomes a substitute for the rear brake, allowing you to use resistance on the cranks to supplement the braking power of the front brake. However, many fixed riders only keep a front brake for emergency situations or steep hills and rely almost exclusively on their control over the drivetrain and rear wheel for braking. –  Benzo Dec 7 '12 at 15:54

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