I have a Pure Fix fixed gear bike. I've been riding it in single speed mode for a while but recently decided to flip the wheel and make it a fixed gear.

My problem is that when I try to stop moving my feet on the pedals, the bike wants to keep moving forward. Like the momentum of the movement is causing it to be extremely hard to stop. The wheel doesn't just stop, and the pedals push back against my feet. That means I'm having to put a great deal of force on the pedals in order for it to just slow down!

Aren't fixed gears supposed to do exactly what your feet do? I used to have an old bike a long time ago and it was really easy to stop the tires from turning, making skidding or braking a breeze.

  • Any idea what your forward speed is? And approximately how much do you and your bike weigh?
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:40
  • 10
    That is what fixed gear does. Maybe you should go back to single speed mode.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:56
  • 3
    Uh, that's the way it works. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 12:31
  • 5
    Newton's first law of motion
    – PeteH
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 14:17
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    Thanks everybody for the help and information. I guess it was a simple answer that I had just not fully understood. Thank you everyone who took the time out to answer and explain why, even though it seems like it was common sense to most of you guys. It was really helpful :) Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 16:12

3 Answers 3


Braking with the chain on a fixed gear is unlike any other manoeuvre in riding a bike, because as you slow down, your momentum change unweights the rear wheel, making your actions less effective. To stop a fixed wheel bike, you have to be going relatively slowly, and put your body weight into resisting the pedal. Its almost like pulling the front wheel up. Idea is to get more pressure on the back wheel so it grips.

Personally, I've used the front brake properly all my life, and back wheel stop makes me think of preschoolers stopping their direct-drive bigwheel tricycles.

Are you expecting the bike to stop like a BMX or something else with a coaster brake, where pedalling backwards activates a brake inside the rear wheel's hub?

My opinion is that brakes are not optional equipment on any bike.

  • 1
    I guess that's what I was thinking it should've done. Thank you for your comment, it was very helpful and informative. I still plan on using my front brake of course. Haha safety first. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 9:04

That bicycle you had long time ago had rear brake (actuated by pedals turning backwards), the one you have now has no rear brake and you have to fight force of inertia with your feet to stop it. One might be tempted to add that this is the exact reason why brakes were invented and added as standard equipment to bicycles.

  • But i've seen many videos online and even in person of people without brakes easily turning the pedal backwards and the rear tire stops completely. So, I'm pretty sure mines should do that too, but thanks for taking the time to answer and for the feedback, much appreciated. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 7:43
  • On a fixed gear bike pedaling backwards would make the back wheel turn backwards not stop. You have to put more effort into stopping than you would starting from a dead stop. Have a look at track cyclists effort at the start to get their bikes going for an exaggerated effect.
    – Mauro
    Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 8:58

It's down to the gear ratio too, I used to ride 48 or 50/ 18 or 19 something like that. Top end speed was important to me so I ran a front brake as I could not lock my legs on these ratios

Guys I knew did the no brake thing and ram much lower gear ratios, but subsequently were much more spinney when flat out. ..

20 at the back was largest commonly available....stick a 42 or 40 on the front, see how you get on!

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