I have a lovely easy adult trike and I use it all the time. Now the thing is because it's a trike, it only has front brakes.

Well on the 14th Feb I was riding to my local charity, got to the hill and was riding it down when Twang the brake wire snapped and I desperately tried the other front brake this was gone too ... now this path leads on to a very busy road, with the two chicanes with metal fences ... with both brakes gone. I had no choice but to run into the second fence, a silver metal bar type.

Sorry about this long question is there any way I can add a brake to the two rear wheels of my trike to stop this happen again?

If this can't be done can I stop myself any other way? .....

Update on this question. The brakes have been fixed for now... Tires are pumped up and I am oiling the Chain drive....Have to check the information provided. Thanks please continue to answer the above question. Just bare in mind I am new...sorry if finding an answer takes a long time.. I like to look at all options.

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    A better question to ask would by why did two brakes fail simultaneously. Even poorly maintained brakes hardly ever fail, so two simultaneous failures is statistically improbable (Like being hit by lightening twice, on the same day), or poor maintenance.
    – mattnz
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 20:27
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    Wait, did you write that you have single front wheel with two brakes? How did you end up with this design?
    – ojs
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 20:55
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    @Chris - That is what I suspect, if so, it clearly fits into the poor maintenance cause.
    – mattnz
    Commented Feb 16, 2017 at 22:14
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    @ojs It's fairly common on trikes, I think. The main reason is that there's nowhere to mount a rim brake on the rear wheel (there's no brake bridge). In order to make use of both brake levers, a second caliper is mounted on the fork (e.g., like this). This is OK, I think, because trikes are more stable and it's very unlikely that the rear wheels will lift off the ground :-) Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 12:24
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    @ojs -- I'm thinking I have seen such a trike. Looking at it, I guessed that the dual front brakes were present to meet the legal requirement for redundancy, without the complexities of braking both back wheels evenly. Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 19:13

5 Answers 5


Answering for completeness:

Don't get in this situation and Prevention is better than cure

You should have picked up that the brakes were not as good as they were by feel (poor braking) or on visual inspection noticed that the inner cables were starting to fray.

Most bikes have two independent brakes. For yours to both fail at the same time is quite unlikely.

And even if you did successfully add a rear brake, a continuous lack of maintenance may leave that in as bad a state as the other two brakes,

A basic M check should be done weekly.

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As everyone has said, it's true that basic maintenance should keep this situation from ever occurring. So just to be clear, the practical answer is probably have a shop get the front brakes set up properly again for you. But to actually answer the question:

Most trikes can't take any kind of rim brake on the rear wheels, so that's out. However, there are a couple different schemes that trike drivetrains employ, and some of them do give you the option of adding a hub brake. If the chain coming off your cranks attaches to a modified conventional rear hub that then has another chain coming off it to drive the back axle, then that hub may be replaceable with a coaster brake hub. You'd have to get one that's modified to have a cog attached to it, but companies that make trikes with this kind of drivetrain arrangement do sell them aftermarket. (Most trikes like this come with coaster brakes anyway though, so this is kind of a long shot.) Here's a picture of how this kind of trike drivetrain works: tristar If your trike has derailer gearing, which is a potential reason there's no rear coaster brake already, then if you added a coaster you'd have to give it up, and you'd also have to make sure the chain could still be tensioned acceptably. There also has to be something to attach the hub's reaction arm to.

Some trikes with this design also have disc mounts, so you could use a disc hub and keep your derailers: Sun EZ-Tri

If your trike is of a type where the chain drives the rear axle directly, there's probably no way of adding a brake in back.

  • It may be possible to mount a rotor directly onto the rear axle, and a caliper somewhere suitable. However it will involve fabrication and probably welding, so its unlikely to be within range of the simple home workshop.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 21:17

This should probably be a comment, posting as an answer since i don't have enough reputation and since it is too long for a comment anyway

I had borrowed a friend's bike for a quick ride to the grocery store last evening but decided to take a longer joy ride

I was on a downhill at a good speed when I realized both brakes were barely effective

I quickly pulled my handkerchief, folded/rolled it as best as i could with one hand, held it on my fingers and pulled it hard against the rear wheel rim (simulating a rim brake's one arm/pad)

I came to a stop in a couple of seconds/few meters distance

This was on a busy road, with the usual assortment of chaotic Indian traffic,a crash would have been quite a wreck

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    Good work! One could also put a shoe of the wheel.
    – andy256
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:36
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    Always do a basic quick-check on a borrowed bike. Finding the brakes are poor or the brake levers are reversed is something you do before departing, not when you need them.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:38
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    @andy256 yes - a shoe on top of the front wheel is workable. Behind the front wheel risks sucking your foot into the fork/spokes, and there may be a mudguard in the way. The rear wheel on a bicycle is too far away. The rear wheels on a trike may be more reachable.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:40
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    @Criggie, the mistake i did was that i did not try pulling the levers hard enough in my pre-ride checks. They simply bottomed-out, when i need them the most. The cable slipped out of the tightening nut. So yes, check and check thoroughly before going on a ride Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 3:52
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    @KiranKulkarni Yes, especially when you haven't ridden it before :-)
    – andy256
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 4:01
  1. Drag your foot (shoe) on the ground, the more weight you apply on the foot the faster you will stop. Just make sure your leg is behind the pedal or you will risk leg injuries (ex. broken leg).

  2. Drag your foot (shoe) on the tire. Make sure the rotating wheel can't pinch your foot somewhere in between the bike frame and wheel / spokes.

  3. As a last resort: jump off! The injuries you will sustain from the fall will be far less than what you can expect by getting hit by a car.


You didn't say it was a recumbent, so I'm going to assume it is just a rear-wheel drive version of the trikes we rode before we got a 2-wheeler. So, this is how I stop mine if there is a brake problem or if I can't get my hand up there quickly enough (carrying packages or kiddies)

Really simple--I put my foot on the top of the front wheel just behind the front fork (my trike is one in front and two in rear) If you have a fender mounted up front, you may have to press the fender into the wheel from a littler further from the top of the fork and with more of a side-side action.

If you have a 2-in front and one in rear setup... it will need fenders for this trick to work... or if the trike's construction allows... put your foot into the rear wheel towards the [trike's equivalent] of the chain-stay.

  • 1
    If you are carrying things that stop you reaching the brakes, you are not cycling safely. I'm frankly appalled that you'd carry children on your bike in a way that means you can't safely stop. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 1:31

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