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I broke my back brake lever, and I want to use only one brake, which should I use the front or the back?

  • Can you please expand on how you broke your lever? Was it a crash or did it get pulled hard? Are they cable brakes or hydraulic? Do you have rim brakes or disk brakes? – Criggie Apr 17 '17 at 10:48
  • @Criggie it was a crash, cable brakes and i have v-brakes – sticsk Apr 17 '17 at 16:04
  • To break a brake lever in a crash means it was pretty significant. I'd get the bike into a shop for a full check over, and to replace both brake levers because they shouldn't break for anything less than a bike-destroying prang. – Criggie Apr 18 '17 at 1:49
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    @Criggie I broke a brake lever a few years ago. It was a basic aluminium lever. The crash wasn't super brutal, me and the bike were fine, but the lever was pushed hard against the pavement, got bent, and finally broke. – njzk2 Apr 18 '17 at 17:01
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Common consensus is that the front brake is capable of providing a lot more stopping force compared to the back brake.

So if it was a choice between front and back, I'd choose the front brake.


In reality, your bike needs some maintenance. If you're competent with tools then you can do this yourself, otherwise you're up for shop labour costs.

I would strongly suggest replacing both brake levers, even though only one is broken. Its probable they are the same brand and the other one could suffer the same breakage.

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    If the cause isn't obviously single-sided (severe accidental damage of some sort) then changing both seems like a very good idea. Even then if the impact was reasonable for a riding incident replacement would be sensible. – Chris H Apr 17 '17 at 15:18
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    V-brake levers are usually sold in pairs, anyway. – Mike Baranczak Apr 17 '17 at 19:44
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If it's to get you home or to the bike shop, use the one that works and ride cautiously. You may have to walk down some things. Trying to fiddle with it at the side of the road or trail is risky - you don't want to lose a screw. If you're considering long term use it's a bad idea to run only one brake in most situations, especially as you know the ones you've got are prone to failure.

As you're taking about full suspension I assume you mainly use it off road. I'm not a mountain biking expert by any means, but on loose surfaces you don't have much stopping power from the back as a side is both easy and ineffective. On the other hand a light touch on the back brake is very useful, and overheating can be an issue on a single brake. On road you have the same effect to a lesser extent but the consequences of your second brake failing can be more severe (an uncontrolled meeting with fast-moving traffic).

  • I will buy another brake soon but i want to know for now which brake should i use the most – sticsk Apr 17 '17 at 8:20
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I would generally agree with what has been posted, but I will add a caveat about where you are riding, and respectfully disagree with user32345. On loose surfaces, the rear brake is usually better, and on ice definitely so, but on pavement the front brake is the only one that makes sense. In hard braking the weight shifts significantly forward, and it then takes very little rear braking for the rear wheel to break contact with the surface, and when that happens with a rear brake only you have no brakes at all. A need for hard braking usually means that something bad is about to happen. On loose ground you can juke the bike and slide selectively to shed speed, but that isn't likely to work on pavement unless you are an expert.

I fully agree with user32345 that the most sensible thing is to get both brakes in working order, and soon.

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    It is impossible to lift the back wheel off the ground by braking with the back wheel alone, since there is zero braking force once it's lifted. And if your back wheel is skidding, it's still providing some braking force, since there's more friction than the rolling wheel would provide. – David Richerby Apr 24 '17 at 10:53
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To simply answer the question. "Which brake should you use if you only have ONE:" YOU SHOULD USE THE BACK BRAKE. Its easier to fade in and out and you will have better control while braking, especially on rough terrain/ loose surfaces.

With that cleared you should get both your brakes back in order as fast as possible!

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