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I am new to cycling. I just brought a new single speed fixie, Takara Sugiyama. It's for commuting (commute include hills). When I went down a hill, the rim brakes couldn't stop the bike at all. It was basically out of control and I had to force myself to stop the bike. I've heard of bedding in brakes on a new bike, but most articles seem to only talk about disc brakes.

I'm not sure why my brakes are so weak?


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From https://www.amazon.com/Takara-Sugiyama-Flat-Fixie-Bike/dp/B0061NVB80

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  • How high are your climbs? Are you in single speed or fixed gear mode? Are you dragging the brakes all the way down the climb and risking overheat, or are you pulsing the brakes?
    – Criggie
    Aug 16 at 10:58
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    Was it raining? Are the rims steel or aluminium? Water on steel rims is a lethal combination... Aug 16 at 13:44
  • I was on single speed mode. Since the bike was going downhill quickly, I was pulsing the brakes. That didn't seem to slow down the speed whatsoever.
    – Fred
    Aug 16 at 14:10
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    Probably poor quality brake pads. Aug 16 at 14:40
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    Show us a video close up of what happens when you activate the brake. Show us the handlebars (as you slowly squeeze the brake lever, tell us when the brake pads first contact the wheel on both sides), the wheel end (show us what happens as you squeeze the lever all the way from "not squeezed" to "squeezed so hard you think your fingers will fall off", and show us what happens why you try to push the bike along while squeezing the brake levers hard. Squeeze one at a time
    – Caius Jard
    Aug 17 at 14:52
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Based on the specs on the Amazon page, its a low-end bike with cost-conscious components.

A quick google returns reviews like https://www.bikeride.com/takara-sugiyama/ that say things like "brakes are underpowered" suggests it is an endemic problem with this bike.

Some cheap/no-cost things you can try:

  • Clean the brake pad's surface - pick out any fragments of metal especially, and remove grit. There may be some valleys that help cleaning, clean them out too. Two pads in each caliper for a total of 4.
  • Scuff the pads - if the braking surface is glazed and hardened then it won't grip well.
  • Align the brake pads properly with the rim. They should not hang off the edge and must not contact the tyre, but higher on the rim will provide better leverage.
  • Clean the rims. It is possible there are contaminants from manufacturing, or road salt/grit on the surface. Warm water with a little detergent helps, then rinse well with cold.
  • Check the gaps - presuming the wheels are true, there should be minimal gap between the pads and the rim at all times, just enough to let the rim pass through without rubbing. This is adjusted by altering the barrel ad the top of each caliper, and another one on the end of each brake lever.

Things to try that cost money:

  • NEW BRAKE PADS is the single best thing you can to do improve brake performance. I personally prefer Kool Stop, which are excellent. Cheap brake pads are no good at all.

  • Replace the levers with metal ones. From the look of the photo, the levers are plastic, and will have flex.

  • Replace the calipers - they appear to be stamped metal. These would be fine on a child's bike, but not stopping an adult going down a hill at speed.

  • Replace the rims - if they're slippery then a light scuff may help tooth the brake track, but ultimately you need more friction.

Another serious point is Method - if you're not using the front brake, then you're not braking efficiently. The most braking you can get out of a bike is "as much front brake as possible until the rear wheel starts to slide"

If you're only using the rear brake, change your method.

If you are worried about going Over The Bars, learn to shift your weight backward when braking hard. Lock your elbows, lower your head, and stick your butt back like you're mooning the rider behind you. This lets you brake more and harder.


Smittay raises a good point. You could spend much more on making this bike work better than it would cost to buy a bike with better components.

This trendy fixie can be on-sold to offset the cost of a better bike that is more-capable of hills, to someone who only wants to putter 300 metres down a flat road to a coffee shop.

Next time you buy a bike, get a test ride in before committing. I suspect you bought this bike sight-unseen, which is always a gamble.

If you're truly committed to making this bike better, its going to cost money and you'll need to get your hands dirty. If you feel uncomfortable with tools and expect a bike mechanic to do the work, then the cost equation blows out very quickly.

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    New kool stop pads would run only about $10/wheel and I suspect would make an enormous difference.
    – Armand
    Aug 16 at 11:11
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    @ojs I think so - the point made was that for someone new to cycling, commuting with climbs on a fixie is perhaps a hard start. It seems likely that this bike can't descend safely either as new, so the bike is not suitable for OP's needs. I don't want to put OP off riding - the bike will likely do that itself.
    – Criggie
    Aug 16 at 11:11
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    In the product pictures on ama(teur)zon the front brake pads are clearly mounted upside down which is rather revealing on the quality of that BSO.
    – Carel
    Aug 16 at 11:47
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    @Carel makes an important point. It is likely that the bike is not properly set up out of the box in a lot of ways, and there may be other parts (headset, bottom bracket, pedals) that need to be tightened or adjusted as well.
    – Adam Rice
    Aug 16 at 14:16
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    First thing I did on my cheap steel fixie/single: replace those brakes stamped out of tin foil with proper mid-reach Shimano brakes and koolstop salmon pads. That did cost 25% of the price of the bike but without the bike was 100% less useful.
    – gschenk
    Aug 16 at 20:09
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Although Criggie's answer contains everything I would normally suggest, I want to address the "single speed fixie" thing.

The bike comes with a flip-flop hub. Depending on how you set it up, it is either fixed-gear, or singlespeed. It can't be both at once.

If you have the chain on the freewheel, then it's singlespeed, and you need to fix those brakes.

If you have the chain on the fixed cog, then it's fixed-gear, and ... well, you still need to fix those brakes. But you can also learn to control your speed with back-pressure, and to brake (if not very quickly) by skidding the back wheel.

Get some foot retention though - those pedals will wreck your calves and ankles if you lose your footing.

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Here's a video that may give you some ideas on stopping on a fixie.

My apologies for some of the less helpful responses here. The blue tires do look cool in the photo.

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