Re: [CR] riding fixed without brakes

(Example: History)

Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2009 10:28:16 -0700
From: "David Boston" <>
To: <>
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] riding fixed without brakes

 Of course you would never want to skid a front tire while riding.  But that's not what the law says, is it.  All front brakes are capable of skidding the tire  if you roll the bike backwards.  Seems the law is written to ensure the power of  the mechanism rather than practical use.

 Dave Boston
 Tucson  AZ  USA

--- On Wed, 10/14/09, sandranian wrote:

From: sandranian <> Subject: Re: [CR] riding fixed without brakes To: "Charles Andrews" <>, "George Hollenberg" <> Cc: "Classic Rendezvous" <> Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 1:42 PM

In California, state law only requires that the bike be able to "skid", which is odd, because it does not require that the bike be able to "stop". California Vehicle Code Sec. 21201(a) states that "No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement."

While that appears to clearly require a mechanical brake, fixed gear fans have argued that the statute does not, in fact, require a hand-lever or other "mechanical" brake. The term "a brake", they argue, can be either (1) mechanical or (2) a technique by operation of the rider himself, i.e. a hand or by locking the back wheel.

As an attorney, I think this argument is a loser in court, but it may depend on the judge, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear about people beating the ticket based on this argument. Interestingly, it appears by the text of the law that a front brake would not comply and would actually be illegal, as it is almost impossible to make the front wheel skid without crashing. Local ordinances may also require mechanical brakes, but the argument in the Fixie Nation is that they are not needed to comply with the law (at least in California).

Stephan Andranian Costa Mesa, California USA

Equipment                                 Requirements. VC 21201                               a) No person shall                                 operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it is equipped with a brake which will                                 enable the operator to make one braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean                                 pavement.


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--- On Wed, 10/14/09, George Hollenberg wrote:

From: George Hollenberg <> Subject: Re: [CR] riding fixed without brakes To: "Charles Andrews" <> Cc: "Classic Rendezvous" <> Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2009, 8:29 AM

The fixed-wheel fad is a counter-culture phenomenon which, like many other dumb crazes, has gotten the interest of some fools who, unable to attract attention to themselves by any other means, ride around city streets without using brakes. Some of these "fixie" riders are so stupid that they feign ignorance for the need of brakes on public streets. I think that fines, arrest and, if needed, jail time will help to correct their misconception. In any event, why the activities of these fools should occupy the band-width of Dale's great CR Forum is beyond me. I hope that this is the last we hear about it. George George Hollenberg MD CT, USA

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 10:39 AM, Charles Andrews <>wrote:
> Kevin McCaul wrote:
> "As for brakes, well all I can say is if you feel the need for them, then
> you
> probably shouldn't be riding fixed. I've seen firsthand and heard numerous
> stories of guys flying over the handlebars using them.
> Then again I'm sure there is a place for brakes in certain circumstances,
> but I can't think of one that applies to me. Let me know! You ride on the
> sidewalk only maybe?"
> ************
> I'd be interested to know just how many drivers and pedestrians you've
> terrified in all those years because of what you had to do because you had
> no brakes.  I've seen it many times: fixed riders without brakes doing stuff
> that should have got them killed, solely because they have no brakes.  And
> scaring the bejesus out of everyone around them in the process.
> The real tough-guy riders from 50 years ago always had brakes.
>  Purpose-made path-racer bikes from the time nearly always had front brakes.
>  They knew riding without brakes in traffic was simply an irresponsible
> affectation.  Had I not seen the results with my own eyes many times in
> downtown LA, and elsewhere, I would not post about this, but people riding
> without brakes give a bad name to all cyclists, regardless of the sort of
> bike you might ride.
> I've ridden fixed with brakes many times; I've never even come close to
> going over the bars.  I wouldn't do it any other way, out in traffic.
> Just as being the only rider with brakes in a group on the track is
> irresponsible and dangerous--and would never be allowed--so is riding fixed
> without brakes out in traffic.  Same concept.  If you're not using brakes
> out in traffic, you shouldn't be riding fixed.
> Charles Andrews
> Los Angeles
> "everyone has elites; the important thing is
>  to change them from time to time."
> --Joseph Schumpeter, via Simon Johnson
> _______________________________________________

-- George

George Hollenberg MD