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How to Stop A Fixed Gear Bike (Easily & Safely)

No breaks? No problem. This article will teach you how to properly stop a fixed gear, single-speed, and track bike with and without brakes.

Blue fixed gear bike with no front brakes. Source: Unsplash.
Blue fixed gear bike with no front brakes. Source: Unsplash.

If you are new to the fixie game, you may have heard that stopping can be difficult, and it is. If you don’t know how to stop properly, you can seriously damage your bike and, most importantly, yourself. So, let’s take a moment and answer the question: how do you stop on a fixed-gear bike?

To stop on a fixed-gear bike, slow down your pedaling cadence and slowly apply pressure to your front brake. If you squeeze too hard, you risk locking the front wheel and flying over the handlebars. If you don’t use brakes, you will need to slow your cadence or do a skid-stop to slow down.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in this article, you will learn how to stop a fixed-gear bike with and without brakes.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 16, 2022, to include more information about single-speed and fixed-gear bikes.

Before we learn how to stop a fixed-gear bike, we should first choose whether we should ride with or without brakes.

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Should you ride with or without brakes?

I recognize that some fixed gear purists argue that brakeless is the way to go. However, there is undoubtedly a pleasure provided by a brakeless bike, and some riders have perfected this riding style and are very capable. 

However, since brakeless bikes are illegal in several cities worldwide, I always recommend having at least one brake* on your bike.

You can remove it later if you want to go brakeless for whatever reason.

How to stop a fixed-gear bike with brakes?

To slow down or stop on a fixed gear bike with front or rear brakes, pull on the hand brakes slowly. Do not abruptly stop pedaling; you must continue to pedal in a fixed-gear bike even as you brake.

Press back slightly on the pedals to provide a slight resistance while squeezing the front brake. Back-pedaling pressure should be supplementary; the primary stopping power should come from the hand brakes. Be ready to take your legs out of your toe cages or pedal straps to stay upright when coming to a complete stop.

If you don’t have pedal straps, below are a few great options worth considering.

Most fixed-gear bikes use one front brake located on the front wheel, which is a legal requirement in most counties and municipalities. You can also install a back brake to improve stopping power.

Stopping a fixed-gear without brakes is a little more complicated.

Image of a bike s rear wheel caliper brakes. Source: Viktor Bystrov
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An image of a bike’s rear wheel and rear brake. Source: Viktor Bystrov, Unsplash.

How to stop on a fixie without brakes

If you want to ride your fixie on a public road, ensure it has a front-wheel hand brake. You’ll have trouble defending yourself if you cause an accident.

The only way to stop a fixed gear bike without a hand brake is by locking out the back wheel and going into a skid-stopSlow the bike down using your legs, then abruptly reverse direction and skid your rear tire to get the desired effect.

The bike will slow down more quickly before getting into a skid if you lean forward a little while doing this. So I don’t recommend it for safety reasons (but it does look cool AF).

Stopping with your foot on the front wheel or between the rear wheel and seat tube is a method some people use to stop, but I don’t recommend this. It will ruin your shoes, and (it does not look cool AF). Also, if you apply too much pressure, you might lock the front wheel, your shoelace might get caught in there, and you’ll fly over the bars. Ouch. Please don’t do this, please.

Is it hard to stop on a fixed-gear bike?

Stopping on a fixed-gear bike might be challenging, especially if you’re not used to it, but it gets easier with experience.

How to stop on a track bike

track bike is like a fixed gear bike, without brakes, not even the front one. Instead, the locking mechanism on the rear wheel is usually the only braking system on a track bike.

When riding in a velodrome, you won’t have to worry about traffic lights or automobiles since you’ll be going around in circles at high speed. However, this also means that it’s not safe to make sudden stops. So, to stop, gradually reduce your speed to avoid losing control of the bike. Then, continue pedaling, but as your cadence drops, the bike will eventually stop on its own.

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What do you do if your bike brakes fail downhill?

If your bike brakes fail downhill, slow down your cadence to bring the bike to a complete stop as soon as feasible. Attempting to completely stop the bike may be riskier than slowing down. If that does not work, try riding in a zig-zag pattern until you slow down enough to get off the bike. 

Are you looking for more advice? Watch this video called “How to Stop Your Fixie” from the Pure Cycles YouTube Channel.

A video called “How to Stop Your Fixie” from the Pure Cycles YouTube Channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions about stopping a fixed-gear bike.

How do you stop the fixed gear bike?

Stopping on a fixie is similar to stopping on any other bike. Pull on the hand brake until the bike slows sufficiently for you to place your foot on the ground and bring it to a complete stop. Stopping a fixie without brakes is more complicated.

What happens if you stop pedaling on a fixed gear?

When you stop pedaling on a fixed-gear bike, your legs rest, but the pedals keep turning. With foot retention, the pedals gently but forcefully push and tug at your feet. You can fight their movement, which will, in turn, slow you down.

What is the safest way to brake on a bike?

When you need to slow down, use both front and rear brakes simultaneously and with just the proper amount of pressure. This implies that the front brake is applied first, followed by the rear brake less than a second later. On a fixie, do the same, but instead of pressing on the rear brake lever, you will slow down or halt your cadence.

Conclusion

Stopping your fixed-gear bike can be difficult, especially if you are new to riding, but now that you know the proper techniques, you should feel more comfortable on the road.

This article covered how to stop a fixie with and without brakes. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • To stop on a single-speed bike, simply use the hand brakes.
  • To stop a fixie bike with one brake, gently press the brake lever while slowing down your cadence, and lower your cadence as necessary to make a safe stop.
  • You can also skid stop on a fixie if you need to slow or stop the bike.
  • To stop on a fixed gear or track bike with no hand brakes, skid-stop (safely).
  • Do not use your foot to stop the front wheel.
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So, are you riding fixed with no brakes, or are you on the safe side? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

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Written by Bradly Knight

As a native New Yorker, Bradley is no stranger to the fixed gear scene. He’s been riding fixed for over ten years. When he’s not on the bike, you can find him practicing his many hobbies including playing guitar, video production, and photography.

2 Comments

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  1. Nice article but it reads like you hammered it out to meet a deadline. The conclusion is full of typos and hurts your credibility.

    A bit more info on how to do a slide would be great.

    Thanks

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