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  1. #1
    bigger is better ...
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    Contentious question - Do I really need rear brakes?

    I was just thinking about my brakes on the ride home tonite, and it occurs to me I almost never use the rear brakes. And when I do use them, it's mostly so they don't feel left out.

    So do I really need them? I mainly ride in an urban setting, streets/curbs/parks etc.

    Just a thought
    2010 XTC 29-1

  2. #2
    local trails rider
    Reputation: perttime's Avatar
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    Depends (doesn't almost everything?)

    - on slippery or loose surfaces, having only a front brake would worry me. In your context, maybe loose gravel in the park or debris on the pavement. Maybe even wet pavement.
    - it is nice to have a back-up, even if brakes rarely fail

  3. #3
    ...idios...
    Reputation: SteveUK's Avatar
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    You've answered your own question. If you don't use something it's probably fair to say that you don't need it. If you ever start riding trails, then you'll find how a rear brake is important for balance and stability. Horses for courses, as "they" say...

    If you're riding streets, though, don't you use your rear brake if you have to slow down when signalling for traffic?
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    What luck for rulers, that men do not think - Adolf Hitler

  4. #4
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    You will need them the moment your front brakes fail. It may never happen but you will be very happy to have rear brakes if it does.

  5. #5
    Underskilled
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    +1 on what minimalist said.
    Nothing as scary as blasting towards a junction with a snapped brake cable. My back brake JUST stopped me in time.

    I mainly need it off road.

  6. #6
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    Learn to use your rear brake properly, then you will see the need for it.

  7. #7
    g3h6o3
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    Go fixed and remove the rear?
    Check out my SportTracks plugins for some training aid software.

  8. #8
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    I had the pad material tear off a disc pad mid ride when a tiny rock somehow got tossed up into the caliper and got jammed between the rotor. Had to do 15ish miles of low speed tech with only a front brake. It sucked.

  9. #9
    bigger is better ...
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    You guys are all correct of course, I thought this might be contentious. I will the back brake on!!
    2010 XTC 29-1

  10. #10
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    One of my riding buddys burned out his rear pads on a 26 mile ride after the first 20 miles and the last 6 were about 5000 feet of descent.

    Another on the same trail threw a pad about halfway through the next year. Even though he had a spare set of pads it took us ~20 minutes to get them in place.

    I tend to check my bike, especially the brakes before trip rides and carry a spare set of pads just in case.

  11. #11
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    I wouldn't leave home without a back brake. One DH run at Panorama with no back brakes scared the begeezus out of me.

    Also, back brakes are important for doing manuals. Or so I'm told - having never done one for more than 10 feet.

  12. #12
    blog hogs
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    Think about your next panic stop and only having a front brake.
    Ignore them till they go away.It's corporate policy.

  13. #13
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    Not having a back brake would be the same as riding with no hands on the bars,i would feel very uneasy about going out on the road if my bike was not equipped with rear and front brakes,safety should come first to yourself and other road users.

  14. #14
    Five is right out
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    You never ride on wet roads?

  15. #15
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    When I take it out on the paved bike trail for exercise I use 90% or more front brake. Off road and especially downhill I use the rear more. Even if I only rode it on pavement I would feel uneasy having only one brake.
    '08 Hardrock HRXC
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  16. #16
    Recovering couch patato
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    I can't imagine riding without a rear brake. I use it to keep the rubber side down. I like to go around corners fast, be them grippy or slippery. When I overcook it into a corner, I'll need rear brake, not front, to get my line sorted. I use minimal rear brake when I'm really hot going it. It doesn't necessarily shave speed, but aid in front wheel grip.

    That said, I have a bike with 185mm front, and just a V-brake rear. Unless you ride down alps in one go, that should suffice.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    I use minimal rear brake when I'm really hot going it. It doesn't necessarily shave speed, but aid in front wheel grip.
    How so?

  18. #18
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    It transfers weight to the front in a subtle manner, keeping the front end settled (using the front brake at that point would risk a sudden slide out). You keep the bike under control when the back brake is locked, not so when the front brake is locked.

    I only have a couple rides on my mountain bike (coming off a 12 year layoff where I rode motocross/enduro bikes instead). I'm in the middle of a mental battle regarding upgrading my front brake (from mechanical disk to hydro disk, for increased modulation) and at one point even considered simply removing the back brake - I honestly believe I don't need it.

    In the dirtbike world, the back brake is used only to maintain control - to settle the (12" of travel) suspension down. Seems to me, on MTB (except perhaps downhill, which is not something I ride), there's really no situation where skilled application of the front brake (assuming the front brake has adequate modulation) cannot provide all the braking you need.

    As for the poster who said "Imagine panic braking without a back brake", I personally never use the back brake in a panic situation....

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Learn to use your rear brake properly, then you will see the need for it.
    agreed.

    are you riding technical stuff? over reliance on front brakes = compromised steering and control.

  20. #20
    Live 2 Ride
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    It transfers weight to the front in a subtle manner, keeping the front end settled (using the front brake at that point would risk a sudden slide out). You keep the bike under control when the back brake is locked, not so when the front brake is locked.
    Proper braking technique is to avoid locking a brake.
    My Bike: '96 Gary Fisher Aquila
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    Proper braking technique is to avoid locking a brake.
    to a rider coming off a moto locking the rear briefly to turn in quicker is not uncomon

    I like haveing the option the last thing I want to be doing is trying to descend over wet roots with no rear brake with a sharp corner ahead on a moto or mtb.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    Proper braking technique is to avoid locking a brake.
    Yeah I agree with that. I was actually making 2 different points, but I didn't do a very good job of distinguishing them.

    My first point was application of the front brake generally is going to quickly transfer weight to the front end, whereas the rear brake will transfer the weight much smoother.

    The front wheel slideout can happen because of the sudden transfer of weight.

    Also, this was my second point, should you grab too much front brake in a cornering situation and lock the wheel, you are toast. Kapoot. Picking the bike up off the ground. Locking the rear brake in a corner situation actually makes the bike turn faster (that is, pivot faster, not necessarily move quicker thru the turn). That's what Tommorth was mentioning too.

    I rode my dirtbike for a while without a back brake. It made me a much better rider. I don't have enough MTB experience yet to say with any certainty that the same concepts learned on my dirtbike transfer directly to the MTB.

    I can say that I've discovered that disk brakes on a MTB slow you very quickly when you apply the front brake!

  23. #23
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    If I had to choose just one brake to have I would go with the rear, especially for trail use.

    I use front and back brakes equally.
    Big Foot Blue KHS XC704r

  24. #24
    curious noob
    Reputation: drbroccoli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommorth
    to a rider coming off a moto locking the rear briefly to turn in quicker is not uncomon

    I like haveing the option the last thing I want to be doing is trying to descend over wet roots with no rear brake with a sharp corner ahead on a moto or mtb.
    Proper braking technique is adjusting your speed safely and effectively without falling. Rear wheel skids are fun and sometimes useful.
    Science works.

    "Beliefs are what divide people. Doubts unite them."-Sir Peter Ustinov

  25. #25
    grasshopper
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    Learning to use my rear brake has made me a faster rider...anyone ever hear of trail-braking? Sometimes, in an increasing radius turn, I'll use the rear to modulate speed just a bit. Using the front in mid-corner causes too much suspension dive in the front for me. YMMV.

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