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How to Skip Stop a Fixie Fixed Gear Bike

Updated on November 23, 2010

Stopping a fixed gear.

This guy really can stop a fixed gear.
This guy really can stop a fixed gear.

The best way to stop a fixed gear bicycle is with brakes. I offer those words of caution and this hub as a way to hopefully save a life or two. Too many people are riding around on fixed gears--and riding them brakeless--without a clue of how to ride, let alone stop a fixed gear bike. In case you are unaware, a fixed gear bicycle is a bike with one gear and no freewheel. You cannot coast. People like to ride fixed gears brakeless, meaning without brakes. It can be done, but it is a risky proposition, even if you know what you are doing.

How to Stop a Fixie!

First off all, you need toe clips and straps. Those are the cages, laced with straps, that you put your feet in when you ride. If you don't have these, you are moron and might as pack a suicide note in your backpack. It will be clear why in a minute.

If you simply want to slow the bike down, gradually resist the forward motion of the crank arms. They are always moving and cannot stop unless you force them to. But, of course, you can slow them down by slowing down your legs and sort of pressing down and back with your feet as they pedal. It's an art, a skill, whatever... but it is relatively easy to the hang of. You can also press down on the front end of the bike. Just add extra downward force to the handlebar. Sounds crazy, but when the front wheel is pressed to the ground just a little, it serves to the slow the bike down some.

Stopping a fixed gear bike without brakes takes a bit more practice. The guy in the picture looks to be pretty freaking good at it. He is driving his midsection into the bike's stem like it is a supermodel. Good for him. What he is doing by lifting his butt off of the saddle to the extreme is unweighting the rear wheel. At the same time as doing that, he is simultaneously pulling up with one foot and pushing down hard when the crank arms are parallel to the ground. This action makes the bike skid or skip, thus the skid stop or skip stop that you might have heard about.

Stopping a fixie on a dime is almost impossible. The better (and luckier) you are at it, the quicker the stop. You are going to skid for some distance. This is why riding a fixed gear requires ultimate concentration, especially if you are brakeless. You need to see what is happening blocks ahead. More than that, though, you need to anticipate what is going to happen--or what might happen--blocks ahead. Being proactive is key. Having control over your bike is even more imperative.

Good luck and be safe!


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