Fixed-Gear Tragedy

You may have seen this article elsewhere already…but an 18-year old Santa Cruz resident was recently struck and killed riding his brakeless fixed-gear bike. Read the article (and related links to other stories) here.

Look, we don’t want to get all preachy around here, but PLEASE: put a brake on your fixed-gear bike, especially if you’re just learning how to ride such a bike. Don’t succumb to the fixed-gear fashion police and ride brakeless because it’s “cool”…use your head, know your limits and be safe out there, even if your friends think you’re wack!!!


  1. Moe

    Man, if you are going to be silly enough to ride brake-less, at least put a lid on…

  2. Mike Myers

    Riding a brakeless fixed gear anywhere except a velodrome is crazy enough, but even trackies wear helmets. Crazy.

  3. Dominic Dougherty

    Not to mention illegal
    CVC 21202 and 21204

  4. Mike Myers

    There was an incident in Portland, Oregon in which a rider on a brakeless fixed gear was given a ticket for not having a brake. I believe the case went to court and the rider’s defense was that a fixed could skid to stop as well as a brake. Nuts. Skidding isn’t braking.

  5. Ghost Rider

    Mike, the wording of that particular Oregon (or Portland) law states something to the effect that a brake must be able to lock up and skid the rear tire on clean, dry pavement…or maybe that’s just how I remember reading it.

    Either way, that rider lost the case. The courts ruled that the brake must be a separate mechanical device other than pedaling force.

  6. ryan

    “It’s kind of the new, cool thing,” Long said. “I like to say it’s become the new Ugg boot in town.”

    Note to self, never ride a fixie, it’s become the new Ugg boot.

  7. Moe

    There’s nothing wrong with riding a fixed gear bicycle. They are fun, they are great for training/exercise. Just because they are a few punks giving fixies a bad name, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try.

  8. Quinn

    Fixies are all to common here in Reno, my best friend rides his every where. I think 1 more think just as crazy is not only riding it fixie, helmetless and Clipless!
    although, that is probably the only way they ride up the hills here.
    Thank you Ghost for mentioning about skidding, about having a good enough brake to skid.
    skidding my not be as powerful as a mechanical brake, but it will most likely will slow you down enough to put your foot down, and if you ask me I trust a size 9 “brake pad” a bit more than a lil rim brake pad.

  9. Ghost Rider

    Well, folks could do it “Ted Shred”-style…a freewheel-based bike with no brakes. I present to you:

  10. dontcoast!

    well, for one, “brakeless” fixies are not illegal everywhere. for example, not in WASHINGTON FUCKING DC (id never thought id use dc as a positive example)
    1204.1 Each bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which enables the operator to cause the braked wheels to skid on dry, level, clean pavement; provided, that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to have a separate brake, but an operator of a fixed gear bicycle shall be able to stop the bicycle using the pedals.

    i think its waaaay dumber to ride no clips than no brakes. -clips are my brakes

    and, the law requires one to be able to skid on flat dry pavement. if ted shred can ride brakeless freewheel and skid down huge hills, hes not braking the law. if i rode his bike, i would be, cuz i cant skid it.

    so, someone who rides my bike and cant skid is also breaking the law

    point being, its about the riding, not the bike

    and RIP lucian, i think that was mostly really bad luck. huge delivery trucks are unforgiving.

    i know a messenger who was crippled for a year cuz such a truck back up onto her while she was standing. some shit you cant do much about.

  11. Moe

    Man, I used to ride my BMX to High School Ted-shred style and I got a freaking ticket for it!!! My parents were not happy either, I was going thru tennis shoes like they owned a store.

  12. pfc stone

    i used to ride brakeless and freewheel with an old road master that had a road bike front fork and drop bars id grab cars and trucks to get up the hills and never had a wreak at all so id say it was safe enoughf oh yea no helmet either

  13. Ryan

    Its funny how tons of people step up to say fixedgear riders or stupid or dumb for riding without a brake. 90% of you have never tried it nor would be have skills to stop if you tried , so , you call it dumb . You are the dumb ones

    I will ride fixed gear brakeless till the day that I die . I have built the skills that i need to stop and can do so just as short a distance as you with your “training wheels” (brakes) .

    Mind you , that I do have brakes in reality .The sheer strength of my legs used with techniques that I have developed by riding.

    this isnt a fad or cool thing for me . I went car less and for the last two years this has been my main mode of transport.

    also , skidding the rear is not the the only way to stop a fixed gear . You can also allow the upcoming pedal slightly lunch your weight off of the rear a bit to bring the wheel rotation to a stop while having the back tire a bit off the ground . then do this every rotation and you have you have yourself stopped 4 to six rotations later at pretty good speeds. skidding is not a good way of stopping anything , the method i talk about here is called skipping and works great . i use it most of the time and it helps my tires to last a great while .

  14. bob
  15. bob
  16. Rich

    I am chiming in a bit late, but have to give my 2 cents. like some of the posters, I use to ride my bmx brakeless and freewheel….w/o helmet and never thought about it being dangerous..

    now I am the dad of a 16 year old riding a fixie he and I built….and the dad in me makes him have a front brake. unlike where I grew up, there are a lot of crappy drivers now that require you to stop on a dime…..he just got the skidding down and is pretty consistent, BUT I still make him were a helmet and have a front brake and it stays that way until he can call his own shots

    for me, I built myself a single speed with front and back brakes because I don’t have the fixie skid skills, so I hate that the cranks keep going……but that’s just me……..riders choice, right?

    better safe than sorry…..and there is no way in hell I want to pay for tickets

  17. Erik

    I recently bought me a freewheel bike and i have turn it into a fixie. I was just going to unmount the brakes when i read these articles with crashes etc. I will ride with brakes in the beginning, but i think that i will priority the feeling of absolute freedom after a time of training. Though i need to build up some skills first 😉

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