Slowing and Stopping--Part Nine of Fixed Gear 101
by Greg Goode


There are several ways to slow down. You can use the Slalom and Backpedal methods, covered in the previous section. You can also pseudocoast. This is where you release the forward pressure of your legs, letting them go "gumby." Without the application of forward or backward pressure, the natural weight of your legs will drag against the pedals and slow you down. Pseudocoasting is a good method to use when you have a lot of slowing distance, or when your legs are tired.


There are several stopping methods.

Slowing to a stop
This is the one I use the most. It's smooth and deceptively simple. You keep on backpedalling, until eventually you drift to a stop! You can use this method either seated or standing, though standing will give you more leverage. It doesn't look impressive, since your body isn't visibly doing anything special. But it's the smoothest method and the one easiest on your knees. Your legs just learn what speed to use in order to cover a certain distance in a certain amount of time. Other stopping methods do look trick with their unexpected and abrupt movements, but they can create knee problems with overuse.

In a skip stop you unweight the rear wheel, stop its rotation, then push it back onto the ground to scrub speed. A full stop may require several repetitions. Use the clips/clipless to pull your body off the saddle and up. Coordinate your movements so that by the time the wheel is unweighted--it may even come off the ground about an inch--the pedals are horizontal. At this point, kick back on the pedals to stop the motion of the wheel. This involves abruptly pulling up on the front pedal while you push down on the rear. You will probably find it easier to use the same foot forward as you use in trackstands. Coming to a full stop will take several pedal rotations, since your bike and body are still moving forward. As you let the pedals rotate forwards for the next kick, you can wait for one complete revolution, or one-half revolution if you're comfortable kicking back on the pedals with the feet positioned the opposite way. Repeat the process, keeping your butt off the saddle, until you come to a complete stop.

Skidding is like skipping, but without as much unweighting of the rear wheel. You stand on the pedals and wait until they almost reach the horizontal position that is comfortable for you. Then jerk with a backwards motion while unweighting the rear wheel, but do not let the wheel come off the ground. The tire will skid.

There are two slight variations on this technique. In the first, you skid repeatedly, letting the pedals rotate back into position, much as in the skip. In the other variation, you try to hold the skid until you come to a stop. It takes skill to unweight the rear wheel without bringing it up off the ground. This method is hard on the hub, the lockring, the back tire, and the knees--more of a showoff move or emergency fallback than an everyday staple. Nevertheless, urban bicycle messengers hold skidding competitions. With careful weighting, they can draw out the skid for hundreds of feet.


As always, you ride your bike at your own risk. and Greg Goode will not be held liable for any damage or injury arising from use of these lessons.

©Greg Goode 2002

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