How to Convert a Two-Hand Brake Into One for Bicycles

How to Convert a Two-Hand Brake Into One for Bicycles
Being able to brake from both front and rear wheels provides stability to your bike as you stop. If you decide to remove one of your rim's brakes, it's important that the wheel still has the ability to stop. Removing your rear brake and converting your bike to a fixed gear solves the problem. You still have strong stopping power from your front brake, plus the ability to slow your rear wheel by resisting the forward drive of the pedals caused by the fixed gear.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cable cutters
  • Set of hex wrenches
  • Fixed gear hub
  • Sprocket
  • Chain
Step 1
Remove your rear brake and rear-brake levers. Use cable cutters to cut the cap off the brake cable. Use the appropriate-size hex wrench to loosen the bolt on the brake that holds the cable in place. Remove the cable by threading it through the cable housing and out the brake levers. Use a hex wrench to remove your brakes from the frame. Do the same for the rear-brake lever. If you leave the lever on your handlebars, you may forget that you can no longer stop your rear wheel with a hand brake.
Step 2
Convert your bike to a fixed gear setup. The easiest way to do this is to replace your rear hub with a hub designed specifically for fixies. To replace your hub means you also need to rebuild your wheel. Choose a sprocket size and purchase a new chain to fit the sprocket. Unless you have a strong foundation in bike mechanics, have this conversion done by a bike tech. Your local bike shop can walk you through the steps and help you choose the best parts for your bike.
Step 3
Practice riding with your new brake system. Stopping a rear wheel on a fixed-gear bike takes a new skill set. Head to a traffic-free area where you can get the feel of using your feet to stop your rear wheel while applying the right force to your front brake. It's not unusual to skid and lose your balance while you learn. Remember, if you only use your front hand brake, you're likely to fishtail or even be thrown off your saddle if you clamp your brake too hard. This is why it's important to learn how to slow your fixed wheel as well.

Article Written By Kathrine Cole

Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.