If you are brand new to fixed gears, or you’re curious on how stopping these things works with no freewheel and sometimes no brakes, then I will attempt to explain this as best I can. For starters, If you are a beginner it is probably best to begin your journey with front wheel brakes. There is practically no need for a rear wheel brake with fixies as it will have very little effect in the actual stop. The easiest and perhaps most effective way of stopping a fixed gear bicycle is by using a front wheel brake. By applying the front wheel brake, weight from the rear tire is shifted to the front tire; with no weight on the back tire, the traction is drastically decreased which helps negate the forward motion you are trying to stop. You just need to apply the correct amount of front brake so that you stop, but at the same time don’t flip over the handlebars.
If you want to be really cool, you can learn to do what is called a skid stop. This tactic requires no brakes at all, but can be somewhat risky for inexperienced riders. This stop is achieved by locking up your legs so that the rear wheel stops all together, and you then skid to a stop. In order to make this work you must:
-get up to speed (the faster, the easier it is to begin the skid)
-lean as much over the handlebars as possible, the more weight off of your back tire, the easier it will be to initiate. A front brake can also assist in this situation.
-lock one leg at the bottom pushing down, while pulling up on the front pedal (much harder with clipless pedals). You should then begin the skid; hold until you have stopped or slowed down to desired speed.
This is a weird process to get used to, if you are not dedicated to locking and stopping, the pedal will simply push you upwards and throw your balance off. It is best to begin learning on a surface with not much traction such as grass or wet pavement. It takes some getting used to, but once you get it, you won’t forget it…it’s like riding a bike.
Just don’t finish your skid like this guy