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Read more: Erica Barnett, The Stranger

The recent death of a bicyclist in Seattle is raising questions about the safety of “fixed-gear” bikes (that is, bikes where the cog on the rear wheel is attached directly to the hub rather than spinning freely). problem with these bikes is described in a recent article in The Stranger. Some cyclists don’t use brakes and instead rely on the fixed transmission to slow them down. For those that ride fixed-gear bikes (and I’m one of them), this provides a good deal of control.

Unfortunately, a number of riders remove or don’t put on brakes, which severely affects a rider’s ability to stop suddenly.

Seattle bike shop owner Lloyd Tamura (Velo Bike Shop) had the following to say:

Tamura calls fixies “one of those toys that people want right now. You can’t tell them, ‘You’re not experienced enough to ride this.'” Tamura says most of his customers who buy fixed-gear bikes elect to remove the front brake, or to buy a model, like the Pista, with no brake at all. Although Tamura says he wouldn’t “advise one way or another” on whether to install a brake, he adds, “If you’re going down a street and a car pulls in front of you, you don’t have time to slow down. You’re going to fly off the bike. Riding downhill on one of these–if you’re not experienced–is suicide.”

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.

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