Rear facing front brakes

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Rear facing front brakes

Postby cricklewood_graeme » 22 Jun 2017, 11:27am

I noticed a very tasty Condor bicycle for sale on eBay today that has rear facing front brakes. I have never come across this before and wonder if anyone has any comments. I guess they help improve the aerodynamics a little but otherwise what is the advantage?

Here it is :

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby julk » 22 Jun 2017, 11:35am

I have rear facing front brakes on my tourer.
They work well.

The main advantage for me is that it leaves the area in front of the forks available for luggage.

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby mjr » 22 Jun 2017, 11:40am

As far as I know, aerodynamics are the main advantage, similar to why the rear brakes on time-trial bikes are sometimes near the chainstays rather than seatstays. There's a very small but obvious risk of a failed brake pad getting trapped between wheel and fork which makes it a strange idea if you've no other motive for it IMO.
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby pete75 » 22 Jun 2017, 12:38pm

Alf Engers aka the King in full flight. Note the front brake along with levers behind the bars. Later he changed them back to the normal position before doing the first sub 50 minute 25 in 78.

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby [XAP]Bob » 22 Jun 2017, 12:50pm

Rear facing levers run the risk of self actuating - as you start to apply the brakes your weight transfers onto them, applying them harder....

Similar to the reasoning for the ten to two driving position - as you turn into a corner your hands are 'thrown' outwards, so the ten to two is a neutrally stable, whilst twenty past seven would tend to magnify any steering input.
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby Si » 22 Jun 2017, 1:02pm

Pace used to do rear facing front brakes. Iirc they used to say that it improved performance as the brakes were pushed towards the fork rather than pulled away from them. Never noticed any difference myself.

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby ChrisOntLancs » 22 Jun 2017, 5:47pm

ofc the forks could be on backwards :mrgreen:

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby reohn2 » 22 Jun 2017, 6:26pm

We had them our Thorn Discovery tandem and the worked ok.
They're no different than rear brake which faces rearward :wink:

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby Brucey » 22 Jun 2017, 6:35pm

all kinds of things have been tried and (temporarily) have won favour amongst time triallists. For example in the 1970s there was a fad for having the brake centre bolts brazed into a TT frameset, so that a few grammes could be saved, or something.... Reverse-facing caliper brakes were just another one of these things. They had (and indeed still have) the obvious disadvantage that the brake cable is liable to be closer to the frame and is likely to restrict the range of steering lock.

One thing that having reverse facing brakes will do is draw comment; at one time I had a bike with mudguards that regularly went into the back of the car, in pieces. It had double nuts on the brake bolts so that I could get the mudguards on and off without disturbing the brake alignment. I figured out that if I reversed the rear brake, I could more easily remove the mudguards. It all worked fine, but it did draw a surprising amount of comment from other cyclists...


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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby foxyrider » 22 Jun 2017, 7:30pm

I ran the brakes on my race bike behind the forks quite a bit as well as taping down the flying cables. I'm pretty sure these 1970's attempts at aero made all the difference at the speeds I raced at! Not enough space on most newer frames to play with stuff like this!

I currently have a touring frame set up with the rear brake ahead of the stays to stop interference with racks - seems to work okay.
Convention? what's that then?
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby Ruadh495 » 23 Jun 2017, 10:34am

Doesn't a rear facing front brake need a longer reach, with the problems that implies? I'm using a rear facing front on my folder (Raleigh 20) as a temporary measure, since the only brake I can find in the shed is too long for the front facing position. The difference in reach between front facing and rear facing is more extreme with smaller wheels?

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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby meic » 23 Jun 2017, 11:01am

Doesn't a rear facing front brake need a longer reach,

The most common rear facing brakes are on brazed on pillars which can be put at whatever height the manufacturers want.

I have them on one set of Thorn forks and not the other. I cant say I have noticed any difference other than I can fit lights much more easily with the rear facing brakes. The most likely justification that I have heard is to avoid brake squeal. Though the alternative question could be asked, what is the advantage of having them front facing?
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby Mick F » 23 Jun 2017, 4:37pm

Just been looking at Mercian .............
The brake arm would foul the downtube when steering to the left. It would hit at about 10deg left.

It's impossible on Moulton.
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby tatanab » 23 Jun 2017, 4:59pm

Ruadh495 wrote:Doesn't a rear facing front brake need a longer reach, with the problems that implies?
Yes they need a longer reach, which is why the brake pictured a drop to it like this one
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Re: Rear facing front brakes

Postby hercule » 23 Jun 2017, 10:29pm

tatanab wrote:
Ruadh495 wrote:Doesn't a rear facing front brake need a longer reach, with the problems that implies?
Yes they need a longer reach, which is why the brake pictured a drop to it like this one

I tried fitting those to my Rogers trike, but unfortunately they weren't long enough! Currently it has a canti brake on the front and a very ineffective drum brake on the the rear axle, I was wanting to add a back up to the canti that would have at least a chance of stopping me if there was a cable failure (it has happened to me, at the top of a long steep hill :shock: ). I've got a front drum brake hub now, just go to get round to building it into a wheel!

(Sorry for wandering OT...)