Ithink I may have the only bicycle with a hand brake.
The brakes that came on the Proflex were kind of dodgy. They would indeed slow you down, but if you wanted to stop quickly, there was no choice but to unclip and drag your feet. In keeping with my usual dilatory nature, I rode like this for about a season before deciding that Something Must Be Done.
So I went to PJ’s (Pamela and John’s) Bargain Basement to see what I could find. I came away with a set of brakes aptly named “Strange Brakes.” The were in fact so strange that when I got them home I realized I had no idea how to assemble them on the bike. I positioned the collection of rods and levers in every conceivable configuration, but never got them to the point where applying pressure to the brake lever resulted in firm contact between brake pads and rim. So, I had to swallow my pride and enlist the aid of Pamela to help me put the thing together. I think in the list of things that Real Men don’t do, asking a girl for help with a mechanical problems rates far worse even that asking for directions or reading the instructions. I had some slight consolation in the fact that it took her a while to remember how the silly thing went together.
I was happy to find that the strange brakes did a pretty good job of stopping the bike, once they were assembled correctly. I was to find later that they did far too good a job.
It was in the winter, and I was riding down my driveway. There was a large slab of black ice at the bottom, so I thought it would be prudent to slow down, so I slammed on the brakes. Stopped fine, only problem was they never came off. Worked just like a hand brake in a car. Unfortunately, this put a real damper on future forward motion. My first thought was that I had to abort the mission, but after a while I realized that if I reached down and whacked one of the levers to the side, it would release the brake.
So I managed to soldier on, reaching down to unset the brakes every once in a while. Fortunately, I don’t use the brakes very much (as one of my buddies from graduate school used to say “brakes are for beginners”). I had thought of using the rear brake exclusively, but I had stopped using that a long time ago, since it had a similar problem with reluctance to release, and it is far harder to use the hand brake technique in the rear.
Maybe feet dragging isn’t such a bad idea after all.