Lately, i have experimented with brakeless fixed gear riding. To some extent, what they say about it is true. You are more aware, you do gain a wider appreciation for the road, and it can be really fun if your doing it right. If you can do it: right on, i admire you. If you can't, put a brake on.
I realise this has been done to death in fixed gear circles, and I am of the firm opinion it should be down to the discretion of the individual. However my concern stems from the habit of people riding brakeless simply becuase it is cool at the moment. Not to mention the myths that come out of it: it makes me safer becuase i am more aware, i ride faster becuase i haev to comit to the line i take, it's the only way to ride, etc. etc.
Of the times i have ridden brakeless in built up areas, i rode much slower than usual due my totally uncool tendency for self preservation. Being more aware is all very well, but that doesn't stop a mad taxi drived coming out of a side street directly in front of you and royally fuckign you over. Basically i was totally fucking terrified. And it definately did NOT make me faster or more commited to my line. It just made me nervous, slow, and incosistent. A fixed gear bike with a brake is, in my opinion, one of the fastest ways you can get around urban areas. You can crank your cadance up to the limit, and the use of a brake keeps your pedalling smooth and constant, with no need for elaborate skids.
All this being said, I'm quite keen to continue dabbling with no brakes simply becuase i do think it improves my riding and i do believe it is a good skill to have. What i don't believe is that it is better than riding with a brake in terms of safety. It sure is fun though.
All i want it for people to recognise their limits, recognise that it is a difficult skill to aquire, and that having a front brake is a GOOD thing. So in the event of a chain/cleat/clip/cog failure your not forced to gulp bravely, and plunge into an intersection taking out various innocent civilians with you.
In conclusion, if you are honestly skilled, go NOBR AKES. If you have doubts, pull your head in, and palp a brake. By all means dabble with both in controlled envrioments however. Just like these esteemed gentleman.