We have two questions today, that have me questioning whether we as a community should even be attempting to answer them.

One is a user attempting to resolve a problem with a fixie with no brakes - which is illegal in most parts of the world, and certainly a danger to themselves and to others around them. fixed gear bicycle chain tension

And another is looking for some sort of super loud bike based speaker system that is going to be a nuisance for all other road users around them, and probably lessen their own awareness of their surroundings. Soundsystem for bicycle

I feel that ethically we shouldn't be enabling this type of anti social behaviour, which will not only be potentially putting people in danger, but also possibly negatively impacting the public's perception of cyclists in general.

  • 2
    Why would a sound system be a nuisance or as danger by itself? There are many socially accepted users for such a sound system. In this particular case it is for a Critical Mass ride.
    – gschenk
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:04
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    While the OP in the fixie question appears to be using the bike on the road, it isn't outright stated. Brakes are often not allowed in fixie track racing. The question would be applicable in that context.
    – jimchristie Mod
    Apr 8, 2019 at 20:21
  • Don't take this wrong; remember there's no compulsion to answer a question if you don't want to. And you can always downvote a question if you think its bad.
    – Criggie Mod
    Apr 9, 2019 at 8:09
  • @Criggie Yes, I suspected that's what the answer would be, but both questions 'felt' wrong to me, so I figured it didnt hurt to ask this one.
    – Andy P
    Apr 10, 2019 at 7:28
  • @AndyP it doesn't hurt to ask at all - and I think this is a good way and place to raise the point. I'd expect the medical and mechanics and law and finance or even interpersonal SE sites would have more ethics-related considerations - this is the first time I know if its come up on Bicycles. Perhaps a bike is "more like a knife than a bullet" in that the purpose of a bike is well defined, and what a rider does with the bike is almost unrelated. Shame there's no bounties on meta - you've made me think.
    – Criggie Mod
    Apr 10, 2019 at 10:16

2 Answers 2


The question demonstrated rather well why we ought not do this.

We will have users who extend what they deem unethical to what appears to others as arbitrariness. In this case @AndyP considers a sound system a nuisance and conflates annoying with unethical.

We have the means to deal with obviously unethical questions. They range from removing troll posts to informing law enforcement in case of criminal intent.


No - we should not make ethical judgements on a question.

Ethics is different to safety. We should answer these questions with safety in mind and politely share why.

People around the world have different concepts of safety - there's a number of questions about braking with one's feet, like its perfectly normal in that place.

The fixed gear question feels like a younger person who hasn't had the personal experience of a close call. Answering their questions accurately will help build a level of trust for any comments about "add a brake" Its definitely on-topic for this site.

And the sound system one is mostly on-topic. It could be an electronics.SE exercise for the internals of the system, but fitting it on a bike seems on topic for here. Asker specifically says "Critical Mass rides" which are more like parades on bikes, there's no suggestion its for regular riding.

Examples of unethical questions would be "how do I remove a serial number?" or "where can I sell a stolen bike?" or "how to run a red light quickly?"

  • You may indeed be right that the fixed gear rider hasn't had a close call yet. But what if their first such incident is running over a child, and by assisting with getting the bike back on the road we have assisted in doing so?
    – Andy P
    Apr 10, 2019 at 7:32
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    @AndyP could be - if you want to take that to ridiculous extremes, by working in a takeaway I could have peeled potatoes that were cooked and sold to someone who died of a heart attack later for being overweight. Perhaps the takeaway shop should close because its bad food? That is a bit much nanny state. People (okay, adults) are responsible for their own actions, so if we help them understand the reasons then they will still make their own choice, but will be better informed.
    – Criggie Mod
    Apr 10, 2019 at 10:09
  • @AndyP perhaps this meta question has a corresponding parallel, is it ethical to withhold information that would help users make informed choices about their bicycles ?
    – Criggie Mod
    Apr 10, 2019 at 10:11
  • Good points, and input much appreciated.
    – Andy P
    Apr 10, 2019 at 10:43

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