Friday, August 13, 2010
Coaster Brakes: Yay or Nay?
A coaster brake is a rear brake on a bicycle that is activated by pedaling backwards. If you want to slow down, simply start to push the pedals backward with your feet instead of forward. The harder you push back, the more braking power is applied. This type of brake is common in European upright city bicycles, and it is usually (but not always) supplemented with a front hand-operated brake. The coaster brake is internal and lives in the hub of the rear wheel, rarely requiring maintenance or adjustments.
. I find that coaster brakes deliver softer (no sudden jolts), smoother, and more consistent stopping power in city traffic
. I like to have one hand free in traffic, so that I can signal while braking
. I find it easier to modulate coaster brakes at finer increments without totally losing momentum
. I have problems with the nerves in my hands, and find it painful to use hand-operated brake levers frequently (like in stop-and-go traffic)
. I find coaster brakes intuitive and stress-free to use: it makes sense to both accelerate and slow down with my feet
. I like it that coaster brakes require virtually zero maintenance or adjustments
Why some dislike coaster brakes:
. They find the act of backpedaling confusing or counterintuitive
. They find it inconvenient that with a coaster brake, you cannot bring the pedal back into starting position in the same way as on a non-coaster brake bike
. They feel that a coaster brake does not provide sufficiently strong braking power for the type of riding they do
. They lack the leg strength to activate the coaster brake (or have problems with their legs or knees that prevent them from doing so)
. On bikes that are coaster brake only (no front brake), dropping the chain means you will suddenly be left brakeless.
I should also add that coaster brakes make sense only on upright bicycles. Using them on a roadbike would be tricky, because of the speed and the leaned-over position (though I do know of some who have tried, just for fun).
How do you feel about coaster brakes, and why? I am sure all feedback will be useful to those wondering about this braking system.
topics: coaster brake