Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Velosteel Coaster Brake Hub

ANT Truss, Train Tracks
When I decided to build up an ANT Truss Bike as a single speed with a coaster brake, I soon discovered that the only commonly available hub choice was Shimano. I have ridden Shimano coaster brake hubs, and there is nothing wrong with them. But somehow having one on a bike that was otherwise so old-school and classic felt off. So I asked around and learned, via the ever-helpful bikeforums, about a small manufacturer in the Czech Republic called Velosteel

Velosteel Coaster Brake Hub
Velosteel focuses exclusively on producing single speed coasterbrake hubs. As I understand it, they took over the machinery that was used by the former Fichtel & Sachs company to manufacture the original Sachs hubs before SRAM bought them out. Therefore, Velosteel hubs are supposed to be identical to the vintage Sachs single speed coaster brake hubs found on many continental European city bikes made prior to the year 2000 - especially Dutch and German bikes. I have ridden a number of bikes with Sachs hubs in the past and I've always liked them, which made Velosteel an appealing choice. 

As of last summer, the way to buy a Velosteel hub was on ebay. I do not remember where I bought mine, but I am told this is a reliable source in the US. I am still not aware of any US bike shops that carry these hubs, but if you are please let me know and I will update this information. I bought the hub, and Jim at Harris Cyclery built me a wheel around it. 

Velosteel Coaster Brake Hub
While I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to explain why the Velosteel hub is more "old school" in its construction than a currently-produced Shimano hub, suffice to say that its overall form, its finishing, and the way the shell is put together all look distinctly different from modern hubs and distinctly similar to vintage ones. 

There is no branding on the hub itself, and the only mark of the manufacturer seems to be on the reaction arm, which is stamped with: "VELOSTEEL MADE IN CZECH REPUBLIC." There may be a serial number stamped somewhere indicating date of manufacture and such, but I have not noticed it.

ANT Pedaling
Having ridden the ANT over the past several months, I can make some observations about the Velosteel hub. My first impression was that it was too "soft;" I could not lock up the rear wheel without exerting a huge amount of effort. However, I wanted to wait before sharing this impression - thinking that it was possible the hub would "wear in" over time. And it did, after about 40 miles - during which I made it a point to use the brake often. Now the hub can lock up the rear wheel with reasonable effort. It also modulates braking power very nicely, which is something I love about a good coaster brake. I do feel that the Velosteel allows for finer modulation than the currently produced Shimano coaster brake hub. I get into the rhythm of using it, and it makes city cycling feel like such an organic, smooth experience. 

Last year I started a discussion about vintage vs modern coaster brakes and the amount of backpedaling "give" they allow before the braking mechanism is engaged. I noted that in my experience, older coaster brakes allow for more give, which I prefer. In the comments others reported this difference as well - but some suggested that it might be a function of the vintage coaster brakes being worn out with age, as opposed to differently designed. Well. My Velosteel hub started out brand new, and it has "give" similar to the old vintage Sachs coaster brakes I've ridden. This is just one piece of anecdotal evidence of course, but I think it's useful to offer it. 

Velosteel Coaster Brake Hub
Overall I like the Velosteel hub and have a feeling it will only improve with age - somehow, I feel as if it's still wearing in. I would love to get feedback from others who have used it, especially on a bike that's their regular commuter and for a period of several years. 

As with everything, I think it is good to have options. The Velosteel hub might be a welcome alternative to Shimano for those who prefer a coaster brake hub with a more classic look and feel. I wish more American bike shops carried Velosteel.

51 comments:

  1. I can only speak for using an old 50s Sachs torpedo, which has lots of give. At first I thought maybe I had replaced the shoes incorrectly when rebuilding/degunking, and since it was my first coaster brake hub. With experience, I find it works just fine. Not sure I can lock it up though.

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  2. I think part of the reason for the added "give" you mention in the Velosteel hub is that it uses a roller clutch to engage the brake and not a corkscrew driver as Shimano and Sturmey-Archer hubs use. In effect, the velosteel has to "wind up" before the brake shoes move toward the hub shell, whereas the corkscrew types move the shoes immediately.

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    1. That's it! Good call on the action involved.

      I am enjoying the gathered wisdom of coaster-brakers here. Anyone have a recommendation for the grease to use?

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  3. Sturmey Archer make old timey hubs with coaster brakes. Also a variety of geared hubs with brakes, from 2 speed to 8.

    http://www.sturmey-archer.com/products/hubs/cid/7/id/55

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    1. Sturmey Archer does not make a single speed coaster brake hub. But I do like their 3-speed hubs and the Duomatic.

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    2. Yeah, they do make a single-speed coaster hub. I have one on a bike right now, bought for only 12 dollars brand new. Best deal in coaster brake hubs out there. Not as refined as the Velosteel, but it gets the job done with virtually no maintenance ever.

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    3. Please post a link to a currently produced and sold single speed coaster brake Sturmey Archer hub. As of last summer, it did not exist, was not in any of the catalogs.

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    4. Hi
      My first bicycle was my mother's 1943 x 28" wheel 'Malvern Star', a common breed once, here in Oz.
      Once I 'got rolling' in 1964 [grew tall enough to ride this monster] the bike was sent away for re furb and returned with new seat, guards, wheels, hubs etc of Czech make, in lieu of worn out Perry coaster hub and rusted o.e.m. wheels. I am fairly sure after looking at photos in this blog, it was a Sachs coaster hub, now Velosteel. Yes, it was lovely to ride on, w' 43T chainring & 18T rear sprocket. I easily climbed 'The Range' in Rockhampton twice ea school day and many other times, chattering the back wheel at intersections on the down hill side. Yes, one rear tyre ea year, also a chain. Tried fitting Weinmann brakes from my training track bike but not the right sort for Westwood rims. I was shown how to dismantle and service bike & hub, and loved to do this during my holidays. After I left home to work elsewhere, the old man took the bike apart and proceeded to take it to the dump...all I managed to retrieve was the frame, now rolling again on asian alloy rims & cheap free wheel. Not the same. But now I can have that hub back again!!! Thank you!

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  4. As you mentioned, the production of the original (Fichtel &) Sachs 'Torpedo' hubs (invented in 1903, found to its final form in 1909) stopped in 1998, so there's only copies of the original design left on the market.

    For that reason, I think having the Velosteel is better than nothing, especially as they come at a very low price point (at least here in Germany they are to be had for less than 20 Euros), but I would consider their overall quality as quite poor. In the past, those hubs bore the name 'Favorit', and had serious quality problems, so I used to discard them without even saving potentially useable parts when I came across one of these.
    Maybe quality has improved a bit since then, but still these hubs are cheaply made, and I guess you should not expect one of those to 'wear with grace' as the original Torpedo hubs did (and do) ...
    To be honest, I would never use one of these in a high-end bicycle, that simply does not go together well for my taste. If only Sturmey Archer would produce a single speed coaster hub ...

    Matthias

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    1. Mathias, you're right! The old F&S Torpedos are simply indestructible! I think we must make some sort of petition to SRAM to start again the production of the coaster brakes. PS It's a bitt strange, SRAM makes a a hub called Torpedo, with internal mechanism to be used either fixed or free.

      Nikola

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  5. Hi,

    now thats an interesting post! I would be very much interested in a more detailed review, as I was thinking to build up a singlespeed or two speed (kick-back-brake-shift) coaster brake bike for commuting.

    The arguments for it are the obvious simplicity and one of the two mandatory brakes being integrated in the hub.

    Can you relate the hubs behavior (give) to its inner workings (roller or cone brake)?

    When reviewing a Rohloff bike you found it a bit tail heavy. How about the coaster hub? Its probably around 1 Kg at least?

    The simplicity suffers a little from the torque-arm attachment. Is there any rapid connector solution around commercially?

    What about use and wear of the brake? Is this an issue?

    I would be be eager to read an in depth review about this bike soon!

    As always, its a pleasure and interesting to read you blog - thanks!

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    1. I've ridden many coaster brake hubs over the years, and I do not find the 1-3 speed hubs to be either heavy or inefficient. I do not like the 7 and 8 speed hubs though, and find them to be both. As for wear, I've ridden coaster brake bikes that had been used and abused for decades with no ill effect. Not sure whether the modern hubs match that durability though.

      Your other questions are much too technical for the likes of me, sorry : )

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    2. I believe that Velosteeel makes "oversize innards" to compensate for eventual hub wear. When the hub wears, you just pop the new mechanism into the existing wheel / hub shell. When I was doing my search for a Velosteel hub in Amsterdam, one bike shop I went to only had the innards for sale (not a whole hub) because it was uncommon for someone to buy one of these hubs to lace into a wheel - but the repair of popping in some new hub guts was pretty common.

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  6. How would you compare the braking to the SA S2C that you tried last year?

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    1. The braking itself felt very similar. To be honest, had I tried the SA Duomatic earlier, I would've probably had the wheel built around that rather than the single speed hub.

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  7. I'm interested in the thoughts on how far you have to "kick back" to get the brakes to engage. I've read all the comments in the referenced posting, Kicking Back, Old School Style; Monday, October 24, 2011, and was surprised that no one mentioned the positioning of the coaster brake reaction arm. I've always used the position of the reaction arm relative to the hub body, so as to fine tune the amount of push back desired to engage the brakes. As the brakes wear in from new, or wear out after years of skidding to a stop, you can adjust the push back, using the reaction arm, to your desired amount of push back as well as pedal location of brake engagement.

    It takes a few tries at adjusting, but after a while you'll have both the amount of kick back and where the brakes engage, set just to your liking. I like about a quarter turn of kick back, and then have the brakes fully engaged at just below horizontal. I too use mostly my right foot for braking and then after stopping and putting my left foot down, just "pull" the pedal forward with the top of my right foot, rolling forward a bit, and positioning my right pedal just forward of vertical so I can push down on a full stroke when starting again.

    Ride well and be safe out there.

    OKB

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    1. Interesting. Can you elaborate on this? I'm only familiar with the Shimano style screw type internals, but I can't see how rotating the control arm changes anything. I thought you have to back pedal a set amount of rotation to engage the brake regardless of where you start the rotation from. So if I start backpedalling at 12 o'clock, the brake engages at 9, if I start at 11, it engages at 8, etc. But it's been a while...

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    2. @MaxUtility,

      I'm used to setting up "beach cruisers"; single speed & coaster brakes. I can't speak to the difference between Shimano "screw type" coaster brakes and other "roller clutch" type hubs, but I think the reaction arm serves the same purpose. Also, I don't have much experience setting up two-speed kick-back gear changers and how the brakes are affected by moving the reaction arm. I'm assuming it's similar but can't vouch for it.

      It's a three step process to get everything adjusted.

      -- With the wheel off the bike standing upright, hold the sprocket in your right hand (drive side) using a rag to stay clean, and the reaction arm in your left hand. Hold the sprocket steady, not letting it turn, and with the left hand, either turn the reaction arm in to tighten, (clockwise) or out to loosen, (counter-clockwise). This effectively sets the kickback or baseline distance of the brake pads to the roller drum (hub). If you turn the reaction arm all the way in, when you try turning the sprocket backwards, there is no movement. The brakes are "locked up" at that point. If you turn the reaction arm outward, now you start to feel play in the sprocket (with the wheel not turning), as the spacing between pads and hub increase. Turn the reaction arm arm out to the desired setting. (For me it's 1/4 rotation allowed on the sprocket. It may not be 1 to 1 ratio of turns, reaction arm to sprocket so play around until you get a setting that works for you.)

      -- When placing the wheel back into the drop outs, you don't want to change the relative position of reaction arm to hub. Slide the wheel into the dropouts with the reaction arm as close to it's final position, parallel to the chain stay, as best you can. (See step 3) Once in place, set chain tension by pulling the hub toward the rear of bike, put a bolt in the reaction arm to keep it from turning, and lightly snug down the axle nuts, without letting the hub turn.

      -- When placing the chain on the sprocket, note the position of the pedals. If the sprocket is turned backward into the "braking position", then you'll want the pedals located in their "braking" position" also. Set the pedals where you want them, slip the chain onto the sprocket (in it's braking position), and then complete the addition of a screw to the reaction arm clip and fully tighten the axle nuts.



      That's it. (Steps 2 & 3 are sort of combined) Once you understand how this works, you can do it while the wheel is still in the dropouts. Just loosen the axle nuts and remove the reaction arm bolt and rotate things until you like the settings. (Keeping in mind the pedal position.) Good luck!

      Ride well and be safe out there.

      OKB

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    3. @MaxUtility,

      You are right, I am wrong. The last step in the process is unnecessary. I am over thinking things. Once you've set how much you need to kick back in order to engage the brakes, then that can happen anywhere in the pedal stroke cycle. If you want the brakes to engage just below the horizontal point, then you'll have to continue pedaling until the pedal is just before the top of the stroke and then kick back. (Assuming 1/4 stroke kick back setting.)

      The adjustment of the reaction arm relative to the hub is still important, as that is how you adjust the kick back distance. When mounting the hub to the frame, it is still critical to not change the relationship of reaction arm to hub when tightening things down.

      Old Knott Head

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  8. I don't have experience, but in many German forums I have read that the velosteel hub do not last so long than the sachs hub. I've got an old torpedo hub from 1950 and it works fine. Another possibility is an old renak hub from east germany (GDR) before 1989. Sachs, Renak and Velosteel hubs are identical constructed, but the the guys who had one say that the quality of the old ones are better.

    Regards from Germany

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  9. another interesting blog, the blog about the bobbin shopper and the wren was a cracker too. i have velosteel hubs available in my shop nr Bristol uk. a good cheap option with classic style, good spares too. if you want a simple bicycle, worth a look at a single velosteel or duomatic hub. might even will fit one in an old RSW20, i have plenty here. i love the shopper and old school bicycles.

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  10. Flying Pigeon bike shop in Los Angeles was selling the Velosteel hubs. I don't know if they still have them in stock.

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    1. I know they mentioned having a box of them back in January, but not sure whether it's part of their regular inventory. Not available online either.

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  11. Interesting review. I like my Velosteel, and I like it more than the ubiquitous KT-built Shimano cb-e110 or the various KT/Hi-Stop hubs that seem to be everywhere. It absolutely doesn't blow me away, but it's tough to beat for the price.

    Folks above had asked for more technical info; you can find plenty on here : http://www.elegantwheels.net/VELOSTEEL.html . FWIW, this is probably the same bro you got yours from on ebay, Velouria. Dude's name is Guy, and he's a helpful person.

    I was mostly blown away by how quiet the Velosteel is while coasting, and it's also pretty quiet under load, as compared to the other contemporary 1speed CB hubs.

    I totally believe the comments above about the older, Sachs-built hubs being better assembled than the Velosteels, but I wonder how much of that perception comes from rose-tinted goggles. The only Sachs hub I've got is a Torpedo Duomatic, so it's an apples/oranges comparison, but it doesn't seem all that better than the Velosteel. (Of course, it's also 40+ years older.)

    Final note: my Velosteel has some sort of date code embossed in the center of the hubshell, as well as the "Velosteel Made in Czech Republic" on the arm...

    Thanks again for a great review.
    -rob

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    1. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the quiet! Unusually so.

      I got my hub over a year ago now and need to check my records, but yes I think it's from the same person. Mine definitely does not have a date stamped on the shell. Would love to try one of the old Sachs duomatic hubs.

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  12. Velosteel hubs are the 'standard' rear hubs for delivery and cargo bikes here in Colombia.

    These hubs are threaded to take standard track cogs and lockrings, although I wouldn't reccomend using the Velosteel lockring on a track hub.

    When Velosteel was Favorit, the older hubs were oil lubricated and had an oiler for that purpose.

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    1. "When Velosteel was Favorit..."

      So are they one and the same? I wasn't sure and didn't want to post speculative info.

      Delete
  13. It's an American bike and it's begging for a New Departure brake. Until you can find one of those a Bendix Red Band or 76 would outperform even an original F&S Torpedo handily. If you have to have NOS the Bendix brakes ebay for about the same as Velosteel. If you just want a good brake there are millions of Bendix brakes out there for free.

    I never understood the Torpedo brake. Every sample I ever took apart or test rode was just an inferior brake compared to the standard universal Bendix. The "fix" for a weak Torpedo was always to lace in a Bendix. Yet there are some really old Torpedos still alive and their owners like them. There was even a "Schwinn Approved" Torpedo fitted to Paramounts. Could there have been same but different brakes for special customers and demanding markets?

    In any case the Velosteel is a pale shadow of even the Torpedos I know. The idea that you use oil or light grease in them is just backwards. Grease in a coaster hub is exactly analogous to the brake pad in a caliper brake.

    If you tried a good coaster once you wouldn't go back.

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  14. I love these coaster-brake posts. It tickles me that in this day when my beloved bicycle is becoming an ever more sophisticated thing and threatening to go all digital and electronic that there are little hidden spaces where grown men and women discuss which coaster brakes are best. Nothing would please me more than if we could start a big flame war with bad words, name calling and moderator censorship.

    Coaster brakes are the 2 wheeled equivalent of manual typewriters, un-synchronised manual transmissions and cooking outside over a fire with a straitened coathanger. Coaster brakes on a nice bike are high-top canvas basketball shoes with your best jeans and a crisp starched white shirt. Even a nasty, used up coaster is worth your time to mess around with if for no other reason than to learn how to lay a great smoking arc of rubber on the new sidewalk in front of the library on a Saturday morning.

    Simple things give context to complicated things and help us know when we've had the wool pulled over our eyes. All my bikes are about fun, even the serious ones and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the ones that squeal when you kick'em...

    Spindizzy

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  15. Is there any chance of a more detailed look at the whole bike, please, or have you done that in another post? It looks great and I'm particularly interested in the handlebars. I live in hill country and am getting on a bit now so 8 gears minimum for me, but I like the simplicity of the single speed coaster (back-pedal in the UK, or it was when I was a lad)for city use.

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    1. There is a link to it in the post, but here it is again here: ANT Truss Frame.

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  16. Thanks for this, you always have such good finds!

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  17. After reading some rave reviews of the Velosteel on bikeforums years ago, I got a few from a bike shop in Holland (I am in the U.S.). One recommendation on bikefroums at the time was to immediately re-pack the hubs with grease, since they came from the factory under-greased. I repacked mine with Phil grease, but that was a mistake - the grease was way too thick and it made the pawls stick (which results in the cranks spinning freely forward!). So, when you do repack these hubs, make sure to use a light grease...

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  18. I wish more American bike shops carried Velosteel.

    Really? Didn't you seek one out precisely because you didn't want the more widely available Shimano? I'm pretty sure that the difficulty of obtaining one is part of the appeal for you. Otherwise, as somebody else said, you should probably go with an old Bendix.

    Incidentally, I recently refurbished a '50s Resilion coaster hub: an English-made clone of the Sturmey Archer SC. Similar roller mechanism to the Torpedo, and it's really not too impressive -- honestly, I wouldn't use it if my city had hills. I'd much prefer a Bendix of the same vintage.

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    1. Isn't an old Bendix harder to get than a Velosteel?

      If the difficulty of obtaining parts appealed to me, my bikes would be equipped quite differently than they are! I can't even be bothered to source TA cranks.

      If SA made a single speed coaster brake hub, that would have been my choice.

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    2. Not at all. eBay is full of Bendix red stripes (much beloved of the Schwinn crowd), and they're not hard to disassemble and overhaul. OTOH, they're not nearly as sachsy. :)

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  19. Just wanted to comment on the disparaging words above about Torpedo hubs. I've tried an old New Departure, and I've tried a lot of old Torpedos. The Torpedos are way better designed than the ND. The ND is not exactly bad, and on a par with the Swedish Novo hub. But IMO nothing comes close to Torpedos, even after 70 years of use, if only they're not VERY heavily abused.

    A word about your "Favorit" (;-)) hub: I bought a wheel equipped with one 15 years ago, and after a while, it started spinning very roughly. I took it apart, and it seemed as if it had never seen any grease, only oil. I couldn't really save it. So, my advice is to grease all bearings with high viscosity grease, EXCEPT the little "rolling bearings". They must be oiled.

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  20. Simple test. Find a big steep hill. Big enough any coaster is going to smoke. If your brake smokes and lives you're OK. If it burns up and dies be glad you destroyed it when it was only a test.

    You will find there are big differences in the different hubs.

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  21. Love the coaster brake coverage! I have a pair of cruisers with cheap (KT)? coasters, ride them on hills and love them. We have two other coaster bikes and haven't smoked any hubs yet. Coaster repacks are fairly simple, replacement wheels cheap and a front caliper brake are easy to install. These friendly folks are my neighbors and they sell Velosteel: http://coasties.com/

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    1. I second the coasties.com recommendation. I haven't purchased yet, but I've been emailing them with questions about coaster brakes (including the velosteel) and they've been extremely helpful.

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  22. New Departure hubs are the coaster brake hubs that are the best at modulating braking power.

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  23. Velouria, this bike is a stunner. Your taste is beginning to influence me quite a bit!
    One question I'm afraid to ask: where is beloved Patrizia?
    I miss her. Have you two said 'arrivederci'?

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    1. Yup, I've sold most of my bikes. Patrizia still lives in the neighbourhood, but with a new owner. Some day I will own another Bella Ciao, with Columbus tubing next time. Maybe the Moscova...

      Delete
  24. Velosteel with roller clutch is a old Fichtel & Sachs Torpedo exact copy and you can all hub mechanism (exept dustcover from breakarm side) put for replacement inside Sachs Torpedo shell from 1930, 1940, 1950 etc. (or to soviet XBZ or Pensa knockoffs).

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  25. Bike mechanics work on bikes as they come in the door. The typical low budget transportation bike has been abused pretty thoroughly. The guy who rides in on his gemutlich uber-bike that he bought in Wien or Koln or Basel, his Torpedo is not a problem. The rest of them are.

    At least two thirds of the Torpedos I've met have been bone dry. There's not a lot of lube in them and it's light stuff. They don't work with heavy grease. By the time I see it the hub has been dry a while. If it's just too long or if the bike is used hard then parts are burned and there are no spares.

    No one comes in because their coaster brake is getting marginal. It happens over time and you can get used to anything. They come in because they have a flat tire. As a marginally responsible person I do not want to send someone out on the street with two well inflated tires and slim or no brakes. If it's a Bendix (which is less likely to be dry in the first place) it's two or three minutes to open it, shove in a handful of grease, and close it. Probably that was free service but I feel good for having done it.

    In the best case with a Torpedo, assuming the hub can be saved, it's a bit fiddly. It takes just enough time you can't just go ahead and do it without stopping to think a minute. And you cannot spend time with the customer explaining why all their options are somewhat complicated and expensive. Really the only good option occurs when you just happened to salvage an exactly appropriate substitute wheel earlier this morning. Not too often.

    European riders living in Europe where the Torpedo is and has been the dominant coaster presumably understand the necessary care and feeding. And can get parts. And understand there are some things you just can't do with that hub. If they can keep that German engineering going for a century good for them. The majority of all Torpedos I've seen have problems and they are a problem.

    Source a Bendix in the alley. They are no longer omnipresent. They are still very plentiful. No shortage. And they last a long long time. Someone may not be impressed with New Departure engineering. OK. Try and break a New Departure. Try to burn it or wear it down. Before you get there you'll have a lot of respect for ND.

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    1. Original Torpedo was designed to last for 100 000 - 200 000km.
      I have personally maintained by the hub, which has been used daily since 1939 and is still fully functional and with all original parts.

      P.S. In my home - in Estonia, ~1945-1992 was sovietmade torpedo knokoff which was used at all. No other singlespeed options, no internally geared hubs, etc.

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  26. The Workcycles mechanics collectively have enormous experience repairing Torpedo, Velosteel/Favorit, Shimano and Hi-Stop coaster brake hubs and all regard the Velosteels with scorn. Being both pretty and based on and semi-compatible with father Torpedo they "want" to like them but they unfortunately just don't hold up well.

    Shimano CB110's are ugly, boring, ubiquitous and have a slightly spongy feel but they are surprisingly tough.

    Hi-Stops are cheap Shimano copies for kid's bikes and nothing more.

    A couple more notes:
    You're not missing anything with the Sturmey Duomatic. We've tested several series of them and they're still self destructing.

    Several versions of F&S single-speed, coaster brake hubs were made. There were lighter versions and heavy-duty versions.

    The best coaster brakes currently available:
    The new SRAM Automatix (autoshifting 2-speed). It's unattractive but built like a tank.

    Th coaster in Shimano's Nexus 8-speed is durable, powerful and well modulated. We've ridden one daily as the primary brake in my family's bakfiets for several years and have remarkably few problems with these in thousands of customer bikes.

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  27. Great discussion. A few comments:

    I always strip the hub and check the grease. I supplemt where necessary. I use Park grease with no problems. Usually the clutch engaging problem goes away with use. Thick grease agravates this situation. If it persists, contact me for help. After selling hundreds of hubs, I can report that this is extremely rare.

    I have all parts avilable, and most are interchangeable with Perry, Renak, F&S, Schwinn mark IV, Sturmey Archer, Favorite, and probably others.

    The quality of the Velosteel hub is not as high as vintage F&S hub, but what product made today is? Compared to other coaster brake hubs, the Velosteel is very well made. It was designed to have good modulation, not to lock up. Think of antilock brakes. OTOH, I have no problem skidding any Velosteel setup so far.

    If you have any problem with any coaster brake hub and need help with it, please feel free to contct me through the web site. I have overhauled hundreds of coaster hubs during my 40 year career in the bicycle industry.

    Thanks for the great discussin and all the kind word,

    Guy

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  28. just saw a picture of a campagnolo coaster brake hub? is this true or a shopped photo? did campy really ever make a coaster? thanks

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  29. I've been using a Velosteel coaster brake hub on my winter commuter bike for three years. My commute is 12 miles round trip, 5 days a week, all winter (about 5 months out of the year)in Madison, WI. There's a lot of sand, salt, and grime on the roads and the bike gets really dirty by the end of the winter.

    I clean and lube the hub at the end of each winter, using a lightweight lithium grease on the bearings and a semi synthetic non detergent 30 weight motor oil on the inner mechanism. The hub has held up well in this service. The finish is good, and the spoke holes are nicely radiused.

    I have a nice old New Departure hub that I decided I didn't want to use in the winter (it seemed a shame to trash such a nice, old hub by putting it through salt, sand, and grime), and a Shimano coaster brake hub that I had problems with spokes breaking due in part I believe to poor radiusing of the spoke holes, so when I saw the Velosteel I figured it was worth a try.

    I have several steep hills on my daily commute, and have learned that I can't rely on the coaster brake alone to stop if I'm going too fast down these hills-too fast being anything more than 20 mph. If I try to stop under these conditions the wheel will lock up-I expect what is happening is the oil between the brake bands and hub is pushed away. Working within that constraint, though, the hub has been fine.

    Thanks for all the beautiful bicycles, I love the sense of asthetics!

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  30. I've been using coasterbrakes since my BMX Freestyle days, and there is nothing more durable or better functioning than a Bendix 76 coasterbrake. Next would be the Bendix Red Band with steel shoes. Earlier Bendix hubs had oil-impregnated bronze shoes that wear out which results in having to backpedal a half-rotation to engage the brake. Next in durability/function is SunTour. They were standard equipment in Skyway Tuff wheels, although eventually I would swap in Bendix guts. The Shimano Type D and E are better than all the Chinese copies of them, because better materials were used. Still, that return spring is the weak link. And as it has been stated above it is aesthetically bankrupt.

    I have a New Departure on my prewar Zenith, and although it stops well, prolonged engagement produces a high pitched squeal as the grease gets squeezed out from between the brake plates. I have the same issue with Bendix 2-speed Automatics, but because of the larger diameter and thicker hub shell they don't get as hot. It also helps that the bike with the 2-speed has a Sturmey Archer drum brake up front. That is probably the key to coasterbrake long life, having it share duty with a front brake.

    In my short experience with the Sachs/Durex I found them to be absolute crap, as you have to stand on them to get them to skid. Knowing this Velosteel is the same hub will make me stay away from them. I think they would probably be fine paired with a front brake, but I would not rely on one by itself. I have similar experience with the Perry coasterbrake.

    Granted the type of riding I have done with coasterbrakes is likely taking them far beyond the scope of service they were intended for. With freestyle BMX I was pivoting, stalling, and landing with it locked. This is definitely a testament to the Bendix 76 ability to withstand abuse. These days I am just bombing hills both on road and off-road on old cruisers, klunkers if you will. This is still closer to abuse than regular use, although the added weight of a cargo bike and cargo could be just as abusive.

    If you can find an old Bendix, use it. Even the "Junior" ones are reliable under an adult. One warning though, they NEED 1/16" of side-to-side freeplay to work well, as specified in Bendix and Sutherland's manuals. Setting them up with no freeplay makes the shoes rub against the hub shell and it will contribute to overheating, which will cause the sudden lockups when scrubbing off speed down hills.

    I would like to see coasterbrakes make a comeback. I don't mean to disparage the Velosteel hub, but there are much better, although much harder to access alternatives.

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