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  1. #1
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    Are coaster brakes any good?

    Has anyone used a hub with coaster brake recently? I'm trying to eliminate cables and thought, why not coaster brake? It worked when I was young. I'm mostly interested in the i-motion 3 coaster and nexus 8 coaster. How would that brake compare to hydro discs in the back? or V's? Is it even safe? How long do they last? Its for a simplistic/stripped down commuter. Its hilly.
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  2. #2
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    It works very good as far as braking is concerned.

    If you can get used to it , I couldn't.

    I got rid of it and installed drum brakes.
    ( on my winter commuter )
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  3. #3
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    coaster brakes do not work well where modulation(amount of braking) needs to be controlled...sand over hard surfaces, high speeds (had 1 blow up last year on me), or any place where accuracy in braking matters LOL

  4. #4
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    If you're interested in a Nexus 8, I'd get the roller brake that goes with it. I've run coaster brakes for years, most people hate them, esp if they're used to a freewheel's back pedal ability when stopped. Modulation sucks and they're not very robust (except for the old Bendix hubs).

    Even the Shimano roller brake has it's issues but I've figured out how to make it work well. Factory grease and careful cable routing are critical with a Shimano roller brake.

    Another option is the Sturmey Archer 8 speed with drum brake. I've had oil leak from my S-A IGH into the brake drum, I'm not impressed.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    I've had oil leak from my S-A IGH into the brake drum, I'm not impressed.
    Perhaps that's why Sturmey hasn't offered an oil lubricated drum brake IGH from the factory in nearly thirty years.

  6. #6
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    I had to change the factory lube on my SA 5 speed because the lube had turned thick and black. The shifting was so bad gear damage was a real possibility. I suppose I could have heated up some approved lube on a camp stove in my backyard and then dipped the internals. Except it was winter....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter View Post
    If you're interested in a Nexus 8, I'd get the roller brake that goes with it. I've run coaster brakes for years, most people hate them, esp if they're used to a freewheel's back pedal ability when stopped. Modulation sucks and they're not very robust (except for the old Bendix hubs).

    Even the Shimano roller brake has it's issues but I've figured out how to make it work well. Factory grease and careful cable routing are critical with a Shimano roller brake.

    Another option is the Sturmey Archer 8 speed with drum brake. I've had oil leak from my S-A IGH into the brake drum, I'm not impressed.
    I grew up with coaster brake bikes. Almost all of them were Sachs torpedo steel hubs i'd guess. I must have had like 50 of them when I was young.

    On coaster brakes hubs is the brake actually a drum brake inside there? Are "pads" or whatever that in there available when and if they wear out?

    I would like to build a 3 or more speed cx supercommuter without any brake levers.

    Of the many speed hubs, which are best? The new sram says its developed by old sachs guys. They know their sh1t I guess.

    in the 3sp class is the shimano or sram the best? I seem to recall someone saying the 3sp sram is the pinnacle of igh hubs, where everything is done right. Is this true?

    I was thingking of putting the gear shifter somewhere on the frame and leave the handlebars clean. Is there any possible way to get a coaster/foot brake to manipulate some kind of hydraulic piston or a lenght of wire? To get coaster braking but hooked to a disc. I'm a machinist if that helps. Diy is no problem. I would like a coaster/foot brake hooked up to a hydro caliper.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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    Specialized sucks ass.

  8. #8
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    I'm running the Sram 2speed automatix hub with a coaster brake. The hub has no seals & not meant for off road. The coaster brake is fun, but not sure how long it will last, sometimes it really screams back there.
    The 2 speed function works great. At about 18 kph it shifts, like dropping 2 cogs on a cassette, so i can run a little easier gear for hills and still pick up a bit on the flats.

    Last edited by BudMelman; 09-09-2012 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Pic

  9. #9
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    I like your idea of back pedalling to operate a disc brake.
    Not sure about a hyd brake, but a BB7 cable brake might work. Some type of cam mechanisim on the hub, so when you back pedal, it pulls the cable and actuates the caliper.

  10. #10
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    I have the freewheel version of the SRAM Automatix hub, and agree that the 2 speed works great. Since it has no seals, I disassembled the hub and packed the wheel bearings with blue marine grease. I also put some marine grease in the dust caps to help prevent water ingress.

    The Automatix hub is easy to service. Out of curiosity, I took the hub apart. I used "00" grease in the gears and light oil on the rest of the mechanism when I put it back together. The shift control spring can also be tweaked to get the shift point right where you want it.

  11. #11
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    I'd say so...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Are coaster brakes any good?-repack2.jpg  

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  12. #12
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    If I was buying new and wanted a three speed, I'd get the Shimano Inter-3 Coaster Brake Hub. I have the SRAM 7 speed coaster brake, it's OK. I'd like to try a Shimano Nexus 8C31, 8 speeds and a coaster brake, the ultimate.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by scooby214 View Post
    I have the freewheel version of the SRAM Automatix hub, and agree that the 2 speed works great. Since it has no seals, I disassembled the hub and packed the wheel bearings with blue marine grease. I also put some marine grease in the dust caps to help prevent water ingress.

    The Automatix hub is easy to service. Out of curiosity, I took the hub apart. I used "00" grease in the gears and light oil on the rest of the mechanism when I put it back together. The shift control spring can also be tweaked to get the shift point right where you want it.
    I did the same thing as soon as i got it. Tore it apart, packed the bearings with waterproof blue grease, and used a sticky trans oil ( similar to Phil's) on everything else. Next time i take it apart, i want to measure things and see if i can find some thin o-rings to seal it better.
    Wish they'd make a disc version. I learned quick you can't back pedal to miss rocks or stumps with a coaster brake.

  14. #14
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    I would imagine that it would be very difficult to control. Hydraulic disc brakes seem to be where its at.

  15. #15
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    the reason a coaster brake is easier to skid with is, as everyone's said, b/c you have a mechanical advantage. This comes about due to the differences in gearing.
    With a fg, with 70 GI, the rear wheel moves almost 3 times faster than the cranks are rotating. So, it takes a heck of a lot of energy to stop the wheel with the relatively small amount of leverage.
    A coaster brake, however, is geared to make it easier to stop. The backward movement of the pedals only has to move the pads of the drum brake up to the surface of the drum. My uneducated guess is that the brake pad, being located as close to the drum as is reasonable, would move less than 1mm for every cm that the pedals move backwards.
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  16. #16
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    Watch this, to fully eliminate cables go for either the new two speed kickback or an old torpedo two speed hub if you are happy to change the spacing of your frame to 112 mm.

    (link)gomeansgo.org/2011/12/07/klunking-in-bellingham]Go[/url] Means Go! Klunking in Bellingham(link)

    Do not have enough posts for a link so you will have to add the HTTP etc yourself but great video of coaster madness

  17. #17
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    I'm commuting on a singlespeed coaster.

    As a brake it works fine I guess. But it takes a long time to become a reflex action e.g. for an emergency stop. The positioning of the pedals also becomes a faff - you have to get used to stopping at junctions with the pedals in the correct place to set off again.

    If riding anything technical off road then generally find feet just end up in the wrong place when braking and trying to brake on bumps can be interesting....

    Coasters are generally greased metal on metal pads / "drum" (drum is really just the inside shell of your hub).

    The freewheel side is crude but rarely goes wrong / wears out / gums up - in the ones I've looked in, there were no pawls - just a big bendix screw thread and knurled bits of metal - pedalling forward makes the knurled bit chomp on the hub shell and hence drives you forward.

  18. #18
    Unhinged Aussie on a 29er
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickuk View Post
    I'm commuting on a singlespeed coaster.

    As a brake it works fine I guess. But it takes a long time to become a reflex action e.g. for an emergency stop. The positioning of the pedals also becomes a faff - you have to get used to stopping at junctions with the pedals in the correct place to set off again.

    If riding anything technical off road then generally find feet just end up in the wrong place when braking and trying to brake on bumps can be interesting....

    Coasters are generally greased metal on metal pads / "drum" (drum is really just the inside shell of your hub).

    The freewheel side is crude but rarely goes wrong / wears out / gums up - in the ones I've looked in, there were no pawls - just a big bendix screw thread and knurled bits of metal - pedalling forward makes the knurled bit chomp on the hub shell and hence drives you forward.
    Wouldn't want it to be my primary/emergency brake. Worked well enough to stop me, but not on its own in an emergency. It constantly had the ticking noise (either the freehub side was coasting, or the coaster brake side was coasting while pedaling) for me too. Other than that, everything mickuk mentions describes has been my exact experience, on and off road.

    I was using a Shimano 3sp internal w/ coaster brake. It worked reasonably well - I'd prefer a SS w/ coaster next time, I reckon that'd be a pretty bombproof setup and the rental bikes at Yosemite use the same setup. One thing I will note - extended braking + coaster brake = not good - there's some pretty long descents here in Washington and the coaster brake just does not do well on those.

  19. #19
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    On a 3 speed the "tick tick tick" will be the pawls of the hub gear internals not the coaster itself. I'm not sure if the brake shoes on mine rattle a bit when pedalling on rough road (there is a spring around the outside to try and hold them retracted but not sure it is very effective). But the roller cam brake on the Nexus 7 speed it replaced rattled a whole lot more.....

    I also wouldn't ride without a decent front brake (with load transfer it is the front that does all the stopping in an emergency anyway).

  20. #20
    Unhinged Aussie on a 29er
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    Quote Originally Posted by mickuk View Post
    On a 3 speed the "tick tick tick" will be the pawls of the hub gear internals not the coaster itself.
    Hmm, that makes sense, although I rode on the identical hub without the coaster brake on a different bike (v brake) and there was no ticking...

  21. #21
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    I have the Shimano 7 speed IGH with coaster, the Shimano 8 IGH rim brake, a couple of Shimano I3 coasters, and a SRAM two speed coaster.
    The all of them were easy to install and adjust.
    The I7 is flaky while rolling backwards and will not brake at all, but shifts well and certainly heavy. No issues in two years. I use this on a Felt Luxe that I ride for the fun of it.
    The I8 is on an old Schwinn Varsity that is my daily commuter. Not a coaster, but shifts flawlessly, excellent gearing range, and has had no issues in the 18 months I have had it. I got the 700c rims so I had a wider range of tire selection versus the old 27 inch wheels.
    The I3's (coaster's) are on a 2010 Schwinn Hornet and a 1968 Schwinn Typhoon. No issues, but in the hills, there is not a lot of gearing range to choose from.
    The SRAM two speed automatix is going to go on the Typhoon. It had no cables to start with, so... Still a future project...
    As for stopping power... The I7 squeals like a stuck pig on long descents, the I3's do not. All of them stop/lock up the rear wheel just fine. I did end up putting a front canti on the Luxe for additional stopping power. Keep in mind, the rear wheel can only provide a set amount of stopping power no matter how well the brake works. After learning that (painful) lesson, again, I spent the twenty bucks and bought a BMX long reach brake system.
    The story about not being able to back pedal is absolutely true. Finding your pedal grinding into curbs/rocks/pavement will only happen once and you should have a very demonstrative lesson to sharpen your learning curve.
    Again, all of these bikes are commuters/cruisers, and I have never personally tested any of these hubs off-road.

  22. #22
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    I grew up with coaster brakes. 1, 2(automatic sachs), and 3sp torpedo coaster hubs so this aint no news for me. I have like 15 years of daily experience with them, but it was like 15 years ago too. I haven't ridden a coaster brake bike for about 15 years so tharts why I'm asking. And this will go on a pavement only bike, a bike i will ride in a modest pace with dignity.
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  23. #23
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    Like driving a bus v. a pick-up braking and driving is different. Modulation simply requires the rider to become proficient with the coaster brake. Since my first bikes all had coaster brakes I became very comfortable with them and was later likely to overbrake using disc and rim brakes. Now with practice I am comfortable with all of the braking systems. But it is really about which system you prefer.

  24. #24
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    I recently emigrated from the UK to the Netherlands. I left my MTB in the UK for the time being and bought a couple of Dutch bikes, one is a Beick with a nexus 7 igh and discs and the other is a cargo bike with a shimano 3 speed hub and a coaster brake.

    First interesting lesson on the Beick was that European bikes have the brakes the other way around on the bars from a UK bike...... whole left hand vs right hand drive issues i guess...

    The coaster on the cargo is the only brake, i have only the one cable on the bars for the IGH. Very clean looking. As I don't have a car at the moment the cargo is my everyday transportation. The pedal position at traffic lights definitely took some getting used to and when the bike is fully freighted with both 40l panniers full of food with a crate of beer on the front rack it doesn't stop like my MTB with hydraulic discs that's for sure.

    I have put 600 km on in about 6 weeks so i haven't had a real long term test yet.

    Final point, when it was mentioned above that metal pads act upon the inside of the hub does this mean that over time the hub is a sacrificial part? I mean eventually it must wear out, probably take a few sets of pads first though??

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