Safety COASTER BRAKE horror stories, please add your experience


Active Member
Sep 30, 2006
Since the beginning of the forum, I've tried to recommend NOT to motorize single speed coaster models. Every day 5-10 new members join us, and I'd guess 20% of the first timers are going to try that single speed combo.

The ONLY place it might work is the beach area, flat roads where the label Beach Cruiser really applies. If you are 60 miles from the coast, hills begin to appear, and that is where trouble begins. If you are going to piddle around at 10-13 miles per hour in really low traffic areas, fine.

But most folks are itching to hit wide open throttle.

Your life is worth more than a $100 bike, and I thought maybe we could get a thread devoted to bashing this type bike once and for all. Then, if a new MBer joins with photo's of his/her shiny Schwinn with coaster brakes, we could point them to this thread.

Just yesterday:

Originally Posted by BAM
went down like a sack of potatos lose gravel 30mps no helmet luckly my face took the brunt of the inpact these bikes will bite you i did take fenders off though bike came though like a champ have a new respect for mbs i think coaster break did not help me out in this wipe out
Originally Posted by Irish John
Not only is a coaster brake useless but it stops you from back pedalling when you really have to to get the pedals clear of the road. A good friend of mine fell off a bike without a helmet in France recently and sustained serious head injuries even though he was going quite slowly. I'd feel too vulnerable not wearing a helmet and when I had my big spill in January (wouldn't have happened if I hadn't got that cursed coaster brake) it saved my skull from being broken. I can't understand why they aren't compulsory like seat belts in cars
In 2005 I got a Grampa bike for $30, a '70's model Western Flyer. It was motorized for maybe 2 weeks when a local bike collector bought it, without the engine, just because he needed the leather seat.

Then I found a bikeshop, he only had ONE Sun Cruiser in the rows of bikes, I was more interested in the handlebars and tires than the speeds. ( I've mentioned how I spent $700 on bikes before I found the combo I liked.)

I bought it, motorized it, then ordered a 7 speed from the bike shop catalog. Sales picked up pretty quick, and the single speed basically sat there doing nothing.

That winter, I put another engine on it, and while coming to a stop sign on a wet road, I hit the brakes and slid sideways.

Whooooooa, I'm NOT going to sell something that even I couldn't control.

That bike was stripped of parts (I sold the frame later).

You can "think" nothing will happen, but if you haven't bought a bicycle yet, maybe reading some MBincidents, you will splurge on something with multi-speeds and handbrakes. Makes about a $50 difference on new models in the big box stores.

If you don't see a multi-speed cassette in the Wal Mart racks? Keep on walking, in other words.



Active Member
Jun 15, 2008
good thread started bamabikeguy -- may save a life -- could be yours out there ??

well due to my cousins limited monies
a while back when he decided to buy a motorized bicycle
I introduced him to our local Happy Time dealer

problem was -- with only around 300 dollars to spend

the good old (((COASTER BRAKE model))) was the only MB (((thing))) available

as we riders have seen so many times
on one of my cousins very first rides -- with me following behind
a car turning into a driveway cut right in front of him !!!

how he saved that thing from a crash -- I don't know
he made a comment to me after the near miss

if something happens to him with this set up
I will feel (((((partially responsible)))))

I have sent many people to two different motorized bicycle dealers close by here
from now on I wish to stress to possible MB buyers

DO NOT settle with coaster brake only -- that THING can kill you !!!

as we ride those things


Aug 7, 2008
Coaster brakes are at the mercy of the chain they use... if that chain breaks or slips off, dare I say "you have NO brakes!"

At least with hand brakes, if one goes bad, there is still a backup to use!

Redundancy in bicycle brakes is a VERY good thing!


I have a coaster brake and front and rear rim brakes. While I would not want to rely on the coaster only (75% of braking comes from the front, without that....), I see no need to remove the coaster.


Active Member
Nov 4, 2006
horror story

I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blind, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the DEVIL'S eyes! I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up for I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... EVIL!
:oops: wrong horror story.....:giggle:

I have no problem with a coaster brake...But I agree, this can't be the only brake.


Mar 9, 2009
I have a coaster brake and front and rear rim brakes. While I would not want to rely on the coaster only (75% of braking comes from the front, without that....), I see no need to remove the coaster.

Same for me, but this was an experiment, and now I am building up a nice mountain bike with a shift kit, it will also have discs.


Well I've had alot of exp. with coasters and I'll tell ya they can be a handful.I ride alot of the older bikes and have started to install hand b's also and use both. Someone said the coasters use the chain to work and no chain no brakes. They also use grease and believe it or not its just as important as the chain . Well almost. Funny thing though is that the braking action will actually get a little better at first when low on grease . Then its down hill fast or maybe not cause they start to lock up and as the grease go's they lock up more.Eventually they will cause an accident.Now I use waterproof Green Grease . It's multi P and a good synthetic polymer that outlasts reg. G 8 to 1...Ideal for wet invironments , works in extream heat and at the bottom says Fertilizer Resistant uh uh oh yea the coasters are below and to the rear of the seat ..., uh just in case I guess....T


Active Member
Sep 30, 2006
From: Bicycle brake systems

Might as well put the mechanics in the thread:

What I'm wondering is how the nickname "torpedo" came about??

A coaster brake, also known as a back pedal brake or foot brake (or torpedo in some countries), is a type of drum brake integrated into hubs with an internal freewheel.
The front handbrake is mentioned as the remedy. I've found, however, on my multi speeds, I use the rear brake to slow, the front to absolutely STOP, (which I absolutely rarely do, being 'ultra-rural', I'm a slow roller.....)
Freewheeling functions as with other systems, but, when back pedalled, the brake engages after a fraction of a revolution. It can frequently be found in both single-speed and internally geared hubs.

When such a hub is pedalled forwards, the sprocket drives a screw which forces a clutch to move along the axle, driving the hub shell or gear assembly. When pedalling is reversed, the screw drives the clutch in the opposite direction, forcing it either between two brake pads and pressing them against the shell, or into a split collar and expanding it against the shell. The braking surface is often steel, and the braking element brass or phosphor-bronze, as in the Birmingham-made Perry Coaster Hub.

Coaster-brake bicycles are generally equipped with a single cog and chainwheel and often use 1/8" wide chain. However, there have been several models of coaster brake hubs with dérailleurs historically, most notably the Sachs 2x3. These use special extra-short dérailleurs which can stand up to the forces of being straightened out frequently and don't require an excessive amount of reverse pedal rotation before the brake engages. Coaster brakes have also been incorporated into hub gear designs - for example the AWC from Sturmey Archer, and the Shimano Nexus 3-speed.

Coaster brakes have the advantage of being protected from the elements and thus perform well in rain or snow. Though coaster brakes generally go years without needing maintenance, they are more complicated than rim brakes to repair if it becomes necessary. Coaster brakes also do not have sufficient heat dissipation for use on long descents. A coaster brake can only be applied when the cranks are reasonably level, limiting how quickly it can be applied.

As coaster brakes are only made for rear wheels, they have the disadvantage common to all rear brakes of skidding the wheel easily. This disadvantage may, however, be alleviated if the bicycle also has a hand-lever-operated front brake and the cyclist uses it.

As backpedaling is not possible with a coaster brake, it is necessary to place both feet on the ground, and then place the non-braking foot on the forward pedal to restart efficiently. A coaster brake is therefore not compatible with toe clips and straps, or with a clip-in shoe-pedal system.
Last edited by a moderator:
Apr 14, 2009
i always had mountain bikes with brake calipers,lots of cables and brake handles do deal with.the brake calipers always needed readjusting and did not always stop my bike even with new pads,and when they did stop the bike they took a great distance. i now have a crusier bike with coaster brakes and my handle bars are neat looking,no brake handles or cables,just clutch and throttle. and i dont have to adjust my coaster brake. the coaster brake stops my bike on a dime.i ride my bike on flat ground and small hills. but anyway i love my coaster brakes are are the best i ever had. but i recommend a front brake caliper as a second brake for most people out there.


New Member
Jun 7, 2009
Coaster brakes are definitely not for everyone. It's like riding a chopper with a drum rear and a spool up front - you have to remain hyper-aware of your surroundings and the traffic, and accept that sooner or later you WILL go down. With the risk does come some added adrenaline when zipping through congested areas at a good clip.

I'd recommend a front rim brake/disc/drum to augment the coaster brake. I'd also suggest using an old (rebuilt or at least tuned-up) Bendix hub with the herringbone-style knurling around the hub shell. These have four shoes inside and are far superior to any currently-produced coaster brake hub that I've seen.

I actually participate in a single-speed coaster brake-only trail/fireroad race series here in SoCal, and with upkeep, tuning and the limitaions of a coaster hub firmly engraved in your mind, they do provide sufficient stopping power, even downhill. Okay, you may have to drop a foot and powerslide a little from time to time. ;)

Dirty Dave