Brakes without stong grasp
Greetings all! I normally am on other portions of the forum, but thought I would bounce a question off the collective wisdom of this sub-forum. My mother-in-law is wanting to get a bike, but she has avoided biking for a number of years due to arthritis. Specifically, it is difficult for her to use brake levers (the grasping motion is painful/weak).
At this point, I am planning on getting her a bike with an internal gear hub that has a coaster brake (or buying a hub or wheel and building it into a current bike) and installing at least a front brake as an emergency option (I don't believe in installing just 1 brake on a bike; call me paranoid). My questions are...
1) If I go this route, is there a specific hub I should be looking for? Cost is a factor, since she won't be riding that much, but I want something reliable/good quality.
2) Is there an alternative system that I should consider? I am not aware of other ways to avoid hand brake levers, but am open to learning new things.
I'd look at the Shimano Nexus 3 or 8-speed hub with coaster brake (SG-3C41 & SG-8C31) There was a 7-speed hub with coaster brake but it's not listed in the current lineup.
For some reason I'm not seeing any fully built up bikes with the 8-speed hub. Possibly because coaster brakes are often associated with cheap single speed bikes.
Edit: I found a company Firmstrong that makes cruisers with the 3-speed hub.
Last edited by Bezalel; 04-06-14 at 08:53 PM.
Thanks! I will check them out, as well as the Nexus. Depending on cost and the frames available on completes, I may just purchase the hub and a used cruiser, since many cruisers already are set up for the brake arm on a coaster hub. I didn't realize Shimano made a coaster version of the Nexus line; I had just come across Sturmey-Archer (but that was what I went looking for, since it seemed like something they would produce).
An alternative is hydraulic discs - She would still need to use her hands, but you can operate them with a finger and get amazing response.
I thought about discs, but that starts getting a bit more pricey. Plus, I think she wants a step-through frame, so then there aren't any (to my knowledge) bikes that would do that off-the-shelf, and thus, zero chance of finding something used. If it were me, I would be on that in a heart beat. However, my mother-in-law probably won't be moving that fast, and this is Madison Wisconsin, so hills are pretty small and brake fade is not really a concern.
Probably over half of bikes in northern Europe are coaster brake so something like a Dutch city bike should work well for her. If you're not far from Chicago check out JC Lind. Otherwise you can order one from Workcycles.