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  1. #1
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    Coaster Brakes vs. Hand Brakes for Kids

    I hate to read this, but this kid died by going over his handlebars after applying the brakes. I have kids, and I taught them how to use the front brakes, but it's still dangerous in an emergency, imo. I sure prefer the old style coaster brakes for kid's bikes. They don't go that fast and these brakes are best for that.

    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009...ashing_bi.html

    Just makes you think.
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    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My daughter's first bikes had coaster brakes and were re-fitted with hand brakes and then I taught them how to use them effectively.

    Both of my daughters use their front brakes as primaries and I have also had to upgrade their brakes / brake pads as their skills have improved... my nine year old's 5 speed hardtail was rocking Avids and Kool Stops as she needed to be able to stop effectively from 30 plus kmh speeds.

    She was riding like this at 8 years old and now has a faster 15 speed hardtail that has really good brakes.

  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    You could always give them hand brakes and keep the front adjusted to where it won't brake hard enough to endo. Some front brake is better than none. With coasters you only have the rear.
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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    kids love coaster brakes 'cause they can do cool skids with 'em

  5. #5
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    kids love coaster brakes 'cause they can do cool skids with 'em
    +1 -- over in the Huffy thread, I posted a pic of my old AMF 20"'er and remarked that I wore out more tires than tubes because of how often I skidded.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    kids love coaster brakes 'cause they can do cool skids with 'em
    Of course us "big" kids also can do some pretty cool skids with hand brakes. ;-)
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    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    +1 -- over in the Huffy thread, I posted a pic of my old AMF 20"'er and remarked that I wore out more tires than tubes because of how often I skidded.
    How about the sneaker's that we wore out as well?
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  8. #8
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    I was growing out of my sneakers faster than I could wear them out.. lol

    Well, that's mostly true, until I discovered soccer.

  9. #9
    8speed DinoSORAs Ed Holland's Avatar
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    That is a sad story. I was surprised to see that it was not coaster brakes that were the query for safety here. They are something with which I never felt comfortable on the few occasions I have used them. As a boy I had a bike with front and rear calipers and "endo-ed" once, taking a direct header into the tarmac well before bicycle helmets were available. I was lucky and walked away, my main concern being how to explain to my mum the damage & dirt on my clothes...
    Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live.

  10. #10
    LCI #1853
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    A kid's first bike ought to use coaster brakes, since in many cases their little hands aren't strong enough yet to properly work hand brakes. The drawback to coaster brakes is that they make it difficult to rotate the pedals to the right position for a "power pedal start," so they may need to switch feet as they push off, or lift the rear wheel to rotate the pedal to where it needs to be.

    As they get older and gain more upper body strength, transition to hand brakes. Some of the "better" kid bikes will have coaster brakes on the rear wheel and a hand brake in front, this makes the transition to hand brakes a little simpler...

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  11. #11
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thdave View Post
    I hate to read this, but this kid died by going over his handlebars after applying the brakes. I have kids, and I taught them how to use the front brakes, but it's still dangerous in an emergency, imo. I sure prefer the old style coaster brakes for kid's bikes. They don't go that fast and these brakes are best for that.

    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009...ashing_bi.html

    Just makes you think.
    The replies from some makes me think that some cycling enthusiasts can't fathom that few kid's (or adults) bikes are going to be lovingly maintained or that the bike owners are going to be skilled/calm enough to safely use/modulate maximum braking power during an emergency stop.

    IMO, the alleged difficulty of rotating the pedals in to proper position for a "power pedal start," seems like a trifling problem on a kid's bike.

  12. #12
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post
    The drawback to coaster brakes is that they make it difficult to rotate the pedals to the right position for a "power pedal start,"
    That's the least of the problems with a coaster brake. Anyone can stand on the pedals for extra force.

    The problem is panic stopping with a coaster brake. Unless you begin your reverse-rotation in the right spot, you won't have enough mechanical advantage to put enough force on the brake to stop effectively.

    -Kurt

  13. #13
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
    The problem is panic stopping with a coaster brake. Unless you begin your reverse-rotation in the right spot, you won't have enough mechanical advantage to put enough force on the brake to stop effectively.
    An even bigger problem of panic stopping with an "effective" front brake was described in the OP.

  14. #14
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    An even bigger problem of panic stopping with an "effective" front brake was described in the OP.
    Sooner or later, one is obligated to teach their child how to use the front brake judiciously and safely. Either that, or that child will end up endoing while trying to avoid a Maserati 30 years later.

    (Hint, hint, Exit.)

    -Kurt
    Last edited by cudak888; 09-25-09 at 07:02 PM.

  15. #15
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
    Sooner or later, one is obligated to teach their child how to use the front brake judiciously and safely. Either that, or they'll end up endoing when they're trying to avoid a Maserati 30 years later (hint, hint, Exit.).

    Hypothetically, which which would you prefer: Your child careening out of control into traffic to be flattened by an Escalade, or your child endoing, thereby avoiding being flattened by said Escalade - escaping with far less potential injuries and a bit of wisdom as to front brake usage?

    -Kurt
    Neither I nor my children (now adults) have ever had a problem cycling and effectively starting or stopping in traffic on bikes with coaster brakes. We always appreciated that they could reliably stop in all weather and road conditions, unaffected by wet or frozen equipment.

    IMO the need for ultimate stopping power for non competitive cycling is over hyped by racer wannabees. Especially when it is dependent on children applying "judicious" application of front brakes in a panic stop.

  16. #16
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    Neither I nor my children (now adults) have ever had a problem cycling and effectively starting or stopping in traffic on bikes with coaster brakes. We always appreciated that they could reliably stop in all weather and road conditions, unaffected by wet or frozen equipment.
    Maybe so, but it's far easier to teach the public - a public that doesn't care to learn anything in the first place - how to apply pressure to a caliper brake which gives constant results, rather then to teach them how to juggle their pedal positions (and re-position, if necessary) on a coaster to achieve a safe mechanical advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    IMO the need for ultimate stopping power for non competitive cycling is over hyped by racer wannabees. Especially when it is dependent on children applying "judicious" application of front brakes in a panic stop.
    Who said anything about ultimate stopping power? A 50-year-old Weinmann 999 can throw someone over the bars. Anything that provides adequate stopping power has the potential to lock up if someone clamps down on the brake lever as would a gorilla.

    -Kurt

  17. #17
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    A problem with coaster brakes is that shoelaces can get caught. Unlike a handbrake, one cannot turn the pedals backwards to release the laces. I had several crashes as a child due to this, so perhaps kids' shoes should have their laces taped or otherwise attached to avoid such a problem.

    Hand brakes do take some getting used to, but I doubt it's anything a kids can't learn within a day in terms of normal use. Training for emergency stops would take a bit more work.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ngchen View Post
    A problem with coaster brakes is that shoelaces can get caught. Unlike a handbrake, one cannot turn the pedals backwards to release the laces. I had several crashes as a child due to this, so perhaps kids' shoes should have their laces taped or otherwise attached to avoid such a problem.

    Hand brakes do take some getting used to, but I doubt it's anything a kids can't learn within a day in terms of normal use. Training for emergency stops would take a bit more work.
    I know that it seems to be the fad to have one's shoe laces untied, and I know that they can come untied on their own. But if they're properly tied they're less likely to come untied, or to get caught in the pedals/cranks.

    And yes I know that we all had our "fair share" of accidents as kids because our shoe laces got caught in the pedals/cranks. But, it's unfair to "blame" shoe laces for an accident. Particularly IF they weren't tied in the first place.
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  19. #19
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
    Who said anything about ultimate stopping power? A 50-year-old Weinmann 999 can throw someone over the bars. Anything that provides adequate stopping power has the potential to lock up if someone clamps down on the brake lever as would a gorilla.
    That's my take on the many posts found on BF whining about the inadequacy of rear brakes alone (no mater how activated) to stop as "efficiently" as front brake equipped bikes, while ignoring the very real potential of front brakes to throw someone over the bars, especially in a panic stop double especially for young children. Also while ignoring the skittishness/unreliability of front rim brakes in wet or icy conditions.

    You think you can train people, especially kids, to respond with a self controlled application of brakes in a panic situation? Then I guess you can train them to avoid all panic situations too and they won't need reliable brakes at all.

    Maybe it will be different when those "efficient" front brakes on kids' bikes are equipped with an ABS like system, but it isn't the case now.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    I know that it seems to be the fad to have one's shoe laces untied, and I know that they can come untied on their own. But if they're properly tied they're less likely to come untied, or to get caught in the pedals/cranks.

    And yes I know that we all had our "fair share" of accidents as kids because our shoe laces got caught in the pedals/cranks. But, it's unfair to "blame" shoe laces for an accident. Particularly IF they weren't tied in the first place.
    I never had a problem with my shoelaces getting caught, but when I was a kid the shoe laces weren't 12" long on each side before being tied.

    I could also lock up the rear tire on my Schwinn no matter what pedal position I was in.
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  21. #21
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    I am always surprised when this discussion comes up. I have now an old bike with center-pull cantilevers, but I always preferred coaster brakes. And I still think coaster brakes work better (as in slows the bike down quicker), but maybe it's just that my brakes are old (however well maintained).

  22. #22
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPprivate View Post
    I am always surprised when this discussion comes up. I have now an old bike with center-pull cantilevers, but I always preferred coaster brakes. And I still think coaster brakes work better (as in slows the bike down quicker), but maybe it's just that my brakes are old (however well maintained).
    When it comes to braking hard, no, they don't work better. Because of weight transfer, it's much easier to lock up the rear wheel than it is the front; once a tire is skidding, it's not contributing nearly as much braking force. I can brake hard with the front only, then lightly tap the rear lever to skid the rear wheel just for kicks.

    For most situations, though, coaster brakes work well enough.

  23. #23
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    When it comes to braking hard, no, they don't work better. Because of weight transfer, it's much easier to lock up the rear wheel than it is the front; once a tire is skidding, it's not contributing nearly as much braking force. I can brake hard with the front only, then lightly tap the rear lever to skid the rear wheel just for kicks.

    For most situations, though, coaster brakes work well enough.
    As I posted before, theoretical maximum braking efficiency or, if you prefer, "braking force" is greatly overrated, especially when used as the only metric/value to evaluate the suitability/practicality/safety of various types of bicycle brakes, especially for children and non competitive cyclists.

  24. #24
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    As I posted before, theoretical maximum braking efficiency or, if you prefer, "braking force" is greatly overrated, especially when used as the only metric/value to evaluate the suitability/practicality/safety of various types of bicycle brakes, especially for children and non competitive cyclists.
    Very well - but do a comparison involving a distance measurement at maximum braking (and at equal speeds) between properly working sidepulls/centerpulls VS. a locked-up coasterbrake.

    The former will win by a longshot. The coaster won't fare as well, and may skid out from under the rider unless they're trained to respond to the fishtailing.

    -Kurt

  25. #25
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    For most situations, though, coaster brakes work well enough.
    As you may know, BaracksSi in Germany coaster brakes are pretty common, I was raised there and I guess I still prefer them somewhat. (and like I said, my brakes are old and probably don't work that well anymore).

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