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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 09-11-05, 07:50 PM   #1
IchbinJay
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Coaster Brake SS?

I'm thinking of building up a 700c rear coaster brake wheel for my track frame. Anyone ever done this before or have insight into why it might be a bad idea, asthetics aside? I'd also be interested to find out where I could get a 32 hole coaster brake only hub (NOT the nexus, 3 speed or otherwise). It seems like it would be a good idea to me. The only major problems I can see would be is have alot of weight in the back and getting a hub with as decent bearings as I have now (sealed or at least Shimano).
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Old 09-11-05, 07:58 PM   #2
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they don't really make good coaster hubs anymore. get an older one, maybe ask in the "classic & vintage" forum. I hear that sachs made a good one back in the day...

...and why NOT put a 3-speed hub on your track bike? Sturmey archer is the bomb-sheezy
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Old 09-11-05, 08:05 PM   #3
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Old 09-11-05, 08:09 PM   #4
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Most costers came 36 holes.24 on the smaller bikes(20/24" wheeled). and I think 28 holes on stingrays but not sure.I have a rare 40 hole bendix .I have not heard of a 32 hole coaster hub.
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Old 09-11-05, 08:33 PM   #5
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i have built up 3 wheels with 36 hole osterbrake, and i bought 2 from nyc bikes. It's pretty easy, and usualy needs to be spaced out to 120. think it JB importers who has them is lot's of sizes just go to you local shop and ask to flip thru the qbp and Jb catalogs and you should find them in a few hole paterns
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Old 09-11-05, 09:27 PM   #6
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If you search the archives you'll find several who have. jimv most notably has some beautiful 700c coaster bikes.

Earlier this year I had a Steamroller built up with a Shimano E-type coaster hub. The only minor problem was having to use extra thick tandem spokes because the holes in the hub were too big for regular ones.
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Old 09-12-05, 07:49 AM   #7
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Hmmm...interesting. The plot thickens (as do the spokes apparently). I think I'll ride fixed until I get injured and then maybe make the conversion. How does that sound for preventative maintenance? Thanks for those links though, that really gives me a good idea as to what I might build up in the future.

One last question though: How do they ride? Is the braking distance better or worse than a fixed gear? How about skidding, is it a big problem with the 700c tires? The last coaster bike I owned was a 16" huffy so I don't know how a thinner tire will hold up.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:21 AM   #8
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If you're doing it on a track frame, watch out for those chainstays. Otherwise, sounds sweet. (Kevin Bacon stylee!)
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Old 09-12-05, 08:46 AM   #9
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Dude, rather than getting a coaster, and relying on your rear wheel (rear braking=poor braking), why not save yourself a lot of aggrivation and get a FRONT BRAKE. Coaster brakes are annoying anyway, because you can't backpedal when you want to start from a red light. You can always take the brake off when you want to look "cool"
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Old 09-12-05, 09:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IchbinJay
How do they ride? Is the braking distance better or worse than a fixed gear? How about skidding, is it a big problem with the 700c tires?
Stopping distance is no better or worse than fixed as far as I can tell. It stops better than I thought it would considering the tires.
So far I haven't had a problem with skidding when I didn't want to, but I also haven't been down any steep hills in the rain. Or dealt with icy/slushy roads. Skids on purpose are very easy.
As usual, yeah, a front brake in addition to the coaster would be safer. I'll put one on eventually.
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Old 09-12-05, 01:56 PM   #11
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Well, I do have a front brake on my bike already. I kinda just wanted something that didn't look as obtrusive but was reliable, especially in the winter. Also, I just like to tinker with bikes. It's fun in and of itself.

The other thing is that although my fixed gear bike can go faster than my MTB SS, I find that using a coasting bike is just easier when I'm riding around a congested campus or urban enviornment. Surprisingly I've found my fixed gear bike to be a better distance road bike rather than an urban bike. It almost makes me wonder whether a freewheeling bike would be better for messengers or not, right? I mean, just thinking ahead to winter, I can already see my poor braking on the fixed gear as opposed to the coaster brake wheel (the lesser of two evils I suppose).
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Old 09-12-05, 02:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lz4005
If you search the archives you'll find several who have. jimv most notably has some beautiful 700c coaster bikes.

Earlier this year I had a Steamroller built up with a Shimano E-type coaster hub. The only minor problem was having to use extra thick tandem spokes because the holes in the hub were too big for regular ones.
Many CB hubs come drilled for the fatter 12ga spokes. Lots of cruiser style bikes were built w/ coasters and these heavy spokes. Ths is what lz4005 is talking about.

You can use 14ga spokes in thpse hubs without any problem.
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Old 09-12-05, 02:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IchbinJay
Well, I do have a front brake on my bike already. I kinda just wanted something that didn't look as obtrusive but was reliable, especially in the winter. Also, I just like to tinker with bikes. It's fun in and of itself.

The other thing is that although my fixed gear bike can go faster than my MTB SS, I find that using a coasting bike is just easier when I'm riding around a congested campus or urban enviornment. Surprisingly I've found my fixed gear bike to be a better distance road bike rather than an urban bike. It almost makes me wonder whether a freewheeling bike would be better for messengers or not, right? I mean, just thinking ahead to winter, I can already see my poor braking on the fixed gear as opposed to the coaster brake wheel (the lesser of two evils I suppose).
Coaster brakes ARE good for winter, in that they are self-contained, and work equally well in poor or good weather. However, coaster brakes do not work as well as a well-adjusted front brake with kool-stop salmon pads in ANY weather.

The bearings also suck, and they are heavy. You really don't need rear brakes at all. In my experience, they hardly do anything unless you have discs or very good vbrakes. If you don't like your fixie in congested areas, consider lowering your gear ratio.
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Old 09-12-05, 03:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kogswell
Many CB hubs come drilled for the fatter 12ga spokes. Lots of cruiser style bikes were built w/ coasters and these heavy spokes. Ths is what lz4005 is talking about.
You can use 14ga spokes in thpse hubs without any problem.
We did a test lace with 14ga and they were so loose it literally looked like they might pull right through the holes. The wheel builder at the LBS thought it wouldn't be structurally sound to lace it that way and basically refused to do it as a safety precaution. This is the same guy who told me not to put a front brake on because it looked cooler (mostly kidding), so he's not a safety nazi by any means.

Since he's built and fixed hundreds of wheels to my 0, I trust his judgement. And considering the added strain a coaster puts on spoke ends compared to rim brakes, it was worth the extra time and money to me.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genericbikedude
Coaster brakes ARE good for winter, in that they are self-contained, and work equally well in poor or good weather. However, coaster brakes do not work as well as a well-adjusted front brake with kool-stop salmon pads in ANY weather.

The bearings also suck, and they are heavy. You really don't need rear brakes at all. In my experience, they hardly do anything unless you have discs or very good vbrakes. If you don't like your fixie in congested areas, consider lowering your gear ratio.
You really can't rely on a coaster brake to stop yourself. You need at least one other brake.

Coaster brakes are good for scrubbing off a bit of speed. Like when you're about to enter a corner too fast. Being able to reduce your speed without having to use your hands is kool.

Coaster brakes have another good attribute: they freewheel without any ratchet noise. So they're the most quiet rear hub.

They take a little getting used to. And they may not be your cup of tea. But, as someone pointed out above, the old ones are well made and they're easy to maintain and they go forever.

MG
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Old 09-12-05, 05:38 PM   #16
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I was checking out the Sturmey Archer site and they have a pretty cool sealed bearing coaster hub...although I don't know if it's too long yet or not. However, it looks pretty good.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:43 PM   #17
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Scratch that, the sealed bearing one is a drum brake hub.
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Old 09-12-05, 05:43 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genericbikedude
You really don't need rear brakes at all. In my experience, they hardly do anything unless you have discs or very good vbrakes. If you don't like your fixie in congested areas, consider lowering your gear ratio.
my old bmx only ever had a rear brake (against regulations to have a front brake when racing), and I could always stop just fine. it's not so much the brake, but the set up. do a crappy job adjusting the brake, you'll get crappy performance.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:17 PM   #19
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^^^--Sure, but a well adjusted front brake will have far more stopping power than a rear brake with the same adjustment.
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Old 09-12-05, 08:33 PM   #20
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yes, but this is not what you said in your original statement.

"...they hardly do anything unless you have discs or very good vbrakes." != "...a well adjusted front brake will have far more stopping power than a rear brake with the same adjustment."

the way you ride will also affect how you brake. in normal posture a front brake forces your weight forward, forcing the load of the bike and ride on the front wheel. standing up out of the saddle, putting your butt over the rear wheel, and using only the rear brake can have the same effect, since you are loading the rear wheel. on most any bike I ride, I usually only use the rear brake, and stop just fine, rarely using the front brake to scrub speed.
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Old 09-13-05, 10:43 AM   #21
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I have done this before although it was ages ago and I sold the bike to a Toronto messenger when I left the biz. it worked just fine for me for the 3 or so years I had the bike-great winter bike as the brake in the coaster is not affected by adverse weather conditions-run a front brake too please!! as for finding a decent hub-you just have to keep looking...If I remember the stock cog on my hub was a 17 or 18 which i ran with a 52 ring-hey my knees were young and strong and the bike was just mainly for delivering not for touring. good luck!!

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Old 09-13-05, 02:31 PM   #22
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This is good info. I guess my ideal hub would be one with sealed bearings...though my search isn't looking ver fruitful. A 16t cog would be great (I'm running 45:16 right now) so I don't think I'll have a problem there. As for a front brake...well, I don't know. I think I might take it off if I'm gonna go with a coaster brake...I guess I just want to look cool and 'minimalist' (jk).
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Old 09-16-05, 02:33 PM   #23
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So yeah...anyone know of any good coaster hubs? Let me know!
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Old 09-18-05, 02:40 AM   #24
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I run a SS coaster on the bike I usually ride these days (a 70s Motobecane). I love it, works fine.

I find the cheapo Shimano types perfectly usable, inexpensive, and ubiquitous. Not classy by any means, but it just works. Never had problems using 14g spokes. The only classy new SS coaster brake hub I'm aware of is the Velosteel. Copied from the old Sachs design. Classy in that it's nicely made, precision machined and pretty. Unfortunately, it weighs about half a pound more than the cheap Shimano style hub and seems to not brake as well. A real bummer. And it's damn near impossble to get, anyway.

Almost all SS coaster brake hubs are spaced for 110mm. However, it seems pretty common for them to have extra long axles, and will accomodate many spacers. My MTB is a SS coaster, and uses extra nuts from a junked kid's bike as spacers to fill out the rest of the 135mm rear spacing.

I do ride a couple of bikes with only a coaster brake, and they are sufficient. I personally have a hard time believing a coaster brake would be worse than a brakeless fixie, and more likely almost always better, in terms of stopping power.

Any new hub you get might do well with a good grease packing before use. If you manage to get a Velosteel, it's absolutely imperative to grease it, as it comes from the factory with only a symbolic amount of grease (looked more like a very thin coat of vaseline to me).

Older coaster brake hubs are not too difficult to dig up, and some are pretty decent. I'd stick with Bendix or Sachs if you want "old" and "decent". Try to make sure they're functional before lacing them up, though. Getting replacement parts can be tricky. Fortunately, SS coaster brake hubs in general are very sturdy beasts that last a long time.

Lastly, I find that tire size makes a difference with coaster brake stopping power. Skinnier, bigger diameter tires typical on road bikes (27", 700c) seem to exhibit less stopping power than fatter smaller diameter tires (such as 26" and smaller MTB/cruiser/BMX, etc). Road bike tires also tend to be thinner constructed, and much more prone to wear out, as a rear brake tends to skid (if even just a little bit).
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Old 09-18-05, 06:07 AM   #25
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I used to run a coaster brake on a track frame, and loved it.
The only problem was they wore out pretty quick.
After about 5 months of daily use the brakes would jam up or the pedals would stick it would act weird and dangerous.
I went back to fixed.
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