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  1. #1
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    From Coaster Brake to Freewheel

    Hey guys, I have a beach cruiser style bike that has a coaster brake hub. I want the coaster brake gone, and I do not want a fixie.

    So I want a single speed freewheel for my bike.

    Can anyone tell me pretty straight forward and detailed how to go about this process. Links to places to purchase parts that I need are much appreciated.

    And we can pretend that I have very little knowledge in the custom bike world. Well...we won't be pretending.

  2. #2
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Do you have any brakes on it now other than the coaster brake?
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  3. #3
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    I have rim brakes that work fine. I took out the coaster brake pads already, so it kind of works like a freewheel...but not exactly. After coasting too long, sometimes pedaling won't engage the hub. Which is kinda weird feeling.

  4. #4
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    It's a 4,000ft descent over about 14 miles, done very often, and never uphill. Frequent stops along the way and occasional not quite flat areas/headwinds so it would be nice if there was a little bit of pedal power just to keep you rolling in some of the flat parts, or when the headwind slows you to a crawl.

  5. #5
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    if you are a digger and willing to experiment, you could disassemble the rear hub and see how the brake works and possibly remove parts to taste. i'm pretty sure i have a recently manufactured sturmey archer coaster brake hub that if i removed the brake shoes on (very doable) would most likely freewheel. barring that, determine the width of the rear dropouts and try to find a shimano compatible hyperglide rear hub with the correct spoke count. even an old style threadon freewheel type hub (more easily found in narrower rear hub widths than current designs) can work with a single speed freewheel. remember that your bike may be set up to only run with one sized rear cog, using the current front chainring, that is, and if so, you would have to make sure any new rear hub has a cog available in that number of teeth.

    this is just a start. it could be real easy or almost impossible economically speaking that is. others can add more info, confusing the issue even more than already have...
    Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 01-13-12 at 03:11 PM.

  6. #6
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    I have pulled the brake apart, and removed the brake pads as I mentioned above. The problem is that the brake pads held the male and female parts of the "Screw" that engages the hub when you pedal forward close enough to engage. I have put washers in there on the axel bolt, and they mostly work, but there is a half to whole crank of the pedals before they engage. And it kinda sucks.

    I am willing to buy a whole new real wheel if that is what it takes. Is there a 26" Rear wheel set up I can buy to make it a simple freewheel set up?

  7. #7
    Senior Member highonpez's Avatar
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    Any 26" wheel you should be able to thread a freewheel onto. I'd scour craigslist for mountain bike wheels and swap it out. Elders: Would that wheel be wide enough to fit a balloon tire?

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    Alright, well I need 25 of these things. So we're thinking big here. I need a reliable source for getting 25 wheels that fit a beach cruiser and a free wheel set up.

  9. #9
    We win all charity rides Street rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerbarian View Post
    After coasting too long, sometimes pedaling won't engage the hub. Which is kinda weird feeling.
    You made yourself a freecoaster, and you just have to pedal a bit before it catches. You can tighten that up so it doesn't have as much slack, and it will engage sooner.
    Quote Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
    The brake lever is on the handlebars, so no one can complain about that.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerbarian View Post
    I have pulled the brake apart, and removed the brake pads as I mentioned above. The problem is that the brake pads held the male and female parts of the "Screw" that engages the hub when you pedal forward close enough to engage. I have put washers in there on the axel bolt, and they mostly work, but there is a half to whole crank of the pedals before they engage. And it kinda sucks.

    I am willing to buy a whole new real wheel if that is what it takes. Is there a 26" Rear wheel set up I can buy to make it a simple freewheel set up?
    if you have temerity to disassemble your coaster brake, remove the brake pads, and the wherewithal to reassemble it, you have more knowledge about such things than 90 percent of the people on this forum. i have no doubt you will succeed if you really want to. but remember there are many types of bikes, cruisers, kids bikes, road bikes, single speed bikes, track bikes, commuter bikes, touring bikes, tandem bikes, etc., and although they may look alike. it is just superficial. each is largely incompatible with others.

  11. #11
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    So you're looking to convert a fleet of these to freewheel?

    1. Measure rear spacing and check ERTRO (written on tire sidewal, maybe 48 x 559, 42 x 590, something like that)



    2. Then call Niagara Cycle to see what they have for you. They have rear wheels w/ freewheel hubs starting @ $16, but you'll probably want to spend about $22 apiece for alloy rimmed wheels.

    3. Get freewheels and rim strips from them also.

    4. Ask for bulk discounts for a 25 ea. order.

    5. Respace / redish rear wheels as needed. Screw on freewheels swap tires/tubes over from original wheels. Sell all original rear wheels on CL.

    Personally I think I'd just keep rolling with coaster brake. They work just like freewheels 'til you backpedal.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 01-13-12 at 10:22 PM.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beerbarian View Post
    I have pulled the brake apart, and removed the brake pads as I mentioned above. The problem is that the brake pads held the male and female parts of the "Screw" that engages the hub when you pedal forward close enough to engage. I have put washers in there on the axel bolt, and they mostly work, but there is a half to whole crank of the pedals before they engage. And it kinda sucks.

    I am willing to buy a whole new real wheel if that is what it takes. Is there a 26" Rear wheel set up I can buy to make it a simple freewheel set up?
    that 1/2 to full crank before engagement is called the slack. add another washer or two to reduce it

  13. #13
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    Thanks guys, this is all very helpful.

    The trouble with the slack is that one more washer is too much, and basically turns them into a fixie. The reason I pulled the coaster brakes out is because some of the people whom I have riding these bikes don't pay much attention to "DO NOT RIDE THE COASTER BRAKE!" and that means burned to hell coaster brake and potential lock up. Which is bad to say the least. Some folks have not been on a bike in 15 years or so!

    So by going with a real deal free wheel, I am trying to make them idiot proof. And reduce my time spent in the shop disassembling and reassembling my custom coaster brake/freewheels. Believe me after taking these things apart about 30 or so times (x25 bikes) and experimenting with different washers/lock washers/lock nuts/etc...I am ready for something a bit more factory made to work!

    LesterOfPuppets, that's the description I was looking for. Thanks a lot man.

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