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Bike for wife with hand issues - Alfine, coaster brake and lightweight

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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

Bike for wife with hand issues - Alfine, coaster brake and lightweight

Old 03-21-19, 08:26 AM
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Woodbineman
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Bike for wife with hand issues - Alfine, coaster brake and lightweight

Hello,

I am wondering if someone could put me on the trail of the right bike. I'm looking (and also willing to build) for some ideas on a bike for my wife. She has advanced arthritis in all her joints and especially has very low hand grip or mobility in hands. I am looking for some bike options which have an Alfine or Nexus internal hub (with a switchable rotating selector) and a coaster brake set up. She currently rides an Electra Amsterdam which has both but it's such a big heavy bike (Dutch style). I wanted to get her something that's nice and lightweight and way more maneuverable. Hybrid or mountain bike style but adapted for a more upright position - she can't have too much wrist pressure so bike has to be upright.

Any ideas? Anything off the shelf?

Konrad
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Old 03-21-19, 08:56 AM
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My wife has similar, probably not as advanced as what you describe, couldn't work cables to her SRAM shifters due to finger strength/pain issues, we put her on Shimano Deore Di2 1x (retrofitted her Domane with that) and it helped a lot. Bike fitter also got her into more upright position with different stem and bars.
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Old 03-21-19, 09:41 AM
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Great, thanks for the reply. I'll look into that as well.
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Old 03-21-19, 10:08 AM
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Microshift makes standard road drop bar shifters for the Nexus/Alfine 8 speed. I actually prefer road drop bar shifters for the wrist ergonomics. Palms vertical with thumb on top keeps the wrists much straighter than horizontal bars.

Tektro RL340's brake levers offer good ergonomics & are relatively in expensive. They are for road style bars as well. They'll really only work if you have other means of shifting.

SRAM is reputed to have good ergonomics as well, but I don't have first hand experience.

None of this may be that helpful for your wifes particular kind of arthritis, but I thought I'd mention it because after 10 years of being in manufacturing, ergonomics is a big factor in how I hold the bars. Fortunately my company allowed me to change jobs when "glass hands" began to set in.

My thought is you can always have a wheel with the right hub built & installed to what ever bike you find most comfortable. It's easy, just reuse the derailleur as a chain tensioner. I like road bikes, but if you find a different kind of bike you like there is plenty of other options.

The R&E shifter dookicky can be used just about anywhere you find convienent on any bike you prefer if you find a rotary shifter you like. It's actually just a mount, so it is not just limited to a Rohloff shifter. It is more expensive than a hub-bub, but more versital as well.

Note: IGH hubs are great inventions, but they ought not to be shifted while pedaling or applying force to the pedals. Some are better than others, but it's really, really self destructive. It's just a particular operating characteristic that should be understood if you intend to make the switch from common derailleur bikes.

Tourist bars are also a good option on many bikes & can usually be easily fitted if you find a bike you otherwise like. I found I really like the one made by Velo Orange.

Here is the late 1980's Peugeto Montreal Express mountain bike I built for my son. I have a feeling this is the direction you'd like to go. Notice the 52-36 front double & derailleur. Yet is has a Nexus 7 IGH hub and the above mentioned Velo Orange bars. It should be noted you can't use coaster brakes with a chain tensioner bike. So if you are flexible about the coaster brake requirement, any older model mountain bike could work.
20181007_130637 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr20181007_130526 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

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Old 03-21-19, 06:07 PM
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Great looking bike, that looks very cool.

Yes, the coaster brake is a total must, hence the Alfine. She now has fused wrists and limited strength and mobility in fingers so any squeezing or twisting should be minimized, especially for braking. She rides mostly flat ground so gears are there for convenience.

Can someone school me on the Alfine/coaster brake set ups? What do I look for in a frame (dimensions, dropouts, etc) that will work in retrofitting this? I am a new bike builder, but advanced fabricator (cars, motos, houses etc.). Ideally I'd like to make it look great (nothing worse than having a dorky bike = less riding). I think she would enjoy a mixte frame or an small mbt frame with a relaxed riding position.

thanks so far for the responses.
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Old 03-21-19, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by base2 View Post
Microshift makes standard road drop bar shifters for the Nexus/Alfine 8 speed. I actually prefer road drop bar shifters for the wrist ergonomics. Palms vertical with thumb on top keeps the wrists much straighter than horizontal bars.

Tektro RL340's brake levers offer good ergonomics & are relatively in expensive. They are for road style bars as well. They'll really only work if you have other means of shifting.

SRAM is reputed to have good ergonomics as well, but I don't have first hand experience.

None of this may be that helpful for your wifes particular kind of arthritis, but I thought I'd mention it because after 10 years of being in manufacturing, ergonomics is a big factor in how I hold the bars. Fortunately my company allowed me to change jobs when "glass hands" began to set in.

My thought is you can always have a wheel with the right hub built & installed to what ever bike you find most comfortable. It's easy, just reuse the derailleur as a chain tensioner. I like road bikes, but if you find a different kind of bike you like there is plenty of other options.

The R&E shifter dookicky can be used just about anywhere you find convienent on any bike you prefer if you find a rotary shifter you like. It's actually just a mount, so it is not just limited to a Rohloff shifter. It is more expensive than a hub-bub, but more versital as well.

Note: IGH hubs are great inventions, but they ought not to be shifted while pedaling or applying force to the pedals. Some are better than others, but it's really, really self destructive. It's just a particular operating characteristic that should be understood if you intend to make the switch from common derailleur bikes.

Tourist bars are also a good option on many bikes & can usually be easily fitted if you find a bike you otherwise like. I found I really like the one made by Velo Orange.

Here is the late 1980's Peugeto Montreal Express mountain bike I built for my son. I have a feeling this is the direction you'd like to go. Notice the 52-36 front double & derailleur. Yet is has a Nexus 7 IGH hub and the above mentioned Velo Orange bars. It should be noted you can't use coaster brakes with a chain tensioner bike. So if you are flexible about the coaster brake requirement, any older model mountain bike could work.

20181007_130637 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr
20181007_130526 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr
Um the photos are upside down.
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Old 03-21-19, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 2manybikes View Post
Um the photos are upside down.
Well, they are right side up on Flickr & my phone. Upside-down thing seems to be an artifact of how BF renders them. You can always download & rotate in your favorite viewer.

To the OP: The thing is that you need a means of setting the chain tension. One way is to get a bike with horizontal drop outs, another is to have a bike with an eccentric bottom bracket. Both of which allow for the length of the drivetrain to be changed.

A standard chain tensioner will just barely actuate the brake mechanism enough to extend the tensioner to it's full limit. The result is tons of slack on top inconsistant, spongy performance and a broken tensioner.

I think (& somebody please correct me) that the American Bottom bracket found on many bikes with the 1 piece Ashtabula crank may be the right size for an eccentric bottom bracket. Vintage bikes with horizontal dropouts are plentiful. For your bike to work with coaster brakes, your selection is limited to these 2 options only.
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Old 03-26-19, 11:34 AM
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Cool not Shimano.. but ..

Sturmey Archer makes IGH with coaster brakes with 5 speeds... Sturmey-Archer | Products


and grip or thumb shifters

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-02-19 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 03-26-19, 11:45 AM
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my Bike Friday , is effectively a step thru frame.. built in Oregon https://www.bikefriday.com/folding-bikes/
You can order a bike from them set up to use a coaster brake, shown above,
Their new NWT (Or PakIt) can be set up with out the chain tension-er .. Axle can be moved back,
a need for a coaster brake build ...

Unlike most bikes, you specify desired parts, color and size .. then they build it ..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-02-19 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 06-30-19, 06:15 PM
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Coaster Brake and Alfine hub gears= as a rule not lightweight. 40-50 pounds may be realistic weight at very lightest. Meaning in Schwinn Collegiate territory in the days of old. Single speed cruiser or Fat Bikes what mainly will accommodate this setup. No lighter than your Dutch bike or even heavier. This genre of bike is not lightweight.

Last edited by Kent T; 06-30-19 at 06:19 PM.
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Old 06-30-19, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by randallr View Post
My wife has similar, probably not as advanced as what you describe, couldn't work cables to her SRAM shifters due to finger strength/pain issues, we put her on Shimano Deore Di2 1x (retrofitted her Domane with that) and it helped a lot. Bike fitter also got her into more upright position with different stem and bars.
More practical option if you want lightweight. The Alfine and coaster brakes, are no lighter weight than the Dutch bike you have now. Disc brakes of the hydraulic type might be easier for our poster's wife to operate.

Last edited by Kent T; 06-30-19 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 07-01-19, 12:55 PM
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Exclamation

Originally Posted by Woodbineman View Post
Hello,

I am wondering if someone could put me on the trail of the right bike. I'm looking (and also willing to build) for some ideas on a bike for my wife. She has advanced arthritis in all her joints and especially has very low hand grip or mobility in hands. I am looking for some bike options which have an Alfine or Nexus internal hub (with a switchable rotating selector) and a coaster brake set up. She currently rides an Electra Amsterdam which has both but it's such a big heavy bike (Dutch style). I wanted to get her something that's nice and lightweight and way more maneuverable. Hybrid or mountain bike style but adapted for a more upright position - she can't have too much wrist pressure so bike has to be upright.

Any ideas? Anything off the shelf?

Konrad
Nexus can take the roller brake , Alfine , discs, But neither are coaster brakes, foot operated,
both are hand lever, operated.

Shimano Alfine 11 speed build group includes hydraulic disc brakes and had an option of a Di2 electronic push button shifting (not seeing it featured Here ) ..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-02-19 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 07-01-19, 06:11 PM
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I think that some of the answers here are tuned more toward the type of bike to ride. Even with frame designs to accommodate the changes the easiest way to get the bike easy to ride at a high weight is using a lower rolling resistance wheel/tire combination. A heavy weight frame can be off set by a lighter wheel and tire combination. I spend time watching the videos and infomercials from Silca USA and they are the bomb! However they are in the camp of creating lower resistance to movement via the wheels and tires. Same concept works for even the heaviest of bike frames and wheel sets. Lower rolling resistance is what you are after. Smiles, MH
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Old 07-02-19, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
I think that some of the answers here are tuned more toward the type of bike to ride. Even with frame designs to accommodate the changes the easiest way to get the bike easy to ride at a high weight is using a lower rolling resistance wheel/tire combination. A heavy weight frame can be off set by a lighter wheel and tire combination. I spend time watching the videos and infomercials from Silca USA and they are the bomb! However they are in the camp of creating lower resistance to movement via the wheels and tires. Same concept works for even the heaviest of bike frames and wheel sets. Lower rolling resistance is what you are after. Smiles, MH
I have a truly lightweight bicycle for the first time in a long time and ... wow. And the wow has zero to do with rolling resistance. As a matter of fact it has some pretty poorly rated tires for rolling resistance but these tires will never flat. Period. But when a bike weighs in the ~20lb arena, everytime you pick the bike up, even partially, and you never think about the dozens of times you are positioning and orienting and just plain lifting your bike. When all that handling is done with a bike that weighs 20lbs vs one that weighs 35lbs or 40lbs or more! The difference is mind blowing. For an arthritic rider the heavier craft may well be unrideable. Children can bomb around all day on cruiser type bikes with awful rolling resistance wheels and tires and even carry their friends around on the handlebars or rear rack and think nothing of how poorly the thing rolls but they would never in a million years be able to lift even one end of the loaded bike off the ground if that should prove necessary. Light is right without any qualifications. But light costs. It's the only reason we all aren't riding super light bikes for whatever reason we ride bikes. The sheer jaw dropping cost of everything made to be lightweight.

To the o.p. respectfully and with your background in mind ... is a bike frame for your DW really the project for breaking into this new discipline? I don't know, I'm just asking. I've approached gifted fabricators whose work I've seen around town with an idea I've been kicking around for a recumbent bicycle and they run the other way. Literally. From a safe distance they tell me about the responsibility of making something that will transport a human being. They don't want any part of it. There is a framebuilders forum on Bike Forums you might (illegally) cross-post your questions there? That was a little tongue in cheek and not really helpful. But what I came here to say was that Mad Honk may be onto something. Even though I don't think rolling resistance matters as much as pure mass does his ideas at least are geared (swidt?) to working with the bike you have already. One way to reduce the mass of the Electra Amsterdam would be to replace everything except the important drivetrain bits with higher quality (lighter) alternatives. It would be a lot of work but a lot less than fabricating a new frame. It could get real expensive, but a local bike co-op could cut the cost by a factor of ... 5? I don't know, with the lightest rims, handlebars, seatpost, etc. Pounds could be cut from the all up weight of an Amsterdam. I don't think you can craft a frame that is pounds lighter than the existing one. No slight on your abilities, just saying. If you wanted to bling it out your could get a Copenhagen Wheel for it. The new electric assist hubs have regenerative braking that is so good you can use it as the only brake on the bike. Go and stop at the flick of a wrist and shifting gears becomes optional. FWIW.
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Old 07-02-19, 04:53 PM
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Leisesturm,
A couple of months ago we had an E-bike donated to the co-op and we kinda joked about it being a moped more than a bicycle. But in reality, those E-bikes are making cycling available to some of the riders who are aging or having troubles with driving higher weight bikes. One fella I met at the Hilly Hundred ride told me he is now able to enjoy riding again, due to his E-bike. And that may be a good choice for our OP. These can be pedaled normally or use the E-assist on hills. I will wager this will be an option for me as I get too old to conquer some of Bloomington's hills on my vintage steel bikes.
Smiles, MH
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Old 07-03-19, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
Leisesturm,
A couple of months ago we had an E-bike donated to the co-op and we kinda joked about it being a moped more than a bicycle. But in reality, those E-bikes are making cycling available to some of the riders who are aging or having troubles with driving higher weight bikes. One fella I met at the Hilly Hundred ride told me he is now able to enjoy riding again, due to his E-bike. And that may be a good choice for our OP. These can be pedaled normally or use the E-assist on hills. I will wager this will be an option for me as I get too old to conquer some of Bloomington's hills on my vintage steel bikes.
Smiles, MH
In this use case and application, and due to the added weight of that hub gear assembly and the coaster brake, and the bike's form factor this is better served by an e-bike. A good thought here.
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Old 07-03-19, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Kent T View Post
In this use case and application, and due to the added weight of that hub gear assembly and the coaster brake, and the bike's form factor this is better served by an e-bike. A good thought here.
I don't know about you but I think an Electra Amsterdam and a Copenhagen Wheel are an especially apt (culturally) pairing ... the hub gear goes away though ... good riddance?
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