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Let's chat about coaster brakes

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Let's chat about coaster brakes

Old 01-18-23, 10:23 AM
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markk900
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Let's chat about coaster brakes

In the 3 speed thread there was a little digression about coaster brakes, but it seemed to deserve a thread of its own.....so lets talk about our experiences of coasters.

I'll start: my wife's uncle had a 1938 CCM Road Racer (bought used in 1940), which we inherited when he passed. It was originally equipped with a flip flop rear wheel (single speed fixed/freewheel) and likely a Phillips "Center Pull" brake. As he aged he seemed to want something a little easier to control, so in the late 70s he took it to a bike shop that swapped out the original wheels and installed a coaster brake rear wheel (and flipped the bars upside down!). When we got the bike, the brake barely worked so I sourced another Phillips centre pull (I believe through the generosity of clubman ), but also cleaned up the hub and installed a new brake cylinder (the old one was definitely worn). Its a Perry B100 hub (though it has no markings and the brake arm is generic). In the other thread, dirtman noted he had several bikes pass through his hands with this hub and it worked fine. My experience has been that while it works, braking would be better described as "gentle *********** of forward movement". Even with the addition of the hand brake (albeit with very old pads) stopping swiftly is a challenge, and with the coaster on its own it can be downright awful.

While I get that I am a lot heavier than I used to be, it seems to me that the coaster ought to be better than I am experiencing. After all, the entire Marin MTB scene started with clunkers (much heavier bikes) ridden by adults (in size ) and they were smoking the brakes at the bottom of the Repack..... How are others' experience running coasters?

Satisfying "pics or it didn't happen", here's the Road Racer as currently equipped:




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Old 01-18-23, 10:41 AM
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I have a cheap cruiser ca. 1990 with a coaster brake and I serviced everything on the bike including the coaster brake hub and stopping is horrifying. I remember my BMX bikes from my youth being able to lock the rear but not my cruiser. 26” wheel inertia vs. 20”? Boundless energy and weight saving of 40+ years ago? Who knows but I take it very slow on the cruiser.
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Old 01-18-23, 10:42 AM
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Coaster brakes take me back to my youth when my bike was a hand-me-down, bronze-colored affair. I think it was probably a Western Flyer, but won't swear to it. It had a banana seat and a coaster brake. No hand brakes at all. From what I remember it stopped on a dime and never gave me any problems. I remember having to replace the front tire once and maybe a tube along the way. Other than that, maintenance was non-existent. Not proud of that, just stating facts. The bike refused to die and I rode it literally every day for some time.

I have a somewhat vague goal of someday building a single speed with a coaster brake. Not sure what bars I'll use, but probably moustache or something which keeps me more upright than standard drops. And I will have at least a front brake "just in case" I'm sure. Don't have a timeline, but it will likely happen. Or not, and that's OK too, I have plenty of other options. But part of me wants to try a coaster brake again. For nostalgia if nothing else. Velomine used to sell a decent wheelset for cheap that featured a rear coaster brake hub. I'll probably go that route if I do it.
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Old 01-18-23, 12:10 PM
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I've had the best results with the Fichtel-Sachs/Torpedo brand of coasters, even when on an IGH. I had a TCW 3 that stopped well but of course the brake disengages if you hit a false neutral so that will never do. CCM's seemed to be good when new, Majestic (Montreal) were adequate at best and as mentioned in the English 3 Speeds, the Perry B100 weren't good stoppers in my experience.

Fave is a two speed Duomatic on a 57 Sports with a front backup that's rarely called into use.

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Old 01-18-23, 12:13 PM
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I love coaster brakes. I especially love Bendix 2 speed coaster brakes.
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Old 01-18-23, 12:19 PM
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Never had an issue with them if they are a good brake and adjusted well.

On a sporty road bike? Well, no.

But for a cruiser, they are perfectly fine if coupled with a decent front caliper. If you want to lock up the rear wheel with a coaster, slam it like you did before you learned that you "needed" more to have real fun. Some of my best biking memories happened on a coaster brake bike.
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Old 01-18-23, 12:34 PM
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All the recent discussion about coaster brakes is timely and gives me some things to consider. I have a spare coaster brake hub that I was thinking about building into a 27 inch wheel. I may go with a 26 inch mountain bike rim instead. In either case, I will make sure to have an alternate means of braking. Luckily, here in the flatlands, we don't have any stop signs at the bottom of steep hills. I usually just coast to slow down and only use the brakes to complete the stop.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:02 PM
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F&S work well on a flatlands bike, but fall short if you ask them to do panic braking. The Perry (and many of the other "English" copies) are derivatives of that design, which uses a roller clutch to push out the brake shoes...so parts are plentiful. Look for a square axle stub sticking out at the end of the axle, and you'll almost certainly get parts that are exchangeable/functional.

Brakes made on the other side of the "pond" were/are more reliable*, for the most part. The king of coaster brakes, Bendix (first Morrow) just plain have more available power; their design is very close to the mature Shimano (now Histop/KT) that is currently made. The fade resistance of the heavier Morrow hub is astounding (for a coaster brake...), and its shoes are massive compared to the size of the hub. The downside is that Morrow parts were already rare 40 years ago, and are getting even rarer. On the positive side of things, you can literally have a machine shop re-line the shoe assembly, since it is pinned-on bronze.

The final version of the Shimano design, CB-110 (and the slightly-less durable/practically useless KT and Histop, respectively), performs adequately in use. They can easily lock up a 622 wheel.

I've ridden most of the available crop extensively, including getting my hands on a new Velosteel (underwhelming: see F&S comment). The F&S design is an interesting way of accomplishing what the American engineers from Bendix did, but other than rolling more smoothly, I don't think it particularly works well. As noted, "slows down" more than "stops"; sometimes the rollers/pockets have worn, but without new replacements, you have no idea what dimensions you need to hit. Even with new parts, I've found the braking lackluster. Bendix models work nicely, but you must note that you want "red band" models, and definitely not something that came on a smaller wheel. New Departure Model "C" hubs used a more traditional brake setup, but parts are almost non-existent...and they didn't work as well as Bendix/Morrow, anyway. My Morrow (a fairly "young" 77-year-old model) looks rough on the outside, but rolls exceptionally well, with the hubshell riding on ~2" diameter ball tracks. As mentioned before, the absolute limits of braking power are high, and the high mass helps considerably with managing heat. The pedal lash between engagement/braking is on the higher side. The Morrow lives on a mountain bike that is used on the more sedate XC trails in my area.

The much maligned CB-110 is adequate for what you may ask of it. The biggest complaint with it is the tendency to get grabby fast, and the need to regrease it to get it to quiet back down...but if you happen to get it to the squeal point, and keep riding it, the shoes are usually dead. Not a big problem, since the same shoes have been made for something like 50 years, and are cheap. Bevel the leading side of the shoes (remember which way the wheel turns when the brake is operating), and replace the RH hub ball ring/axle bearings with loose bearings, and you will get a reasonably well performing brake.

*Not included: the New Departure Model D. It's neat, but not suited to sport cycling; the friction element is 100% unique to the hub, and is best described as a drag stack from a fishing reel. Neat to own, not a particularly "good" hub. I passed up on a cut-away sales model that a guy was selling at the expo in Philly several years ago, and have regretted it since.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:03 PM
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I love those wing nuts on the CCM, if I ever do this I'll definitely be adding those.
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Old 01-18-23, 01:38 PM
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I've got a Perry 2-Star on this one. Definitely not a great stopper. If I pick up too much speed on a downhill, forget about it. I don't remember having any stopping issues with my old coaster brake equipped Royce Union as a kid back in the 70's. Likely all the extra weight is the issue.

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Old 01-18-23, 01:42 PM
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On one of my commuters, I'm running a new Sturmey Archer SRC-3 coaster-brake 3-speed hub. I'm super happy with its performance (though I also run a front brake and tend to use that more than the coaster).
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Old 01-18-23, 01:50 PM
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servicing coasters is satisfying. I'm a fan of prewar cruisers. I've serviced maybe a dozen different brands including the modern Shimano copy ones (E110?) on dept store bikes. There are mods to improve them which is also fun.

My favorite coaster hubs are the Komet Super and the WWII (black out) New Departure Model D.
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Old 01-18-23, 03:03 PM
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While I have read lots about 2 speed coasters, how do they actually work? Is it a slow/small backpedal to change gears and a hard stomp to slow down, or ?

Reynolds 531 : Wonderful klunker material!
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Old 01-18-23, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Pompiere View Post
All the recent discussion about coaster brakes is timely and gives me some things to consider. I have a spare coaster brake hub that I was thinking about building into a 27 inch wheel. I may go with a 26 inch mountain bike rim instead. In either case, I will make sure to have an alternate means of braking. Luckily, here in the flatlands, we don't have any stop signs at the bottom of steep hills. I usually just coast to slow down and only use the brakes to complete the stop.
The wheels on the CCM are 27"......the hubs are laced to Rigida steel rims.
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Old 01-18-23, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by RB1-luvr View Post
My favorite coaster hubs are the Komet Super and the WWII (black out) New Departure Model D.
I bought a box of loose parts from a closed bike shop several years ago that included more than a dozen black New Departure brake arms. They were NOS with handwritten price tags on them. I made a couple into bottle openers, but I still have several unmolested ones.

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Old 01-18-23, 03:28 PM
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I grew up with coaster brakes. They were the standard brakes on utility bikes here in Holland BITD. Which was 99% of all bikes. As a kid I rated them higher than those kinda cool but cheap-looking "hand brakes". I had flat spots on my rear tire. Lots of them.
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Old 01-18-23, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
While I have read lots about 2 speed coasters, how do they actually work? Is it a slow/small backpedal to change gears and a hard stomp to slow down, or ?

Reynolds 531 : Wonderful klunker material!
A slight back-pedal engages the gear change, usually about a third of a turn, less if your crank is in a favourable position.. I'm sure it takes about the same time as throwing an SA trigger
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Old 01-18-23, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Kobe View Post
I love those wing nuts on the CCM, if I ever do this I'll definitely be adding those.
They are Phillips wingnuts I bought several years ago - probably from the big auction site but can't remember exactly where...... I need to add a wingnut to the brake arm fixing bracket so I can actually remove the wheel without tools.....I mean, a dime will work for the arm fixing screw if needed but it should all be tool-less.
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Old 01-18-23, 04:45 PM
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@clubman, isn't the F&S Duomatic a marvel? I have one on a German folding bike, 36h, that I really like. I even have one of the little multi wrenches that go with them. I've been tempted to remove it from that bike and build a 700c wheel around it, but I can't bring myself to dismantle the folder.
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Old 01-18-23, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by markk900 View Post
In the 3 speed thread there was a little digression about coaster brakes, but it seemed to deserve a thread of its own.....so lets talk about our experiences of coasters.

I'll start: my wife's uncle had a 1938 CCM Road Racer (bought used in 1940), which we inherited when he passed. It was originally equipped with a flip flop rear wheel (single speed fixed/freewheel) and likely a Phillips "Center Pull" brake. As he aged he seemed to want something a little easier to control, so in the late 70s he took it to a bike shop that swapped out the original wheels and installed a coaster brake rear wheel (and flipped the bars upside down!). When we got the bike, the brake barely worked so I sourced another Phillips centre pull (I believe through the generosity of clubman ), but also cleaned up the hub and installed a new brake cylinder (the old one was definitely worn). Its a Perry B100 hub (though it has no markings and the brake arm is generic). In the other thread, dirtman noted he had several bikes pass through his hands with this hub and it worked fine. My experience has been that while it works, braking would be better described as "gentle *********** of forward movement". Even with the addition of the hand brake (albeit with very old pads) stopping swiftly is a challenge, and with the coaster on its own it can be downright awful.

While I get that I am a lot heavier than I used to be, it seems to me that the coaster ought to be better than I am experiencing. After all, the entire Marin MTB scene started with clunkers (much heavier bikes) ridden by adults (in size ) and they were smoking the brakes at the bottom of the Repack..... How are others' experience running coasters?

Satisfying "pics or it didn't happen", here's the Road Racer as currently equipped:



I don't recall Perry B100 hubs to be powerfull brakers, not anything like a New Departure (sold to Nankai) or a Bendix red band.
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Old 01-18-23, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
@clubman, isn't the F&S Duomatic a marvel? I have one on a German folding bike, 36h, that I really like. I even have one of the little multi wrenches that go with them. I've been tempted to remove it from that bike and build a 700c wheel around it, but I can't bring myself to dismantle the folder.
Agreed, wonderful engineering. We see them on CCM roadsters and choppers from the late 60's. 1967 was Canada's Centennial so CCM marketed a couple of Duomatic models ...the Duomatic Chopper and the CCM GT101.. The smaller wheels were 28 holes and the full size bike were 36 iirc. I've scored three of these hubs by keeping my eyes open for these Centennials that are usually rusted to hell...but the hubs clean up like magic.



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Old 01-18-23, 06:07 PM
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I built this up a couple of years ago, no stopping issues whatsoever, actually find the braking quite impressive. Lots of fun to skid too, if you don’t mind flat spotting the tires a bit.
Tim



1971 Schwinn Sports Tourer

SA 2 speed kickback hub with coaster brake
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Old 01-19-23, 07:15 AM
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DIg the brake arm tab. Handsome and minimalist with stance!
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Old 01-19-23, 07:59 AM
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I overhauled a Sturmey Archer S3C on a 76 Fair Lady. The hub was not functioning when I got it. Broken springs, and gummed up everything. Some of the springs for the coaster side seem to be NLA, but reshaping the more commonly available versions seems to be working ok. The coaster brake itself is only average I'd say, not as strong as others.

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Old 01-19-23, 08:21 AM
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The MONē:

Souped up coaster brake hub ? MON?
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