How do bicycle coaster brakes work ?

... not a ped question.

I've ridden bicycles a lot of miles... but its been years since I rode a bike with coaster brakes... I don't think they even come with them anymore... (or.. most don't).

.. and all those years I rode one with coaster brakes.. I never had to take the rear hub or brake apart.

sooo... how do they work ?

Are there brake shoes like a drum brake inside ?

Do they wear out eventually... (I wasted a bike with a paper route... I wore out and broke everything on that bike... cept the R brake)

All I ever saw was the little torque arm attached to the chain stay.

Re: How do bicycle coaster brakes work ?

Chris MWH /

Coaster brakes actually do have a pair, 3 or 4 shoes in them. but they are made of metal and last quite a long time. When you apply the brake the force is applied outward along the axle plane rather than radially like drum brakes. so if you ever snap the axle in the center you will have almost no brakes at all. Other than that the system is foolproof.

Chris MWH

Re: How do bicycle coaster brakes work ?

David F Martin /

Re: Do this:

Get to your local library and find "Sincere's Bicycle Repair Manual"

It covers every make of coaster brake made. They are really quite simple once you see what's inside. Not much to go wrong.

I do them all the time on bikes I pick up.


Re: Do this:

When I was a kid I must have cleaned and oiled my coaster brake at least once a year. They are a very clever device and quite easy to work on. They do still make bikes with them in them. Mostly cruiser bikes, 3 wheelers and folding bikes, but of course they make these bikes with gears and caliper brakes also. I just bought a new folding bike that is 5 speed and has a rear drum brake operated from the handlebar. I never saw such a thing before and it works much better than a caliper...Ken D

Re: Do this:

Kevin Harrell /

A bicycle coaster brake as you know is operated by pedaling backwards. The backward pedaling operates a device that is very much like a screw that moves a piece of metal toward another piece of metal in the rear hub. This movement creates the break pressure that is needed. The way this pressure is used to create the breaking force differers depending on the design of the brake. In more modern designs the pieces of metal that move together each have a wedge shape to them, these wedges force the brake shoes against the hub causing the braking action. In other designs the movement of these two metal pieces squeezes together a large stack of metal plates, the friction of metal plates sliding against each other creates the braking effect. On the oldest coaster brakes that I have seen (Designed aproximatly 1910) the movement of the pieces together forces a cone shaped piece of metal into a socket, creating friction causing the braking action.

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