A coaster brake is not commonly used in bicycles in the US, but it is pretty common among transport bicycles in the Netherlands and Denmark. Basically, a coaster brake is a mechanism attached to the rear wheel that allows a rider to stop or slow down a bike by back-pedaling. And while it’s not as powerful as a conventional lever-operated brake system, it does have some advantages, the biggest of which is that it requires less maintenance.
A lot of riders, however, can seem to get used to using a coaster brake—especially if they’ve been using cable-operated lever brakes for a long time. If you, for whatever reason, have a bike—or purchased a bike—with a coaster brake installed and want it removed, you can either take it back to the shop and let them do it for you, or you can do it yourself. Indeed, as long as you have the right tools on hand, it won’t be difficult to disable a coaster brake, and it will only take a few minutes. It is a straightforward job that anyone with a bit of mechanical know-how can do.
In fact, in this article, we’ll teach you how to disable your bike’s coaster brake. Just follow the steps below, and it will be gone in no time!
The tools you will need are two adjustable wrenches and a flathead screwdriver. You might need a lockring wrench depending on the kind of coaster brake installed on your bike.
1. First things first, get your bike onto a stand. If you don’t have one, then position your bike upside down, with the bike resting on its handlebars. This will make it easier to access the rear wheels, which you will need to remove.
2. You’ll want to remove the chain first by pedaling the bike slowly and slipping the chain off—of course, this can only be done if your chain has enough slack. Or, if your bike has a master link, you can undo it, and the chain should come apart. Some chains, however, can only be removed after the rear wheel is unbolted. If this is the situation with your bike, then just go to the next step before you remove the chain.
3. The next step is to remove the rear wheels. The method to do this, of course, will be different for different bikes. Some bikes will have a quick-release lever at the hub area that will allow you to do this easily and without tools. If your bike doesn’t have a quick-release lever, then suffice to say there should be a bolt and nut that holds the wheel to the frame that you will need to remove so the wheel can slide off the rear dropout.
4. For most coaster brakes, there will be a lock nut that keeps the drive in place. Remove the locknut with an adjustable wrench while using a cone wrench on the other side to counterbalance as you turn the adjustable wrench.
5. Once the bolt is removed, there might be a bearing race that will need to be removed, too. You won’t need a wrench for this because turning it until it’s off will do the job.
6. Once that’s done, just turn the cog-shaped thing counter-clockwise to remove it. You should be able to take everything apart after. Just be sure to remember how they all fit together for when you put everything back in place.
For some coaster brakes, you will notice that instead of a bearing race, it will have a lock ring to keep the drive from coming loose. You will need to remove this lockring with a lockring wrench because a conventional adjustable wrench won’t do the trick.
5. Once every step above is done, you’ll basically be able to pull out the actual brake cone. It is a cylindrical object with two pads (brake shoes) attached to it. Those are the pads that make the rear wheel stop as soon as back-pedaling is initiated. Toss those pads because you won’t be needing them anymore.
6. You’ll notice that at one end of the brake cone is a spring-like thing with two little wings on it. Get your adjustable wrench and bend these wings outward making them as flush to the brake cone as you can so they don’t catch onto anything as they turn with the wheel once everything is put back together.
7. On the inside of the clutch system is a tiny washer. You’ll need to remove this, too, to give the clutch enough space to grab the actual gear.
8. Now with the two brake shoes in step 5 removed, and the washer in step 7 removed, put everything back together, and voila, your coaster brake is now disabled.