Stopping with coaster brakes

One of my favorite features on the Abici (commonly known as Kermit Allegra) is the coaster brake. It makes bike riding feel even more carefree and effortless. That said, they took a bit of getting used to. At first I would slow using the coaster brake, and then use the handbrake to make sure I could stop with the pedals in the correct position to start up again.

Now, I almost never use the handbrake unless I need additional stopping power. Instead, when coming to a stop I nearly always brake by shifting most of my weight to my left leg, with the left pedal at an approximately 45-degree angle from the chain stay.

Left foot is applying pressure to stop the bike. Remains on the pedal while bike is stopped.

That leaves my right foot free to float off the pedal and down to the ground as I come to a stop. The right pedal is up and ready for me to push off when it’s time to start up again.

My right foot touches the ground. The pedal is in the correct position for pushing off.

If I know I need to make a quick start when the light turns, I will go ahead and put my right foot on the pedal and move my left foot to the ground, applying the handbrake to keep them in the correct position.

How do you use your coaster brake?


13 thoughts on “Stopping with coaster brakes

  1. Ash says:

    I now have two coaster brake bikes. I just built up one that I was on the fence about adding a supplemental front caliper brake to. The bike has a 2-speed automatic hub so it looks so pretty all cable and shifter free but in the end I opted to add the additional brake so I wouldn’t have to rely on my feet being in the correct braking angle if a car door were to suddenly swing open in my path or a wayward pedestrian step out from behind a parked vehicle.

    Thanks about the only instance where I feel that a coaster brake alone isn’t totally sufficient. I especially love their weather proof nature. The pack the same stopping power in torrential rain as they do on a sunny day. What’s not to love?

    • FDG says:

      “the only instance where I feel that a coaster brake alone isn’t totally sufficient”: there’s one more. If your chain breaks, your brakes are gone. That’s one reason why I added a front caliper brake to my coaster-brake 3-speed.

  2. 2whls3spds says:

    Haven’t gotten around to lacing my only coaster brake hub into a wheel…yet. But I recall using them in the not to distant past, it helped keep a hand free to hold the coffee mug in on those early morning commutes. :D

    I used the coaster brake for everything from gentle slowing to hard stops. For all out emergency stops the front brake gets used.


  3. Funny, this is kind of the opposite of how I do it. I brake with my left leg as well, but the left pedal ends up being on top when I come to a stop. I put my right foot down and keep my left foot on the pedal, pushing off with it to start again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hm. I wonder if it varies by bike. I’m not sure I could apply enough force to a pedal that was in a more upright position. I’m going to have to try this!

  4. samhy says:

    Thank you for the explanation. I have coaster brake too on one of my bicycles. Amazing feature, but I find myself unable to stop properly (e.g. been able to start up easily) most often than not. I’ll try this for sure!

  5. Louise says:

    You are right about the coaster bike taking some getting used to but once you do they are really quite fun!

  6. Mamavee says:

    On my trike I slow to a stop early to where I need to be and then slowly pedal one or two cycles slowly getting pedals where I want them. Bc it’s a trike I can slowly rotate at a light without putting foot down etc. So I keep adjusting as nec. This would be less graceful on a two wheeler

  7. lemon_sorbet says:

    Thanks for the post! I used to get so frustrated with my coaster brakes because I would only use my handbrakes when stopping and starting up again was sometimes very awkward because my pedals would be in the “wrong” position. Now that I’ve started using my coaster brakes more often, I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. I’ll keep this advice in mind the next time that I ride!

  8. ben says:

    I haven’t used a coaster brake in years, but your entry is a nice reminder of their simplicity….

  9. Dottie says:

    Excellent explanation. I think I get it now. Although I love the convenience of coaster brakes, I always have a hard time starting up again. I guess once you have a lot of practice, this comes natural.

    By the way – love your dress and shoes!

  10. kfg says:

    Back in the day this would have been an article on how to use hand brakes, as fixed and coaster were the defaults that everyone knew and were considered “intuitive”; and hand brakes anything but. If you saw someone shoot an intersection in an obvious panic you would simply assume that they had forgotten that they had to “walk on their hands” to stop. Sometimes it’s interesting to watch how times change.

    If you miss your pedal position at a stop, simply roll the bike back a smidge. The cranks will counter rotate.

  11. FDG says:

    “the only instance where I feel that a coaster brake alone isn’t totally sufficient”: there’s one more. If your chain breaks, your brakes are gone. That’s one reason why I added a front caliper brake to my coaster-brake 3-speed.

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