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How to Disable a Coaster Brake

by Allison Melman

The special rear hub of your bicycle is also referred to as its coaster brake. The coaster brake allows you to drive or roll your bike without turning its pedals. Although it uses a totally different mechanism, some people compare this to the function of a freewheel. Your coaster brake can also be used as a brake when you turn your bike pedals backwards. If you are not comfortable having a coaster brake on your bike, you can disable it by disassembling it from your bike. The entire process will take only a few minutes.

Loosen your coaster brake's axle nuts and use your cone wrench to turn the entire axle. Stick the cone wrench right into the right cone of your brake. You will see the left cone attached to your bike's reaction arm, which runs below your left chainstay that is secured by a clamp. Since your left cone is already immobilized by your bike's reaction arm, turning its axle will help you disable the coaster brake.

Use an adjustable wrench for English-made coaster brakes. The right cone of an English coaster brake is normally attached to its axle. Rotate the square projection found at the end of the axle in order to disable the coaster brake.

Remove the dust cover at the top of the coaster brake. Unscrew its locknut with your wrench, followed by its cone screw and small ball retainer.

Unscrew the driver and large ball retainer by unscrewing them with your fingers. Lift the hub shell from the assembly and catch the brake shoes as they fall off the coaster brake.

Items you will need

  • Cone wrench
  • Adjustable wrench

About the Author

Based in West Windsor, N.J., Allison Melman has been writing health- and travel-related articles since 1999. Her work has appeared in "Salon" and "Better Health" magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern Connecticut State University.