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How to Convert a Coaster Bike to Freewheel

How to Convert a Coaster Bike to Freewheel

As experienced riders, most of us have probably ridden a coaster bike at some point in time. These bikes are ideal for kids because they are simple and easy to ride. Moreover, their braking mechanism – one of their most distinctive features – is not complex to understand and does not require a lot of strength.

If you or your little one ride a coaster bike and want to convert it to a freewheel one, there is a way to do so!

How do Coaster Bikes Work?

The main feature of a coaster bike, as we mentioned before, is the braking system. This mechanism is located in the rear hub. Almost all components involved in braking, except for the pedals, of course, are inside the brake hub.

When the rider pedals backward, the brake hub pushes a shoe against the rotating hub. This, as it cannot rotate, stops the real wheel. This mechanism is thought to be maintenance-free. While it is not entirely true, this type of bike is less complicated to service.

The opposite of the coaster hub is the freewheel hub, which works by allowing movement only in one direction, forward. When coasting at high speed, you could stop working the pedals, but yet your bike’s wheels would still be turning.

Is a Freewheel Bike Better Than a Coaster?

If we compare these two types of bikes, we will find several advantages for each option. The simple truth is that it depends on the type of riding you are looking for.

As mentioned earlier, coaster bikes are great for little kids who may not be able to press the lever hard enough to get the bike to stop. Their convenience also relies on their low maintenance.

Best Kids Bike Helmet

Now, if you are planning to compete with your coaster bike, it is better not to do so. They are not performance bikes and will require a lot of effort.

Furthermore, there are many optional parts that you cannot add to a coaster bike, and it would be costly to adapt a coaster bike to accommodate them.

How to Convert a Coaster Bike to Freewheel

Converting a coaster bike into a freewheel type would mainly involve changing the braking system.

If you are working on a kids’ coaster bike which uses simple reverse locks, this video shows you how to remove the brake shoes (Credit to Zim Kids’ Bikes):

For most bikes, though, the best option would be to use a freewheel adapter for the conversion.  These would enable your bike wheel to rotate freely when pedaling backward, as regular mountain bikes do.

All you need to do is remove the existing coaster hub and replace it with the freewheel hub. However, if your bike did not come with handbrakes, it is advisable to install them for safety reasons.


Converting a coaster bike to a freewheel mechanism is a rather straightforward process. Thankfully, the freewheel hub is relatively inexpensive, and you could change it on your own.

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