enter image description here

Now I don't want to take all the credit for this bike, but I'm pretty sure Trek must've lovingly had me in mind when they made this. I mean come on. This bike is awesome. Buying their beach cruiser was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Now I've got my eye on this puppy.

So speaking of the beach cruiser, I really liked that it braked when you pedaled backward. I also liked the single gear splendor. I'd rather be climbing in a single gear at 3mph than zooming past all the ladies in top gear. More time to ask them whether you're supposed to floss before or after you brush. Just kidding. But seriously. The answer is after.

Back on point, can you modify a bike to be single gear and do that backward pedal brake thing? Think Trek would do this for me if I requested it with my order? How hard is it going to be to custom mod my rig with tools and stuff?


4 Answers 4


The desired conversion is possible, but maybe Trek won't do it as a "default" service. You could consider going to the local bike shop and trade some of the bike parts (specially the gearing system) for a coaster brake wheel.

If your bike is like the one in the photo, you need to replace the rear hub, and get rid of the cogset, the derailer and the twist-shifter. You can do this at home if you have some mechanical skils, but replacing the hub and relacing the spokes is not very simple.

And if you're so chatty with the lovely ladies as you are when asking questions on the internet, they sure get a lot of talk! ;o)

EDIT: As Freiheit has correctly pointed, when you put a single cog and get rid of the derailer, something must be added to compensate for the almost inevitable chain slack. I suggest a tensioner like this, of DMR brand (with a bolt, to be placed in a fixed position, not a spring):

enter image description here

MORE EDIT!!!! As people correctly pointed out, you CANNOT use a chain tensioner if you use a coaster brake. So the solutions are:

  • Use a chain tensioner but not a coaster brake;
  • Choose a magic combination of chainring and cog size (very difficult, might not give you a good gear ratio, cannot compensate for chain slack;
  • Use an adaptor (usually not the most robust solution, but ok for a cruiser if you really want the coaster brake):

enter image description here

  • 1
    You just confirmed to me that bicyclers are everything that is good and right with the world. Thank you, Helton! Dec 4, 2012 at 14:07
  • 1
    And this bike is not any beach cruiser, it's a Bitchin' Cruiser!!! Dec 4, 2012 at 15:16
  • 3
    Since that's a vertical dropout, wouldn't you also need to do something to tension the chain in a way that allows backpedaling?
    – freiheit
    Dec 4, 2012 at 19:57
  • lol, "Bitchin" cruiser... I just got that. Is there some uber space material perfect size chain I can buy so my bike is simple and doesn't have the tension wheel thing? Thanks for your help! Dec 5, 2012 at 1:52
  • As @freiheit pointed out, using a chain tensioner will prevent you installing a coaster brake because any serious back pedaling tension will tear off/bend the mounting hardware on a chain tensioner! It is possible to adjust chain tension through half-links and mixing cogs/chainrings to take up slack (but it will be tedious.)
    – WTHarper
    Dec 5, 2012 at 2:53

I used a carbon fiber frame to make a single speed with a coaster brake. I had to reinforce the part of the frame where the lever of the coaster brake is attached. I used spacers and no spring chain tensioner. It works great to go around town to get coffee in a terrace.

In my opinion all depends on what is the purpose of the bike.

  • 1
    Welcome to Bicycles. We recommend that new members take the tour to make best use of the site, and since you're answering see How to Answer also.
    – andy256
    Mar 4, 2017 at 3:51

Its hard to do with a vertical dropout but you can usually "cheat" it using a 1/2 link in the chain. It will allow for some wiggle room with getting the chain tension right, note that this is not a perfect fix (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't) even if it works your chain will probably still be a little too slack (or too tight). List of parts you will need for the conversion: Coaster brake rear wheel of appropriate diameter and axle spacing, 1/2 link for chain and or possibly replace the chain with an 1/8" width chain and 1/2 link. That's it... Best solution: Find a similar bike from a different manufacture that comes specked with a coaster, there are a LOT of bikes out there nowadays I'm sure your unicorn is lurking out there some where. Buena suerte!


Chain tension is not the problem. A multispeed chain does not work, at least not well on a single speed bike. You would need to install a single speed chain (correct width) that is cut to the correct length. It can get complicated. Good Luck.

  • Hi, welcome to bicycles. This appears to be a response to another answer, since it doesn't fully answer the question, and the question doesn't mention the chain at all. Please don't post responses as answers; when you earn some reputation you'll be able to leave comments. You might want to take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Jul 20, 2023 at 22:59

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