Can anyone tell me what happens when rolling backwards while pedaling forward on a freecoaster bike? I mean does it gradually slow it down, or does it come to an abrupt hault? I have not tried it yet.

  • 1
    You stop. You can't pedal forwards while moving backwards.
    – JohnP
    Jul 10 '13 at 14:41
  • 2
    Note: A freecoaster is different from a traditional hub in that they're designed to coast backwards and forwards.
    – WTHarper
    Jul 10 '13 at 16:34

I think there is some confusion about the difference between a Freecoaster hub, a Freewheeling hub, and a Coaster brake hub. So briefly:

  • A freewheel hub is by far the most abundant and utilized piece of bicycling technology and relies on a ratchet and pawl mechanism (or similar) to engage the drivetrain while pedaling forward, but allows coasting when not pedaling. Any freewheel or cassette hub uses this technology.
  • A coaster brake is a type of brake that is built into the hub shell that turns backward pedal force into braking force.
  • A Freecoaster hub uses a clutch mechanism to engage the hub shell while pedaling forward, but disengages the hub while pedaling or coasting backward. This allows you to coast backwards without having to move your pedals. They are totally silent because there are no pawls!

Freecoaster Above is a hastily drawn sketch of a freecoaster hub. There are no pawls...instead is a cone shaped clutch which is threaded onto the driver body which extends over the axle. The driver cog on the left is supported on the axle by bearings on either side (there are also lots of other bits and pieces, but these are the general parts.) When pedaled forward the driver threads through the clutch and pulls it into the wedged surface of the hub. The friction between the hub and the clutch is what drives you forward. When you change directions (or pedal backwards) the driver threads the clutch to a backstop which adjusts the play from freecoasting to pedaling forward.

If you were to pedal forwards while coasting backwards, your pedal force would engage the clutch into the hub shell. -- As @Daniel R Hicks pointed out, this is pretty much the same mechanism that a coaster brake utilizes except in reverse. Pedaling forward ought to engage the clutch and slow you down. --

However...I'm not sure that I recommend that you do this because neither the clutch surface nor the hub shell are designed for slowing, only for engaging. (If anybody has more info on the actual construction of the hub shell...whether there is a steel insert to bear against and provide braking support, or whether the driver and hub shell are forward motion only, please edit away.)

Here is a fantastic video about freecoaster anatomy.

  • Had never heard of the "free coaster" as you describe it. Sounds essentially like the "coaster brake" without a brake, though -- uses the same basic mechanism. Based on your description, however, pedaling forward while rolling backwards you would NOT have to keep pedaling to keep the pedals engaged, but simply pedal forward briefly to engage the clutch. Once the clutch was engaged the relative "attempted" motion between the two pieces would keep it engaged. Jul 11 '13 at 3:08
  • (Just watched the video, and the mechanism is EXACTLY like a coaster brake, only without the brake.) Jul 11 '13 at 3:19
  • Yeah, I have been thinking about that and you're right. I haven't taken apart a coaster brake ever... are they built to engage the hub housing, or is there a separate brake housing? Or am I thinking of drum brakes with a separate housing?
    – WTHarper
    Jul 11 '13 at 3:25
  • Looking at the video, the one disassembled brake they had (the one with caged bearings) looked EXACTLY like a Bendix coaster brake (such as one would find on a 1950s Schwinn), only the brake shoes had been removed. The others were clearly adapted from the Bendix design, but built with sealed bearings, etc. Jul 11 '13 at 4:15
  • This video shows making a free-coaster by simply removing the brake shoes from a coaster brake. It would not be easy to adjust the amount of forward pedaling required to engage with this scheme, though. Jul 11 '13 at 4:29

The short answer: You will probably fall on your back, so it's not a good idea to try doing this on high speed fackies.

The long answer: As answered before me, you stop. That's why most of BMX freecoasters have quite big angle of free crank turn (and it's even adjustiable in some models, like the KHE feecoaster), so when you land in fackie (for example from 180 from stairs) even if you go a bit forwards on the pedals (and it's quite reasonable you'll do it), you still be able to roll back. Otherwise you would be flying on your back (same thing like when you lock your front brake). Note, this way you can't do lots of tricks that are meant to do with tailtap (360 with taps, brakeless tailtap and so on).


As soon as the freecoaster engages it will come to an abrupt hault. If you do that while going backwards that means that your front end will most likely want to rise. In BMX this is usually accompanied by a 180 degrees movement of the body so the bike turns and and you continue forward with the momentum you already had going backwards.

Note that a freecoaster may have been set in such a way that it has some degrees of slack (a dead period) between pedaling and the moment the freecoaster engages. This, for example, can be set to 60 degrees (1/6 of full circle) or even more if you are into bmx flatland riding. The reason is that on some tricks you need to be on the pedals going backwards (possibly only on the rear wheel only) so you really wouldn't want an accidental engage of the freecoaster due to your foot minor movements while trying to balance.


Unclear whether the question is about "freewheel" hubs or "coaster brake" hubs.

With a freewheel hub, if you roll backwards, the pedals will necessarily turn backwards. If you "lock" the pedals with your feet it will be impossible to roll backwards.

With the standard coaster brake hub, if you roll backwards and do not exert any force forwards or backwards on the pedals, the pedals will not move and you will roll freely backwards. "Back pedaling" will apply the brakes, and pedaling forward even a little will engage the pedals with the wheel and hence convey the motion of the wheel to the pedals (and vice-versa).

(Though I have to admit that it's been so long since I've used coaster brakes that I may be misremembering some details.)

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