My boss bought her 4 and 3 year old a bicycle for Christmas, but she didn't notice that one had double hand brakes and the other has only a front hand brake and a coaster brake in the back.

The 4 year old is the one who has the bike with coaster brake and he can't get the hang of riding the bike because every time he goes to push he just engages the coaster brake instead.

We've been looking for bikes that have no coaster brakes but all of the ones his size have them or they very expensive. We found some with double hand brakes but they still have the coaster brake.

Would it be possible to get one that has double hand brake and coaster and remove the coaster brake completely from it?

  • 2
    I'm not sure that the pedals quickly spinning in reverse with no resistance is going to make learning any easier, and might make it easier to fall or have a pedal swing around and hit him in the shin too. I'm dealing with a 4yo learner as well...
    – JPhi1618
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 18:28
  • @jasmine this question is now 14 months old. How did the kids get on? What did you do, how did it work, and what would you do differently next time? You're totally allowed to post your own answer and accept it as confirmed.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 6, 2017 at 18:29
  • Consider buying another wheel without a coaster brake in the hub. It's a lot of work to remove the coaster brake mechanism. Commented May 19, 2019 at 2:39
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    I'm thinking it would be possible to disassemble the rear hub and remove enough bits to eliminate the brake and perhaps permit "infinite" backpedaling. Not sure that the hub would be happy with so many missing pieces, though. Commented May 19, 2019 at 2:44

2 Answers 2


Short answer - no, not easily.

Kids don't have the hand strength to use handbrakes properly, so a coaster brake is going to function better, once he gets the hang of it.

He's activating the brake by pedalling backwards. So don't do that. Instead encourage him to push off with pedals level instead of optimal angle. That will discourage the rear brake from kicking in.

If you do want to remove it, you're better off finding another rear wheel that fits and lacks the coaster hub. The local recycling shop here has plenty of bikes for $10, great parts donors.

Can Mister Four ride a 2 wheeler or is he on training wheels? Has he had time on a balance bike? He might benefit from "scootering about" on a two wheeler with no pedals first.

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    Removing pedals instead of brakes could be a good option also.
    – jpa
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 9:15
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    Just have to disagree with you on one point: my 4 year old has a balance bike with a kid-sized hand brake. He uses it a lot, and certainly has the hand strength to do so effectively. He comes to a complete stop, often with a skid when going quite fast. Now that we're confident about this, his first pedal bike will have front and back hand brakes and a freehub.
    – cloudworks
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 14:56
  • @cloudworks impressive - encourage your budding champ !
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 23:21

The coaster brake is probably designed so that it can be relatively easily opened to change the brake shoes. One option would be to open it and completely remove the brake shoes, thus disabling it.

Coaster brake

(Image from http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/coaster-hub-overhaul-pedal-brake-hub )

Whether this is safe is a good question - usually you'd want two brakes on all bikes. But if the child is young enough not to grasp how to use a coaster brake, he is probably not going fast and far enough that a brake failure would be a likely risk.

  • Maybe you can apply an after-sale rear hand driven brake.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 17:41
  • This is just what I needed, my daughter has a 20" Specialized Hot Rock with a coaster brake but it's got mounts for a rim brake. I figure I can throw a rim brake on after disabling the coaster brake :) Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 17:10
  • This worked well for my 7yr old daughter's bike, along with this video. Plus front and rear handbrakes that I installed. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:37

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