i will be honest. I am nearly 50y/o and not in tip top shape either. I have not owned a bike since I was 12y/o. I want to buy a bike. I am looking at the cruiser bikes. Most come with coaster brakes. I am not sure what to buy. I am new to biking, so I don't know. I have heard more positives about handle brakes but also heard a lot of things could go wrong, and what if I get stranded somewhere? What would I do? Please advise. Sorry if I am rambling.

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    The standard "coaster brake" on a single speed bike is probably the most reliable and trouble-free option. Hand-operated brakes, either of the rim or disk variety, are a bit more complicated and require a bit more maintenance, but still are quite reliable if not abused or neglected. Mainly, hand brakes provide a bit more fine control, and they don't require the awkwardness of back-pedaling to apply them. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 28 '17 at 16:23
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    Great work for choosing to try riding after a gap. I'm sure you'll enjoy riding again. – Criggie Apr 29 '17 at 1:14

There's a small chance you don't have as much hand/arm strength as you used to. A coaster brake provides a way to slow while leaving your arms free to focus on steering.

That said, a coaster brake is a rear brake only. The best stopping happens with the front brake, so ideally you'd have both, a coaster for the rear and a hand brake lever for the front.

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Talk to your lbs (local bike store). Most will help you and not try to sell you more than you need. Avoid cheap department store bikes (bso). With hand brakes you have two so there is not a single point of failure and they are very reliable. If you are more comfortable with coaster brakes then that is good option also.

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  • Even BSOs with rear coaster brakes have a single hand brake to the front. The consumer protection rules require such a redundant braking system in all but children's bikes. – RoboKaren Apr 28 '17 at 23:22
  • Interesting, they're not sold with the CPSC required reflectors either. – RoboKaren Apr 28 '17 at 23:38
  • Let's take this to Bicycles Chat. – RoboKaren Apr 29 '17 at 1:02
  • Odd, it should take you to a link to the Velodrome. – RoboKaren Apr 29 '17 at 1:06

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