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I have a 13 year old with a form of muscular dystrophy. He's well physically, though not as strong as most kids, and can ride a bike.

We got him a cruiser bike, which I then modified to make appropriate for a young man, a couple of years ago and he does well on it. However, it only has one gear and I have to push him up hills (and we live at the bottom of a hill!).

I've looked into bikes with an electric booster but am concerned they'd go too fast.

What I'd like to get him is a bike with a few gears (so he has a better chance to make it up the hill) but I think it has to have a coaster brake. He has significant myotonia in his hands and, while he could operate gears, we don't want to trust his hands to stop the bike.

I've looked and looked and cannot find a bike with gears and a coaster brake. Are there any out there? I'd appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction. Thanks.

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  • It is most certainly possible to have the e-assist modified by a specialist in the way to reduce the maximum assist speed since these controls are software based. (Just thinking that on many e-bikes cut-off speed is controlled by a spoke magnet, adding a 2nd magnet will cut assistance when half-max speed is achieved!)
    – Carel
    Nov 19 '20 at 12:19
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    It sounds like the concern for hand brakes is the strength required to actuate braking. Many bikes with hydraulic disk brakes require very little hand strength for excellent stopping, some are made for one finger braking that might work.
    – David D
    Nov 19 '20 at 17:48
  • Good point, but I think the concern is mainly about dexterity, not strength, is that right?
    – pateksan
    Nov 19 '20 at 19:27
  • Have you been able to make any progress with this? Were any of our suggestions of any use?
    – pateksan
    Jan 19 at 12:18
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If I understood your question, you may want to look into internally geared hubs, it seems they are exactly what you are looking for.

I thought they were fairly popular, so I would be surprised if you really have not come across these - so I am sorry if I missed the point.

A landmark feature of gear hubs is that you can change gear while stationary - it sounds like this could be beneficial to you too.

Have you spoken to someone in a good bike shop? I would imagine it should be easy to find one where you can test ride a bike with a gear hub.

Alternatively, you could google something like "bike with sturmey archer gears". You mentioned "cruiser bike" - this seems to be a fairly broad term, if you can add the brand and model of the current bike (or a photo of it), people on here may be able to suggest similar alternatives, and I think it would be within the stack exchange rules about product recommendation.

If all else fails, you could probably get in touch with a bike manufacturer that sells bikes with these, to see if they can assist with getting a test ride? This almost sounds like a perfect story for a bike maker's Public Relations. Good luck and I'd love to hear how you got on with this!

Daniel R Hicks commented that gear hubs with a coaster brake are rare. Sturmey Archer website lists a few, you can't filter but you can search it for "coaster". I believe the company had some difficulty but seems to still be in business.

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    While geared hubs with coaster brakes have been known to exist, they are quite rare. Nov 19 '20 at 1:51
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    @DanielRHicks Thanks, I addressed your comment in an edit
    – pateksan
    Nov 19 '20 at 1:57
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    Another issue which may come up, is bicycle shops which try to steer customers away from internal hubs. That happened to me, at both shops local to me. I ended up driving 50 miles to a great shop at a different town which I found via online search. Nov 19 '20 at 2:26
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    I went to one bike shop a month ago and they acted like there weren't options like this available, which seemed odd to me. I'll go to another bike shop and now I'll be armed with the right terminology (internally geared hub). Thank you very much for all of the responses.
    – Nate
    Nov 19 '20 at 11:26
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    While not new bikes, my friend has been riding internally geared coaster brake bikes for years. And besides, a good bike shop can either add the hub or the brake to a standard bike.
    – Willeke
    Nov 19 '20 at 18:30

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