One of the first things that people say to me when they ride my freecoaster is, “Why is there so much resistance when pedaling?” I always laugh at this. People don’t realize that freecoasters require some resistance in the clutch so that the hub can tell the difference between the hub rolling backward and the driver pedaling forward. The design of the part that creates the resistance is very important to how well the hub operates in many levels. The “resistor” needs to balance resistance with the consistency. This article will review the different designs of resisters. The resistor requires a spring to be incorporated into the system. Often times the resistor itself is simply a spring. By doing this the resistor can be more controlled.
Types of Resistance:
Twin Butterfly Springs:
These are used on Haro, Odyssey, and Ultimate Hardware. They use two pieces of spring steel bent to fit snugly between the axle and clutch.
- Easily adjustable (by bending the springs in or out)
- Can be made quite reliable
- Odyssey will replace them quickly
- Travels with the clutch so the slack is not limited by
- Some people complain of stock inconsistency
- Can be broken by adjusting it too much.
- Can be a bitch to install the clutch
Ball Bearing Resistor: These resistors are featured on the Poverty, KHE Geisha and Reverse, and Federal freecoasters. They use two balls placed in two holders with a spring holding the balls in place with resistance. The whole setup is secured into the axle (on opposite sides) by either threading in, or (in the case of older Poverty hubs) welded in place.
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- Cannot be adjusted
- Can be damaged if the hub is disassembled incorrectly
- Can wear the clutch (especially the aluminum Geisha
- Can limit the amount of slack (on the extreme ends)
C-clip: This is actually the most common of all the springs. It is used in a wide variety of hubs. This includes the Sym-hub (which uses the spring right underneath the driver. These offer easy production, and the Nankai has a useful aspect or resistance. When the spring is pedaled in one direction it will have low friction and in the other it will have high friction (at least when the spring is new).
Classic Skyway Mag’s Coaster Brake
- Easy to adjust tension
- Easy to maintain
- Nankai style can have high friction when pedaling
forward, and low when back pedaling
- They are Easy to mod
- Allow very little wear
- Usually are not the fastest
- Can’t allow infinite slack (in the Nankai and Rollex’s
Coil-tabbed spring: This spring is most known for being on the Taska Coaster-brake. It uses two tabs that insert into the non drive side cone nut They are attached to a coil spring which sits inside (and rubs on) the clutch.
Taska Spring inside clutch
- Come on cheap hubs
- Feel “Spongy”
- Can break tabs
- High resistance
Modded / Made Springs: These are a couple springs that were made by myself (the first one) and Rob Ridge (the second one).
- Made the hub much more smooth.
- Wore down quicker
- Made a strange sound when it rubbed on the inside of
the hub shell
- Did not move with the clutch.
- Does not need to be maintained
- Does not move with clutch
- Difficult to create
Steel: This is really the only material used in freecoaster springs today. Steel can have a high flexibility when tempered and designed correctly. It also has high wear resistance, and high strength. And greatest of all, it’s cheap.
Aluminum: Aluminum can have it’s weight loss benefits, but the cons outweigh the benefits. Aluminum wears much faster than other metals, does not have a high flexibility, and would be more expensive to make it work.
Titanium: It’s pretty, light, flexible, elastic, and strong. Titanium seems like a wonder material for freecoaster springs. However, titanium does have a downfall. It is inherently less wear resistant. So when the spring rubs on the axle (or clutch) it will wear faster (though it will have high resistance). Oh, yeah, and it is extremely expensive.
Delrin: Delrin is a material that was developed by DuPont. It is currently being used in Atomlab pedals as their “DU” Bushings and in the Chase Neutral Gear. If designed correctly, it could yield a good quality, low wear, resistor.
Phynox: Phynox actually has a higher strength rating and better wear and corrosion resistance than almost any other spring steel, making it essentially immune to aging. It would work pretty well in freecoasters. Unfortunately it is extremely expensive. The only hub I know of to incorporate it is Zipp high end road bike hubs. They go to the extremes: machining tiny dimples in the hub to reduce aerodynamic drag… They are EXPENSIVE.
So, which is best?
Well, as with so many things (and the most disappointing answer), it depends. If you are really into kick flips, then the most likely coasters that would work would be the ones with ball bearing resistors. They tend to be faster. However, if you do a lot of no footers and no footed cans, and you don’t want your cranks to be spinning all around the place, but still want a reliable, consistent coaster, then you will want a butterfly or c-clip. If you like playing around with the feeling of the hub and bearings, then a c-clip will work great (and especially if it is unsealed). Take your pick, I am sure you will enjoy it.