A few months ago I snapped the derailleur hanger on my Kona MTB in a near miss crash with another bike on a local singletrack. We both rounded a blind curve simultaneously, each launching into opposite sides of the trail to avoid a head-on hit. Somewhere in the mix I snapped my hanger off. Six miles of coasting and pushing home without a chain. Yay.
This was the impetus needed for my building my first clunker. For those not familiar with them, look into some MTB history. Alan Bonds’ Clunkers.net is a good place to start. An old black beach cruiser sitting in the yard for years got a quick makeover a few weeks ago. Removal of chain guard, kickstand, reflectors, and swept back cruiser bars. Installation of some 2.4 knobby tires and an old MTB riser bar. Done. I’m a big fan of the beater bike, the clunker, the scraper, the frankenbike, the daily workhorse of the average Jane or Joe. One must resist geeking out too hard on components when building a clunker; it would defeat the very nature of the beast.
The ensuing riding is the most fun I’ve had on a bike since…?
I attribute most of it to the coaster brake. “Stopping” is a very relative term when talking about a coaster. Slowing, sliding, drifting, and flat out panicking are more appropriate adjectives. Timing one’s pedal rotation in order to be able to brake is a bit tricky (read: fun) on technical stuff.
But with the relative lack of control comes the demand for a sort of flow that was immediately reminiscent of my early days of learning to ride a brakeless fixed gear in city traffic. Anticipating trouble, picking flowing lines, riding smarter. It also brings back fond memories of being ten years old and having neighborhood competitions to see who could lay down the longest skid mark on the sidewalk.
I just returned from what was supposed to be a ride to the trailhead for a trail run up the canyon. I locked up the bike, started to jog, and turned back for it after 100 yards, turning the afternoon into a 10 mile MTB ride instead.
Too much fun.
I hear there’s a local group sponsoring coaster brake only MTB races….