Adventures in Freewheeling

Not sure how that’d work, but I also have a 24" kh frame with a disc tab. I have no experience with disc brakes, but will be getting a disc hub and disc brake in a week or so!

For now my progress has been: rebuilt my 20" brakeless freewheel into a 24" with maggies. I can coast a few meters standing up on the pedals on flat ground. With hills and actual riding I cannot coast at all. I was unable to use the brake very well while practicing on tennis courts, but I took my unicycle to commute a bit.

Uphill: I was fine, except that I really suck at mounting uphill. I try to get my first foot to pull the pedal back, but I still always and up with my cranks up and down; then I jump and smack forward/down the 2nd pedal to get going. I either get it by luck, or my foot slips, or I stall. On flat ground, I don’t have to jump as hard or smack as hard and am also more likely to be able to ride out of a stall.

Downhill: I can pedal-brake-pedal-brake. I fall off when I don’t brake hard enough and lose too much speed before my center of mass is forward enough for me to pedal. Basically, I can pedal and bring the wheel in front, and also brake to bring the wheel behind me, but I cannot control either very well and oscillate quite wildly. I definitely cannot find the balance point yet, brake-coast-brake is out of the question right now.

Short clip of my coasting progress!

Great video! And great progress! I like the seat drops at the end. The only thing you need now is a larger place to practice with maybe some gentle descents.

“I’ve been working on riding pump track style trails without using the brake. I’m comfortable at 6-8 MPH which lets me use pedaling for balance corrections. My goal is to push it to 10-12 MPH.”

Hi Waaalrus for documenting so well the techniques to use with a freewheeling unicycle.

One think I was wondering is: based on your experience, what is the friendlier freewheeling setup for a beginner ? Large or small wheel ? Fat, medium or skinny tire ?

(It is a bit the same question as for UW/BC wheels but the answer may prove to be different because of the frame/saddle/brake addition).

Thanks =)

I would say the answer is similar to a regular unicycle except that it’s harder to find a learner/starter. The question at the beginning is whether or not it’s something you will stick with so it’s nice (but unlikely) to find a cheap one you can try out or learn on. However, you’ll probably have to build your own wheel. Like a regular unicycle I don’t think there’s a huge difference between learning on a 20" or 24". A 26" is probably OK, too. The main question is where you plan to ride. The setup I ride the most is a 24" wheel (Large Marge rim and Felt Berm Master tire) on a steel Nimbus 24" muni frame with a disc tab welded on. The rim is the result of a failed experiment with trying a fat tire and a Nimbus or KH rim would probably be my first choice building new. The Felt Berm Master is a great tire for my purposes because I can run it at 40 psi on pavement and 30 psi on trails and it works pretty well on both although it’s hard to come by. The only mid fat 26" tire I’ve liked is the Duro Wildfire Leopard and I don’t know if there’s a good dual purpose tire in that size. I think a fat tire might be a bit much to learn on but I’m not certain. My 24" fat freewheel experiment was a failure because of the lack of variety of tires in that size. Now that I’ve ridden and enjoyed the 26" Surly Nate on a fixed unicycle I’m considering building a 26" fat freewheel. Before I build that wheel I’m waiting to see the results of another experiment. I ordered the aluminum Qu-Ax frame with a disc tab from UDC Germany and I want to see if that is a satisfying setup in terms of braking. As far as a frame it’s fine to go with what you have to start with and use the D’Brake. That is sufficient for the early learning phase. My own choices have been dictated by the types of riding that I do. I like the wider rims and tires because it lets me ride with less pressure to absorb bumps. If I was riding in a skate park I would probably go with a 20" and if I was riding a nice smooth pump track I could get away with a narrower wheel.

Thanks waaalrus !

To summarize, a 20/24/26 wheel with a generous enough urban tire.
Pretty close to beginning on a uni but with a brake :smiley:

I already gave up the idea of having a freewheeling pioneer nearby and I can always reduce the cost by recycling parts and patiently sourcing the rest.

I haven’t mistreated my bum in a long time and hope gravity haven’t worsened since :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

Great summary! The spectrum of riding has pure coasting whenever possible on one end and no pure coasting on the other. I personally strive for the former but the terrain and fatigue will point me towards the latter (which is still a lot of fun). Good luck!

I forgot one element: the cranks ! Should they be on the short side, on the long side or it doesn’t matter at all ?

I prefer shorter cranks. On my fixed 24" muni I ride 137mm, on my fixed 24" basketball uni I ride 125mm, and on my freewheel 24" which does double duty on trails and roads I ride 114mm. Shorter cranks make smooth pedaling easier. One of the more common causes of my falls is wobbly pedaling. This comes up in the transition from coasting or brake coasting at a high speed to pedaling. You can underestimate your speed and you have to pedal fast to keep up with it. That’s the kind of fall that starts of my “Downhill Dream” video.

Aluminum frame review

I finally got my 24" Qu-Ax QX series frame and after a couple weeks riding with it want to report that I find that an aluminum frame with a direct disc mount (in this case a post mount but a tab with an IS mount should behave the same) is acceptable for freewheel braking. I feel that I may have to press a little harder but I can generate enough force to stop or slow down on even steep declines. It also seems a little less apt to cause a UPD from over braking.

I finally got my 203 mm disc brake rotor for the 26" Oracle freewheel. I’m afraid that the D-brake might wreck on some extreme downhill. Also a friend of mine offered me his QX frame with post mount in exchange for my Oracle one. But QX frame is a little heavier and I guess I should buy a PM 180 mm to PM 203 mm adaptor. What would you suggest?

I personally would go with the QX frame with post mount over the Oracle with D-brake. A single D-brake failure could wreck a rotor and caliper and also potentially cause a bad fall and leave you stranded somewhere. I have a 180mm rotor currently although I’m considering putting my 203mm on. For the 180mm rotor I have the Shimano SM-MA-F180P/P adapter (which adds 20mm). You would need the Shimano SM-MA-F203P/P or something similar which adds 43mm.

Thanks! I’ll try this QX frame

I haven’t been freewheeling as much as I have in the past because I’ve been working to improve my regular muni skills and have been playing a lot of basketball to get ready for Unicon. However, I still ride once a week or so. I’m working on setting up a Flansberrium with a Surly Nate and in the meantime I’m going to try practicing more off road. Here’s a short video I shot on a windy day while I was scouting out new practice locations:

I forgot to post one other short video I did a few months ago here. Just coasting down a hill.

2nd failed attempt at a fat freewheel

My first attempt at a fat freewheel was based on a 24"x65mm Surly Large Marge rim and it didn’t work out because I couldn’t find a 24" tire that worked well. After judging the Surly Nate to be a possibility for a freewheel I got a suitable frame (Flansberrium) and planned to build around a 65mm rim but could not find a suitable one (36 hole). I finally decided to take a flyer on the new 82mm Nimbus Dominator+. After having the wherl built I discovered that the geometry of the Nimbus Drift Trike hub (maybe all 100mm internal disc hubs?) doesn’t work with the 82mm rim. Both the mechanical caliper I usually use (TRP Spyre) and the hydraulic caliper I have were too wide to fit. And that’s with a 203mm rotor. I’m going to wait and try to get a 65mm rim and start over.

Mad4One Freewheel Unicycle

I picked up a fat Mad4One frame at Unicon and put my 26" freewheel into it. I’m going to ride it like this until I build up a fat freewheel, probably with a Ryde DHL 65 rim. It will fit a 29" wheel so I’m considering building up one of those, too.

Here’s a little video of it in action.

So, there was a freewheel uni lying at Unicon beside the bathroom in the school, whoever was the owner of this uni, I couldn’t find you. I left a note and took it for a ride haha. Man this thing was awesome! I personnaly dont think it’ll be a thing, it’s fun to ride, but I doubt it’ll ever get better than a ‘‘true’’ uni. This uni still convinced me I needed one in my collection.

I ordered my Freewheel disk hub from UDC yesterday :smiley:

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