Adventures in Freewheeling

Simon’s latest video

I stopped paying much attention to the various unicycle-related groups on Facebook and missed Simon’s awesome video from May:

It shows mounts (static brake mount, without brake, variant static mount, running mounts, no foot mounts, backward crankflip mount), brake-coasting tricks (one foot, backward pedaling, foot plant, backward crankflip), and coasting (vertical feet position, horizontal feet position).

I created a Facebook group as a counterpoint to this thread to try to capture any freewheel content I can find. People are doing a lot of interesting stuff!

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Hello Waaalrus!

I shared my video here but I made some edits and I can’t edit the post where I wrote the link.

Did you see the freewheeling videos of A.J. Kinsella-Johnson ?
You can find it on this facebook page :

Yes, he’s amazing! This is his latest YouTube video which shows rough terrain, high drops, and steep descents:

New braking technique

I learned to use a brake on a freewheel before I used a brake on a fixed wheel and I developed a bad habit. I used my right hand palm up with my fingers pointing left. I pulled up on the lever with the four fingers and my hand didn’t touch anything otherwise. For fixed wheel braking I use my left hand. My palm is on the front bumper and my fingers are curled under it except for my index finger which I use to pull up on the brake lever (which has a Kris Holm Starfighter). I decided to use my fixed wheel braking technique with my freewheel (although using my right hand). At the same time I got a new hydraulic brake based on Simon’s recommendation (I’ve always used a mechanical TRP Spyre/Spyke). He recommended a Hope Tech 4 V4 and I got the E4 because I have a 203mm rotor and the power is supposed to be equivalent to a V4 with a 180mm rotor. I found that I was unable to brake at all with the new brake using my old technique. This may have been exacerbated by brand new disc pads but I couldn’t pull the lever gentle enough to do anything but completely lock the brakes. I practiced for two and half hours on Sunday with the new technique. Initially I had 0% proficiency in stopping. However, I found that I could brake-pedal much more easily than with the old technique and could get whatever speed I wanted. At the end of my practice I got to about 70-80% proficiency stopping at a fairly low speed on level ground. On Monday I practiced an hour and forty-five minutes. I improved braking proficiency including faster speeds on level ground and worked on slowing down slightly rather than stopping. I got a little proficiency (20-30%) brake-coasting down mildly steep hills. In my next session I’ll improve this, work on steeper hills, and practice using a lighter touch on the brake. I definitely find that the brake-coasting to coasting transition can be much less jarring than with my old technique so is easier to do. Every once in a while I completely yank the unicycle out from under me and I’m not exactly sure why that happens.

I worked on my jumps yesterday and I have a couple observations of what was working for me:

  1. I stop pedaling as I get into the dip before the jump
  2. My back foot is slightly below level until I spring upwards before the lip of the jump, then they level out
  3. The wheel keeps moving in the air, in all of the videos where I fell off it was in front, and my wheel stopped moving
  4. Speed is your friend, but don’t lean too far ahead of the unicycle or count on pedaling for balance. During my best jumps I was going too fast to pedal. During my best crash I was also going too fast to pedal…

These are incredible! Great work! What’s your success rate on landing it? I need to lay off my right elbow a while but am eager to practice a mini version of this when I can ride again although I want to have a backup ready in case I break another hub. I think the point about keeping the back foot below level is matching up the cranks more to the angle of the ramp/roller. It never occurred to me to try braking riding over a jump probably because my original technique made it nearly impossible to do so.

So my success rate for clearing the jump in my post was maybe 33% of successful takeoffs , the smaller jump was closer to 50% of successful takeoffs. The effort required to jump higher and farther seems to be exponential.

For successful takeoffs, I also had more success on the smaller jump (it probably just scared me less), so for that one it was about 66%% by the time I moved up to the larger one. For the larger jump it was probably 25-33%. Worth noting is that I was getting much more tired as I moved onto the larger jump.

Next practice session I’ll spend a lot of time on consistency. Also, I was trying not to brake much at all once I hit the base of the jump. Eventually I will want to full coast in and out of a jump so I can hit some jump trails.

Wow, that’s pretty high already! Is the idea just to tap the brake a bit on landing then coast out of it when you get control?

That’s what I’m trying to do right now, although eventually I’d want to coast all the way through a run of multiple jumps without touching my brake. I guess that also sets a goal for consistency.

I’m considering buying a freewheel nimbus hub. I live in France and it would cost way less to buy it in the USA then send it to France than buying it in France.
Thing is I won’t be able to make use of the warranty if anything happens with the hub.
Do you think this hub is reliable and durable enough so I can take the risk of buying it this way?

I’ve had no problems with it (besides the time I forgot to put the clips back on the bearings, but that was me being stupid and I fixed it). If you’ve broken cotterless hubs in the past or are especially abusive to hubs on climbs then I’d buy from France, but otherwise USA is probably the way to go. If you’re mounting it in an ISIS frame then be sure to use the bearing adapters.

Finally found time to finish a frame for my freewheeling wheel! Rim is 622mm double wall 60mm internal width one. Decided to build my hub with it to have some momentum for learning, we will see if it helps when I actually get to try it!

I have been learning to drive my fixed unicycles with minimal back pressure and using a brake for anything I can to ease the beginning of my freewheel adventure. How fast do you guys think it is possible to get really riding this uni?

Oh, and the tire is WTB Ranger 29x3.0 if anyone is interested.

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Great setup! Besides how willing you are to take a huge fall and how skilled you are at coasting, the only limiting factors are air resistance, rolling resistance, and road slope, so with the right uni, aerodynamic clothing, the right stretch of road & conditions, and enough practice, FAST. Maybe 45mph?

AK KJ, your riding is incredible.
Almost makes me want to try.

For my clarification… could you head down an unknown green downhill trail and stay on the whole time? Or is this something that takes time and practice before you could sweep it?

You make it look smooth and easy. Which means you’re really good.
Very impressive.

With using the brake, absolutely, and probably a blue too. I’ve decided to stop practicing my jumps until I can get the basics of coasting without the brake. I skipped the fundamentals and now I’ve got to make up for it.

Thanks! I’m glad I look like know what I’m doing…

Freewheeling seems awesome so far. The feeling you get when your hub starts clicking is really satisfying! And I managed to mount without assistance today. Also remembered how big of a difference free mounting makes to unicycling! :smiley: I can actually get somewhere with my new contraption now :sunglasses:

Here is a video of my fourth free mount:

I wanted to post this video here to give me an incentive to work on doing it the “right” way. Hopefully I’ll post another version in 6-12 months which shows coasting where I’m pedalling here.

Hi waaalrus,
I am actually waiting for a freewheel hub shipped to Europe :slight_smile: . Can’t wait to try freewheel kiting. :smiley:
Have you already posted detail experience with the 1:3,8 hub anywhere? Just have seen the video and would be interested how difficult it was compared and if the hub lasted more than the try in the video.

There’s this thread. It works well on flat, smooth terrain but is so highly geared (and cranks are limited to 125mm) it’s difficult to pedal with any kind of elevation gain. I still have it and ride it occasionally. I would ride it more if I had a good place to ride it.

I wouldn’t think it would be good for freewheel kiting (compared to a regular freewheel hub) because even small feet adjustments would translate into big wheel changes. I’ve looking into kiting but I don’t have a good place to ride. If you have a place to ride and already have the kite skills you’re most of the way there! I personally feel a peg unicycle would be better for using with a kite but a freewheel unicycle may be more practical.

Today I did a fun exercise that other beginner freewheelers may also benefit from. I’ve had som difficulties with the transition from brake-coasting to pedaling. I’ve also had a tendency to lean too far back for this reason. So today I practiced doing continous pedal motions while brake-coasting. After a while I got better at it, and when I was going from brake-coasting to pedaling my feet was already moving in circles so the transition was much easier. It can now keep the body in the center of balance because I’m not afraid of falling forwards. I still have a long way to go, but I felt it helped me. As I have mentioned earlier, going from 150 to 125 cranks has also helped a lot.