Adventures in Freewheeling

Thanks! I get decent speed on trails now so when I ride downhill on a smooth sidewalk I feel pretty comfortable. My balance seems fine but I get skittish when I approach speeds where a runout starts to get questionable. In the 2nd run in the video a car came down the road beside me and spooked me. In the third run I didn’t think it through properly and I stupidly tried to brake hard so I could get the speedometer sign showing 15 MPH on video. In neither case was I out of control but if I was going much faster I probably would have had to roll. I also came off the back and it was my 24" so it’s fairly easy on the ankles. I’m trying to find a place away from cars to do some real speed runs on my 26" (when I get some new cranks) and may need to get some ankle protection for that.

How’s your freewheel coming along?

Winter is setting in and I’m quite busy at the moment. But the freewheel makes still fun :slight_smile: I have to practise coasting without break. With the break it’s easy but without it it’s a big challenge for me. Were you able to coast on a normal uni before you started freewheeling?

Yes, I was already decent at coasting on a fixed wheel when I got the freewheel:

That’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to build one. I think it’s easier and more fun to practice coasting on a freewheel unicycle.

I think it’s beneficial to keep practicing coasting without the brake but I don’t actually do that very much at this time when riding trails (although I do on smooth pavement or sidewalks). I may change that over time but on rough terrain I’m usually only coasting when transitioning between pedaling and brake-assist coasting and between brake taps. One exception is in my latest video at the 56 second mark:

Good luck with your freewheel practice! I’m working to increase my speed, coasting runs, and handling drops and jumps. You can see the result of the last at the very end of the video. I can get a tiny bit of air off a jump and can go over a curb-sized drop.

So I’m looking at C.L. and see an old 60’s tandem bike I think I need. The next morning I drive down to take a look. While I’m standing there debating if I really needed an old heavyweight I spot what looks like a Coker Wheelmans frame in the pile. I ask about it and some more parts are brought out. When all is said and done I load a 50lb tandem and 3/4 of a Wheelman into the truck. $100 poorer and a head full of ideas, I drive off.
I sawed the 12" wheel forks off (no wheel included) and welded on a 16" fork.
It’s a 36 hole freewheel with cottered cranks (don’t have any yet). It seems to engage and release ok by hand. May not with real pedal pressure. I originally wanted the Wheelman hub/wheel to make my coaster uni. Pretty much the last thing I expected to find in a scrap bike pile. So now the plan is to see if it’s easily repairable, then pull the frame and insert seat and instant uni. At least it sounds good on paper, reality is usually much different:D




It’s funny how it’s come full circle! I’m curious to see what your process will be for getting the seat on because I’m planning to do something similar in the future.

O.o That’s awesome!

Here are a couple threads from from 2007 that I found:

Do you still ride your freewheels? :wink:

Last week i did a XC tour (about 8km) and it was a lot of fun :smiley:

Awesome! I hope that Spring affords you more opportunities to ride! Yes, for unicycle basketball and ultimate wheel / wheelset riding I ride fixed wheels but otherwise I ride my freewheels. I keep track of my rides on strava and since January I’ve put in 471 miles (758 km). Some developments over the last few months:

  • I don't ride my 36" freewheel because the brake setup doesn't let me ride as fast as I would like.
  • My D'Brake broke on my 24" freewheel and caused a minor accident. This was when it was attached to a steel frame. I suggest at least visually inspecting this part before rides.
  • I discovered an aluminum frame with the D'Brake doesn't give me a desirable braking environment. It's possible an aluminum frame with a disc tab might work.
  • My preferred braking environment: disc tab, 203mm rotor, sintered disc pads, TRP Spyre caliper, Avid Speed Dial 7 lever.
  • I'm in the process of building a 24" Surly Conundrum fat freewheel unicycle.
  • I'm on the cusp of ordering a 20" 3.8:1 geared drift trike front end to turn into a freewheel unicycle.
  • I went on my first group ride riding a freewheel (3 people).
  • I shot a couple new videos (links below).

Is your hub square taper?

Yes. As far as I know there are no ISIS freewheel hubs.

Two challenges that I’ve had with freewheel unicycling are extending coasting runs on rough terrain and having my speed limited by bumpy terrain, particularly on descents. I believe I’ve found a solution to both of these challenges and it’s probably something that should have occurred to me a while ago. I’ve posted about a pedals level vs. pedals mostly up and down body position. I found the pedals level position requires more balance but is better for absorbing bumps. I was practicing this last weekend riding the same downhill section several times and did something I hadn’t done before which was unweight from the saddle going over bumpy terrain on the descent. In fixed wheel unicycling there is a natural tendency to do this. I found I did this naturally going uphill but realized I wasn’t doing it riding my freewheel unicycle on level sections or going uphill. I had some success which lead me to later practice coasting on the sidewalk standing up on the pedals. I’ve considered this in the past simply as a fun trick to practice but hadn’t gotten around to it. I was surprised what long coasting runs I could get doing this and found it easier to transition from coasting to pedaling and back when I had some distance from the saddle, probably because I could grip the saddle with my legs. I practiced this on sidewalks and dirt paths for over 27 miles and today practiced for about 10 miles on a trail with rougher terrain and slight elevation. I can get much longer and faster coasting runs on terrain that would have thrown me off my unicycle had I had my weight on the saddle. I can also have long stretches of coasting mixed with pedaling without using the brake. I’m planning to keep practicing this new riding style on various terrains and work up to faster speeds and less use of the brake.

Thanks waaalrus for keeping the thread up-to-date with your experiments and progress. It feels like you are getting yourself ready for writting the freewheel unicycle handbook :wink:

Anyway, it sounds like a fun challenge reading your reports. Maybe it is more demanding IRL (real testers can comment on that :p).

  • 1 with what Siddharta Valmont says :slight_smile:
    I’m enjoying this thread too.

( Have you seen the video’s posted by Chad Hinkle ?. He’s unicycling with a friend and he has a freewheel uni )

Thanks for the comment! Although it takes me a long time to learn something I like to think I’m a good teacher, especially for people like myself who may not get physical things naturally. I try different things until I find out what works and as much a possible break them down into simpler parts.

Thanks! That’s me in Chad’s video! I had just switched to a larger rotor so my riding wasn’t the best but it was a good snapshot of a freewheel unicycle in the wild, at least of my conservative riding style. Next time I’m going to hop over those tree roots.

Doh :roll_eyes:

I knew there couldn’t be two people as crazy as that :smiley:

Freewheel Unicycle Jumping Tutorial

I had originally intended the footage I shot for the video below to be part of a video tutorial on freewheel unicycle jumping but not all the video came out. Here’s a written writeup of the tutorial in case there’s anyone out there who may benefit. Let me know if you have any questions or if any of it is unclear.

In order to practice jumping on a freewheel unicycle I recommend the following skills as prerequisites:

  • Coasting with pedals horizontal and weight off the seat
  • Hopping (as distinguished from jumping)
  • Coasting then hopping at a specified location (it helps to have at least a small bump that you can feel)
  1. Location

Find a suitable practice location. Ideally this will be a jump 1-2 feet high with a good amount of curve to the launch and has a contiguous landing. It will help if it’s slightly downhill leading to the launch and the path before and after the jump is reasonably smooth.

  1. Rolling Over

Practice riding over the jump by pedaling up to speed and then coasting up and over the jump. You want a sufficient speed to carry you through without forcing you into the air. Extend your legs right before the jump and then compress them as you hit the jump. There will be a balance adjustment as you go from the launch to the landing. Pay attention to this small window of time you have to make the adjustment. Don’t lean forward and watch that your rear foot doesn’t move above horizontal. The unicycle frame should be tilted slightly behind vertical. Get to the point where it feels natural and easy to ride over the jump in this way before moving on to the next step. This step can be a warmup when you’re already proficient at step 3 or may be an essential step when you move to a new jump.

  1. Jumping

Once you find it easy to roll over the jump and can make the necessary balance adjustment between the launch and landing section of the jump you simply need to add a small hop at the right time during that adjustment coordinated with a slight pulling up of the front handle. Make sure to maintain the same speed you practiced in step 2. And also like in step 2 don’t lean forward and watch that your rear foot doesn’t move above horizontal. The unicycle frame should be tilted slightly behind vertical. If you’re not making it past the jump you may be starting the hop too early. If you have a series of unsuccessful jumps where you’re not making it past the jump at all try rolling over to remind yourself of the necessary speed and to feel the adjustment window. Once you’re landing 80% of your jumps you can work on (1) pulling up higher with the handle and (2) going over the jump with more speed.

Wow, I’m blown away. Thanks for sharing your awesome knowledge and videos!!

Yesterday, as I was practicing at the park, a guy came up to me and asked if there was a freewheel version…
As far as my knowledge goes, (as of yesterday) I replied, it probably had been tried, but I dont think anybody was successful. Wow, was I wrong…

Freewheel Unicycle Helmet Cam - Hazard Peak 6-8-2014

Chad may be working on a real video, but here’s some raw helmet cam footage from a ride we did yesterday on Hazard Peak Trail and Manzanita trail at Montaña De Oro in San Luis Obispo County, California. Most people are not going to want to suffer through this!