Adventures in Freewheeling

Wow, thats amazing! I knew there must be some other freewheelers lurking about :wink:

So how long have you been riding to reach that level? Do you mostly coast using the brake for balance or just using your body? Any tips for a relative newbie at freewheeling? I swear this first month has been so much more frustrating than when i first learned to unicycle…

Awesome video, Carina! I’m excited to see such a great mountain unicyclist take to the freewheel because my own skills in that area are sorely lacking. Since I broke the hub on my 24" freewheel I rode a fixed wheel unicycle on a trail for the first time in a long while yesterday and I was amazed how much my overall skills at mountain unicycling improved since I’ve been riding freewheels. I think it really improves your pedaling technique as well as concentration. I think it would be great practice for competitive mountain unicyclists to train on.

If you are looking for something to work on I would try this. Find a level, smooth place to practice and try to do pure coasting with the pedals level (3 and 9 o’clock). Start by pushing with the same weight on both pedals and work up to the point where you can stand up on the pedals without touching the saddle. Practice this until you can push off the saddle and sit back down easily. This will be a big help in rolling over obstacles at speed. It’s also a step towards the next big goal which is making balance adjustments by pushing the wheel forward and backward instead of moving your upper body.

In your video you’re doing what I call the pedals up and down technique although one is actually a good amount forward. That’s how I started, too, and what I fall back on whenever I need to slow down to ride around people, dogs, cars, etc. Once you get the pedals level technique down try those same tree roots from the video and you’ll find going over them is much easier and you can go a lot faster over them. It lets you get much longer coasting runs, too.

My small jump video is really the only one I have which shows the pedals level technique and it’s also a good demonstration of body position before encountering an obstacle (frame tilted to the rear, body up off the saddle). I’m planning to work on a video this weekend to demonstrate a wider range of techniques and exercises to practice.

Excellent video! I love how smooth you are riding. Your balance is outstanding!

Camera Test

I did a quick camera test for the video I’m working on: Does anyone have feedback? I wanted to get a good shot of the wheel but also include body position. I’ll probably take that video down once the tutorial is finished so if it’s dead look later on in this thread for the tutorial video.

Hey Waalrus, you humble the rest of us with your amazing free wheel skills. imho… I would suggest a more neutral setting for your video with no background distractions. I think that the traffic in the background is very annoying

Thanks for the feedback! I almost never listen to the audio when I watch unicycle videos and didn’t even notice the traffic. I’ll keep that in mind.

In terms of camera angle, i think thats pretty good for seeing body positioning etc. Just watching that has already answered some questions i had :wink:

Some longer distance shots would be great as well, so theres more time in the shot to watch what your doing, because at that distance your almost gone before you can properly see what’s going on.

Looking forward to the proper video :smiley:

Freewheel Unicycling Tutorial 8-30-2014

I previously made a very simple freewheel unicycling tutorial but this one shows the basic techniques and then how they’re applied on a ride. The riding shows four styles:

  1. The basic style a beginner would use which is pedals up and down. In the video I’m riding switch stance to simulate this.
  2. Pedals up and down which is a conservative riding style used in situations where maximum control is necessary like around hikers, dogs, cars, and some precipices.
  3. Pedals level with intermittent braking.
  4. Coasting pedals level.
    Listen for the click of the brake lever and pay attention to pedal position, frame angle, and how much I’m on or off the saddle.

Thank you for your great tutorial waaalrus :slight_smile: I think I have to practice the pedals level technique, thanks for your hint!
At the moment I mostly coast using the brake but I have to change this :stuck_out_tongue: Especially because of my weak brake. Maybe i should have spent more money for it :roll_eyes:

I bought my freewheel about 10 months ago. At first I just practiced on a flat parking lot and later I also rode it in the woods.

You’re welcome! Thanks for posting your video! Of course it’s just my opinion but the pedals level technique is essential to getting to the next level of freewheel riding. I wish I had practiced it sooner. I think it’s important to practice it in an easier environment, too. Try to work up to the point where you can stand up on the pedals. You don’t really ride like that but it’s good practice. I always try to keep my rear foot below horizontal. It takes more effort to hold that body position but paying attention and not letting that rear foot drift up has reduced the number of UPDs I have over the front.

Riding pedals level also make it easier to coast-brake-coast. This is an essential skill when you’re riding down a long downhill. I used to ride such sections pedals up-down and the rhythm was coast-brake-pedal. I would have to slow down enough to drop down to pedaling speed which saps a lot of your momentum. Now I can ride down road sections at 10+ MPH with almost no pedaling.

Yes, the brake is very important to freewheel riding! I have a love-hate relationship with it and am constantly adjusting it. The setup that I like is:

TRP Spyke (caliper) with stock disc pads
Avid Speed Dial 7 (lever)
180mm rotor
Disc tabs welded to the frame

Keep up the great work! You rock!

Wow! Kudos waaaalrus!!!

This tutorial video is nice and makes freewheeling unicycling even more appealing.

Thanks! I’m just trying to spread the gospel of the freewheel since I have such fun with it. I promise my next videos will be more interesting! (That’s not a high bar to clear.) Since my regular freewheel broke and I’m still waiting for my fat freewheel build I’m jonesing a bit. My new grind rail should keep me busy.

I didn’t want to revive this old thread so I’m posting a response to Nurse Ben’s excellent description of the Nimbus Drift Trike hub here. As described above I was able to put enough pressure on the hub to break it over time. I put about a thousand miles on it but it was probably the climbing that did it in. I’ve been riding with short cranks (114mm) and I wonder if longer cranks would be better or worse. The hub has three pawls and the new 20" that I ordered has a hub with four pawls. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to determine if the four pawl hub is more durable until I build a muni with it.

Thanks for the video by the way. It serves as a nice reference. I’ll have to go through it again and analyze it a bit more carefully for the little things that might help me out. After a month and a half of extremely frustrating training its finally starting to come together a bit for me, i’m even starting to actually have some fun!

Can’t wait for your next video to see what you can REALLY do :wink:

You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any questions. I used some slow motion in the first segment but you should be able to use Youtube to slow things down to 1/4 speed if you need to. A key point about using the brake I tried to show was that you rotate your feet into pedaling position while you’re braking and then release the brake. In the styles I called 1-4 where would you say you are? I think it’s important to try to eventually make a progression to at least #3 by practicing the technique in an easy location but you can still have fun on actual rides using #2.

I just got my new fat freewheel unicycle so I might shoot some footage this weekend. If it’s not too embarassing I’ll make a video of it as a “before” snapshot to show my current skill and fitness which will hopefully improve over time.

Yeah i saw that picture the other day, looks like an absolute beast!

Oh nice, thanks for the tip, i had no idea you could do that on YouTube. At the moment i’d say i’m at #2, pedals up and down, although currently i’m not using the brake at all except for mounting. I’m just trying to get reasonably comfortable at “pure” coasting, and then once i’m semi-proficient at that i plan to add in the brake, as i presume using the brake is a more reliable coasting technique for out on the trails. I’m not going for any rides yet, i’m still at the stage of just practicing on smooth flat ground, and basically just trying to get as far as possible. Starting to get some controlled coasting more consistently now though.

Actually i did have a question about brakes. I’d never really used a brake before i got my freewheel uni, but it feels quite sensitive and lacking in finesse (although it may be i just need to learn to use it properly). I think i remember reading somewhere that you said you were using a mechanical brake rather than a hydraulic? Would you recommend a mechanical brake? Does it give a bit more control?

I’ve also just built a BC wheel a couple of days ago, and i’m hoping that will compliment freewheeling quite nicely.

Hey guys :smiley:

I’ve practiced a little bit. The pedals level technique is not that hard as I thought. And standing up in that position is also possible :slight_smile: (But just if I use the brake). I have just used this new riding style on flat ground yet, but I think it could be helpful for offroad rides. Especially standing up will help me by overrunnig roots.

My biggest problem at the moment are tight curves. I tried to do 180 degree turns on a small street, but I wasn’t able to do that :frowning: Is there any tutorial about riding curves on a freewheel? :slight_smile:

I practiced for a few weeks before I put a simple coaster brake on my first 20" freewheel unicycle and I had no experience with brakes prior to that. There will be a learning curve getting used to a brake but it will really change your experience riding the freewheel. My brake cable broke when I was at Unicon and I still was able to ride around the gym and could have ridden OK on flat ground or gentle inclines and declines but longer rides over harsher terrain would not have been possible without tons of UPDs. I’m getting a new 20" soon and will see how necessary the brake is for skatepark style riding.

I currently use a TRP Spyke mechanical brake with the stock pads and a 180mm rotor. I tried a hydraulic brake briefly and didn’t like it, although that might have been because I was already used to the mechanical one. The TRP Spyre mechanical brake is similar and I’ve also tried different rotor sizes and disc pad compositions. I put a 200mm rotor on my new unicycle but that seems to be too grippy although I may give it a little bit longer to see if I can get used to it. The extra stopping power may be useful for hopping.

Good luck with the BC wheel! I have one but haven’t practiced much with it.

What type of tight curves are you talking about? Like switchbacks? I usually slow down and pedal through those types of turns, sometimes with a pivot of the tire. I’ve also practiced coasting through turns as well, but on a much larger diameter. For that it’s important to get down the pedals level riding style first. When I first practiced turns like that I thought I would have to reverse my foot position (switch stance) for turning in the opposition direction but later found that wasn’t necessary. Getting solid on pedals level will probably help pivot style turns but I actually haven’t practiced those types of turns since I’ve been able to ride that way. I made a video pretty early on showing some pivot turns but it was using the pedals up-down style.

However, I have been practicing “carving” which is like making a series of sharp turns. Again, the key thing is to get the pedals level style down. A tutorial is probably not necessary, just a little bit of leaning and practice. There’s nothing to it but to do it!

Last weekend I participated in a Cross Country competition, riding my freewheel. My time wasn’t the best but I had a lot of fun :smiley:
The pedals level technique works great on rough terrain. It really has improved my riding style :slight_smile:

Thanks for the link. I’ve already seen this video, good work!
Yeah, I’m talking about switchbacks offroad but also about coasting bigger curves on flat terrain. Something like turning around on streets. But maybe I have just to practise more :stuck_out_tongue:

Err… Is the person on the right of that picture carrying someone on their back…?

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It’s maybe the biker with his bike on the left. It’s true that the pic make it weirdly right behind the uni :smiley:

Great job Carina !! You are putting to shame regular muni skills :wink: