bikers freewheeling -> unicycling skill?

bikers can do wheelies, is that similar to freewheel unicycling?
if so…shouldn’t we all try???
looks so simple :wink:

I wouldn’t say it’s similar at all, totally different body posture and weight/balance distribution :smiley: Not to mention the gearing (Might not actually matter, but a bit of anecdotal evidence on the threads here of people trying freewheeling 36ers with moderate success says gearing/speeding up might help to me)

That being said, people here HAVE learnt the freewheel uni. I wouldn’t know how easy it is, but it certainly seems possible… I sometimes wonder if it’s more work to freewheel though because of the extra balancing effort, than just sucking it up and pedalling.

he is definitely coasting on rear wheel, but he pedals backwards at 4:00 :thinking:

Not simple at all… Martyn Ashton is a one of a kind pro rider, he is a legend! …

With bikes it works very different, gears do not matter much, it’s the brakes that enable the rider to control the speed to correct the body position and keep him balanced.

With Manual\Weelie\Nose Weelie, it also very important to remember that the handlebar and the pedals play important role too. The rider use to create kind of “tension” that is crucial to the trick - in the backward nose wheelie for example, Martin give a lot of weight on the handlebar\front wheel and at the same time push with his foot backward on the pedals.

Have fun,

I had the feeling I’ll find it on youtube :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Here’s Martyn Ashton, Martin Hawyes and Hans (No Way) Rey on the early days (2001?) film: ‘Dirty tricks and cunning stunts’.

Skip to 0:19:31 for the explanation:

Have fun,

He pedals backwards because bike freewheels work in a single direction. That allows him to continue coasting backwards, then he gives a little kick forward to help him do the little 180 hop out.

And for those who didn’t see the description, the reason that this one is featuring Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg is because in the middle of filming this video, Martyn Ashton had an accident on his trials bike leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Absolutely tragic.

If you ride bikes aswell as unicycles (or have kids/relatives who do), I highly reccomend ‘Dirty Tricks and Cunning Stunts’. Granted, part of its appeal is due to the amount of times I watched it as a kid, though it is cringe-worthily brilliant. The full video’s on Youtube if anyone wants it.

Sorry to threadjack, I guess nostalgia got the better of me.

No, riding a wheelie on a bike is easy compared to riding a coasting uni, there is no more crossover to unis from wheelies on a bike than there is from riding a bike on two wheels.

Coasting a uni makes riding a UW seem easy.

Yeah, I read about it, really sad.

I have yet to try freewheel unicycling, but coming from many years MTB Freeride and trails I can make some guesses here…

Oh, and yeah, Martyn Ashton and Danny MacAskill make i look so easy, but most of those tricks are really really advanced even for most really good riders (and often take mutliple takes to get the perfect one in the video). I’ve ridden with guys who can wheelie until their hands fall off and manual for a while, but never with anyone who can do those kinds of nose wheelies and spins and drops. Of course, that’s why they’re in the videos :slight_smile:

You would think (incorrectly) that riding a wheelie on a bike is like riding a (fixed) unicycle because they’re both on one wheel. However, it’s totally different and I find very little transfer. On the bike you use pedaling to keep you up and feathering the brake to keep you from going back too far, plus lots of balance including pulling really hard back on the handlebar. On the unicycle you can control both front and back balance with the pedals (i.e. over a long distance it’s easier and less tiring). When I practice I can usually ride a wheelie on a bike for 1-2km, but after that my arms and hands are burning, and I can’t imagine riding a wheelie for an hour+ like I can on the unicycle.

Considering a freewheel unicycle: yes, it should be more similar in that you use pedalling for forward and the brake for back balance. However, I imagine the balance is totally different: on the bike you pull on the handlerbars and move your butt and hips back and forward to keep centered and balanced over the rear wheel. On the unicycle you have no handlebar, so I imagine the feeling is a lot more like “floating” as you have no fixed reference point.

Actually you have to make a further distinction: between a wheelie and manual. A manual is riding a wheelie without using the pedals to correct to raise the nose (and in a pure sense without using the brake to correct back). A manual is controlled by pulling on hanldebar and “hanging” on the bar and then shifting your hips front and back to stay centered over the rear wheel. The manual is pretty hard (way harder than the wheelie). The nose wheelie is basically a backwards manual on the front wheel, although here the difference is that the “lever” is really long so realy fine movements control the balance (I can do a great and consistent stationary nose-wheelie, but going down inclines like in the videos takes a lot of practice). Thus, the nose wheelie is not at all like freewheel unicycling as you have a really long lever to balance from the handlerbar/pedals.

The manual is pretty hard and this should be closer to freewheel unicycling, but still probably a lot different b/c you have no handlebar to balance with.

Also, wheelie/manual on a bike is a lot less scary as you basicaly cannot crash forward, but only lower the front wheel to the ground back to 2 wheels, so you can only “crash” to the back, but you have a brake to prevent that (you brake and hang all your weight on the handlebar so you stop instead of going over backwards), so you can get pretty good and never crashing.

On a freewheel unicycle you have nothing to save you in either direction.

I would guess that freewheel unicycle and manual are pretty similar going downhill, i.e. when coasting on the freewheel. I imagine (but have never tried), that the transition between coasting and pedalling on a freewheel unicycle when not going downhill is pretty hard and not like the manual/wheelie at all. On the bikes it’s easy to give a little extra push with the pedals to keep the front up, as you’re not using the pedals to stay balanced, but your hips and the handlebar. On a freewheel unicylce it’s way harder to move your hips/body independent of the pedals as you have nothing else to push/pull against except for the seat, which is at a bad angle as it’s under you and you’re sitting on it (standing or SIF freewheeling is probably even harder).

If I ever get the chance, I would enjoy trying out a freewheel unicycle, but at present it’s not high on my list to build one (as they seem technically difficult to even build, as there are no hus and parts designed for that).

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Thanks for such a detailed response! I don’t have any experience with riding wheelies and it’s interesting to hear your comparison. I am in a pretty good place to provide my own feedback because (1) I am one of the most clumsy and uncoordinated people I’ve ever seen, (2) I have thousands of miles of experience riding freewheel unicycles, and (3) a few months ago I got a BMX bike just so I could practice manuals on it and chime in on topics like these.

There are two ways I maintain front/back balance riding a freewheel unicycle while coasting: (1) holding my arms straight out and moving them slightly up and down, often in concert with my torso and (2) pushing and pulling the wheel with my feet. #2 is a more advanced technique and it wasn’t until I started riding with my pedals level what I started doing this. It’s also possible to use pedaling/braking for balance. That is, you pedal up to a certain speed then brake down to pedaling speed (instead of coasting down to pedaling speed). I do this if I’m lazy or tired or being cautious.

I only practice manuals on my bike and not wheelies. I’ve practiced for a couple months (with a recent hiatus) and have made fairly minimal progress. In an hour of practice I may get 2-3 runs of about holding a manual for 2-3 beats. What I really enjoy about freewheel unicycling is that it’s a simple, proficiency skill. If you practice enough you will get it. I find that riding a manual requires strength and coordination in addition to the balancing part. It’s fun but will probably take me at least another 6 months to get down. I think people with more coordination get it faster.

It’s true that I don’t usually fall practicing manuals but I’ve had at least one awkward touch town where I came close and got a worse bruise on my leg from my handlebars than any fall from riding my freewheel unicycles. Just like on a regular unicycle most of the time you are just stepping off forward or backward and don’t usually get tangled up like you can with a bike.

I will reserve the comparison until I can actually get good manual runs but the general issue with transitioning between coasting and pedaling on a freewheel unicycle is speed. On flat terrain I pedal up to a certain speed and then coast. After a while the friction will reduce my speed enough that I have to pedal again. On a slight downhill I can coast as long as I’m able (I usually get tired after 500 feet or so). On a steeper downhill things get trickier. I have a top speed I don’t like to go past (12-15 mph). So I have two options: (1) coast-brake-pedal-coast and (2) coast-brake-coast. #1 is coasting up to a high speed then braking down to pedaling speed, pedaling briefly and then coasting again. There is some possibility for a UPD in over braking but it’s the easier of the two options. I do this for a balance correction or if I’m just kind of cruising. #2 is basically tapping the brakes to reduce speed while coasting. There’s also the possibility of a UPD in over braking and it requires concentration and balance to absorb the “jolt”.

One of my new freewheel unicycles is geared 3.8:1 (or 1:3.8, whichever way means the wheel goes around 3.8 times with one revolution of the cranks). I find that with this unicycle I rarely brake. Of course one of the reasons is that I stick to fairly flat terrain but because of the gearing I’m always at pedaling speed so don’t have to brake to get down to pedaling speed. I only brake to reduce my speed.

The easiest thing to do is get the pre-built wheel from UDC and put it in an existing frame. You can also ask them or a bike shop to build a custom wheel or build it yourself. Brakes help if you’re going to go off road or ride down steep hills but may not be necessary for the skatepark (like for bikes). You can always get the disc version of the hub and not worry about brakes till later. Bearings are 40mm so you may need the 40-42mm bearing adapters.

3.8, as a denominator of 1 needn’t be stated. 19:5 if you want integers, or 57:15 if you want to express it as something that might be found on a bike.

This older Rowan Johns video has one of my alltime favorite manuals, starting around 1:56. It inspired me to try to learn them - never got anywhere.