Today I did my first commute to work (18 km) and when riding back home I was completely worn-out halfway. I had a bad time accelerating and decelerating to keep balance instead of riding at a fixed pace. Than I started gently braking to remove the need to backward counter push pedals when falling backward…
I find it more easy to balance using brake than by counter pressure.
That was a particular situation: I never rode that far without a break (however I had a lot of UPD to avoid pedestrians and cars).
Do you think it could be useful to completely avoid backpressure? Could a freewheel uni help me use less energy?
No. I think becoming a better rider and making less adjustments will help you use less energy. That will in turn reduce the amount of braking (whether it is with your feet or brake), and be more efficient.
Freewheeling is a very advanced skill. Better to focus on learning how to ride a unicycle where you don’t need apply back pressure. If you can’t do this then I doubt you will get much joy from a freewheel.
It is very prevalent myth that unicycling balance is about applying forward and back pressure to the pedals. In fact it is about movement of the body at the hips and applying the right amount of forward pressure to the pedals at the right time.
Unless going down hill or decelerating there shouldn’t normally be any need for back pressure.
I already paid for the Hub so it’s just a matter of time. It doesn’t make sense to own 2 29" kh uni with similar tire… no one wants to buy one so… I’m gonna freewheel.
Right now I’m commuting with a 29", excercise on weekend and family biking with my fixed geared 26+ huni-rex and hope will train half an hour per day with a 29" freewheel during work break-lunch time
There you are with a brake and it’s making you overthink things and ake them more difficult.
The key to pedalling smoothly is to keep your speed at a sustainable level with something in reserve, look some distance ahead, and relax. Using the brake instead of back pressure on the pedals for normal riding will make you a worse rider — what do you do on a unicycle with no brake? — and will waste energy.
Keep it simple, do it well. Ride within your limits, but confidently, keep your weight on the saddle, and keep your eyes on the path some distance ahead. You should seldom need to make corrections to your fore and aft balance except when changing speed or traversing obstacles.
A brake, when fitted to a distance uni, is mainly to add gentle drag and save your knees on long or steep descents, not for aiding balance in normal riding on the flat.
I’ve been riding my G19 lately. When I switch from forward pressure on the pedals to backward pressure, I feel the slop/play in the Schlumpf hub. It is a reminder of how often I make adjustments in forward and backward pressure (something I don’t really notice on an un-geared unicycle). If I’m going up a hill, there will be no slop, because the pressure is consistently forward. There is no brake on my G19. There is no real necessity to get a brake, because if I’m going down a steep hill, I shift into lower gear. However, if I did have a brake, I could practice using the brake to maintain forward pressure on the pedals. Practicing in this manner could help make the transition to a freewheel.
On normal riding I use the brake:
To come to a stop before traffic lights
To slow down during down slope
To make a short radius turn (I’m not able to make a 90° sharp turn with a single stroke)
This week I need to commute 10km in the morning and 10km to come back home. It’s not a normal situation: I’ve never done so much unicycling everyday and in the late afternoon I’'m exhausted. That time I feel like I cannot keep the same speed and it’s hard and painful to keep balance… it seems to me that slightly breaking could help me: it requires less energy to win brake drag than balancing as usual. I learnt unicycling on a fixed 125mm cranks G26+ (42" virtual wheel) and it is a tank compared to a 29" slightly braken.
I don’t think better riders make fewer adjustments. I think they make more, smaller adjustments using a faster response time. Their adjustments don’t seem like adjustments because they are so small. In my case, using less energy is not a result of consciously trying to ride more smoothly. Rather, exposing myself to more difficult terrain made me more efficient on the easy stuff. Also practicing skills on a 20".
Ultimately, pedalling adjustments can only be made a couple of times per revolution no matter how experienced the rider. The frequency of adjustment is not the important factor.
Quasi-stable systems are stabilised by negative feedback. We slow the wheel when it gets ahead and vice versa. Overcompensation can cause an excessive reaction that leads to oscillation where the pressure is rapidly swinging back and forward.
The real stability problems involve positive feedback where the forces involved in slowing the the wheel exacerbate the balance issue they were meant to deal with. Holding back on the rising pedal can impart a rotational moment to the body of the rider causing further overturning with a rapid onset of oscillation.
Experienced riders take on a geometric relationship with the unicycle that avoids much of the positive feedback loops involved in acceleration and deceleration, making them inherently more stable and vastly more efficient.
The unicycle should be contemplated as a wheel articulated to the body on a three or four (with handlebars) point linkage. Definitely not “an extension of the spine”.
Handlebars were a true game-changer for me. Not only do I feel more stable, but I’m able to make corrections using the three- or four-point-linkage…that would otherwise be done by slowing or speeding up the pedals.
You’re right! Handlebar give me also a chance to correct balance using arms… Next time I’ll think about if the arms could be the weak point in my ride. When exhausted maybe I put too many weight on the handlebar without compensate it (I also noticed I ride faster)