Freewheel tips

I’m starting learning freewheeling (I’m a newbie/low level unicyclist). Is it ok that I’m freewheeling at every half stroke even if I’m always braking at medium level? I also fall every half stroke :o
Do I need to go faster (braking less/pedaling more)? Is there a way to go slow (I’m a bit scared).
I use a 29" with disc brake

You have a freewheeling unicycle? Never tried one. However, common sense says that smooth and reasonably fast with a little speed in reserve will be easier than wobbling along from pedal stroke to pedal stroke. In all unicycling, it helps to go at things confidently, but to have enough left that you can accelerate out of a potential UPD. In all unicycling, riding slowly requires more and bigger corrective actions because something that is rolling smoothly and fast has dynamic stability.

Never tried a freewheel and maybe never will but here are my observations.

My impression is that freewheel riders have the frame angled further back (and lean their body correspondingly further forward to keep the centre of mass above the contact point) than an ordinary rider. This increases the available range where where the system is quasi-stable.

Note how retarding with reverse thrust tends to lift the rider out of the saddle. Retarding with a brake rotates the whole system forwards so you have to compensate more by using you weight against the rotation by leaning the frame back too.

During the freewheel without the brake you can’t slow down the wheel so you are forced to adjust your lean instead. Much of the balance comes from bobbing up and down to move your centre of mass backwards and forwards relative to the wheel.

Arms move from out in front to up in the air to increase the range of available movement of the centre of mass. It is like when you used your arms for side balance when you learnt to ride the normal uni except it is fore and aft. Eventually you do it mainly with your hips instead.

You can see what I’m talking about in videos like this one.


  1. I sense that I need to lean further forward (a backfall happens really quickly and became soon my worst experience on a uni)
  2. I cannot remove one hand from the brake so I cannot practice right now coasting and I won’t leave the hand form the brake for a long time
  3. If feels natural to use my free hand to compensate little coasting moment.

Today I reached about 7 revolution, but I was going a bit too slow.
However after 2 bad backfalls now I’m feeling about excited for that half stroke coasting moment. It seems unavoidable, dangerous, without control and also completely adrenalinic!
When I pedal a bit fast it seems doable, but pedalling slow I feel a mix of control for half part of the movement and exciting scared for the other half.

It’s really strange. I hope that no bad fall will ever stop me to try another learning session.

Is there a way to increase brake sensitivity?

What worked for me is pedaling with very smooth, circular strokes. This also has the advantage of making me better at climbing hills efficiently in MUni. It is also easier on the Nimbus hub (and maybe others) you can see why in the Facebook group for freewheelers. It’s pretty hard to explain through text but it has to do with how the place the pawls engage into is threaded.

Freewheeling is hard. So far, I have never seen anyone Freewheel that isn’t REALLY good on a standard unicycle.

Let’s put it like this: It’s about as difficult as gliding. To learn gliding, you need to be able to ride one footed, wheelwalk, one foot wheelwalk, and then it will take you many training sessions.

I don’t want to discourage you, but I think you can expect learning to freewheel to takes as long as it initially took you to learn riding on a regular unicycle, if you haven’t got good brake feel, and can’t glide yet.

Now, some tips:

Start riding uphill. On uphills, a freewheel can feel exactly the same as a normal unicycle (at least after a bit of practice). You can then purposefully stop pedaling and brake coast for a bit, to get the feeling of it.

Thank you for your help. I’m also trying to improve my uni skills, but I’m mixing too much: normal uni train right niw is related to learn to idle: a lot of backward pedaling attempts, Backward stroke for a sudden stop, etc. All kind of train that I MUST forget on the freewheel. That’s why I’m training in freewheeling before improving general unicycling skills.
If you can suggest me any different training I can try it. I’ll look for an uphill road to try FW