tips on learning to go backwards

Im trying to learn how to go backwards and ive tried using trash cans and poles to get balanced and settled then rolling backwards, but I usually never get more than 2 or 3 rotations. Anytips on how to get more rotations in? And ive heard cranks get stripped in going backwards; I have whatever cranks that come with the 2010 torker dx model, so should I do anything to prevent them getting stripped when learning?

If you don’t know how to idle, I recommend learning that before continuing, as it will put you more in control when you start a backwards journey than if you just push yourself backward off a wall or whatever. If you’re already getting 2 or 3 revolutions, though, maybe your method is OK.

The Torker DX has CrMo cranks, which I have never tried before, so I don’t know what they are like for riding backwards. Cheap soft steel cranks are the best for riding backwards, in my experience, but they are not available in ISIS form, and anyway there are lots of other threads on this topic. If you take the time to turn your seat around before your backward riding session, you will never have a problem with your cranks. That’s what I do now, though of course you have to remember to turn your seat forward again when you go back to forward riding. I’ve read that you can also use a thread locker such as Loc-Tite or boiled linseed oil to keep your pedals screwed on tight, but that’s something else I haven’t tried.

1.) Find a long, flat surface free of bumps that you know is clear. Just like riding forward, look into the distance, not at the wheel. When learning, don’t look behind you…that’s why you’re on that long, flat surface that you know is clear.

2.) Use the search function.

My advice is make sure to put your weight in the saddle and practice super idling. For more information read this thread.

Good thread! Rear dismounts, idling, rollback mounts and riding backwards are all pretty closely related in my experience. I didn’t really try to learn idling on my weak side until I could idle one-footed on the other side and could ride backwards, but YMMV.

If you hit a plateau in your learning, making yourself ambidextrous can be a productive thing to work on for a while, but sometimes it’s also good to just forge ahead with whichever side of your body works best.

Pedal in half-revs, reestablishing control at each pause point (when the pedals are parallel to the floor). Over time the half-revs will smooth out into full revs.

So, pedal backward one half-rev and pause just long enough to stop your backward momentum. Then take another half-rev and pause, repeat as necessary.

This is also helpful when learning many other skills. Breaking the movement into half-revs allows you to maintain control while your body establishes muscle memory. It is advised to have a friend hold your hand during this process. Half-rev…pause, half-rev…pause, etc. It feels kinda like idling but instead of back-forth-back-forth you are pedaling back-back-back-back.

Lots of good advice here, it takes a lot of practice. For me it took much more practice than it took for me riding frontwards.

As far as your cranks and pedals go, if they are not loosening, then you have nothing to worry about. Pedals/cranks get wrecked if you ride with them loose. Some people have issues with them becoming loose, I rode a lot backwards and mine never did. Just check from time to time and make sure they are tight.

Good stuff here, and in that linked thread too. One thing that I’ll add: It’s a big thing to learn, so don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes a while. I haven’t seen anyone claim that learning to ride backwards was easy and some say that it’s harder than learning to ride forwards in the first place. I’d say that myself. I’ve been working on it a long time.

I found the “super idling” exercise on my own and it seemed to help a lot. Not being able to see what’s behind might be a problem for really fast learners but I was over it a long time before I could ride far enough for it to matter! Once you get the forward-to-backward transition figured out, you can back up over where you just came from which should be safe unless you have a cat like mine. Having a wall behind you and knowing how many pedal turns away it is can also help for feeling safe.

Posted while I was typing. Yes, for me too, for sure.

Mine have and do, whether fancy aluminum alloy or cheap soft steel. Good tools are cheap these days. It makes sense to keep a 15 mm wrench with the helmet and pads and give the pedals a yank before every ride, and every now and then during long sessions.

They key with riding backward is that it’s the same as riding forward, except you are going the other way. This means that you need to lean back and pedal fast enough to catch the wheel up with your center of gravity.

If you don’t trust what’s behind you, that’s hard to do. I agree with another poster. Find a flat area with no bumps and no obstacles.

Once you are comfortable with that, you will have more confidence to lean back even over bumps and even turning to avoid things. You’ll also have an easier time looking back.

Break every trick into parts.

I’ll add something that Sem Abrahams taught me long ago. Riding backward is not exactly the same as riding forward. The main difference is that your bend at the waist will go the opposite way. So instead of leaning into the direction of travel, you mostly can only lean the other way.

The other noticeable difference is that your foot angle on the pedals is not the same as if you were facing the other way. This doesn’t affect you as much, but it can lead to your feet “mysteriously” coming off the pedals when you start to speed up.

This of course skips over the fact that your head’s facing the wrong way, but that part’s obvious. :slight_smile:

Idling, super-idling and riding into and out of idles are a great intro to going backwards, and will teach you how to handle that all-important transition from one direction to the other.

Good points.

I still find the major problem when riding backward is the instinct not to lean back, which you need to do to smoothly travel backward. You’ve got to fall back just like how you fall foward when you ride foward. there’s also the tendency to not pedal, which of course you have to do to move backward.

What exactly does this mean?

All my crank problems from backward riding started when I upgraded to aluminum cranks, so it’s good to hear from someone who had a different experience. When riding these days, I always carry an Allen wrench for putting my seat backwards (or lowering it) and a pedal wrench.

Lately, I’ve found that a helpful exercise is to idle with one foot down, go half a revolution backwards, then idle with the other foot down.

Even though I learned to put my weight on the seat a long time ago, when riding backwards I often regress and come up off the seat, which makes it a real workout.

Like regular idling except you get to wear a cape. :slight_smile: (here)

It could be that your pedaling stroke is supple enough to avoid the trouble with the steel cranks but not with 7000-series Al, while mine is so crude that it happens no matter what. Who knows?

I’ve found btw that after a while I’ve gotten to where I can tell that a pedal is loose from the sound it makes when I UPD and drop it. It doesn’t sound like it’s all one piece when a pedal is loose, maybe sort of like how baseball players can tell if they have a cracked bat.

A unicycle frame with a built-in holder for those tools would be slick. And a lot more practical than a quick-release seat clamp like the one on my Sun, which I have to loosen and re-tighten to straighten out the seat every time it hits the ground.

A frame like that might be feasible to hold an Allen wrench, but one that would hold something as big as a pedal wrench without it getting in the way, I dunno. Might be OK for a long distance ride, but for that you don’t really need a pedal wrench, as you’d be going forward, I assume.

Once I get to my practice area, I usually just toss my pedal wrench on the ground.

Someone had mentioned it above. If I remember correctly, it means idling with full revolutions of the wheel. It’s a good step in the process of learning the transition between idling-riding-idling.

I call mine a butt-bag. It holds other stuff too, like a camera, and it looks super-stylish!

Thanks for all the great tips! :smiley: I’ve been going back and forth between learning how to idle and going backwards my way and I’ve seen a tiny bit of improvement. I still have the problem though of when going backwards and less so when idling that I tend to come off the seat. And more so with idling that for some strange reason my feet keep coming off the pedals… anything on how to prevent these? Also the links are great :slight_smile:

I think you’re not putting enough of your weight on the seat when riding backwards and not enough weight on the pedals when idling.

Most likely your muscles are just not used to spinning backwards, makes it hard to relax and spin freely. As you do it more, it will get better. Worry less about what you are doing wrong and concentrate on what you are doing right :slight_smile: