To freewheel riders

Hi freewheelers,

A couple of questions to those that can ride freewheel.

Have you got to a level that you feel comfortable riding them or are they so hard going that your constantly feeling like you are going to end up on your backside?

If your going for a ride to you go for your fixed or freewheel unicycle?

  1. Yes. I don’t jump on my freewheel and have any worries about falling on my backside.

  2. Depends on the ride. I’ve only currently got a 24" street freewheel built up with a brake that’s a bit iffy, and I’m normally only riding either at club (where the 24" is almost getting too large), or commuting (where I’m on my 36").

I did used to ride freewheel more than fixed for all of my free time riding though.

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  1. With some proper training, you don’t think about falling backside. It becomes similar to a fixed uni.

  2. Depending on what type of ride I’m going for, I choose a different unicycle. Currently, mainly freewheel for XC or DH and fixed for road/gravel. But I have a Flick Flock hub on my 27"5 so I can switch when it becomes too technical for a freewheel.

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I’ve always thought that if you don’t occasionally fall you’re not riding hard enough (fixed or freewheel). Everyone’s different. If the question is literal then I’ve found I don’t fall to the ground backwards very often. I’m clumsy and quite often fall but it happens more on a fixed wheel than a freewheel. I’ve somersaulted forwards into bushes on more than one occasion and have dropped 15-20 feet down a cliff (fixed). My two recent freewheel falls were practicing switch stance (braking the opposite side as usual) where I should have been padded up which resulted in a hip bruise and knee issue which took a couple ice baths to get over completely and hitting deep sand at speed which had no ill effects. I tried and gave up vert skateboarding in my 30’s because my time spent recuperating from injuries was greater than my practice time. For me the metric of freewheel unicycling is how much fun I’m having and it far outweighs any minor injuries I might have.

  1. I feel really comfortable on mine, and I am no longer afraid of falling (I mean not more than on a fixed wheel).

  2. For most normal rides, I would take a fixed wheel. I think the freewheel is a fun toy for downhill, but riding it for a long time to get there is quite exhausting.

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Since I started riding freewheels in 2013 I’ve gone through phases where it was 100% freewheel for months, interspersed with fixed wheels occasionally (usually social rides), and concentrating on fixed riding to improve my muni skills (a wasted effort) or to work on conditioning. I find it difficult to give maximum physical effort on the freewheel because I need to maintain a reserve in order to focus and balance. I don’t ride technical muni but there are places I ride where I have to ride very methodically using the brake a lot (places where there are rollers, patches of loose sand, and ruts caused by horse hooves or other factors). This is tiring for me compared to harder or smoother terrain where I don’t expend nearly as much energy. I always have more fun on the freewheel and the only other fixed riding I’ve done in the last few months was for basketball.


Enquiring minds what to know.
A few more things:

  1. Do you get “less of a workout” because you can “coast” on a free wheel? My guess is of course that is the case. No back pressure = more efficiency. Especially, on down hills + brakes.

  2. Are you mostly “on your pedals” when riding uphill or technical terrain like grass? Or…are you fully seated and rocking the hips for balance?

  3. What is your “ideal” goal with having free wheel cranking? Ultimate distance riding? Downhill bombing?

  4. Anyone out there with a Schlumpf hub + one way needle bearing on crank shaft= 1.5 gear advantage + free wheeling?

  5. BTW, you don’t “need” that clutch button for a Schlumpf setup for 1.5 →1.0 gear ratio. Why not 1.5 gear direct connection?

Just curious. You beginners out there…ignore this mumbo jumbo…I know you just want to be able to ride without holding onto a rail. Keep on…slam

I’m new to freewheeling as I just got a Flik Flok and it’s a very different beast from fixed. I’ve found so long as I keep pedalling it’s no different to a fixed gear. However the moment you stop pedalling is very difficult as I still haven’t figured out coasting yet.

Uphill and grass is almost the same as riding fixed gear maybe slightly smoother. I can switch between both modes while riding up hill easily as I’m used to using a schlumpf.

Thanks everyone for your responses as it’s great to hear that freewheeling is not just a case of being on your backside the whole time!

I gathered that there physically harder than fixed but the enjoyment from them sounds great, looking forward to starting my wheel build soon.

I’ve never ridden a schumpf but did try to heel kick the crank bolt once whilst riding, I must of missed as the crank arm came around and removed my foot from the pedal! A schumpf or flick flock is not in my sights anytime soon though.

  1. Yes and no. Basically when I am riding, uphill it is the same as fixed, and when going downhill I use my brake, so it is not so hard in my legs. BUT it is exhausting for my arm and forearm. But on flat ground it is less efficient since braking slows you down, you have to keep re-accelerating.

  2. When coasting, I put more weight on my legs, in order to be able to move my wheel under me and have a better control. Else, I ride as when fixed.

  3. My current goal is being able to ride on technical ground while coasting. And the ultimate one is the same but faster.

4 and 5. I have no idea.

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In my early days I braked with my right hand and held the saddle with my left hand (i.e., to pedal hard or uphill) but now that I do both with my right hand I feel it in my left shoulder. I really should bite the bullet, pad up, and practice braking with my left hand so I can switch off.