Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Learning to ride a freewheel Unicycle: Session #1

I want to document my progress in attempting to learn how to ride a freewheel unicycle. Today was my first session with "White Widow", a 26" freewheel unicycle built from a poweder coated "pearl" Kris Holm unicycle and Nimbus Trike freewheel-disc hub. Traditional unicycles are fixed gear; the cranks turn directly with the wheel; when you stop pedaling the wheel stops. In a freewheel unicycle the cranks only turn with the wheel in the forward direction; when you stop pedaling the wheel can continue to turn just like in a bicycle. A HUGE component to riding a traditional unicycle and maintaining balance is the ability to apply back pressure to the cranks. With a freewheel unicycle this doesn't work, if you try you simply spin the cranks and the wheel will shoot out in front of you quickly and if you're lucky you didn't just fall on your back and crack your head open!
So, for this first session I met Ryan C and we went behind HCES and I used his Jeep as a prop to get situated in the saddle and cranks. Back to basics of learning to ride! Once propped up I'd simply try to see how far I could get before a UPD. I successfully made it 20-30' several times but it still feels very forced. I've got 152mm cranks on there and feel like I need to:
1) Put shorter cranks on to make pedaling less choppy
2) Perhaps either put on trail tire or deflate the tire a bit to have a bit more rolling resistance.
3) Practice brake assisted freemounts.
My overall impression is that this unicycle has a balance envelop much smaller than a traditional unicycle and so it's a matter of finding those limits and staying within them! The goal will to eventually be able to ride around everywhere on this freewheel unicycle that I can now on traditional unicycle but with the added ability to coast on demand and in control. With braking, this should make downhill riding much easier and fun.
Total session time was about an hour.