BMX Tips

What Is A Freecoaster Hub? (Explained!)

what is a freecoaster hub

Yo dudes, do you want to find out what is a freecoaster hub (short: FC)?

You’ve probably heard of freecoasters and likely wonder what’s the BUZZ all about?

Maybe you’ve seen BMX riders effortlessly gliding backward and thought, “Hey, how do they do that without pedaling in reverse?”

Today’s your lucky day because I’ll share all the ins of FC hubs.

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Imagine pulling off tricks and stunts with a new level of ease or cruising backward without breaking a sweat.

That’s what a freecoaster hub can do for you.

This post covers:

What Does A Freecoaster Hub Do?

It allows you to disengage the pedals from the wheel while riding, making fakie maneuvers and specific tricks way more achievable.

Note: If transitioning from a cassette hub, you must undergo a get-used-to-it phase because a freecoaster makes your bike feel completely different.

Why does this little piece of engineering genius matter?

Well, aside from making you look like a total pro at the park or on the streets, understanding the mechanics of a freecoaster hub can genuinely elevate your cycling game.

Knowing how your bike works makes you a better rider — plain and simple.

How Does A Freecoaster Hub Work?

Now that you’re all hyped up about what a freecoaster hub can do for your riding game, let’s roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty of how this bad boy actually works.

Ever peeked inside a watch and marveled at all those tiny gears and springs?

Well, the internal mechanisms of a freecoaster hub are kinda like that, just tailored for the adrenaline junkies among us.

The Clutch System: The Heart of the Matter

At the core of a freecoaster hub is a “clutch system.”

Imagine the clutch in a car that separates the engine from the wheels, allowing you to coast freely.

The clutch system in a freecoaster hub serves a similar purpose.

When engaged, it connects the pedals to the rear wheel, allowing you to pedal and propel yourself forward.

However, when disengaged, it lets the wheel spin independently of the pedals.

And that, my friend, is the secret sauce that lets you ride backward without the “moonwalk-style” pedaling.

Let’s Talk Freecoasting

You might wonder, “How does the clutch know when to engage and disengage?”

Here’s where it gets even cooler.

The clutch system is designed to disengage when you stop pedaling.

That’s when the magic of “freecoasting” happens. You can roll backward, hit a ramp, or even spin without your pedals going crazy on you.

It’s like having an EXTRA superpower that lets you defy the physics of traditional shredding.

What About Slack?

Slack is the amount of “free play” or “lag” between when you stop pedaling and when the clutch disengages, allowing you to freecoast.

It’s like that moment when you take your foot off the gas pedal before the car starts to slow down.

More slack means you have to pedal backward A BIT MORE before the freecoasting magic kicks in.

It’s a crucial feature to understand because it affects how quickly you can transition into your tricks and stunts.

Think of it as the “timing” in your freecoaster’s performance — some riders like a little, some like a lot, but it’s good to know how much slack you’re working with!

What’s even better, FC hubs usually allow you to adjust the slack according to your preferences.

A Bit About The Internal Mechanics

While it may seem like sorcery, the magic is all in the design.

Inside the hub, you’ll find a set of bearings and an internal sleeve that the clutch moves along.

When you pedal forward, the clutch slides toward the driver and engages, locking the wheel and the pedals together.

Stop pedaling and, and the clutch slides away from the driver, disengaging and allowing that sweet, sweet freecoast.

What’s The Difference Between Cassette & Freecoaster?

Think of it like choosing between a manual and an automatic car; both will get you where you’re going, but the experience will be different.

A cassette hub is your reliable, classic option, constantly engaging the rear wheel and the pedals—it’s great for those who love that “click-click” rhythm while coasting.

On the other hand, a freecoaster hub is the cool, laid-back sibling that lets you disengage those pedals and coast backward like a pro, opening up a whole world of BMX tricks and combos.

So whether you’re all about speed and engagement or looking to unleash your inner BMX magician, now you know which hub’s got your back!

What Is A Planetary Freecoaster Hub

Picture this: A freecoaster hub with all the lightweight feel, pedal gap, and even the cassette hub’s iconic “click-click” sound.

The planetary mechanism (instead of a clutch) allows instant engagement while still allowing you to roll backward without needing to pedal.

It’s like if a cassette hub and a freecoaster would have a baby.

Advantages Of A Freecoaster Hub

Why would you switch from your trusty cassette or freewheel?

Well, I’ve got a few compelling reasons that might just make you a freecoaster convert, too!

  • Freedom of movement: The ability to disengage the pedals from the rear wheel — aka freecoasting — means pulling off tricks like fakies, rollbacks, and other rad moves without that backward pedaling dance. It’s like unlocking a new set of skills you never knew you had!
  • Everything feels smoother: Besides fakies, even bunnyhops, manuals, or tail taps will feel smoother because there’s no pedal engagement.
  • Slack: While you will need to get used to the slack, top FC hubs allow you to adjust slack according to your liking.

Disadvantages Of A Freecoaster Hub

Just like that delicious slice of pizza that still has calories (why, oh why?), freecoaster hubs come with their own set of disadvantages.

I think everyone should be familiar with these before getting a FC:

  • The learning curve: If you’re used to a cassette hub, adjusting to the “slack” and the disengagement process can feel like learning to ride all over again. Patience is key! (Quick tip: Try taking the chain down and ride your bike like that – a FC feels similar to that.)
  • Weight: Freecoaster hubs are often a bit heavier than their cassette counterparts. Not a big deal for everyone, but if you’re all about shedding every possible ounce, it might bug you. And that’s why a planetary FC might be your ideal solution.
  • Maintenance: Freecoaster hubs are more complex internally, which means when things go wrong (and at some point, they probably will), you’re looking at a more complicated repair job. Keep that toolbox handy! (You may also be interested in my complete guide on BMX bike maintenance.)
  • Price: Quality freecoaster hubs don’t come cheap. If you’re on a budget, be prepared to make an investment or start saving those pennies. Trust me, you don’t want to skimp on quality here.
  • Eclat Shift freecoaster hub: Excellent solution that works great as a freecoaster and a cassetter. Yes, you can easily convert it without any additional parts. If you’re unsure about whether to go FC, this one is a great alternative to test the waters.
  • Odyssey Clutch Pro freecoaster: An advanced freecoaster hub with all the modern technology and effortless slack adjustment through a tool-free exernal button.
  • Colony Swarm freecoaster: The planetary FC hub that feels like a cassette but rides like a freecoaster.

But feel free to check my complete collection of the best freecoaster hubs. Or maybe you’re looking for a freecoaster wheel? I’ve got you covered.

Transitioning To A Freecoaster Hub

So, you’re considering taking the plunge and switching to a freecoaster hub, huh?

That’s like deciding to add a turbo boost to your go-kart—it’s a game-changer!

But, just like any big change, there are some things to think about before you make the swap.

Let’s get into it.

Ease Into It

If you’ve been riding a traditional cassette hub, remember that a freecoaster is a different beast.

You might feel a bit awkward at first—kinda like the first time you tried to ride with no hands.


Maybe dedicate a few practice sessions just to get the feel of that “slack” and learn how to engage and disengage the clutch.

(Extra) Space To Practice

Find a safe, open space to practice your new freecoaster moves.

You’re going to want room to experiment without the fear of running into something — or someone!

Mind The Weight

Freecoasters are generally a bit heavier, so your bike’s balance MIGHT feel different.

It might not seem like much, but even a small weight difference can change how you pull off tricks or take turns.

Footloose & Free

One of the best parts about a freecoaster is the ability to coast backward without pedaling.

But that can also throw you off balance initially.

Try practicing simple backward rolls before you attempt any elaborate tricks.

Expect The Unexpected

Your riding experience will change, sometimes in ways you might not expect.

For instance, you’ll have a new range of tricks available to you, but some of your old tricks might need to be adapted.

Be prepared for a little trial and error as you get to know your new hub’s personality.

Conclusion: Do You Need A Freecoaster Hub?

Alright, pedal dudes, we’ve covered some serious ground here, haven’t we?

From breaking down what a freecoaster hub is, to comparing it with the good ol’ cassette hub, we’ve dived deep into the world of freecoasting.

We even touched on those avant-garde planetary freecoaster hubs (still can’t get over how cool those are) and weighed the pros and cons of making the switch.

So, why does all this techie talk matter?

Understanding your gear is like knowing the ingredients in your grandma’s secret recipe — it ELEVATES your game to the next level.

Getting the hang of how a freecoaster works gives you MORE control, MORE tricks up your sleeve, and, let’s be honest, MORE street cred at the skatepark.

Plus, knowing the ins and outs of your hub can save you from a world of maintenance woes down the line.

Nobody wants to be sidelined because of a dodgy hub when you could be out there nailing your newest trick, right?

The type of hub you ride on is more than just a mechanical choice; it’s a lifestyle statement.

It affects everything from the tricks you can do, to how your ride feels, and even how much time you’ll be spending with your toolbox.

So whether you’re a freecoaster fan or a cassette traditionalist, the key is to ride informed and, of course, to ride happy.

But finally: Do you need a freecoaster?

That’s really a personal preference.

If you want to go extremely technical with your riding, then it’s probably a good idea. You’ll UNLOCK a whole new world of tricks.

However, there are many technical street riders out there who use a cassette and nothing seems to hold them back.

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About Author

Rok has been riding BMX for 20+ years, and when he's not having a session, he binges on videos, new product drops and works on creating the best content (sharing tips, tricks & more to make riding bikes easier for you) for The BMX Dude.