I've been reading a lot over the past few days about BMX, and last night I watched a few videos like this one. I have been seeing the words "freecoaster" and "cassette" around a lot, and I was curious what they were, so I looked them up - freecoaster does not require pedaling to go backwards, while a cassette hub does. In that video (around 3:08) I assumed that they were pedaling backwards just for "style" or whatever to make it look cooler - and after reading I think it is a cassette hub he is running.

What are the advantages of a cassette/freecoaster hub, and am I right to assume that if you take your feet off of either to do a trick that they will not keep spinning (provided that you press off of the pedals evenly and don't produce a spin)?

  • 1
    fyi a cassette and a freewheel are functionally identical insofar as they allow freewheeling (i.e. you can coast, but not backwards). The difference is that a cassette is splined and fits onto the freehub assembly part of a hub, while a freewheel threads onto the hub body itself. Generally, cassettes are multi-speed and freewheels can either be single or multi-speed.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 27, 2012 at 23:35
  • @WTharper Thanks, that clears it up a bit - so, a freewheel just rolls wherever, and a cassette hub is essentially a freewheel, except to roll backwards you have to pedal backwards (speed is irrelevant?) so that the hub doesn't lock up?
    – cutrightjm
    Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 0:00
  • Ratchet and pawls are what drive both units, so speed is irrelevant in both cases (the only difference is where the ratchet and pawls are located.) They both make a pleasant click-click-click in one direction and bear against the chain in the other.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 0:27
  • I guess the difference would be that a freewheel/cassette don't allow you to coast backwards, while a free-coaster does. Though to be completely honest, I don't know anything about free-coasters.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Dec 28, 2012 at 0:31

3 Answers 3


My son wanted to change his freewheel/cassete hub to a freecoaster hub so I did some research about 6 months ago and found this great YouTube video from Odyssey and RideBMX magazine all about freecoaster hubs.

As you said, the cranks will not move when coasting backwards. For my son, this is the real advantage and why he wanted the hubs. Landing a 180 out of a half pipe, his freewheel hub did not allow great control of the bicycle requiring him to spin cranks as he rolled backward (just like that trick at 3:08 in your video).

In the end it came down to money and we (he 12 year old) did not want to spend the money to get a new wheel with a freecoaster hub, you cannot just swap the axle/mechanism/insides of your freewheel shell with a freecoaster mechanism, you need a shell/hub that supports the freecoaster axle/mechanism.

  • That's a really good video
    – cutrightjm
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 3:13

Freecoaster: Advantage is coasting backwards. Disadvantage is higher weight and price.

Cassette/freewheel: Advantage is lower weight and price. Disadvantage is no coasting backwards.

  • Coasting is simply traveling on a bike without pedaling. so...you can't coast backwards with a cassette...only a freecoaster can do that.
    – dotjoe
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 21:52

The only bad thing with freecoasters is the higher price and the extra pound. It is much easier to fakie out of a quarter or 180 type trick. The bad thing about the cassette is that it is much harder to fakie out of a trick. As you have to back pedal when you fakie it makes it much harder to balance compared to a freecoaster.

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