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Old 2019-07-23, 01:11 PM   #16
Richard C
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Thanks LanceB and MUCFreeRider for great advice.

I've just taken my 20" beyond my house for the first time, to a nearby park with great paved trails. I can stay up for a few hundred metres, but turning is problematic (hip jerk, and much better going left than right). I now understand with my body as well as my brain why I need a bigger wheel! I don't mind the slow speed too much at this stage, but the instability of the small wheel takes constant concentration and correction which is tiring. Not doubt this will improve with time, and I suspect I need to put more weight on the seat.
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Old 2019-07-24, 05:56 AM   #17
slamdance
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Plan on falling

Seriously, have you had your worst fall yet? It doesn't tend to happen during learning, but when you "haven't fallen" awhile and you get comfortable feeling "invincible". However, it will happen. So, wouldn't you rather get through that phase with a "middle" unicycle size? I know many riders who "sized up" too quickly and ended up buying something in the middle after the "big wheel" purchase.

Safety first, do not try to be efficient by thinking you only need one more big wheel and that's it. Plus, you are still learning. I would work up to it. Plus, have you seen the cost of new tires larger than 26"?

Keep on.
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Old 2019-07-24, 07:58 AM   #18
ruari
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slamdance View Post
Seriously, have you had your worst fall yet?
I'm pretty sure everyone has had their worst fall.
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Old 2019-07-24, 08:02 AM   #19
Richard C
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Originally Posted by slamdance View Post
Seriously, have you had your worst fall yet?
Yes, if I stop unicycling now. So no. I didn't really fall until I started attempting freemounts, then I've had a couple (feet tangled in pedals, feet slipping when trying to power out of a bad mount). I've got much better at bailing out of a mount that's going wrong. I'm nursing a sprained wrist, now I wear wrist guards. And those falls were at zero speed from 20". My concern about speed is running out of a UPD -- bad knees stop me running at all. So I'm looking for comfort rather than speed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slamdance View Post
It doesn't tend to happen during learning, but when you "haven't fallen" awhile and you get comfortable feeling "invincible". However, it will happen. So, wouldn't you rather get through that phase with a "middle" unicycle size? I know many riders who "sized up" too quickly and ended up buying something in the middle after the "big wheel" purchase.

Safety first, do not try to be efficient by thinking you only need one more big wheel and that's it. Plus, you are still learning. I would work up to it. Plus, have you seen the cost of new tires larger than 26"?

Keep on.
That makes a lot of sense to me. If I end up with an extra uni that was an essential step in my progress, so be it.
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Old 2019-07-24, 08:26 AM   #20
ruari
 
 
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Well as I and others have said, you can make a 26" work for the kinds of distances you put forward. It won't be ideal but it is doable and certainly vastly better than a 20" for this kind of usage.

P.S. In terms of speed on a 26" for road riding, here is one reference point for me (a “semi-fit”, 42 year old, who is not particularly talented on a unicycle, despite having learned as a kid). I commuted today on my 26" and averaged a speed of 15.7 km/h (9.8mph) over my chosen route of (only) 5.5km/3.4 miles (according to a rough mapping of it on Google maps, so the distance would be a little off). This route is primarily downhill and flat. Also as mentioned previously, I have a pretty big road tyre and 100m cranks. On the flip side, it is not my full, potential pace. I didn't push it too hard (because I have no shower at the office and cannot be soaked in sweat), plus I have to negotiate several crossing points, including waiting for some traffic lights.

EDIT: Ok, I more accurately re-traced that route on Google Maps, which now estimates it as 5.7km/3.5 miles, thus making my 21 minute journey around 16.3 km/h (10.1 mph). Google also tells me that in the course of that route I am only ascending 10m but descending 102m. As I said before, a lot of downhill on the way in.

P.S. As a side note, Google claims that a bike would do this commute in 22 mins. So, I am… faster than a bike! (or more likely Google is assuming the average cyclist is very slow and/or likely to be held up by traffic)

Last edited by ruari; 2019-07-24 at 08:55 AM. Reason: Added more accurate distance/times
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Old 2019-07-24, 12:30 PM   #21
battleshiplinoleum
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard C View Post
Would it make sense to get a Muni and put a road tire on it for road riding? [...] And can I use any bike tire of the appropriate size?
Absolutely! But forget about skinny road tyres - they are no fun on a uni - and get a wide balloon tyre instead for the street, e.g. a Schwalbe Big Apple 60-622. It provides way more comfort and rolls very well.

UDC UK currently has a very good deal on a QX Q-Axle 29" at 393 quid now. It's light and strong. You might want to get some shorter cranks as you progress and maybe a balloon tyre, as mentioned.
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Old 2019-07-24, 02:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ruari View Post
Ok, I more accurately re-traced that route on Google Maps, which now estimates it as 5.7km/3.5 miles, thus making my 21 minute journey around 16.3 km/h (10.1 mph). Google also tells me that in the course of that route I am only ascending 10m but descending 102m. As I said before, a lot of downhill on the way in.
Since it was primarily downhill on the way in, I felt my times were “cheating”, so I timed myself back as well. I must admit I did push it this time, maybe not 100% of my ability but not far off.

My time was 21 minutes. Exactly the same time and average speed but with 102m of ascent.
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Old 2019-07-24, 03:23 PM   #23
elpuebloUNIdo
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Richard C, please get yourself some wrist guards right away. I recall that as a beginner, my worst falls were from failed mounts. I suggest you either start using a tire-grab mount or a 6:00/12:00 mount...or something for the time being to make mounting safer. Your goal is a nice, slow static mount, but that could take time...so you want to be safe in the meantime.

Going to a larger wheel is going to calm down the skittish-ness of the setup. However, it's better to learn how to calm the wheel down on a smaller wheel...then apply what you've learned to the larger wheel. The twitchiness of the smaller wheel is a reminder that it's easier to turn on a smaller wheel than a larger wheel. IMHO, you should avoid thinking that a larger wheel is the answer to these problems. It'll mask the symptoms, that's all.

From reading your posts, it seems you're somewhere between two significant learning benchmarks. The first benchmark is where you can ride a few hundred meters. The second benchmark is where you can do the same thing comfortably. I think we lose some new riders between these two benchmarks. The novelty wears off, and the rider is left feeling like they have no finesse. Don't let that happen to you! Keep practicing, and things will get easier.

If you are concerned about not being able to run-out a UPD, then you might consider not going over a 27.5" for your second unicycle.
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Old 2019-07-24, 05:40 PM   #24
Richard C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
Richard C, please get yourself some wrist guards right away. I recall that as a beginner, my worst falls were from failed mounts. I suggest you either start using a tire-grab mount or a 6:00/12:00 mount...or something for the time being to make mounting safer. Your goal is a nice, slow static mount
Got the wrist guards, and wearing them religiously after damaging a wrist! I'm doing quite slow 6:00/12:00 static mounts, occasionally into a 2 second still stand, and learning to bail early if it's not good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
From reading your posts, it seems you're somewhere between two significant learning benchmarks. The first benchmark is where you can ride a few hundred meters. The second benchmark is where you can do the same thing comfortably.
Precisely! I did a couple of 200 meter runs a couple of days ago for the first time, and could have gone a bit further. And it wasn't comfortable. Having learned to ride in the first place, I appreciate that further improvement comes slowly.
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Old 2019-07-25, 08:47 AM   #25
OneTrackMind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
I recall that as a beginner, my worst falls were from failed mounts.
Mine too. Part of the problem is the lack of forward motion so gravity takes over ending in a sudden stop at the ground rather than a slide. [/quote]

Quote:
Going to a larger wheel is going to calm down the skittish-ness of the setup. However, it's better to learn how to calm the wheel down on a smaller wheel...then apply what you've learned to the larger wheel.
Small wheels are definitely a challenge of their own. One of my worst falls was casually riding the 20 inch from where I dropped of my car to work. Been riding a couple of years, had done it before. No protection. But this time I had been just riding my 29 for a while. I stalled the take off.

Quote:
The twitchiness of the smaller wheel is a reminder that it's easier to turn on a smaller wheel than a larger wheel. IMHO, you should avoid thinking that a larger wheel is the answer to these problems. It'll mask the symptoms, that's all.
Just got back on the 36 recently after a lot of time on a lightweight 26. The forces involved in turning were quite a shock and I had trouble turning corners for a while. Had to go back to basics again.
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Old 2019-07-25, 09:44 AM   #26
OneTrackMind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard C View Post
I can stay up for a few hundred metres, but turning is problematic (hip jerk, and much better going left than right).
Your next skill is to steer by leaning the unicycle. Lean your body to the side and you will either lean the uni the other way to keep your centre of mass above the contact point or you will fall off. This lean will cause the uni to turn. Eventually you will learn to lean your body in to the turn as well but this takes some experience.

Quote:
I now understand with my body as well as my brain why I need a bigger wheel! I don't mind the slow speed too much at this stage, but the instability of the small wheel takes constant concentration and correction which is tiring. Not doubt this will improve with time, and I suspect I need to put more weight on the seat.
You probably don't really need a bigger wheel just yet. The need for constant correction comes from over-correction. The wheel gets ahead of you so you slow it down, but too much. It is a positive feedback loop that creates oscillations.

Stable riding involves putting the uni and your body into a quasi-stable relationship with the right amount of positive and negative feed back at the right frequency.

Your body reacts when you push on a pedal and to some extent you can control the direction your weight moves from that reaction. That movement can make the balance problem worse or better leading to either positive or negative feedback. When you pedal with the crank horizontal your reaction is essentially vertical. If you are leaning slightly backwards you will also move that way which is exactly what you don't want. With your body slightly forwards the reaction is in the right direction.

Leaning slightly forwards causes the uni to counter lean slightly backwards just like when you lean to one side. In this configuration the unicycle is far more tolerant of imprecise control and helps with the right feedback. But that is just the start.

The reaction force varies continuously so is very complex and hard to describe but your body will work it out with experience. It already knows how to control your reaction when you run and picks up the nuances of the unicycle quite quickly. Just keep riding and you will master it but not before riding badly for quite a while. It is so worth enduring this phase. Many new riders lose a lot of excess weight in this phase.

BTW This probably sounds crazy to a beginner. Eventually, riding a unicycle, especially a big one, feels quite a lot like running, just much smoother. I remember the first time I rode a hill on my 20. I really felt like I was walking on steps.
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Last edited by OneTrackMind; 2019-07-25 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 2019-07-25, 09:57 AM   #27
ruari
 
 
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I have never really had a bad fall (that I can recall) and certainly I have done no real damage to myself. I wear no protection except for a helmet in winter months, when UDPs are more likely.

People here often talk about common injuries like pedals hitting you in the shin. This hasn't happened to me once and I have been unicycling on and off (sometimes off for very long periods) since I was a teen.

I guess I have either been really lucky or I am just not pushing myself enough (more likely the latter). I suppose I am a pretty boring unicyclist. My skill set is limited and I am generally quite happy just using them as daily transportation devices, in the way most people would use a bike.

I unicycle because I would have to cycle anyway, the speed is “good enough” and the feel of it (even when doing mundane stuff like commuting) is just more interesting/fun than on a bike. At least from my perspective.

They are also more practical than many people given them credit for. A 24/26” (even with a large tyre) can serve many of the same purposes as a folding bike but without the need to fold and unfold.

Last edited by ruari; 2019-07-25 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 2019-07-25, 12:01 PM   #28
Richard C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTrackMind View Post
Your next skill is to steer by leaning the unicycle. ...
Yes, I feel this! I need a space where I can practise this, having perfected my 90° jerk turn on my L-shaped patio. I've found a couple of public spaces which I can fit into my schedule 1/2 times a week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTrackMind View Post
You probably don't really need a bigger wheel just yet. The need for constant correction comes from over-correction ... It already knows how to control your reaction when you run and picks up the nuances of the unicycle quite quickly.
Thanks for all the insight into the physics. I'm not great at translating a physical understanding into the feeling of what my body is doing (or should be doing), so it's just going to come from practise. I picture the process as making conscious adjustments to my position (on a timescale of seconds), feeling the result (on a timescale of hundredths of a second), and iterating until it becomes muscle memory.

I've done very little distance on the 20" yet, so you're right that it's premature to give up on the small wheel when it gets tough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruari View Post
...

People here often talk about common injuries like pedals hitting you in the shin. This hasn't happened to me once and I have been unicycling on and off (sometimes off for very long periods) since I was a teen.

I guess I have either been really lucky or I am just not pushing myself enough (more likely the latter).
...
I'd bet that learning as a teenager has something to do with it. My shins look like a war-zone! I now wear shin guards (and wrist guards), and still whack myself occasionally when I think "I'll just do a quick couple of free mounts, won't bother with protection".

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruari View Post
I unicycle because I would have to cycle anyway, the speed is “good enough” and the feel of it (even when doing mundane stuff like commuting) is just more interesting/fun than on a bike. At least from my perspective.

They are also more practical than many people given them credit for. A 24/26” (even with a large tyre) can serve many of the same purposes as a folding bike but without the need to fold and unfold.
This is pretty much where I want to get to in terms of skills. If I can eventually idle, ride backwards a little way, and hop, I'll reckon I'll have all the tools I need to navigate the streets. (And of course, just ride and turn accurately and comfortably).
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Old 2019-07-26, 04:00 AM   #29
elpuebloUNIdo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTrackMind View Post
Your next skill is to steer by leaning the unicycle.
I want to add something to that. When you lean the unicycle, you will have to compensate by pedaling faster. So, as you initiate your lean to one side or the other, be aware of your cadence, then increase it slightly during the turn.

If you want to know what leaning the unicycle feels like, find a fence or a wall, face it, then while holding on, practice the range of motion in your hips by sticking out your right hip, then your left hip. If my memory serves, this hip motion (and the accompanying turning motion on the unicycle) was a skill I lacked as a beginner. Then, one day, I started doing it. One of those "aha" moments. I think learning that skill coincided with my ability to make smooth turns, whereas up to that point, my turns were jerky.

Another principle of turning (and it almost seems too stupid to mention) is that you tend to turn in the direction you're looking. To the extent that we look in the direction we are riding, this can make turning difficult. For example, you are looking in the direction of the thing you're about to crash into, which increases the chance that you'll keep riding toward it.

There is a lot of good advice on this forum, but you have to be developmentally ready for that advice. Sometimes it seems the attitude of more experienced riders is: "I'm going to save you all the hassle and teach you how to do it right from the beginning." To some extent, however, I think we have to go through the "bad" technique on our way to the good technique. Unless, perhaps, you're a "natural". I'm certainly not.
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Old 2019-07-26, 10:54 AM   #30
OneTrackMind
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
I want to add something to that. When you lean the unicycle, you will have to compensate by pedaling faster. So, as you initiate your lean to one side or the other, be aware of your cadence, then increase it slightly during the turn.
Absolutely. I found the most difficult 180 degree turn to negotiate was a U-turn on a crowned street. Getting up that little hill as minimum speed isn't easy.

Moreover you need the momentum to get out of the turn.

Quote:
Another principle of turning (and it almost seems too stupid to mention) is that you tend to turn in the direction you're looking. To the extent that we look in the direction we are riding, this can make turning difficult. For example, you are looking in the direction of the thing you're about to crash into, which increases the chance that you'll keep riding toward it.
Yes this is a well known phenomenon. Never look at an obstacle. Always at the path you wish to follow. In a perfect example of obstacle fixation, this week in Australia a car loaded with $200 million of illicit drugs crashed into a police car outside a police station.

Quote:
Sometimes it seems the attitude of more experienced riders is: "I'm going to save you all the hassle and teach you how to do it right from the beginning." To some extent, however, I think we have to go through the "bad" technique on our way to the good technique. Unless, perhaps, you're a "natural". I'm certainly not.
Knowing something about the physics can help but there is no substitute for experiencing it. Just keep riding and it gets better and better.
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