36er mounting advice (and knee injuries)

I’ve been riding for about a decade, and finally upscaled from a 29 to a 36er this year. The mount’s been my sticking point. I’ve got a reasonable rolling mount that’s worked well for me on a 24 and 29, but it’s been tough to adapt it to the 36er; on that, it’s been more of a stalled jump mount - where the mass of the tire and force of my first step counteract each other, stalling the tire; and then I step over on the front pedal and start rolling again. Works about 1 in 10 attempts, most of which I’ve attributed to commitment issues. I figured with time I’d get better at it and I’ve been accepting the 5-10 minute periods of frustration trying to get on the big guy, enjoying the miles of riding between mounts.

Until last month. I was going out for a late evening ride and was in a bit of a hurry… and the instant my foot touched the moving (back) pedal, my knee popped. I tore my patellar tendon. (Surgery was a couple weeks ago, and the doc says I should recover well in about 6 months.)

From what I’ve learned about patellar tendon tears since, it sounds like the basic cause is when something pushes up on your foot while your knee is bent and your quads are tensed. Which is exactly the form I’m in when my first foot hits the back pedal on a rolling mount.

So, I wonder - those of you that ride 36ers regularly, what’s your go-to mount? I’m obviously going to need a new tactic.

And those of you that do rolling mounts regularly, I wonder if any of you have injured your knee doing so… ? I’ve got no idea how common this is, but it’s got me second-guessing ever doing another rolling mount again.

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I’ve found backwards, idling, brakeless descents and botched mounts/dismounts to be the hardest on my knees and bigger wheels seem to be harder on them as well.

There’s something about exerting hard pressure on my rear foot or the upward pressure against it that can tweak my knees. One of the worst is a sudden change of direction from backwards to forward. On the botched mounts and dismounts I find it’s usually a matter of my shoes sticking to the pedals and my knees hyperextending. Also, skills practice that involves constant dismounts. Just having to quickly land on your feet over and over again is hard on the knees.

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Sorry to hear about your injury. :frowning: I hope you heal fully and are back to full riding health soon.

I spent quite a while recently focusing on freemounting my 36er and pretty much nailed the static freemount which I’m very happy with. I’m 55 and having recently broken my arm, I’m too scared to try a rolling mount, even if it is supposed to be more efficient than the static mount. However, quite often when I’m out I’ll still use a lamp post or a street sign to hold onto whilst I mount the 36er, telling myself it’s better to get on and ride than waste energy on the mount. I know it’s a bit cheaty, but hey ho…

My knees have never previously hurt when on my 36er until recently when I got some knew knee guards which seem to lock my patella in place. I’ve now ridden with them 4 times and loosened the straps each time, but this morning I finally had enough and won’t wear them again because my knee is in such pain. The guards actually prevented me from freemounting and made some of my turns quite unpleasant.

I had never previously worn any knee protection (a bit daft I know), so hadn’t fully appreciated the strain various aspects of unicycling (especially on a 36er) place on the knees. My appreciation for this has increased and I’ll be taking a lot more care of them in future.

I’m waiting for a new knee myself.
I’ve been on mild riding duty for the last year on both a 29 and 36. I’ve kept my knees and legs strong and I don’t ride anything that I’m not 100 percent on.

I don’t find mounting to be any strain on my knees. Static or rolling.
With proper technique a rolling mount will be much easier on your knees.

Learn to step up with extra energy (speed and a mild jump up) and then you can step on with your first foot when the pedal is lower.
Mounting with the first foot at 8 or 9:00 has to be way harder on your knees than mounting at 7:00.

You said commitment issues… try mounting with too much power and go right over and dismount off the front. Get a feel for how much energy to put in and where.
Now dial it back and start nailing your mounts every time.

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“You said commitment issues… try mounting with too much power and go right over and dismount off the front. Get a feel for how much energy to put in and where.
Now dial it back and start nailing your mounts every time.”

Alternately, he could try undercommitting. I’ll do that often if I haven’t ridden something or tried something for a while. Stepping halfway up and then back down again half a dozen times helps reacquaint you with things and give you a feel for what you’re going to do.

I think the stalling of the tire on a 36er “rolling” mount is the normal way that it is done. That is the way I do it and the way I see most everyone do it. A video here.
My go to mount on the 36" is a rolling mount and I have not noticed any knee issues. Even when learning and doing a 100 mounts in a session, it was not an issue. For me when my first foot foot hits the pedal my leg is nearly straight and that does not put much stress on the knee. The only knee issue for me is if I do too much hopping in a single session.

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Disclaimer: I have only had my 36" for ~3 month and ride it 1 to 2 times each week so I’m no expert in this area but maybe my input could be of some use anyway :slight_smile:

I static-mount all my unicycles (because I was recommended to learn that mount first…). I started on my 36" with 125mm cranks with a ~33% success rate (on flat ground).
What really improved my mount-rate to ~80% rate (on flat ground) was moving to 150mm cranks and also lowering the saddle slightly (approx 3-3,5cm - obviously it’s only a 0,5-1cm difference for my legs when cycling as the cranks takes care of the first 2,5cm).

Maybe try to experiment a bit with saddle height and/or crank length to see if that might improve your mounts? Lower to the ground means “softer” UPDs and longer cranks (lower gearing) might put less strain on your knees.

My reasoning for moving to longer cranks was that I prefer trails/muni to cruising on asphalt and I don’t care much about high speed (might change someday if I manage to get a Schlumpf hub. Anyone just PM me if you have a hub to sell :grinning: ). So the easier mounting just came as a bonus.

Not something that ever works for me.

I honestly think that UniTographer should re-learn his mounts on his smaller unicycles.
What he’s doing up till now is not working as well as it should be.

Hit your mounts a little harder… on all of your unis. Start bringing up your mounting to 100%.
You do have some troubles on your smaller uni mounts as well… no?

Stop doing what you think is right and start listening to people that can do it well.

I do like the fact that you freemount for every ride.
Keep being persistent and it will come.

Maybe start working on stillstands to get you comfortable with the “stall” that can happen during a mount.

I think you should post a video of how you free mount.

Personally, I have zero desire to enjoy the speed, mounting challenge and guaranteed injury of a 36" big wheel. However, I can’t help noticing there are two types of big wheel riders:
a.) The 36" riders who did everything right. Progression, free mounting and mastery.
b.) The 36" riders who bought their big wheel a month after learning on their 20" and need to hold onto trees to free mount.

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That made me chuckle


Good to see you’re still here sd, for some reason I thought you had left the site.

Seeing as Brian asked so nicely…
Bear in mind that it’s slick as shit out there but the principle is the same.
One with a right foot (slightly downhill) and one with a left (slightly uphill).
My first online video.

Edit - I meant to mount with each foot but in the video they’re both a right foot mount. :roll_eyes:


I knew there was a reason I live in Africa! I just know I would break my other arm trying this in the snow.

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Nice smooth mount. You make it look second nature.

Thank you.
I do like smooth.

It is satisfying to see that I’m not the only one having issues with the mount. Thanks for sharing.

I came to the conclusion that whatever the mount is, static or dynamic, the problem is not the legs but the balance. When you look at youngsters (I’m 63 and most are youngsters ;), they jump on their unicycles with legs in the air and land on the saddle before connecting with pedals. When they put one foot first, it’s so light that it still moves from the crank to the pedal. So I feel that my best and most satisfying mounts are when my butt hits the saddle, bring the frame up to the balance point while my feet are just touching both pedals to keep them horizontal. There is one or two seconds in nirvana, suspended in full balance with the world, congratulating myself on having landed such a nice mount, and just happy to continue my ride. No strain , no pain.

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Gee, it’s really hard to give riding advice by writing it. Unfortunately I don’t have a video. So i’ll try. I ride a 36" and others (24, 25, 26, 29 and 32, muni) and I NEVER do a rolling mount. Too dangerous. Too much room for error.

Instead, I put my left foot on the pedal and jump up high vertically (and slightly forward). Jumping high gives me time to get the other foot on the pedal and get in the saddle. The higher up I jump the better. Works every time and it’s smooth. Practice it on a level or a slight down grade first. Good luck and I hope you heal up well.

I’m now at, I have had some success rolling mount freemounting a 36er on flat ground. But generally, I find it’s scary for me and I really need to commit if the freemount is going to work!!
I bail a lot…

Anyway, i’m finding trying to idle on it interesting. Not a bad skill to have…

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That looks really smooth man. :+1:t3:

Yeah that’s an interesting skill but I never think about that.

First Point: I can’t idle on a Unicycle.

I leap after the Freemoumt on my 36" than I can corrected me and the Uni, finding the best balance and than push the pedal and ride. In the traffic it’s an nice if you can leap with the 36" and than keep going on your track, road where ever you where.

I don’t know a person who can idle on a big wheel but it’s a nice challenge to do that, just for fun.