I’m not a particularly technical rider, having developed a style that involves slogging up hill, swooping down the easy way, and picking my way between and around obstacles. I see the trail as a maze to be negotiated, rather than a series of obstacles to be blitzed.
But this year’s project is to develop at least some rudimentary skill at hopping over small obstacles, and to increase my confidence over small drops and steps.
With my KH24 on “normal settings” (for me) I can hop maybe 4 or 5 inches vertically, but I lack control.
By softening the tyre and dropping the seat an inch, I find I can hop with more control and a bit more height too. However, this is at an enormous penalty in terms of the uni being sluggish, and unresponsive when I am riding it normally. I’ve had a few UPDs on bumpy uphills where the softness of the tyre has been a major factor in me losing balance.
I know trials people have low seats and soft tyres, but they’re generally not riding any significant distance. However, I see on Youtube etc., videos of Muni riders bouncing about all over the place. How do you reconcile the two things?: highish seat and hardish tyre is nicer to ride any distance; lowish seat and squidgy tyre is easier for hopping.
well when I decided to lower my saddle for the first time to get increased hop height, my legs would be absolutely killing me after about 5 mins of riding. i said to myself i would never ride any distance this way, and if i wanted to do any trials riding id have to just drive to whatever spot and then uni, lol. but now im plenty used to it, and can ride quite a great distance for a 20 inch…all whilist hopping around. in fact once with my low saddle I rode about 4.5 miles to some skinny I wanted to ride…practiced with the skinny and then rode all 4.5 miles back and my legs were just fine. but it took forever…lol…and that was with 137mm cranks
so i guess just like everything else with uniing, just gotta keep at it and youll get better
oh and youll also develop much much more control. I also remember when I first lowered the seat the uni became much harder to control from tilting left and right, because of the decreased leverage. but I am now used to that, and have plenty of control…probably better now than if it was up high
I do almost no hopping, but I still run my MUni seat probably 5cm lower than my normal uni seat, and my tire with as little pressure as I can get away with without bottoming out. The soft tire is actually better on bumpy uphills; you just have to get used to the slower response.
A real MUni does kind of suck for long distances; I bring my 29er for distance off-road riding. But I’ll commonly ride 15-20km on my MUni, as long as the terrain is interesting enough.
I ride a highish seat with a squidgy tire, but not so much that I ever feel the rim on the ground. I’m not personally that high of a hopper, but that configuration seems to be what most riders around here ride. I’ve seen riders with highish seats rolling hop up around 2 feet onto a log with their MUnis. It’s all about technique.
Decide if you want to do a long ride, or practice hopping, and set the uni appropriately. If you want to do both, set it for the long ride but with possible minor changes, such as what Tom mentioned above.
You can make seat height changes mid-ride. I will often do this if it’s a long climb before the technical stuff, for instance. High seat for non-technical or uphill, then lowered so my feet stay on the pedals over bumps or while zooming downhill.
You can also play with the tire pressure, but it’s much more of a hassle. I always carry a little pump in my Camelbak.
With the unicycle set the way you intend to use it, set aside some time to practice hopping I recommend starting with curbs/kerbs, if you aren’t used to doing those. First get comfortable side-hopping up them, but work your way up to being able to forward-hop them without having to stop and line up your pedals.
It’s possible to line up your pedals by making a curvy path up to the obstacle, it just takes practice. And cooperation from the terrain; that method doesn’t work well if it’s all technical!
If you practice your techniques separate from the ride, you can have more fun on the ride (and last longer).