Advice on how to stay mounted on bumpy ground?

Hi guys.

As most of you know, I only learned to Unicycle 2 months ago to raise money for Charity by road riding, but I’ve been experimenting with traffic free trails and getting more addicted by the day to this incredible sport.

I had a bad fall yesterday and most of the injuries would have been prevented if I’d remembered my shin/knee pads, but I’m more concerned with what threw me off and how to avoid it happening again.

I was riding the canal towpath, a rough gravelly path with bumps and dips and hit an unexpected dip. When the unicycle popped up out of it, the saddle hit me in the behind and threw me into the air an inch or two, but that knocked my feet off the pedals and it was all flight to the site of the crash thereafter. :smiley:

It’s not exactly MUni, but I just want to avoid that happening again. How do you ride rougher ground? Do I need to change the seat height, or stand on the pedals or something? :thinking:

(Anyone wants the gory pics, they’re on my blog)

Im certainly no expert
But I think the key is where your weight is.
Seat or pedals

When learning to ride to avoid exhausting your legs we focus on keeping as
Much weight in the saddle as possible
But for uneven ground you will need to lift your weight off the saddle to allow your legs to absorb those ‘ejector seat’ shoves the uni likes to give you

To do this you may need a slightly lower saddle position

Niether am I :slight_smile: but…holding the seat with one hand helps stabalize things.

But, for really good advise (I use it all the time) go here

Have fun…

Pretty much this. I can add that lowering the air pressure in the tire will also help take some of the edge off of the bumps, allowing the air volume in the tire to absorb some of that. If you lower the air pressure in the tire you’ll also be increasing rolling resistance, so keep that in mind if most of your ride is on smooth or paved surfaces.

When I first started muni it wore me down very quickly, principally because I was riding with my weight in the pedals most, if not all of the time. There’s a balance… you’re still going to want to keep weight in the seat as much as possible to prevent wearing out quickly but at the same you need to put more weight on the pedals to absorb the bumps.

I’m an extremely slow learner, it seems that I take a year to learn what most can learn in months, so what I found is that learning the when, how high, and for how long to transfer weight from the saddle and to the pedals (even if standing completely on the pedals, so keep that in mind) had to develop over time. A long time. I really had to get to the point where it was instinctive, almost like it had become a reflex for those instances where a bump will take you by surprise.

Here it’s the leaves and pine straw that camoflauge rocks, roots, and dips.

Use studded pedals for better grip.As you cycle more you will respond quicker to bumps etc.,and not get thrown so easily. Cycling over distance with a low saddle may cause knee pain.I set my saddle full height when I’m cycling on trails. A lower setting is good for rough terraine where you would be jumping a lot in which case you would grip the saddle to keep the uni in positition. Hope this helps!

Most of my hard landings come when I don’t see some small thing on the trail that I would have been able to ride right over, without really thinking about it, if I had only noticed it.

So watch where you’re going! Would be my advice. Don’t look at the horizon, don’t look at the trail ahead at “bike distance” - that’s for a faster, more stable vehicle - keep your eyes on the ground near you.

Yep. Sun + shadow is a killer, too.

typically Muni riders will have their saddle lower than for riding on smooth surfaces. This lets you move weight from your butt to your feet really quick. There is a reason muni is physically challenging, a lot of the riding is done with weight on your legs. MrImpossible is right, you need to be aware of the little bumps in the trail. At first it will take a lot of focus, but the more you do it the easier it will get and the better you will get.

Also I think your setup is more of a road setup (relatively narrow tire and rim)… A 2.6 or bigger tire run at a lower pressure makes a huge difference in what it will roll over. Not that I don’t get pitched off at the occasional small rock or root, it happens all the time, usually when my cranks hit the dead spot right when my tire hits one of those little buggers.

unibokk has a good point too, a wider pedal with good grip will give you a bit more stability, it won’t necessarily help you from being ejected like you were but will help in all around stability.

jojoxie also has good advice in grabbing the handle. If you hold yourself down onto the seat your chances of being ejected are much smaller. I’m usually holding onto the seat 80% of the time I ride off road. It helps you become part of the uni.

So combine all the good advice in these posts and keep at the trails…

oh and maybe get some pads too (there is a reason muni riders look like storm troopers)

A purpose built mountain unicycle (MUni) has a wider rim to spread out a fat tire run at lower pressure. My KH29 has a 2.6" Ardent on a 47mm drilled KH rim. It’s like riding over roots and rocks on a cloud of air.

Bad things happen when your feet come off the pedal. Pinned pedals with larger platform (SpeedPlay Drillium) make recoveries from foot slippage more likely.

Sticky (FiveTen Stealth rubber) shoes help keep your feet on the pedals. Lower your seat, but not so much it would hurt your knees on easy flats.

Hold your saddle handle to keep it tight against your butt. Consider adding a KH T-bar or Nimbus Shadow handle. My left hand never leaves the end of that Shadow handle on my 36er. I choke up (copied Turtle’s ergo grip) on the KH T-bar on MUni. I then extend my hands on smooth ground. I force myself to let go with both hands (on my MUni, never on my 36er) and let my arms swing sometimes just for fun. It can be exhilarating for an admitted handle addict.

Wear your protection! All gear all the time! It’s a bummer I can’t just pick up my unicycle without spending 5 minutes gearing up. I’m like the Michelin man in the winter when “hot pads” are not an issue but even my smallest has vicious pins that would rip shin skin quick so I always at least have my Percussion knee/shin armor on. I’ve been using insulated DocMeter FlexMeter wrist guards (Max Protection) all winter. Going back to HillBilly FingerLess this summer will be an adjustment.

Accidents happen. One of my worst ground falls to pavement at full 36er GUni speed was caused by a pot hole hidden in the shade. Riding MUni in the fall is much harder when the trails are covered in leaves because you can never relax and put your bum in the seat.

Thank you all for the advice, I shall be applying it to my future rides.

I had originally planned to ride on roads for charity when I bought the Uni, but the roads around here are packed with traffic and people park cars all over the cycle paths, hence looking for canal paths, greenways, etc. to ride on.

My pads will be stored attached to the Uni so I can’t sneak out without them again :smiley:

All good advise.

The reason grippy pedals help is when you hit a bump and you don’t quite match it w/ more weight on the pedals and feet come off a tiny bit, your feet don’t slip totally off. Larger pedals also helps this as well as making repositioning easier although wider ones can hit rocks an such a tad easier.
Thin pedals also helps ~ 17 mm or less.

I ride w/ a heavy duty tube. Allows me to lower my air pressure a bit and still avoid pinch flats.

I looked at some grippy pedals in the LBS yesterday - metal with screw in pins. Looked like they’d shred the back of my calf, but probably worth it for the extra grip.

Read the path ahead of you, looking out for bumps and dips. They are there to be seen before you hit them.

Deliberately go looking for bumps and dips to practise on.

I tend to lift my weight out of the saddle a bit for a bump or dip, and I keep some speed in reserve.

Find an area of flat grass and ride with your eyes closed, relying on the feel of the wheel.

Ride lots.

If they need it, they will build it!

Same problem, Different solution!


The only time I don’t wear leg protection is when riding w/ plastic pedals, which is rare for me.

IMO set screws have a poor grip to maneuverability ratio. Regular screws (but heavier) or studs are better. and 6 of the 10 pins aren’t removable /replaceable, so personally I’d definitely be looking at a different pedal.

Try a set of these, should be more than strong enough for what you want and they’re really grippy

I managed to get a pair of these at the LBS and they did the job nicely. Did three miles on them earlier and they REALLY grip! My left foot wasn’t in a good position and couldn’t wiggle it anywhere at all so ended up doing 0.8 mile on it before I stopped for water and a re-adjust. :smiley:

The pins are all replaceable and some of them are actually allen bolts so easy to swap out. So far, I’m liking them a lot.

Metal body and a good size. “Outland” was the ‘model name’ iirc.

800 20130314 New Pedals 002.gif

Yeah.The extra grip makes a big difference on rough teraine.Glad their working well for you

Also, with practice you will learn how to adjust your feet, even with super-grippy shoes on pedals with sharp pins. Like what I have. :slight_smile: