All brake related exercises

If it’s a path where cyclists are welcome (As opposed to a sidewalk) then I have no trouble riding amongst pedestrians like Vogel did in the picture. If I didn’t do, I probably wouldn’t ever ride anywhere (including work) because my entire town is made up of these shared use trails.

Less tailgating and more skills.

However I’m gonna train in using brake to slow down and to stop. I’ll post everything about braking and hope you’ll find it useful.

I’m looking to find near home a good grass area where start exercising sudden stops

:astonished: I wouldn’t describe that sidewalk as crowded at all - not compared to where I’ve ridden (I’ve ridden through my local town centre when I’ve had to stop and idle in order to wait for gaps it’s been that busy!) But then I’ve spent a lot of time practicing riding slowly and transitioning to and from idle in order to be able to do that safely, given I’ve “performed” on those streets when they’ve been busy (on a giraffe since you asked :wink: ). You may have a point regarding the skill levels of the OP though.

I still disagree - I don’t have a brake on my giraffe, and if riding my muni around people as I often do then my hand is nowhere near the brake lever. In those circumstances it’s all about control of the uni which you get from your legs, not from grabbing the brake. Certainly if you’re riding at slow speeds then you can stop just as fast without a brake. As I wrote before, if you’re concerned about riding around pedestrians then you’re far better working on other skills. As mentioned by somebody else, when riding slowly the balancing becomes a lot harder, but it is still possible and just requires lots of practice.

It’s just that unless someone is performing, or it’s for a very small section inbetween two good to ride paths, I really don’t get why you would ride on sidewalks with people on them. It’s not very fun (and even if you find it fun, if there is a chance that you hit pedestrians, it’s really impolite to do). I just can’t imagine a city where those sidewalks are the best place to ride. Just find yourself a nice bike path, and ride there, and use your feet when you want to go to crowded places.

Because a unicycle makes good transport in a city and often the best way to get places is using pedestrianised areas. Presumably things are different in Germany, but you’re having an imagination failure - we don’t have dedicated bike paths at all here, any designated bike routes are shared use and likely to have at least as high a concentration of pedestrians on them as in that pic. As Piece Maker comments, if I didn’t use paths like that, then my only option would be the road and I wouldn’t go anywhere. I ride all the time on pavements, pedestrian areas, shared use bike paths etc. (also sometimes the road when it’s not too busy) and haven’t managed to hit anybody yet - on the contrary most people seem to give you space and are pleased to see you.

But I put a brake on my unicycle to help me go slow.
Downhill. Especially in high gear on the 36"? It makes be go even slower for some reason…

I’m pretty sure that is a picture from the race he was in? See post #14. Nothing like a race where kids dart across the narrow track! :slight_smile:

– But not if you’re in a race of course…

Do it on pavement. This will be a better simulation of the “real thing”, plus it will encourage you to learn faster. :smiley:

One of my first experiences of riding in Manhattan was when I met up with Larry Steele, the guy who “managed” the World Wheelers unicycle basketball team. I just followed him, zooming down crowded sidewalks, zipping around pedestrians like they were (mobile) traffic cones. Then we were in the street, slowly passing a bus, which I hoped wasn’t about to move over. This was on 24" wheels and was really fun, though I wouldn’t do it the same way today. Same thing, but definitely allowing people more space, at least where they could see me. :slight_smile:

Yes, skills you will need to develop. But unless your giraffe has a 32" wheel, it’s going to stop a lot easier than a 32" unicycle.

A unicycle brake is for descending extremely steep slopes or stopping suddenly from high speed. For avoiding pedestrians, all you need is idling and hopping skills and good judgment.

I ride on the sidewalk pretty often. Where I live, the law against riding on the sidewalk only applies to two-wheelers, and the bike lanes are often used by hyperexploited food delivery workers on silent electric motorcycles. They go very fast because they are trying to survive one of the biggest real estate bubbles in human history, and they don’t always go in the same direction as the other motor vehicles on the street. Sharing a lane with them on a unicycle can be a little scary, especially around dinner time. I have never hit a pedestrian while unicycling, and I have almost never even frightened one or gotten in the way, but I do slow down if there are a lot of them around.

Me either but I have had them almost hit me.

A woman hurried out of a shop more or less dragging a small child. As she turned to walk down the street, she swung the child around the outside directly into the path of my 36.

I ride slowly with extreme attention among pedestrians and past doorways.

I’ve hit two pedestrians on my unicycle :frowning: One of them was a skateboarder, and I was on my 24" learner wheel (learning, funnily enough) and we both went round the same narrow, blind corner on the pavement from opposite sides. CRASH, head-on collision. At first I thought he was badly hurt because he didn’t stand up - turns out he was laughing too hard at the thought of being hit by a unicycle :smiley:

The other one was almost definitely my fault. Riding my fixed 29er, there was a huge street sign dominating the pavement. I could see the pedestrian walking in front of me (same direction as me). I debated whether to follow her under the sign or go around it - I followed her through, and at the last second she made a right turn down a small path to the supermarket. I stopped but panicked a bit because I was between two metal posts (under the sign), so sort of slumped backwards and pushed my wheel into her :frowning: Again she laughed it off and wasn’t hurt!

I wouldn’t ever ride on an actual pedestrian pavement (‘sidewalk’ for y’all Americans) on a 36er! On my 29er I feel in control enough to manage in low gear, if the foot traffic is VERY low. I will however happily spin the 36er/G29 fast if it’s a shared use trail or path - usually people walking on these paths know bikes are all over the place so a quick ON YER LEFT works fine.

The woman who slung her child into my path thought it was hilarious too.

Going way OT, but with the flow of this thread, a couple of days ago I nearly hit somebody on a blind corner (I saw them in time and dismounted). He was very amused by the idea of being knocked over by somebody on a unicycle and we agreed it was a hazard you had to watch out for around here!

In holland unicycles are toys by law like rollerblades and they should only be used on the road or cyclepaths when there is no pavement. So even with a 36er if there is pavement the law requires me to ride there however dangerous.

Freestyle tricks are listed from easy to hard. I suppose the same could be done for braking.

  1. Ride with one hand on the grab handle.
  2. Practice idling and coming to a complete stop without braking.
  3. Remove weight from the seat and ride with one hand on the grab handle.
  4. Ride on a flat surface with minimum braking pressure.
  5. Ride on a flat surface, increasing the braking pressure gradually while pedaling harder until the maximum pedaling force is balanced by the braking pressure.
  6. Practice placing alternately more and less weight in the seat while braking.
  7. While riding on grass, practice sudden braking and sudden release of braking.

The list ends with free-wheel braking, which seems impossibly difficult.

The list could go on to include doing everything with the other hand … and with both hands. I’ve learned to brake with two fingers of each hand, then remove or replace either hand from the bar ends without affecting the braking pressure. While I preach using both hands, when things get tough/steep/technical, I tend to default to my strong side, holding the brake/handle with the right hand and using the left hand for balance. I need to work on that!

If a rider feels like they need a brake for sudden stopping, I would first suggest they practice stopping quickly without a brake. If that is too difficult, they could try using longer cranks. Or, they could practice coming to a quick stop on a smaller wheel. Learning to get your weight behind a large wheel during a stop might be easier by starting to practice that skill idling on a 20".

  1. OK
  2. I’m practicing idling and can come to a complete stop (from slow/average speed) if I’m standing: too fast or completely sitting at avarage speed I’m not able to stop without using only legs… that’s why I must use brake
  3. Never thought about that… I’ll experiment now
  4. I’ll try tomorrow
  5. Hope to try soon!

Maybe I’m not too far! Months or one year I hope will be enough

As so often, my opinion differs in some places…

I grayed out stuff that I don’t really find usefull on this list. There is no reason to get weight of the seat for braking in my eyes, unless you are riding really technical terrain, if you do that, you don’t need a list of exercises anymore. Idling is a good skill to have, but certainly no prerequisite for braking.

Listen to your body man. I have no clue why you have that two handed stuff stuck in your head, just get it out of there. Riding two handed is great for long distance, but for tough/steep/technical terrain, one handed is great. 90% of long distance riders take one hand of for corners, because it’s great at fine adjustments. Every single good muni rider I’ve seen (and I dare saying I’ve watched most of the worlds best) has one hand on the saddle for anything but fast cross country trails, all trials riders use one hand. I think Muni is old enough by now that we can assume that the technique top riders use can be considered the best. Sorry for the rougher words, but I can’t leave advice that goes against what everyone uses succesfully uncommented.

This I agree with. Not sure if idling is really necessary for it, but coming to a quick stop without using the brake is definitely critical. Especially when you are running longer cranks, the difference in braking distance between using just your feet, and using a brake is not massive, since a good part of your “braking distance” is getting your weight backwards to even be able to stop. On my 26" with 140mm cranks, the difference is only half a meter, coming from a relatively quick cross country pace. (On the 36" with 100mm cranks is rode recently I was wishing for a brake though, it would have probably taking 2/3 away from my ridiculously long braking)

Let me clarify. I am not a top rider. I am not young. I don’t do particularly dangerous stuff. I don’t ride that fast. The technique I’m describing is what has allowed a middle-aged person to continue improving. When conditions get tough, I revert to the more conventional, one-arm-flailing-in-the-air technique you described above. I am not arguing with the techniques used by the best riders. Nevertheless, the more I practice riding two handed, the better I get at it on uneven terrain. I’m not going to get big side hops or vertical clearance hopping two-handed, but I don’t need that kind of clearance for hopping things the size of a stair. Riding two-handed, whenever possible, reduces the stress on my arms. I would like to be riding muni when I’m 65, and I’m going to practice the techniques that will make this possible.

You wrote:“we can assume that the technique top riders use can be considered the best.” I sort of agree; they are using the best techniques under the circumstances, which are different than my circumstances. For example, if I were doing the kind of downhill you do, finnspin, I might remove the somewhat-long bar-ends on my muni and reinstall my DH tire. I’m not trying to argue about “best technique”, but I do think there is the “right tool for the right job.” Not everyone on the forum is trying to compete with the best riders (greater speed, larger drops, higher hops). My posts on two-handed riding are for the consideration of those people.

finnspin, it sounds like you know a lot about unicycling. You have spent more time around other unicyclists, as well, and you’ve seen a lot of good riding. I appreciate your comments!

The law in my country states a bicycle must have a brake on front and rear wheel. Thus a unicycle is not a bike, but a toy. Toys belong on the sidewalk/pavement.
I don’t mind riding my 24" muni on the sidewalk, it’s quite agile, but my 36"er I ride as if I were riding a bike. Cycle path or the side of the road;)
I have not yet been stopped by the police

Update today:
I can do well: 1. - 2. (practice idling, not really idling) - 3. - 4. - 5. - 6.
Tried 7. and have an overlean backfall just before coming back to office… need lot of practice.

Can exercise #5 resemble like using a freewheel? I own a spare 29" no one seems to be interested in buying so I’m thinking about converting it to a freewheel…

An interesting thread. I’d never even thought about how to practice using a brake, I’ve just encouraged everyone I know to get one!
A disk brake is a better place to start than a rim brake as the modulation is better and they’re therefore easier to get the hang of.

My learning tips would be:

  • Use the brake all the time; However slight the downhill, if your legs would be pushing backwards, use the brake instead.
  • Keep riding.

You’ll very quickly get to the point where you know the exact bite point of the brake and you can rely on it to stop you whenever, however fast you’re going.