Backwards Unicycle Riding

I notice there is no specific string for this subject. Perhaps, there is but probably buried very deeply. Anyways, I am exhuming this topic, because I am really working on this skill at this point. I can do this, but not 100% solid and I need to also work on turning part. So, if anyone can do this skill or just interested in the topic…let have at it!!! Right here.

1 Like

Don’t just try to ride backwards. Look at a fixed point on the ground a few metres in front of you and ride away from it. Change this point of focus every few pedal strokes.

Keep your body upright.

Ride smoothly, not in a series of jerky pedal strokes.

Wear a helmet while learning.

2 Likes

Riding backwards makes your pedals come unscrewed; it can happen pretty quickly, and ruin your cranks. Mix in lots of forward riding, and be paranoid about any slight creaking or weird feel.

If you really want to just ride backwards, you can reverse your seat, so that the pedals will think you are riding forwards.

I’m at the beginning stages of learning to ride backwards. So far I’m getting the feel of a full rev backwards like super idling and just repeating it over and over.

i too have spent a little time trying backwards recently and had pedals come undone after first few runs so i removed / locktited them and so far they have not come undone again yet.

i have been using a long wall so i can get going using the wall then let go once comfortable, i have managed 6-8 revs so far and seam to make progress each time i try.

i had a few close falls at the start so i now wear elbow and helmet which luckily have not been needed yet.

i look forward to hearing more on your progress and tips from others which im sure will help me too.

Pedal coming loose?

Great point, Mrimpossible!! Yes. Always keep your pedal wrench handy if you are backwardsing a lot.
Also, great job on “seriously” working on your backwards. Like for hours. This only happens when you ride more backwards and less forwards.
As you know the left pedal has a unique threading direction. You don’t? Well next time you replace them or try to tighten you will learn the hard way.
(As, I have…duh!!! where’s my left, where’s my right?..always look for the front uni logo on your frame, or your seat!!!..but if you have quality pedals and unicycle…it will survive.

Basically, that threading direction uses the normal rotation force(when you ride forward) to provide continuous tightening torque.
However, when going backwards it defeats it and applies continuous unwinding torque.

Let’s do a pedal check:
1.) Hold your unicycle and kick or bang(with your hands) on the left pedal.
2.) Then do the same with the right pedal.
3.) If you feel a difference in the thud or vibration, it is definitely “more looser” than the right.
4.) So, take out your 15mm wrench and tighten it…better yet, clean the joint and use some blue loctite(if you never plan to remove use red/green loctite).

Another check, while riding:
1.) Feel or hear any kind of click?
2.) Stop riding and check your pedal. At this point it is “really really loose”.

So, I want to give some learning advice to anyone interested in riding backwards, but let’s collect some data, first:
1.) Who wants to ride backwards?
2.) Who has tried and given up?
3.) Especially, MikeFule’s advice…focus on stationary object behind you and do it… This is classic tight rope/slackline/walker/unicycle circus performer advice. Does it work for normal people?(…are we unicycle riders even normal?..hmmm…) Also, did you do this when first learning to ride forwards?
4.) Who could care less about wasting precious road unicycling at 10 mph on their 36? (I’m always curious to know the ratio of flat landers to road riders?)

So, bring it on you guys. I have a lot of “detailed advice” but I just don’t want to be talking to the wall…or aimlessly tapping on my keyboard.
BTW, any amateur videographers in L.A. who might be interested in helping me make vids?
I used to fly RC helicopters(youtube: trexinvert) and making a video’s? So much work!!!

Actually the loosening of pedals is not due to the rotation force, it is due to mechanical Precession.

From Wiki:
Precession, also called epicyclic fretting precession,[SUP][1][/SUP] (or more accurately hypocyclic fretting precession since “epicyclic” applies to a round part spinning outside a circle and “hypocyclic” applies to a round part spinning inside a circle)[SUP][2][/SUP] is the process of a round part in a round hole rotating with respect to that hole because of clearance between them and a radial force on the part that changes direction. The direction of rotation of the inner part is opposite to the direction of rotation of the radial force.[SUP][3][/SUP] Fretting between the part and the hole is often a result of this motion. “In machinery, fretting is the micro-motion of tightly fitting parts that superficially appear immobile with respect to each other.”[SUP][3][/SUP]

“For a pedal, a rotating load arises from downward pedaling force on a spindle rotating with its crank making the predominantly downward force effectively rotate about the pedal spindle. What may be less evident is that even tightly fitting parts have relative clearance due to their elasticity, metals not being rigid materials as is evident from steel springs. Under load, micro deformations, enough to cause motion, occur in such joints. This can be seen from wear marks where pedal spindles seat on crank faces.”[SUP][3][/SUP]

This precession is a process purely due to contact forces and does not depend on inertia and is not inversely proportional to spin rate. It is completely unrelated to torque-free and torque-induced precession.

Read more here: https://blog.everydayscientist.com/?p=2655

My backing practice safety gear. After a couple time of landing on my back I added some special gear. Most of my issue was my shoe getting caught on the protrusion on my Profile cranks.

1 Like

My backing practice safety gear. After a couple times of landing on my back I added some special gear. Most of my issue was my shoe getting caught on the protrusion on my Profile cranks.

1 Like

My backing practice safety gear. After a couple times of landing on my back I added some special gear. Most of my issue was my shoe getting caught on the protrusion on my Profile cranks.

My backing practice safety gear. After a couple times of landing on my back I added some special gear. Most of my issue was my shoe getting caught on the protrusion on my Profile cranks.

  1. I’m in!
  2. I have tried but have yet to succeed.
  3. Focusing on a point on the wall I’m riding away from seems to help.
  4. Haven’t touched the 36" in months now (ok, there was a pandemic and a lockdown, but still).

Jim, I love your safety gear, the backpack makes sense - my camelbak saved me a few times when I crashed on a muni.

Don’t forget to practice the dismounts! It’s a little bit different technique to get your feet off and pull them back toward you. But the more comfortable you are with making safe dismounts, the more confident you can be in the riding. :slight_smile:

Riding backwards is one of those skills I don’t remember practicing. So either I learned it as a kid (but I don’t think so), or it’s one of those where I had sufficient unicycle control already, and it didn’t take a lot of time to learn. (more likely)

I used to be really paranoid about things around me when unicycling (I like a clean falling area), and even when you are good at riding backwards, it’s hard to get a good vision behind you. So it wasn’t a trick that I found fun, but I like 180 hoptwist down or over stuff, so I guess I had to learn it. I still don’t really enjoy it, although I’ve recently started practicing backwards dragseat a bit. I’ll probably restart practicing that when gyms open again.

I don’t focus on points when riding unicycles (and even less so when riding backwards, as I’m checking over my shoulder every few revolutions). Instead, I (try to) look straight ahead, so there is a “horizon” in my vision. Focussing on a point is great when riding on a rail/doing stillstands, but when you are moving in a 2D space, it doesn’t make sense to me.

But does a graceful controlled dismount while riding backward should be done from the front (currently the back in this scenario) ?

I know it is a bit off topic, but with the parallel thread on dismount, it got me thinking and I honestly cannot remember how I dismounted when riding backward… (possibly off the back out of habit making it the equivalent of a front dismount while riding the classic way).

I don’t think there is any “rule” for this, but for me, it’s logical to dismount so that the unicycle ends up in front of your body, so you can hold onto it easily, and remount it easily. It’s the fact that our eyes and arms are at the front of our body that makes dismounting to the back of the unicycle the “better” way, not the direction you travel in.

(I’d say the front of the unicycle stays the front of the unicycle by the way, even when riding backwards. Just like the front of a car is still the front of the car when reversing. Avoids confusion.)

Yes don’t leave the car through the front. It is a nasty sight. :stuck_out_tongue:

A lot of riders, I think, learn idling and backward riding at the same time. Instead of backing up half a revolution while idling, they go a full revolution, and that is the start of backward riding.

I am curious about Mikefuel’s comments about sitting upright and riding smoothly. A beginner might interpret those comments to mean they weren’t doing a good job. Slouching and jerky riding are normal for learning new techniques, right? I have a similar reaction to advice to put weight into the seat. Maybe it’s something to aspire to, but it may not be practical or safe for beginners.

A lot of riders, I think, learn idling and backward riding at the same time. Instead of backing up half a revolution while idling, they go a full revolution, and that is the start of backward riding.

I am curious about Mikefuel’s comments about sitting upright and riding smoothly. A beginner might interpret those comments to mean they weren’t doing a good job. Slouching and jerky riding are normal for learning new techniques, right? I have a similar reaction to advice to put weight into the seat. Maybe it’s something to aspire to, but it may not be practical or safe for beginners.

I had a long comment discussing my thoughts on how that thinking would lead to no one being able to give any advice, because it might always be discouraging to beginners, but the page randomly reloading has deleted most of it. Maybe for the better, since it is a bit OT for this thread. Since I’m thinking of making a Muni- Tutorial series, I might just open a thread where that discussion would be more appropriate anyway in a bit.

What I’m going to say on topic is: As with any skill, everyone struggles with a different part of riding backwards. I’ve seen people, where them just randomly getting out of the rythm of pedaling for no apparent reason was their only issue, telling them to “pedal smoothly” and them then focussing on that helped a lot. Others do some jerky riding, because they are correcting their balance a lot, and that is fine and will smooth out over time. Same for keeping an eye on posture. A bit of slouching while focused on balancing is usually okay, but someone else may be sitting in a twisted position in 2 axis, with a fully rounded back, which will surely be a hinderance, and needs correction. The same piece of advice may be unneccessary, or even distracting from the actual issue for one rider, but the key piece of the puzzle for another rider.

As people essentially writing tips for no one specific at all, we can only share the things that helped us (and maybe others we’ve seen). I won’t go as far as saying there is no right or wrong, but I’m certain that there is no “one size fits all”.