bad habit: riding twisted?

okay - here is my question of the day (or so it seems).

It would appear I have picked up a bad form in the last 20 rides. Not sure how it happened, but I’m now riding 60% of the time with my shoulders twisted to the right. My right arm is extended far behind me like I’m trying to pull a wagon or something?!?!? I noticed the seat was turned 1/4 inch off center to the right and thought that might be what was causing it - straightened seat today, but still found myself twisting a lot.

It’s odd because I never twist to the left… always to the right.

I also checked my feet because I thought maybe one foot was more forward / back vs the other?

Have you ever found this to happen? if so, do you know what was causing it for you?

Road Camber

Don’t know if you are riding on the road or dirt track. I battled with a twisted body for a while. I read somewhere on the forum (don’t want to steal someone elses thunder) that road camber and tyre shape had something to do with it.

I was riding with an offroad KENDA tyre that is not round when inflated. So fighting the road camber with a tyre that isn’t round caused me to twist my body. It was also exhausting fighting the road camber.

I went out and bought a tyre with a more round profile and it helped wonders. Not saying this is the reason but it is worth considering.

My two Zumas.

Another thing I’ve found to contribute to this is uneven weight on the pedals. I’ve found it helpful to focus on keeping my legs as relaxed and as little weight on the pedals as possible.

Suffered from exactly the same thing during my 5 first years of unicycling, to the point it wasn’t so much a pleasure to ride an unicycle… until few months ago indeed.
I was running a 26er with a 26x2.7 Kenda Nevegal muni tyre pretty much on roads/ sidewalk / trails around lake.
This is a pretty square shape tyre, even when inflated more that 40 PSI.
very good for of road under low pressure, but very bad for everything else I think.
I just didn’t know that.

Everything changed the day I put a hookworm 26x2.5 inflated to 65 PSI at least. I’m in love with this tyre and am thinking about putting it on my 29er although my 29x2.35 schwalbe supermoto tyre is pretty much light and ride very easily even with odd road crown.

So a round and well inflated tyre is very less sensitive to road camber.

What also pretty helps is having a handle.
I have a handle on my 26, 29 and 36 and can’t imagine riding without.
I’m fine with my 19er without handle, but on this small wheel, road crown is not much a issue.

Don’t hesitate to try other tyres and put a handle, this will change your life forever !


Be careful, I will take you to your word and trade my hookworm for your supermoto :wink:


Pressure and shape are playing a big part in riding feeling. To verify that, inflate your tire properly (like 40psi) and go to a parking lot that looks flat (usually less risk of road crown).

If you still ride crooked, you may want to check your saddle direction or maybe the distance to the pedals. If it is okay, that means it is the road crown and you will learn to deal with it with time… :wink:

I do this a lot on my 29er, no idea why. I’ve tried all sorts of tyres. Sometimes the problem just appears out of nowhere and I start doing it. I can ride for months without doing it, then the next 4 weeks will be a weird twisty hell, then all of a sudden it’s OK again. I’ve never managed to find a real solution except just dealing with it!

Weirdly on the 36er I’ve never done it :smiley:

Is your saddle really straight? You said you adjusted it but might want to recheck it. Maybe the seatpost clamp is weak or loose. Don’t get me wrong, I am twisted in the most sardonic sense and, as such, always ride twisted. But occasionally I fall off, my saddle hits the ground, and it is the component that becomes more twisted.

I had the same problem. I use handle bars, now, so it’s not really an issue anymore. You might try the following, which sort of worked for me: focus on sticking one of your knees a tiny bit more on the outside, as you’re riding. I can’t remember which knee fixed the listing problem. Anyway, a small adjustment with the knee seemed to help. Perhaps sticking out the knee changes balance, or maybe it decreases the pressure on the corresponding pedal, because the leg is less straight.

If there’s a certain kind of riding which is giving you trouble, I suggest trying other forms of riding, particularly generic skill acquisition on the 20". That goes a long way toward fixing a lot of issues. Good luck!

lots of good advice.

I have gotten pretty good on camber - I just ride “bent” until I get level ground again.

I think the more weight on one foot might be worth checking since I think this goes away a bit the more I can relax.

I’m using a Kenda tire running 55psi. the tire that came on my unicycle -

I feel you bro, I do the same!

It usually (for me) boils down to too much weight on the pedals vs on the saddle. Also, some people suggested to learn to ride with the opposite arm behind you, in order to “de-twist” your body slowly.

For me it seemed to have been caused by my wheel being off center 4mm. It rode much better after a mechanic adjusted it.

Thought about the twisting issue today as I was riding for a couple of hours. I have experienced a little twisting when I started riding and here are my thoughts for what they are worth:

  1. Due to road camber twisting naturally occurs for most riders at some point.

  2. Not saying some riders don’t twist significantly, but apart from the road camber element, maybe the amount a rider feels they are twisting in general is actually very small but can feel enormous. Potentially there actually is no visible twisting but the perception is that it is happening.

  3. A lot of unicycling inherently involves ‘pointing’ the uni/rider package where the rider wants/needs it to go in relation to the vertical and horizontal axes. Like a lot of forward momentum activities we do, we tend to have a strong lead off side. Potentially this creates a natural ‘twisting’. I know when going up steep inclines I lead with my left shoulder in a way while its not a massive twist.

  4. I think the very best way to deal with an unwanted twisting action is not so much looking for mechanical reasons such as tires etc but simply work at twisting the torso in the opposite direction when riding, beginning on flat surfaces. Much like the basics of physical therapy, this will serve to teach the body to naturally be able to twist in both directions (some riders find it harder to do tight turns in one direction more than the other for example) and act as a counter to any actual over-twisting to one side. In essence, actively twisting to the other side will end up, hopefully, balancing the riding style arriving at a neutral position over time, one that freely allows for rotation either side of the vertical axis.

Good point.

I also think that learning to ride with both hands on a handlebar helps you to stop this twisting sensation cause it forces you to use the low parts of your body instead of you shoulders and arms.

I have only a 20km ride with those on my nimbus road 29er, and few tries yesterday on my 36er, but I find that using pedal extenders (because it increase Q-factor) helps a lot to master the lateral control.

I used to have a lot of twist too. I would have one of my arm out as if I were to protect myself of a fall ( I guess I must of done it on it partly on a subconscious level) also, the forward arm and backward pointing arm acted as a steering rudder. I soon realized it was due to the fact that I wasnt comfortable enough with the wheel. The handlebar helped, but I wasnt proficient at holding on to it until this technique.
I realized what really helped was to at first try with arms together in front, then when I was comfortable, I had my arms held behind my back. I rode it and squared up my shoulder for 12 miles this one time, even against 20mph wind. After that, it really made a difference. I no longer depended arms for moderate trail riding steering, however muni is a whole different ballgame, where both arms are required for rapid turns, bumps and drops.
I then noticed I tracked much straighter afterwards.

Still happens now when I am uncomfortable with a new shorter crank. Again, I apply my arms behind back riding and it helps tremendously (I may look like a goof, but who cares…:D)

Good call.

To some extent, riding crooked is about where the rider creates “neutral”. We can ride as long as we have enough mass movement to manoeuvre on each side of neutral . This is consistent with those times when it is the same road, the same uni, the same tyre and pressure that we just ride crooked.

Putting the arm behind the back to correct it may be less about balance per se and more about taking away the range of potential mass movement on the “close to the limit” side so that neutral is inexorably forced toward the other side, despite our subconscious resistance.

I often ride on sometimes severe and rapidly changing cambers of footpaths (sidewalks) in the hilly old parts of town. I have never used a handlebar so I have had to cope with camber. My observation is that camber thrust can be countered somewhat by leaning the body forwards a little. This changes the angle of the uni, tilting it back, altering the geometry between the tyre contact patch relative to the virtual steering axis.

It effectively lengthens the “trail” of the wheel in the same way that a trail bike head tube is raked more than on a road bike. Trail stabilises steering by overcoming some of the camber thrust.

I do this on occasion. When i want to counteract it i grab the front handle and press down on my leg with my wrist. This increases directional stability somehow and allows better posture. Bending the knees a little inward also helps although i do not like to ride that way.

I like your suggestion. When you say arms behind the back, you mean something like that:

(phew, I survived googling “arms in the back”, very weird stuff came up…) :astonished:

So you mean one hand on the front handle whilst the otter is on your thigh? On which side?

I know what you meant to type but I still laughed out loud at that. You really don’t want to google “the otter is on your thigh.” :slight_smile:

Eeeh no, i had handlebars on both my 36" and my 26" but removed them eventually. So i grab the fronthandle on the saddle with my left hand and press down on my left leg. This locks me in place. My right arm is used for balancing…