My 4 year old wants to learn how to ride a unicycle. So, I am looking for some information to help him out with that. He learned to ride a bicycle on a balance bike, that is a bike with no pedals. The idea is that the child pushes with his feet on the ground to propel himself and can then lift his feet of the ground when he is comfortable doing so, thereby learning balance. It worked like a charm and he was able to then ride on a pedal bike on his very first try with no problem.
Do they make balance unicylces? I looked and couldn’t find such a thing. Would it be possible to remove the sprocket/pedals off of a unicycle to make it into a balance unicycle.
As you can probably tell, I have no knowledge of unicycles, so any help would be appreciated. I have a kid who loves cycling, so I am willing to learn.
I don’t think that a “balance unicycle” like that would work since on a bike when you stop pedaling you keep going, whereas on a unicycle the pedals are fixed to the wheel, so it’s a totally different motion. I think to get him started it would be best just to get a small unicycle, and some pads. Depending on how big he is, a 12 inch or 16 inch would probably be a good starter uni.
I bought a cheap unicycle for my 5 year old daughter from ebay. (the unicycle’s from ebay… not my daughter)
I can’t really recommend her unicycle because it had some problems. Though we haven’t had any problems with it since then. She just barely is big enough for it. I’m pretty sure it’s a 16". If inseam measurements would help, let me know. I have to lower the seat all the way, which meant I had to cut some of the seat post, which would have otherwise hit the tire.
I set up some parallel bars to help her learn. I think it makes her feel safe. She doesn’t practice very often, and so still can’t go on her own. But I’m not pushing her. She’ll get it when she’s ready. She is able to go one revolution sometimes. We put her parallel bars away for the winter though, so we could get the cars in the garage. Snow’s coming.
I think the closest you’re going to get for a “balance bike” for a unicycle would be a bicycle.
No, really. Learning the bike teaches a load of fundamental skills a young rider can use, including pedaling, balancing, and handling a vehicle that you’re riding. If you add training wheels to a unicycle you’re making a bicycle, tricycle or worse. Not much to learn then.
Correction: A balance bike for unicycling would be a fixed-gear bike. That is, one that doesn’t coast. It would help familiarize the rider with the idea of direct drive.
congratulations on having a kid that sets his sights so high at such a young age. You can teach him to ride without actually being a rider yourself. He needs your physical support to sit on the unicycle and gradually learn to pedal the wheel forward. Almost as much force needs to be on the pedal coming up from behind as the one going down in front. Short practices every day is probably better than one long session per week. If he has the patience to get to the point that he can ride crank over crank with you walking alongside then he is 3/4th of the way there. Write back often to let us know how its going. Ask questions. A couple of people here are very opinionated.
Looks like a decent entry level unicycle for $80, not counting that appendage on the back. I have never seen one either. From the look of it, it probably holds up the unicycle okay, and might support a small child as well. But with an adult on it, I think the thing would fold instantly. Buyer beware!
For a 4 year kid you have to buy a 12 inch uni. I have a kid 6 years old that just switched from the 12 inch to the 16 inch. There is not possible for a 4 year old to use a 16 inch (not mine kids at least).
The fundamental skill in riding a bike is to learn to control side to side movement. The basic skill in learning to unicycle involves guiding the forward/backward movement of the wheel by pushing on the pedals just the right way. By taking the pedals off of a unicycle, you lose almost all control over the wheel. The best way to learn is just to hold onto someone’s arm and focus on pedaling forward at a constant speed. Control over side to side movements will come naturally with practice.
I agree… that’s that other way my 5 year old daughter has been learning.
She has advanced to holding onto the basketball hoop pole and trying to go on her own. We’ve done about three 10 minute sessions of that. Having me 10 feet in front of her ready to catch her makes her feel safer.
She fell on her butt a few times (not too hard) and her confidence fell a bit. But then we’ll go back to the hold-on-to-me method or parallel bars and she gets all excited again, because she can make some distance.
I can’t wait until she can go more or less indefinitely. It will be fun to ride with her. She says she wants us to hold hands when we ride
Given the 16" is just barely small enough for my 5 year old, I think this is right.
Thanks for all of the info! Ok, I think I have it through my thick, non-mechanically inclined mind why my idea wouldn’t work No less bummed about it though; my son does so much better when he can just work on something himself. He doesn’t like others to be around to see him struggle with a new skill. I guess the parallel bars or fence backstop method is the way to proceed then.
After measuring him, yep, it would definitely have to be a 12", which is a bummer cause they seem to be way harder to come by than a 16" and hence more expensive (and I had a secret hope that I could cram myself on a 16 in and learn with him!).
I plan on keeping an eye out on the trading post here and ebay. Will update if we get one for him.
As for how to get him learning, I would recommend strapping some pads on him and just having him get on the uni holding onto some sort of rail or wall (it’s best if you can grab onto it rather than lean on it). Have him push along until he gets a feel for the balance and can go a revolution or two before touching the wall again, then just push off of the wall and see how far he can go, and before long he’ll be able to ride!
I would add that inspiration goes a long way. Search youtube for unicycling videos and he will see people doing awesome things on unicycles. Otherwise, he probably would have no clue - like most people - how much fun can be had.
Good for your son. To learn to ride a unicycle he would have to be self-motivated.
Another idea that works for small kids is to place 2 long tables side-by-side. That way the child can have a table on each side for support and ride between the tables. The rider is in control which is better than having a parent drag them around. You would need tables that are high enough for adults to sit at. Folding tables like you find in a church basement, school or community center work well. Be sure the tables are strong enough to support his weight and stable enough that they will not tip.
Ziggy aside, age 4 is quite young to learn to ride. In my limited experience (as a father of two uni riders and two non-uni riders), it is hard to find kids under age 8 or 9 who have what it takes to learn to ride: Muscle, balance, determination, patience, ability to understand delayed gratification and stick-to-it-tive-ness.
However, as Ziggy Cohen demonstrates, while it is improbable, it is not impossible.
Now that is really impressive stuff. That kid is going to have some crazy (in a good way) balance when he grows up!
I tried unicycling as a child (not quite that young :P) and gave up pretty quickly - it really does seem impossible when you’re first trying to learn and I was far too impatient. I’m wishing now that I’d started younger so I’d be a lot better by now!