Beginning, progress (I think)...Tips, Questions

Sorry, long post ahead!

I’m a new member here, also new to unicycling. I’ve had an interest slowly developing when I picked up on longboarding and riding the ‘wave board’ a while back as I had an interest in ‘obscure’ things to learn to ride. It kind of waned and kind of came back when my brother got a Fixed Gear (Fixie) bike. About a week before Xmas, I was at a local bike shop that specializes in fixie bikes as we were picking up a part for my brother. Looking around, I saw a lone unicycle with what seemed to be a reasonable price (Either $120 or $160) as the shop carries high-end stuff. I told myself, one of these days, I’ll probably wind up getting it but not now.

New Year’s Day, I’m at a local thrift store looking for a small entertainment center for a game room when I walked by the bikes. Alone on the rack, I spotted a unicycle. I nabbed it and made the purchase, was like $27 bucks. It’s a Schwinn 24-incher from probably the 70s as I did some research on it. It has the cottered cranks and the uni was actually in some decent shape. Some surface rust, the whitewall’s now a little more of a ‘creamwall,’ felt a tad dry when it was deflated. It holds the air though so I’m happy.

I actually moved the seat up 1 notch higher than in the photo. When I got it, the seat was at the second to lowest position.

Now onto riding this thing. It was a bit scary at first, and I felt like my legs were tiring out quite fast. I noticed that the seat was too low so I maxxed the height out so my leg’s just about fully extended at the 6:00 position. The first week, I’ve just been familiarizing myself with it, mounting and getting off, and hanging onto the side of my bed (it’s one of those Ikea loft beds) and rolling back and forth. A couple days after doing this, I would let go for a few seconds to get a feel for it and finally took it outside for the first time. I rode about 20 feet after several tries. I seem to average about 10 feet before I ‘let go.’

Now, we are finally seeing some rain in the SF Bay Area so I’m again stuck inside. Due to limited space, I figured I’d try working on idling. Now, I have several questions, since I can’t exactly ask a youtube video:

First off, I know the Schwinn’s a classic, it’s a tank despite a single bolt holding the split flat frame together, it uses outdated components (cottered cranks), and has proprietary parts from what I’ve read. This is a 24 incher, and measuring my inseam, I’m at the minimum inseam recommendation for a 24. Would you say this is a good uni to learn on? I don’t see myself really doing hops, jumps, or anything like that. I plan on more of just cruising around, maybe some simple ‘freestyle’ stuff when I get brave…otherwise, just cruise around, maybe try yoyoing at the same time.

I feel like I’m pretty comfortable with keeping my forward/backward balance but seem to be lacking big time on side-to-side balance. How can I eliminate this? Just keep doing what I’m doing and hang on, let go for short periods and see how long I can keep going?

Also, I’ve noticed 1 youtube video showing the long process of hanging on to a chair, sit on it for short amounts of time for a few days, then do 100 reps of rocks on each foot, then finally take it outside and begin actually riding it. Other videos I noticed just jump right into grabbing a friend or fence and begin riding. Being new to this, I’m a bit confused. Should I work in riding or idling first or does it matter? Does it matter to work in both simultaneously or should I concentrate on 1 first?

Sorry to bring all these questions at once.

Same boat as you chap, just started sitting on mine watching the TV getting used to the Uni, it is a strange old feeling thats for sure!

I did start hoping around though as that felt more like what I do on the mountain bike when I am track standing and side hoping up stairs.

I am taking two days off work Thurs/Fri to slowly ride along a big fence in a trading estate near me until I feel ready to push off! Hopefuly I can put in 15-20 hours on these two days at and the weekend!

Until then I am back on sitting on it in the house learning my balance point while my kids look at me strangely. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh I have yet to work to put my balls to stop them getting crushed, after two kids removal is looking like a win win situation :wink:

Hello to both of you. Welcome to the forums (:

You’re right. That’s an outdated uni, but for the price you did pretty well. It should work fine for learning. 24" is a good general-purpose size. After you learn and ride around for a while, you’ll know if you want a better one. There are definitely other riders in the Bay area. Maybe at that point you could get in contact with them. I’m sure they’d let you try out some of their gear.

The uni only goes forward and backward, so that’s all you have to work with to keep your balance. If you’re falling to the side, you have to turn in that direction and then use the pedals correct your balance. It sounds hard, but your muscles will figure it out on their own as you practice. It becomes second nature.

I did the 100 reps thing at the beginning, and I think it helped me get comfortable with the way the unicycle moves. It’s not necessary though. Most people I know started out going back and forth on a fence and then went straight to the let-go-and-pedal-like-crazy phase.

Idling is much harder than riding. You should definitely try to ride first. After that, you’ll want to learn to free mount (i.e. get on and ride without support). After that… whatever. Some people learn to hop. Some people learn to idle. One weirdo on the forums last year went straight to wheel walking.

Whatever you do, keep reading and posting. The forums are great for motivation.

You might have it all figured out by Monday. The rumor is that it takes about 15 hours on average to learn to ride.

Sitting without squishing yourself is a common topic. If you do a search you’ll find lots of advice. Here’s a nice thread complete with an awesome scientific drawing to illustrate the point:

Hi Guys and welcome. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I don’t usually venture over to this side of the forum, but I had a video and wasn’t sure where to put it.
May I suggest you guys wander over to the ‘just conversation’ forum and maybe have a look. There is some good info and discussion going on there. Also have a peek at the ‘learning journal thread’
I don’t know about learning in 15 hrs though. One guy mastered it in about 4 hours. It took me about 6 months to let go of the fence, I learnt to freemount about August last year. So long as you get there and enjoy doing so. The moment you can say " hey I can actually unicycle" is the best.


Fortunately I figured out how to comfortably sit after getting on for the first few times. I love the MS paint explanation :slight_smile:

Sorry for the double post (I can’t seem to find the edit post button) but here’s my progress for today, which I feel pretty good about.

I don’t really have a long fence to really hang onto, or anyone who has the time for me to hang onto (plus I feel awkward doing such) so I’ve been doing the hang onto my car, push off and pedal method. First couple rides today were about 10 feet, then out of the blue, I doubled that distance, which seemed to be a fluke as I was back to 10-footers or less. It then seemed to come back to me where I was riding 20+ feet several times back to back. I noted about feeling like I’m going to tip sideways previously but I’m now beginning to find that sweet spot and learning to turn to counteract my tipping, and continue pedaling, and beginning to find better control of my forward/backward.

I do find however that I need to have a decent start, positioning the pedals at 3 and 9 as I read about this being the so-called ‘power positon’. It seems that when I stop pedaling or slow down is where I get out of balance and shoot the cycle forward (thankfully, my landing looks like I’m just stepping off and for the most part, my unicycle’s just leaning against me or I’m able to reach out and catch it). So for 30 minutes of practice today, I feel pretty good. Psychologically, I’m feeling more confident, which I’m sure is a HUGE factor. If I don’t think about “OMG I’m gonna fall!” then I won’t and usually have a nice, graceful 10-20 foot ride.

Time to do the same tomorrow when I get off work as I’ll have 30 minutes of light. My young nieces enjoy watching me and get excited as well when they see a long ride. Actually, they’ve never seen a uni before I got mine.

Sounds like you’ve made really good progress.

I learned to ride on a borrowed 70s era schwinn exactly like that one. I did the stair method, where you put the pedals in the power position, put the tire up against the bottom stair so it won’t roll backwards on you, then use the rails on either side of the staircase to hold yourself up. Then you just let go and pedal off over and over and over again. Sounds like you’ve progressed well beyond that point though.

Confidence is the key.
The more you can relax, the easier you can keep balance, and the less you get exhausted. Which results in longer rides, which again results in more confidence.

The more you ride the more you enjoy it. Over the time it becomes easier to mount and dismount, eventually hop and idle, every time you learn something you open up the path for hundreds of other things to try and master.

About delicate body parts endangered by mounting and riding, i was wearing biker shorts at the beginning, but soon after we bought a bettter saddle i switched back to my boxers and jeans. Over the time you just learn how to mount the bike without pain, also riding becomes at lot more comfortable when you can relax. But a bad saddle can ruin everything, the saddle is a very important thing, especially when you are learning to ride. There are so many things you have to take care of, the last thing you need is an uncomfortable seat. That’s the only place where you can place your body effortless, the only place where you can relax.



Just got done with another 30 minute session, wish it could be longer but it gets dark fast…and my street’s not the brightest. Today is one of those ‘it could have been better, shakey start’ kind of day. A lot of trial and error, finding what works starting off, what doesn’t. Currently, I’m finding I need a decent start to get me going (as in a clean full rotation to get the feel of what I’m doing). It feels like I start off fast for the full rotation, then slow down where I’m beginning to feel that sensation of control. Prior to this, maybe the first 15 minutes, it was hop on, half a rotation, and bail. My focus just wasn’t there.

A tad frustrated, I decided to try something else. I did a couple warmups, holding on and rocking. From there, I tried letting go of my support, and got about 4 rocks in on the idle. I then took it back to riding again where it felt different, where I can feel myself trying to keep the uni under me, with the thoughts of “I’m going to try to stay with it and keep it under me.” In the end, I was hitting about 20 feet at best, it could have been longer if I didn’t get too excited of what I was doing, further distracting me. Now, a long 24 hours before I ride again. I’m going to get it down by the weekend…I have that feeling.

Random note: I guess I’ve been lucky and not really having the discomfort that many seem to talk about. I’ve even had people at work ask me “How’s your butt from sitting on those things?” I don’t put on anything special, just what I wear on a regular basis, jeans, standard undergarments…no spandex bike shorts. However I do adjust my pants when I sit so that the nose of the seat doesn’t push outward on the crotch of my pants.

Random note 2: I sure wish Schwinn’s seats (the older ones) had the plastic bumpers, I’m starting to notice a small tear from the ground kisses it’s done.

Random note 3: Does anyone’s feet begin to hurt after working on idling?

That style of pedal hurts my feet in general. Each pedal has two black surfaces with a spindle, each piece is separate held together by a bar on the ends.

In my experience having all the pieces separate causes the two black surfaces to arc downward a bit on either side of the spindle. The black pedal surfaces pivot, so there’s no way to tighten it to prevent this. The result is that you’ve got a wedge to rest your foot against. Granted the angle of the wedge isn’t anything to write home about, but it is a wedge nonetheless. You get a lot more weight than I would like to have resting against the spindle that’s in the middle of the pedal.

I would get foot crams all the time on longer rides. After those long rides it felt like my foot had been folded in half lengthwise. Also the pedals don’t have much grip. You’ve got to pay attention when it’s wet out.

I eventually transitioned to a muni with solid aluminum pedals. They don’t fold/bend, so you can distribute your weight on the pedal more evenly. Like stepping on a flat surface vs. stepping on a flat surface with a stick poking directly in your foot’s arch. World of difference, hopefully the new schwinn trainers don’t come with that style of pedal anymore.