Bike Strong?

Many of us are former (bi)cyclists and in the last few months I’ve been riding road, grinding up grades and honking up hills- on a fixie bike. This after a ten plus year ‘rest’.

Today I rode muni on one of my favourite trails and climbed further and more than ever before.

Has anyone else found biking good cross training? Or good for keeping the weight off?


I ride Mt Bike half the week and muni the other, it seems to help both sports. I ride municycle all winter.

Riding fixed I found is one of the best cross training

What’s a bike?

A unicycle with training wheels

A unicycle with a training wheel.

A (usually) faster mode of transport that lets you rest on the way down hills :wink:

I’d love a fixie for playing out in the rain with, but I can’t afford one.

Former bicyclist?

A person who rides both bicycle and unicycle is a more well developed cyclist.

Biking and unicycling are very complementary. Unicycling helps with balance and core strength, and biking helps with overall endurance. Unicycling ungeared on the flat isn’t much of a workout- even with short cranks on a 36. Road cycling in slightly too high of a gear, be it fixed or on a multispeed bike, is good for getting stronger. Yes, unicycling can be good for anaerobic efforts- especially in MUni or with some good hills, but being limited in the amount of force that can be used with one fixed gear and one wheel has its drawbacks.

A fixed gear bicycle still has a wider range of useful speed than a fixed gear unicycle. It is good cross training too. Unless you’re on a track or are a hipster, please put at least a front brake on your fixed gear bike- if you like your teeth.

Biking and unicycling use somewhat different muscle groups too. Variation in riding routines help balance out problems that can stem from overdeveloping some muscles and ignoring others.

Many of the truly fast, strong, and talented unicyclists still spend a fair amount of time on bicycles. And not just because they need to cross train- they like to pedal.

Fixed gear bikes are fun. Try it sometime. Brakes and foot retention devices are recommended. If you find you like it, don’t give up unicycling but enjoy riding a bike too.

If you want to take the us vs. them argument over superior human powered vehicles somewhere- hit up the recumbent crowd. Ask them about their bikes vs. upright conventional bicycles. Most of the recumbent riders I’ve met (and I was one back in the 90’s) are really nice people. Highly opinionated on their machines, but friendly and pleasant for sure.

As for me, I won’t make it an argument of one is better than the other. If it has cranks and is human powered, it’s good in my book. I’ve ridden them all and still enjoy most. I ride a fixed gear road bike a lot. I ride unicycles a lot. My mountain bike does a fair amount of sitting, but when I need to socialize in the woods with some of my biking friends, it rules (rigid singlespeed though). It’s great for covering a lot of ground fast too (like when scouting courses for major international unicycling conventions).

One thing I have found bikes can do that unicycles can’t: wheelies. Sure, you can try to argue you’re always riding one on a uni, but if it’s so easy, then hop on a bike and show the neighbor kids how it’s done.

Unicycles are fun. Wheelies are too. Keep pedaling.

My first and second fixed gear bikes were built entirely from stuff I found in the trash. My current one was mostly made by removing stuff from my 1990-era road bike after I bought a modestly newer one; my only real cost was a hub and a cog. So no excuses!

It’s an ongoing annoyance that after close to 20 years of admittedly desultory practice, I still can’t ride a wheelie. I was sure that learning to ride a unicycle would help, but as far as I can tell, I’m not any better now than I was before I bought a uni.

She-who-must-be-obeyed has made me promise not to spend any more money on my cycling obsession for a while sulks

I dug my MTB out this morning, replaced a knackered tube, put some pedals back on it and then discovered that the front disc brake wasn’t doing anything to slow it down, and both the front and rear twist shifters weren’t shifting much of anything.

After 5 months of only Unicycling my bike’s in a right mood with me :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s going to take me a few hours work to try to get the thing hill-worthy again.

Really made me appreciate the simplicity of my MUni, tbh :smiley:

My road bike is a lot harder on the hills. It makes hill climbing on the unicycle feel easy. I do mostly off road (nontechnical) unicycle and road bicycle. I ride unicycle about 80% and bicycle 20%.

Ohhh, you mean bicycles…I seem to remember those contraptions from my youth, lots of extra parts and things to get in way and break.

I rode bikes as my primary sport and for transportation until I started riding unis. I was five years on a bike when I went carless in the ninties. Lots of road and trail miles over the years…

It’s been five years in June since I rode a bike, and I have no interest in riding one now :slight_smile:

Anything you do will increase your fitness, but cross training involves using complimentary muscles, so biking is really not cross training per se.

When I think of cross training for uni, I think telemark/XC skiing, hiking/running, yoga, swimming. If I could get into weight lifting I’d hit the gym, but I just can’t see spnding even more time indoors.

Biking does have it’s advantages, but then if we were into the most efficient and speedy form of cycling, we wouldn’t be unicyling :roll_eyes:

Unicycling makes me smile and keeps me strong, Uni Strong!

Same here. Even though my bike has gears, they speed it up not down.

And it makes people who see you smile, which is one of my favorite parts.

Ben, it might be another five or ten years before you re-discover the joy of two wheelin’. I’m glad that unicycling got me back in touch with my bikes and that the conditioning of road riding fixed wheel (with a front brake) compliments my uni/muni performance and enjoyment.

I’m glad too that you are so passionate about one wheeling! Thank you for sharing your experiences and research. It has focused some of my buying decisions and I’m looking forward to feedback on the TRP disk brakes.

My ‘fixie’ is a 531DB frame that I had custom made over thirty years ago when I was a time trialing teen in the UK. Steep angles and a track bike like handling adrenalin rush around corners. One of my few treasured possessions from so many years ago. (Also a good pair of Scarpa hiking boots and a Karrimor purple backpack.)

I’ve only ridden my old Gary Fisher MTB once in the last ten years (a month ago) and had a blast- despite my flat water kayaking buddy dropping me like a stone as she flew down hill. I reeled her back in up the technical and steep climbs- thanks road biking conditioning.

I’m glad to hear that others advocate the benefits of variety and I will continue to enjoy all my wheel options. However, still not sold on recumbents and trikes. To each their own.

Trail maintenance tomorrow is my work out. Replacing a bridge in 90 degree heat at one of my riding venues. Good for the soul if not the legs.

Talking about 90 degree days… A road bike ride at 18 mph is a lot cooler than uni xc at 6-8 or muni at 4-6. At least until you stop:)



You’re saying you haven’t ridden a bike at all in five years?

I can do a wheelie, but not all that well or all that far. I was expecting that riding a uni might make me better, but it seems it’s not something which just happens - though I suspect if I actually spent some time practicing a bit more, the uni riding would make it faster to improve.

Looking at it the other way around, I do always wonder if the really good trials bike riders (those who can wheelie and hop around on one wheel at will) could just jump on a uni and ride one - or do all riders that good already ride unis?

Back to the main topic, after getting into unis 18 months or so ago I mostly stopped riding bikes for my own pleasure, preferring to get out on a uni, and only riding a bike for transport or with my kids (the kiddy-back tandem always gets a fair bit of use). However I’ve decided I to have another go at bike racing this year so now mixing my time between the two (and doing much less running and kayaking, though that’s partly injury related). On my holiday last week I rode muni 3 days and MTB 2 days - the biking definitely provides some high-speed fun you can’t really get on a uni. They definitely complement each other in terms of training - I lost very little in the way of bike fitness when only uni riding. I’m just hoping that uni riding will also help with my running fitness as I have an important relay competition in a few weeks and won’t get in much run training beforehand!

I discovered, much to my chagrin, that even if I fix up my MTB I won’t be able to ride it - it seems Unicycling for 5 months has ruined bicycles for me.

I tried riding my bike and it just felt all wrong.

I wanted to sit upright, then when I leaned forwards to hold the handlebars I wobbled everywhere. In the end I had to ride it standing up on the pedals as that was the only way I could make it go and feel like I was in a comfortable position.

It may be that my bicycling days are over… :o

Funny, I rode my bike a bit and I found that I can now ride with no hands with no problems at all. The only weird thing was that I kept trying to grab the non-existant handle on the front of the seat :roll_eyes: .

I guess for everyone unicycling effects bicycling different.

My story is nearly the same as most. I bought the nice muni instead of a nice new MTB. The bike that I did have was sweet in 1986. Still in working order but I rode it once since starting muni two and half years ago.