Bumps in the pavement

Hello again,
I have another question (unfortunately I have no local unicyclist to ask and am far too impatient to wait until BUC).
I took my dignity in my hands today & rode round the local pavements (which are in a shocking state). My question is: sometimes I went over little bumps, which sometimes I couldn’t even see and they would throw me off quiet suddenly. I managed some of them and the more gentle slopes & rises. Sorry, still haven’t got to the question, which is: is there a knack to this type of riding or is it just a practice thing?
thanks in advance to anyone who can help.

When you are coming up to a bumpy part, put more weight on the pedals, this will give you more control. Also when you are approaching a bigger bump, right before you are about to go over it, increase your speed, and lean back a bit.

what Mike said, and also, hold your seat with your hand. gives you much more control/stability.

Hold my seat with my hand? One day maybe, but at the moment they are still flayling about helping me to keep my balance (or so it seems).

I guess it’s something new to try tho.

Balance comes with pratice, eventually you will be able to ride with your arms crossed, just keep at it.

Agreed, one day you’ll notice that you haven’t been flailing for a while… which means it’s time to try muni :smiley:

Id rather do technical Muni than ride on flat with little bumps any day.

When im doing a hard trail i know i gotta pay attention and keep my eyes on the trail. When I’m cruising down the street im paying attention to…ladies, cars, signs, who knows what. Thats when the little crap bumps get me and i feel like a fool. :roll_eyes:

I did a 31-mile ride on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and this is how I part of wrote it up:

“With the dappled shadows (UPD) from the trees it’s (oops, almost UPD) hard to (almost UPD) see the root bumps (UPD).”

The entire write-up is here (link). It was a good week.

Don’t worry too much about this little problem, it’ll mostly go away with practice, but until you’re REALLY good there will always be times that the all-but-unnoticeable bumps will get ya, and even then I think.

Your choice of tyre and pressure can make a big difference. A fatter tyre at lower pressure will soak up the small bumps. If you usually ride with a hard tyre, try letting some air out so it has a little bounce.

Personaly when I could just barely ride on flat ground I went straight ahead and did muni, I couldn’t go more then ten feet again, but then after ridding muni for three days, I went back onto flat pavement and it was nothing. I think its best to chalange yourself, insted of just dooing something over and over that you can do with decent success, it gets dull dooing the same thing over and over, if it isn’t chalenging enough and you learn slower.

So in other words if you want those pavement bumps to not even give you a second though, go ride down a grassy hill, or on some trails.

To get over larger bumps I find stand up on the pedals makes it easier.

Your body will eventually learn how to respond to the little bumps the same way that it’s learned everything else on the uni so far. I remember when I was learning, running over some little twig or any other inconsequential bit of debris laying on the sidewalk would throw me right off. When you ride on a smooth surface like a gym floor, you are constantly making small adjustments to the speed of the wheel, to keep yourself from falling forward or backward. Hitting a bump or a drop forces you to make a similar correction instantaneously, which is a reflex that you haven’t developed yet, but will. It all happens in a tiny fraction of a second of course, many times a minute on typical pavement, and for small bumps the action is pretty subtle, so you can’t think your way through it. Keep riding until the reflexes develop.

Thunderstorm coming. Have to post and shut down now.

Thanks for that.
I find the answers from this group to be very motivating. It’s not easy to learn to uni on your own. (I especially find it hard to deal with people looking at me like I’m from Mars, laughing and making stupid comments). But you guys help to keep me going.
Thanks (a little tear gathers in the corner of my eye).
Sorry to be so drippy.

No it’s nort easy learning to ride by your self, but (a least in my case) it is worth it.
I know how it feels to be thrown off by small bumps, in my case I have been trying to get up higher bumps and the unicycle stays were it was my I go flying:)


I agree with this.

And, with some practice you’ll get used to one hand on the seat handle. Its going to be absolutely necessary with MUni. It becomes 2nd nature before long.

You don’t want a knobbly tyre for riding on the pavement, knobblies only help on soft surfaces such as mud / dirt. If you want to make it easier you want a fatter slick tyre, I think there’s a 20" big apple that might be nice, the bigger sizes of them are lovely.

Personally, whilst a fatter tyre and lower pressure is easier to ride, I’d say that for riding on the pavement on a 20" there’s no need for it. You’ll lose speed and manouverability. The only thing that’s really needed is practice.

By the way, you should try some muni, you live right near an incredible amount of really good muni riding (on the North Downs + Surrey Hills) and it’s a really good way to practice for basic skills like riding on pavement without getting knocked off by the bumps.


I agree with Joe Marshall, gkmac. Your Nimbus at 85 psi is fine. I’ve ridden miles and miles all over Manhattan on my 20" freestyle with that pressure and had a blast. The nice thing about the small uni is that it’s not a big deal to have it on the sidewalk, and going slow behind walkers is a blast. It’s nice and small to take into restaurants, and having it on the subway is not a big deal.

It’s just a matter of time before you can handle all kinds of stuff with that pressure.

I know the feeling, I’ve also been learning on my own. I’ve been riding for the past 5 months and recently the jeers have turned to cheers. So take joy in the little advances and know that the onlookers will come around. Why I’ve even had my picture taken twice while I was out practicing and I still suck!


You’re so right about the help here, Cathwood!

I learned to ride on grass as I was too chicken to fall on tarmac, but when I finally braved the local roads I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to ride on smoother surfaces!

Then, thinking that I’d got the pavements sussed, I rode into the village one evening only to discover that as it was darker, I couldn’t see the small bumps as well, and UPD’d all over the place!

As a result of this thread, I’ve been out all afternoon practising holding the seat, and one of my son’s friends plays in-line hockey and I tried riding with his stick. It was fine until I tried to hit the ball, then all sense of riding balance fled.

Look forward to meeting you at BUC (s7ev0 or Hell on Wheel Tshirt).