Perhaps this has been covered before, but if so, I can’t find it.

I am astounded how tired my legs get and how fast they get tired when riding on a level bike path. Yes, I am a relative beginner and I understand that pedaling efficiency takes time. I’m working on it, but after about 1/3 of a mile, it’s time to get off before I fall (and not a simple UPD either).

Today, I thought about cadence and what is appropriate/usual. On a bike, I naturally settle into a cadence of about 80rpm. On the unicycle today, it seemed like it was closer to 100 (although I was too preoccupied to measure it :grinning:).

What is normal pedaling cadence on a unicycle while just cruising? Should I be pedaling faster?

If it makes a difference, this is on a 24” uni with 150mm cranks.

Thanks much for the help,


It sounds to me that your experience is normal, and two items can be attributed to being a beginner.

  1. Tired Legs
    In the beginning, you will likely place almost as much downward pressure on the back pedals as you place on the front pedals, in order to stay balanced. This causes your legs to get overly tired. The best piece of advice I received with regard to this, is to focus on lifting your back foot. Your front foot will naturally push down on the front pedal.

  2. Cadence
    I don’t know what a “normal” cadence is for a unicycle, but it will be affected by wheel size, crank length, comfort with speed, and experience level of the rider.

My experience is that in the beginning, speed and high cadence was necessary to allow me to stay balanced, and was easier than trying to ride slow. As my experience level increased, I was able ride slower while also placing less pressure on the back pedal. Then as my experience level increased even more, I was able to increase the pedal cadence (and speed) as necessary or desired. This has been the case each time I have added a larger wheel to unicycle roster.

The last thing I will say about cadence is that it seems my overall cadence (and resulting pedaling efficiency) continues to become smoother over time, with some days being better than others.

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On my 36er I average about 12mph on good level road. That calculates to 112rpm. Likely about the same on a smaller uni.

I think to go further with little effort you need most all your weight on the saddle and to develop muscle memory so you have no unnecessary balance correcting effort. Both likely take some time to develop.

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I agree with Jim about placing your weight in the saddle, and also building muscle memory. Placing your weight in the saddle is key to being able to lift your back foot.

Jim rides his 36” about 20% faster than I ride mine, so my cadence is likely close to 93rpm. I would love to pedal at an average of 112rpm, or 12mph.

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Faster than on a bike is normal, but not because it’s somehow easier to ride that way, simply because there is no other way to go faster. So should you pedal faster? From what you write, I’d say just keep cruising along at whatever cadence feels comfortable, because if your guess of a 100 cadence isn’t wildly wrong, you are certainly in the ballpark of not going too slow or too fast.

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Shorter cranks make the higher cadence easier, but there are also downsides as well.

150mm is a long crank for road riding, especially on 24". A good place to start when learning but just remember that the longer the crack, the more distance your feet are travelling and the higher you will need to move your legs up and then back down again. That all adds to the fatigue, and maybe saddle pain. Longer cranks do give more control and leverage, just not great for spinning fast. Of course too short means you will stuggle to pedal at lower speeds and uphill.

I average 115-120 RPM on my 29" using 110mm. 110mm is a struggle around my area with all the hills to climb and some slow speed sections of cycle paths, but it’s just SO much nicer at cruise speed than a longer crank, so I put up with the downsides.


On my 29er I average between 10-12 mph or 115 to 140 rpm. On my 36 I average between 12-14 mph so 112-130 rpm. I don’t ride 24 for distance too much anymore but I used to cruise between 6-8mph or 84 to 112 rpm. On shorter distances(2-3 miles) I would push that ol 24 to 10 mph, or 140 rpm. I have 125mm cranks on all my wheels for consistency.

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100 rpm in relax, 110…120 rpm is common, 150…160 may give during couple minutes. Cranks 100…125 no differense. Diameter no difference.

On my 29er with 75 mm, I did 1h37 on the marathon, which means an average speed a bit over 26 kph and a cadence just above 180 RPM.
I can go up to 31 kph for a minute or so, which means a cadence right above 220 RPM.


On my 20“ with 125mm cranks and a 2.6" wide tire I used to have acadence of around 95rpm. After putting 114mm cranks on it (and a 1.95" tire) that value raised by about 10rpm.
Don‘t remember my cadence on the 26x4“ (effectively 29“ish in diameter) and 165mm cranks, but it‘s less than with the 20er.