coker frustration

after so many lyric posts on the Coker I decided to buy one 2 months ago
(not cheap! :angry: )

first week: wow what a beast,! to the trail in the woods!
hmm not easy to start I just can’t overcome the inertia of the wheel.
first day is a 1km ride (but without succeeding a single freemount).
at the end of the week somebody points out that the wheel is badly warped .

true, so I go at a cycle shop : after one hour of hard toil the guy is unable
to fix things (he does not want to be paid!) he thinks the rim was badly built.
So I give a call to who tells me they are ready to change the wheel (outstanding service as usual!)

reallly I am not sure… I take the whole thing apart… sure the weld on the rim
is ugly but my conclusion is that I twisted the wheel!
So I try to find an expert cycle mechanics with a machine to true wheels
2 weeks and around 30$ later I got my Coker back!

now back to the wood: impossible to freemount!
I use a static mount and when I am on top I just can pedal 1 stroke
or two and I dismount! I just can’t override the inertia!
I try harder, the Coker just slip away from behind me, bounces on the
soil, and there it is : bent crank!

I am mad with frustration!
what am I doing wrong?
I am not specially heavy (72 kg )
I’ve got strong legs (i’m a good climber with mountain bikes)
but I can’t persuade my Coker to run!

should I get very strong 170mm cranks ?
any advices about riding?


i usually roll the wheel forward a quarter turn and leap up with my right foot landing first. the cranks are vertical before the roll and horizontal when the right foot lands. for me, this mount leaves the wheel with near zero momentum.

keep with it. and i wouldn’t get longer cranks.

i think Yoopers’ kids have some video of their mounts here:


I’ve tried this too (I do not know the name of this mount)
-in fact I let the wheel gather more momentum before “jumping”
on it-
but alas the result is the same :frowning:

I probably do something in a wrong way … I’m on top …
I start pedaling but can’t go further than stroke 2!


I have noticed when I let muni riders try my Coker that they use too much force on the first few strokes. Try easing up a little, it takes some doing to get that big wheel rolling especially on a trail. You need to work with the wheel not against it, let it have some time to get up a to full speed before giving it your all. I found the holding the wheel mount used by the Yoopers kid to be very helpful put one foot in place on the pedal in a low position, roll the wheel about half a turn to give it some momentum, throw yourself up and forward, plant your other foot, grab the wheel to stabilize, lean forward a little and gently start pedaling. It also helps a lot to have a slight downhill, like a driveway to give you a little momentum. Good Luck

it took me about a week after i first got my coker to feel comfortable. i recommend getting more comfortable riding it before worrying about the static mount.

hang in there.

  • eric

Re: coker frustration

My 2 cents:

Stay out of the woods for a bit. Stay on pavement until you’ve got it down (maybe 8 out of 10 mounts). Next, move to gravel roads, learn to negotiate some uneven stuff. Next, head to the woods.

Crawl, Baby Step, Toddle, Walk, Run, Sprint.

Toss a ball, Juggle 3 balls, 3 clubs, flaming torches, chainsaws.

Kindergarden, 1-12 grades, college, grad school.

Every skill has a natural progression.

I think maybe you’ve jumped to the latter steps before you’re fully ready for them.

(IMHO). tom.

Re: Re: coker frustration

I think this advice is right on. It took me a couple weeks to feel comfortable on the Coker, and I still ride at a more heightened “sense” level than on other unis. Coker is not to be trifled with!

My reco would be don’t worry about getting your free mount right away. Just use a car or lamp post or whatever, and get some successful rides on flat pavement under your belt. Then work up to trying the free mounts. The way that works best for me is to start with the right pedal exactly where I want it when I’ll land on it, then do a one-full-wheel-rotation mini-running-start, hop up onto the pedal and seat, and use that momentum to keep me going. It took me 10 tries to nail the first one, and a couple weeks of practice to get up over the 50% success rate. Progress will come…keep at it!

Do not despair; do not give up! :0)

The Coker is harder to learn than a ‘normal’ unicycle, but once you’ve learned, it is easier to ride than a ‘normal’ unicycle.

When I bought mine, I was freemounting my 26 inch MUni most of the time, but not all of the time. I couldn’t idle confidently on anything. With this level of ability, I was able to freemount at the 7th attempt, but it took a few weeks to get consistently above 50%. A year and a bit later, I’m as near as makes no odds mounting at 100%.

And idling… idling the Coker is an achievement in its own right. You don’t do it ‘casually’ whilst chatting to a pretty girl (or boy!).

Freemounting a Coker:

  1. Put the cranks horizontal.
  2. Roll the wheel back about 1/8 turn.
  3. Put seat in place, and foot on the near/low pedal.
  4. Hold the front of the seat with the opposite hand.
  5. Now either:
    5a) Leap up and forwards, putting very little weight on the near/low pedal, or
    5b) Push the Coker forwards slightly and leap up at the same time, using the near/low pedal as a step.
  6. When you get up there, put the front foot on BEFORE you put all your weight on the saddle.

Now, think of the wheel as a flywheel: it takes a lot of starting, and a lot of stopping. The easy mistake is to leap into the saddle, push the pedals hard and fall off. What I do is drop my weight onto the front pedal (that’s why you don’t put your full weight on the seat yet) and the first pedal stroke or two must be steady, confident, but not too hard or fast.

But let’s go back a step. if you’re not confident at freemounting, get confident at riding. Mount against a wall or post. Get used to the feel of the wheel. get used to starting, building up speed, slowing down. Can you stop and dismount under control? When you have the fell of the wheel, you will be better able to freemount.

It really is worth it. I get positive feedback on my write-ups of my longer Coker rides. I write them up partly to encourage others, because I can remember a time when I was disillusioned with the Coker. I thought, “Is this all it does?” I had to get past the stage of being surprised that I could ride it, and reach the stage of being confident that I can ride it. I still treat it with respect (things can go wrong at speed) but I don’t fear it.

Wheel strength etc. : Yes, the standard steel wheel is weak and poorly made. However, if correctly tensioned, it will take a lot of hammer. I have mine tensioned at the local bike shop about every 300 miles. Sounds a lot, but 5 miles a week every week is 260 miles a year, and how many Cokeurs consistently ride 5 miles a week? I do 30+ some weeks, and some weeks I do none. And my riding is pretty hard and often on rough terrain.

I paid £8 (about 12 US Dollars?) last week to have my wheel trued. Tip: if the local bicycle shop can’t do it, what about a small local MOTORbike shop? Trail bikes and classic bikes often have spoked wheels. My local bicycle shop man told me his experience with motorcycle wheels had helped him with the Coker AND that he’d had the large-sized spoke key necessary to do the job.

And the cranks? Unless you are very tall, I strongly recommend staying with the 150mm cranks for now. Later you may wish to try 125s or even 110s (I’ve tried 125s, but found them fast but lacking in versatility). Simply putting 170s on will be counterproductive.

Don’t be afraid of the Coker. Don’t expect instant results. Learn to ride it at a steady speed, learn to slow down and speed up. Freemounting will come in time.

Good luck.

Put the 170’s on!!! The six inch cranks that come with the Coker are too short for anything besides creekside walking trails. With 170’s you can do a bit of trail riding, but take it easy, the thing can get torn up pretty quick. When the challenge seems to be fading put the six inch cranks back on and see how fast you can go!
When I first got my Coker I tightened all the spokes two turns and trued the wheel with the tire off. I have not had any trouble with bent rims. (Frames are another matter…) If this sounds like a lot of trouble, just remember that the guy typing this post just got back from an hour long rode on the backside of Rich Mountain and he feels FANTASTIC!

I just re read your post, and read through the responses, and I realized that I felt the same way a week after the Coker arrived. Hang in there and ride it as much as possible, amazing things will start to happen. Don’t worry too much about freemounting, that’s what trees and mailboxes are for.
If you go to and search rec.juggling for coker you will find an essay I wrote six months after I got my Big Uni. Read it, you will find out that you are not alone, a good many of us have troubled Coker relationships. carjug

We clearly differ in taste on crank length. Be that as it may, I think the above is not necessarily good advice for a NEW Coker owner still trying to tame the beast.

Long cranks are an acquired taste, and they have disadvantages as well as advantages. I really think it’s better at first to get confident on the 150s. Don’t try to make the Coker easier; try to become a better Coker rider.

By the time you can ride confidently on the standard 150s, you will know whether your preference will be for short and fast, or long and strong.

For comparison, my 28 originally had 110s on. It presented some of the ‘problems’ of a Coker (long stopping distance; challenging idling) but when I put 125s on, it just became a boring and ungainly machine.

My guess is that more people move down to shorter Coker cranks than move up to longer ones. So 150 is a good starting point.

And as for what can/can’t be achieved, I have never seen anyone else ride a Coker so I don’t know how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ I am, but I find that 150s and a handle will get the Coker up or down most things that I would try on my 26. If I wanted max. torque, I’d rather ride a smaller wheel with 150s than a Coker with 170s, but that’s just me.

I know we agree on one thing, spend time in the seat. Nothing will improve Coker riding like time; for me it came in the form of seven mile rides on hilly asphalt at least once a week and lots of little three mile flat loops. Take water in a small backpack, you’ll need it.

Keep at it Wobbling bear.
I’m still not at the point where I have mount my coker everytime, seems to depend on how much riding I have done that day. But it will come forsure, the second day I took it out I was freemounting . But I do agree that the 170" cranks would ruin your riding experience, unless what your looking for is a lower speed ride and more torque for the hills. Mine still has the 150" cranks on it and I’m wanting to go shorter, just not until I invest in more safety gear.
But as I said the freemounting will come in time, try doing a rolling mount. Put your strong foot on the pedal as it is coming upwards ( at about 7 or 8 o’clock), the momentum of the wheel will pop you right up onto the seat… hopefully

thanks for all the replies!
this will strengthen my (faltering) will :smiley:

so : first try to get the cranks straight (anyone know where I can buy
strong 150mm cranks in Europe?)
then back to the trail
ah yes to the trail ! the reason for preferring the trail in the wood
is that I know one where :

  • the soil is level and slightly elastic
  • plenty of shade!
  • no car around! and almost nobody to watch my progress
    (I tend to be shy when my tricks are not ok!)
    - many kilometers in front of me ( I hope I will ride them)

thanks for all your advices!


I have never yet bent or broken a crank on any unicycle ranging from 20 inch up to Coker, and ranging from stand-up and grunt hill climbing, to hopping and idling, falling off at high speed and so on. I weigh around 145 pounds/66 kg.

Of course, I don’t fo lemming-like drops, or hard trials.

And on my Coker I have a pair of standard replacement cranks from which cost (from memory) about 10 Pounds Sterling, which is something like 16 Euros or 16 US Dollars (give or take).

They are slim, light, elegant and have given good service at all lengths from 110mm to 150mm. These are the smooth black-painted ones, not the chunkier chromed steel ones which go from 102mm upwards.

Failing that, sell cranks cut down from bicycle cranks. Whether they dfo them in 150mm or not I don’t know off hand. I have some 89mm ones which are nicely made.

For even quite hard riding, I think any 150s will do as long as you fit them carefully and keep them tight.