Cycling backwards

Hey guys, I’m at the point where I’m experimenting unicycling backwards. I was trying it out last night and I was wondering if anyone had experienced an unfortunate fall hitting the spine? It seems very vulnerable to me since the feet tend to be on the pedals. The last thing I want is a slipped disc of sorts.

Any way to protect / guard against the hitting of the spine?

Thanks much

Protecting the back

Wear a knapsac with a sweater or sweat shirt inside!

When you fall you are supposed to take your feet off the pedals.

Learning to ride backwards is harder than learning to ride but is can be done safely, and it leads to much better MUni riding and to Idling.


I’ve never fallen on my coxyx when learning to ride backwards, only when muniiing. And yes a rucksack with some sort of padding in it will protect your back. If you really think you’re going to fall backwards then maybe think about your elbows aswell, it’s not that difficult to smash an elbow, and very unpleasent.

If it’s REALLY a concern, I would recomend elbow guards, then when you fall just land on your ankles and you won’t feel a thing!

I’m still trying to learn backwards riding. I’ve found it’s way harder to run or walk out of a UPD backwards and have fallen a number of times. I usually land on my a$$ and my elbows so this is another vote for elbow guards. Mine have really paid off.

I hurt a tendon pretty bad, so wrist support can be nice at first.

I too have been struggling with learning to ride backwards. I’ve been reaching out and using a wall for guidance, but progress is slow. I can maybe do 20-30 feet using the wall, and only a few feet without the wall support.

I too am afraid of landing my spine on the uni, but so far I have been able to hop off onto my feet.

Here is the dreaded spine-pedal contact, but this dude was going forward.

Looks mighty painful to me.

Sh!t dude, that looks painful.

I have been trying to learn to ride backwards, but i just end up on my butt.
Can anyone tell me if i should use a wall or something or just keep trying unaided?

I ride backwards often, I fall on my back usually once a ride or every other ride. I had at least 3 backwards falls just today. Back feels fine. My elbow is a bit sore, no pain no gain, eh.

If you are worried about falling backwards listen to the folks here and get elbow pads.

Take the fall with your bottom and roll back on the forearm with your hands in fists. As you hit the ground roll to one side or the other. This is the proper way to fall backwards. It will enable you to fall without hitting your back to hard and without spraining your wrists. It helps to practice the fall a few times(no joke). Stand up fall over backwards, butt-to-forearm with hands in closed fists, rolling to one side. After a couple practice falls you will realize the real thing wil not at all be to bad.

P.S This is priceless. However he got lucky and missed the pedal in this one. Still quite the fall.

Picture 43.png

You’ll find you fall on your back a lot less then you would think when learning to ride backwards. I learnt by riding forwards doing a 180 then only doing a few pedal revs backwards, over time this increased and I could ride backwards. I also noticed a vast improvement once I was able to idle also, as when you feel unable to go backwards any further you can just idle or quickly switch back into a forward pedal again.

I’ve only fell a few times, and it wasn’t too bad really, uncomfortable for a day or so depending on how you land but no worse than other injuries so far.

On a side note does anyone else here ride backwards while holding onto to saddle/handle. I find that I stand up ever so slightly when going backwards and if I don’t hold the saddle it slips between my legs due to the saddle being quite low.

Before learning to ride backwards, I strongly recommend learning to idle!

Once your idling is solid, continue to learn what I call super-idling. When idling, you crank something less than 180 degrees with one foot. In super-idling you do 540 degrees or more.

Super-idling is an ideal way to learn to ride backwards! Superidling is riding backwards for one or two revolutions, stopping, going forward and then back again. When learning to ride backwards beginners tend to go faster and faster until they fall. In Super-idling you always reduce your speed.

Learn to super-idle first and develop your backward riding skills out of this intermediate skill, i.e. increase the number of revolutions for each super-idling cycle.


I started working on backwards a few weeks ago. Tried using the wall method, didn’t work too well. I then abandoned the backwards effort and taught myself to idle. After getting over 100 idles with the left and 50 with the right foot down, I started concentrating on backwards again. Sooooo much easier.

I started by going back a few revolutions, then heading forward (super idle), then gradually got further and further. Yesterday I finally got over 50 yards.

In my mind, I’ve drawn a parallel between going forwards, idling, and going backwards. For me, as soon as you can effectively “turn” in any one of those three skills, you’re not far from having it mastered. Since turning is the way we keep balance in a left/right manner, I concentrated on this aspect when practicing backwards riding and it went much smoother.

On the falling, I only fell backwards a few times in the past month. I try very hard to keep my speed in control, then if when I do fall, it’s just a step off, not a ground to butt contact.

As with everything, keep at it, it will come.

Good luck!

The big realization for me in learning to ride backwards was what to do with my eyes. At first I couldn’t help staring straight at the ground, watching the pavement go by in a blur.

As soon as I learned to focus my eyes on an object on the ground in front of me, I started getting it.

Like others, I learned by idling, then super idles, then more and more pedal strokes backwards. I think that’s much easier than the rolling hop-twist.

I use elbow pads (and a helmet). From riding backwards, my UPDs usually end up on my feet. I sometimes hit my butt and roll backwards onto a shoulder. Every once in a while I’ve had an uncontrolled fall where I smacked an elbow. Rare, but it would be bad without the pads.

I had a bit of a go today after I’d read this thread. Strangely I was able to idle for maybe 4-5 pedals and I didn’t even know I could do that! I then did a couple of pedal strokes backwards. I think it really helped me with confidence, just knowing that I could idle. Maybe idle a bit and throw in the odd backwards pedal, then continue to idle and keep pedaling backwards every now and then. I think that’s what I’ll. Sort of like trying to learn several things at the same time. Then you won’t get so hung up about one or the other.

Hmmmm. Was that deliberate?

In 20 years of riding, I have fallen backwards only 2 or 3 times, and forwards hundreds of times.

The secrets are to ride backwards under control, and to look at a fixed point on the ground 10 metres or so in front of you, shifting your gaze to a new point every few pedal strokes. Always be ready to stop and idle.

Learn to idle before you learn to ride backwards.

I took a butt-fall off a giraffe once, but that’s the only time I’ve ever fallen onto my back in four years of riding. be sure to keep your weight forward when learning and you should be fine. (elbow pads might be a good idea though)

That really makes sense! I think that I probably could ride backwards but always seem to give up after a few revs. Maybe I felt out of control. I want to go back out now to practice. Thanks.

If you ever get any clothing tangled up in your uni you can certainly ride the uni all the way down to the ground! Otherwise falling backwards onto your back or head is prety hard to do but neverthelss possible. But even if it only happens to one person in a hundred then that’s still a worry due to the life/health threatening aspects of hitting the back of your head on the path.

Use a helmet until you are OK with it. It may seem daggy to you, but to most people seeing you in a uni, you are pretty cool.

I’m using my old bike helmet at the moment until I can consistently nail a freemount on my new giraffe. (Only three successes so far.)

Riding backwards is totaly mastered for me, its just the falling backwards. I took a sorta bad spill off of a 19’’ tall box last night. Luckily i didnt hurt myself badly. I hopped on the back side of it (it was at night, and the flood light we had didnt cover it) and when i hopped up i rolled my tire forwards, then fell off the box backwards, flat onto concrete. My elbow was pretty bloody from it, if only i had a picture of it after i got home… oh wait! i do! lol