Different mounting style for different wheels?

Since I am a bit of a one-man unicycle club (not too many other unicyclists in Flushing Meadow Park) and also a late learner (I started riding five years ago, at 65) I am trying to work out the logic of mounting on my own. Due to age and weight (~180 lb) I have avoided the jumping and leaping mounts. I almost always use the roll-back mount, where you step on the pedal when it is almost at its closest approach to the ground. The wheel rolls back an eighth of a turn or so, and then I start to pedal and I am on my way.

However, I notice that as I switch from my 19" to my 24", and then from the 24" to the 27" Hatchet that has an effective circumference of around 30", that mounting tactic is less and less successful. In effect, the inertia of the wheel seems to work against me. Convincing that Hatchet to change direction and go from reverse to forward roll is a bit like debating with a donkey.

How do other riders of a certain age and girth manage this conundrum?


Static mounts don’t require a lot less “jumping” or “leaping” than most people think and work nicely for that size of wheel. I’ve done my best to explain how to learn them here: How to MOUNT a Mountain UNICYCLE - YouTube


I would learn a rolling mount with all of them.

Walking pace, pedal comes up towards you at 4:00, step on while putting weight down on the saddle, momentum rolls pedal to 9 and 3 now, then step on with other foot.


I’m a few years older then you and ride a 36er almost exclusively. I find a running mount the easiest with the larger/heavier wheel making mounting quite easy. The inertia of the wheel as well as my shorter 109mm cranks allow me to put quite a bit of pressure on my leading leg when mounting. Jumping or leaping mounts take the least energy and hitting the pedals with the feet is very natural as long as you keep an eye the pedal. In many thousands of mounts I have never crashed when mounting. Even if you don’t jump hard enough, you just step back off the rear.

I do have a 24" also but find mounting it harder and normally do a jump mount with brake to hold it in place. A jump mount can be done on any size with almost no learning curve, just go for it.


I like the rollback mount, first one I nailed. I can do most other mounts, but it’s my go-to mount for most cases. I can do it up to my 32" uni. Can’t do it with the 36", the only way to get up there without a wall is the walking/running mount.
@UniMyra has a great video about mounting those big wheels.


This is an area I really need to work on. I learnt the bad way to free mount - where I push down too much on the dominant pedal and then pedal forward.

I’ve been trying to get as much inspiration from videos before practicing as I find recently watching guides super helpful to achieving some success.

This one in particular really helped with options - and to show me it was possible:

I am currently focusing on achieving it on my 27.5 wheel solidly before confusing my body by moving to larger wheels and approach needs to change.

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Jim, thank you, very inspiring. I liked the 10# weight. The 109mm cranks raise an interesting question. I have always favored very long cranks, 175mm on the Hatchet, 138mm on the 19", so as to reduce the stress on the knees. Plus, it is easier on the muscles since it is effectively a lower gear. How the devil to you manage to ride with such short cranks? And uphill too!

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I find any longer cranks then about 109mm on the 36er quite slow and awkward. I can ride up to 12% grade with just my weight (no weight in the saddle) and not much stress on my knees. Steeper hills require some pulling up on the handle or the need to get a run at shorter hills. Longer cranks require more knee flex and puts more stress on the knees as well as requires more thigh movement on the saddle.

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I like a rollback mount on smooth terrain and with smaller wheels, some people regard it as more advanced, but it was the first mount I learned and I still find it to be more intuitive and am more confident doing it. If I’ve got a slope, then I’ll face downhill and use a static mount. For bigger wheels I’ll sometimes use a rolling mount. I pretty much stick to those three mounts.

I’m tring to learn a side mount to help me reduce energy used for a 36er. I found it easy on road 27.5", you need to rest the wheel sideways from you and a bit in front. The saddle should be low enought that you sit already on it before making your move sideway which will raise the wheel and saddle with you on top of that)

Andy, Steve here. From the one-man unicycle club of Flushing 11355, also senior division (I’m 64). For me, the key to free mounting, whether big or small wheel, is jumping UP. A one-legged jump almost straight up. With no wheel rolling. If you have enough height you’ll then have time to get the unicycle properly situated under you. I ride a 32" in flushing and a 26" in Cunningham Park. Perhaps one day we should hook up. I plan on riding the NYC5BBT on my 36" Nighthawk. Again. :slight_smile:

Ah, Cunningham Park. Used to play tennis there in the sixties. Yes, we can meet at the Unisphere and then try to make it over the bridge to Meadow Lake. It really takes every ounce of strength on my 24". You can show me that one-legged jump. I am skeptical. NYC5BBT? Is that the 5-Borough ride? Not me. Two or three miles and I am done. Anyway, I am still overseas but should be back in March. We’ll hook up then.

I’m older than you Andy, but I think the principles are the same for all ages and body types. A small light wheel with relatively long cranks is harder to do a static mount on because you have to be super careful not to put too much weight on the back pedal. A medium wheel is easy for a static mount. A downhill mounting situation makes a static mount very easy for most wheels. A large heavy wheel with short cranks makes it much harder (because of inertia) to do the corrective manoeuvres inevitably needed at the start of any mount, and makes it nearly impossible to do the rollback mount which is so easy on a small wheel. So the big wheel really needs some sort of “rolling mount”.

These rolling type of mounts take a bit of practice and probably everyone learns a slight idiosyncratic variation of the mount (different pedal positioning, stepping/jumping, seat holding/pushing, hopping after mount etc). My own method involves starting with the first pedal to be stepped on in the horizontal forward position or thereabouts, then pushing the seat and taking a step on to the pedal when it reaches a horizontal rear position or thereabouts (about half a revolution) followed immediately by a very quick step onto the other (forward) pedal, hopefully into a fairly balanced, slightly forward position enabling me to start riding straight away. You need to find out the best initial stance so your feet are in the right position (after a single stride) when the wheel comes around. When it works, it seems smooth and effortless (but rarely, every now and then, you might get the timing wrong, and step off).

I have come across other riders, including one with a Nimbus Hatchet, who had trouble with ordinary mounts, but use a brake assist mount which seems to involve a running push forward, then braking to allow momentum to carry you onto the saddle. It looks good and reliable, but personally I would prefer not to have to depend on the brake.

I reckon watching videos is the best way to get an idea of any mount (using the slow speed setting as needed), and then the good old “practice, practice, practice” to develop your own variation. Verbal descriptions of mounting technique seem full of ambiguities.

I tried asking chat GPT to describe a rolling mount, but it never seemed to get it right - guess it learned from ambiguous stuff in forums ;-).

But the I asked chat GPT a more general question and got the following response (I disagree about what it calls a “static mount”, by the way) :

Sure, I’d be happy to provide some advice on freemounting techniques for different unicycle sizes!

First, it’s important to note that freemounting can be a challenging skill to learn and it may take some time and practice to become proficient. However, with patience and persistence, most riders can master the technique.

When it comes to freemounting, the technique can be similar for different unicycle sizes, but there are a few key differences that are important to keep in mind.

For a 20-inch unicycle, which is often used for learning, the most common freemounting technique is the static mount. This involves placing one pedal in the down position and then hopping onto the unicycle while using the other foot to help stabilize the wheel.

For a larger unicycle such as a 29-inch muni or a 36-inch road unicycle, the rolling mount is often used. This involves running alongside the unicycle while stepping onto the pedals and then continuing to pedal forward. With a larger wheel, it can be more challenging to balance while hopping onto the unicycle, so the rolling mount allows for a smoother transition onto the wheel.

In general, the key to successful freemounting is to remain calm and focused, and to use a technique that works best for your particular unicycle and skill level. Some riders may prefer a different freemounting technique than the ones mentioned above, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you.

It’s also worth noting that freemounting can be a physically demanding technique, so it’s important to warm up properly before attempting it, and to take breaks as needed to avoid injury.

Overall, with patience, practice, and proper technique, riders can become proficient at freemounting their unicycles of different sizes and enjoy the freedom of being able to ride without the assistance of a wall or other support.