Do you switch hands to brake?

I’ve set up my unicycles so far with the brake tilted to the left as I’ve only used my left hand for braking. Is there any reason to learn to brake with both hands or to ride with my right hand on the saddle rather than my left? I’m right handed,BTW. I’m considering getting a mad4one handle saddle and my plan was to mount the brake on the left side of the handle. Is there any reason as to why this is a bad idea?

I’ve always tried to be as symmetrical as possible in any sports/movements that will tolerate it.
For example… canoeing, climbing, kayaking, biking (bmx trials), pool, baseball, etc…
So unicycling fits right in there. (mounting, braking, hopping)

I’m trying to avoid muscle imbalance and also to give me a choice on how to hold my handlebars for maximum control. Sometimes I brake with my left, other times with my right, sometimes both left and right hand fingers are on the brake. I choose to suit.
On really cold rides I’m using thick leather mitts that require braking with all four fingers.

I think of absolute symmetry as perfection of movement.
You are allowed to do anything you want but I think it’s a bad idea.

It’s good to be able to brake with both hands if you ride on the road and want to indicate turns.

One of the nice things I’ve found about unicycling is how easy it is to signal to drivers which direction I am turning. I generally just point my entire arm and index finger in that direction. I haven’t found braking with only my left hand to interfere with that yet, but I’m somewhat new at this.

Also as a matter of symmetry in general, how important do you feel it is to be able to freemount with your weak foot, hop with either foot forward, etc…

It seems to me that hopping with my right foot forward is something I will need to learn in the near future as you don’t always get to choose the position of your feet when you need to hop. Freemounting however seems like something I could always do with the same foot to the rear. Not that I won’t try and learn the weak side eventually, but there are priorities.

I’m trying to learn as Canoeheadted. On a long ride (4+ hours) it is more relaxing to switch hands, especially when I need an hand flailing for balance. If you switch your hands on the easiest part of the ride, it will be fun to feel your self confidence increase

Do you only make right hand turns? :slight_smile:

If you change your setup and don’t switch hands occasionally I would think that changing the brake position is a bad idea.

Personally, usually I switch hands, using the hand on the outside of the turn. As the risk of consequences increases I’ll tend to again default to my favorite side.

On a long (ten mile plus) steep highway decline one handed braking may becomes both a fatigue and numbness issue, especially in high gear on a 36. I normally do a few muni events each year where this has also been an issue.

Many, if not most, including many of the most outstanding unicyclists, usually don’t change hand. If you carefully watch their videos, their outstanding signature moves are usually always ‘one-sided’.


I’m usually riding hands free. When I see a driver whose course might intersect with my own I put out my right or left hand in the direction I mean to travel.

Ah, fair enough. What I was getting at was braking and indicating at the same time.

I do, but very rarely. I’m not very good at braking with my left hand, but sometimes it’s nice to relax the left arm for a bit. So on a light and constant hill, I’m able to use my left hand for a while (despite my setup being non-symmetric). When I switch arms most often is on uphills (since I don’t need the brake there).

Would it be nice to be more symmetric? Sure. Do I think it’s a priority? Not really.
I can mount with my other foot, but I’ve pretty much never needed to do it. Hopping with the opposite foot forward however I need quite regularly, although there is quite a big difference in what maximum height I can achieve with each foot forward.

(Would be rather nice to get rid of my muscle imbalance which probably partially comes from unicycling though, but I’ll do that in my strength training)

I’m pretty sure muscle imbalance is a problem for me as when I get fatigued I find that my body starts facing leftward and it feels like my body is crooked. I’m guessing this is just a stronger right side overpowering the left.

In right hand drive countries it makes sense to use your right hand for braking while riding in busy areas.

Uni riders are always on the far right side of the road and using your left hand for signalling (the way it was designed) makes much more sense as your left arm is much more visible to other drivers while you ride on the far right side of the lane.
Not to mention if you stop and lean on a sign or parked car during a traffic stop. Your right arm is busy so you need to signal with your left.

But thanks to all those millennials, we can use any body part to signal because it’s our choice.

Hand signals were created to be something that could be done from the window of a car and they are nowhere near as clear and simple as an arm and finger fully extended in the direction you wish to travel.

Just be careful with your flailing right arm, it could be misinterpreted.

Is this a North American thing? Here (Australia) we use both hands for signalling.

Note that only the right hand turn signal is required by law (remember we drive on the left). In other words we don’t have to remove our hands from the brakes to indicate that we’re braking!

It’s a state by state thing. Until somewhat recently bikes in Ohio and Georgia (where I lived) were required to use the same left-arm signals a car driver would use to hand signal, but nowadays just pointing where you are headed with the appropriate arm is fine.

edit: in fact, until the law changed, you were required to use the exact same signals a car driver would use, which meant, for example, signaling continuously for 100 feet before making a turn. Almost everybody ignored the law, but if there was an accident you could end up at fault for not signaling “properly”.

I use 3 hand signals on a bicycle, two of them are official here in Germany. Left arm pointing to the left to signal I’m turning left, right arm to the right to signal I’m turning right.
Extended middlefinger pointing at the driver I’m communicating with to signal that I’m unhappy with their previous maneuver. That one is unofficial, but well understood internationally and can be used ambidextrous.


On narrow roads I sometimes flail my left arm (riding on the right) when I hear a car coming up from behind. This gives the driver the impression that I’m riding very insecurely and could fall any moment. They then overtake me at lower speeds than they would otherwise. Works quite reliably.

I have the handle saddle and had also considered losing the brake mount in the middle and mounting directly on to the left side as I pretty much exclusively brake left handed, but I’m still on the fence. And doing that would mean cutting away some of the leather wrapping so if I wanted to revert back to the mount after, it would look a bit naff.
I only ride muni so signalling is not an issue that would concern me. The big benefit I think would be a more comfortable and reachable lever position which would help with keeping an even pressure and modulation on particulary bumpy descents. And the mount for the handle saddle isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing. But as has been mentioned, I don’t want to limit myself as a rider by only using one hand to brake, if it will…