Does it make sense to practice 1-foot idling first?

So I have read that in “proper” idling technique, the bottom foot should be doing most of the work. Also I have seen that if if you learn to idle this way, then learning to idle one-footed isn’t a huge transition afterwards.
I then wondered if just practicing one footed in the first place is a good thing to do?
Basically, doing so would force you to learn having proper technique I was thinking? I have tried both (both one footed and 2 footed) ways, and am not feeling particularly close to idling either way, so one footed practice doesn’t really seem that much different/harder than two footed practice other than that one leg doing all the work tires out faster. I figure trying it can’t hurt at least, even if perhaps getting a little ahead of myself?

With the short rainy Seattle area winter days there is not much chance to ride outside lately especially because i’m too inexperienced to feel comfortable practicing on wet pavement with wet shoes and pedals, so I am just spending what little saddle time I can indoors holding on to a wall while waiting for warmer/drier weather.

Seeing pictures of others riding on snow and ice is inspiring at least!

I have taught kids idling for 14 years now and would not recommend you learning 1ft first. Start 2ft. Try to give the lower foot more weight, but you can still use the upper one for the movement.

1ft idling requires a technique of pressing down and ease up just in the right timing. If you press a little too long, the motion will stop, if you do not ease up enough, the pedal won’t come up high. In 2ft idling, you always have the second foot to compensate this. If you are confident idling 2ft, then you can try to let your bottom foot all the work until you totally lift the upper one up.

That said: a nice way to learn 1ft riding is to use your second foot to push the tire a little bit to the front (just like wheel walking) if your pedal won’t go over the high spot (because you pushed down too long or don’t ease up enough).

I’m just south of you and wondered about wet surfaces when I started riding about 3 years ago. With no special shoes and normal pinned pedals, I have had no problems with the rain of even snow. Just go for it.

One thing I’ve noticed about reading and watching videos online is that everybody learns differently. For example, a common trick for trial unicyclists is the 180 uni spin. Some riders learn this while riding, others have to learn it as a mount first before incorporating it into riding. Is there a right way?

As with anything, I would be concerned with solidifying bad habits. In your case, I can’t imagine there would be one. But, like with most circus arts, just remember that if you have one side of your body to master with a trick, you have another one, too. Remember to balance out your right and left and master BOTH sides. You will thank yourself in the end.

With idling specifically, I would imagine unless the one foot feels easy that, indeed, starting out with two feet and keeping the learning process simple is probably best, so as to avoid discouraging yourself. Here was my progression:

  1. Basic Riding
  • Forwards and backwards
  1. Idling
  • Practicing each foot
  1. One foot riding
  • Forgetting to practice my non-dominant foot then hating myself a year later and eventually doing it
  1. One foot idling
  • Came super naturally by this point, as all the little steps working towards it were in place. Took barely an hour or two total to add to repertoire.

I have to agree with @Eric_aus_Chemnitz here. Learn with 2 feet, it’s easier. Learning with 1 foot only will make your learning process longer. Of course, once you’ll be able to do it with 1 foot, you’ll be able to do it with 2 feet, but it will take you much more time to be able to idle at all.

Flatland, or street, or even freestyle*. Trials is basically only jumps, so no tricks.

I disagree. That applies to juggling, and it makes sense, but I don’t think it applies to most other circus disciplines. Also worth noting that most people on this forum do unicycling as a sport, rather than in the circus. One doesn’t make the other one impossible, but I just thought I’d let you know.


Yes, I meant freestyle. Thank you. I’m still getting used to the nomenclature.

As somebody whose spent a fair amount of time amongst circus performers and in circus gyms, balancing both sides of your body is crucial to many disciplines. Obviously you need to learn with your dominant first, but that’s also so that it can ‘teach’ your other side. Virtually all aerial arts such as trapeze, rope, silks, emphasis it. Then there’s tumbling, contortion, Cyr wheel. You name it. It’s not a requirement, but it’s a clear demonstration of mastery, and typically they have beginners start balancing out their bodies pretty early on.

That’s how I’ve been trained in trapeze and silks, and it’s helped me immensely to apply that to unicycling.

But the reason why I bring up circus arts at all is because unicycle falls within that sphere, even if people here have no other familiarity with circus. That also means it’s within the philosophy of bodily equilibrium which works in the background of that art form.

Moreover, even if all of this was hogwash, (though I sincerely intend it as genuine insight), nobody on a unicycle will ever suffer from mastering a skill on both sides of their body. It’ll only make them a better rider.

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Okay, so regarding balancing both side of the body I do agree with, otherwise it leads to injuries. I guess what I understood from your comment at first, was to master both side of tricks. If it was not, then sorry, I’m the one who misunderstood, but if ever it’s something you believe in, then I would wholeheartedly disagree! :stuck_out_tongue:

That I totally agree!


For beginners learning to idle, I think the most important thing is being able to pivot freely. If you start one footed, that might inhibit your ability to pivot. For me, during idling, the foot on the upper pedal feels like the lever that allows me to pivot. I must’ve learned idling differently than others, because I always felt the upper foot was the one in control, rather than the lower foot. If you can learn to make the lower foot dominant while idling, maybe that will make the transition to one footed idling with the other leg dangling easier. When I learned one footed idling, I did it with the other foot on the crown of the frame (Equinox). While I found that to be pretty easy, I struggled with the one foot dangling method and never mastered it (note to self: something to work on).

Just a short thought expriment: transform these though to the basic learning process of how to ride a unicycle and think again, how much sense it makes …

I have tried both, regular unicycle and ultimate wheel, and am not feeling particularly close to riding either one, so practicing to ride the ultimate wheel doesn’t really seem that much different/harder than practicing to ride a regular unicycle other than having no seat to rest on tires out faster.
I then wondered if just practicing ultimate wheel in the first place is a good thing to do?

Now decide for yourself :wink:

Ok, ok, it’s a little bit exaggerated but i think, it hits the core.

Just like indicated in my explanations of the trixionary, there is a certain way of learning tricks that is closest to ideal. Tricks require different skills and it makes sense, to learn the tricks that give you these skills first. All tricks are somehow linked to each other. For sure, you can learn each of them independently from each other, but if you put them in the right order, it makes things much easier.
Would you learn standgliding pirouettes first and try to learn all of the skills needed for it first or wouldn’t you learn gliding (maybe learning via idling with foot on wheel → wheelwalking → 1ft wheelwalking → gliding) first, then learn how to stand up on the frame (maybe while gliding pulled by someone), learn to do pirouettes in parallel to that and then start learning standglidind pirouettes and just having to focus on this last missing skill at once?

Thanks, I am sure I haven’t got far enough along to see all the difficulties 1-footed has over 2-footed; You have convinced me to not worry about trying 1-footed yet (but still try to think about having the bottom foot do most of the work). Unimyra’s post about “idling is hard” is a sober reminder it’s not an easy skill to pick up. (Heck, freemounting isn’t easy either!)
I’m just trying to keep learning at least, so a little idleing practice and time in the saddle can’t hurt!

I should probably invest in some pinned pedals for better grip. Below are my pedals and I’ll just say they don’t have confidence inspiring grip when wet.
They probably would be fine if I was more skilled, but I am not yet very good, and feeling like my pedals are slippery doesn’t help, so I have stuck to dry conditions only thus far. I want to get to a point of riding rain, snow, or shine though.
I had shied away from pinned pedals so far while being a beginner for fear of nasty pedal bite wounds, but I haven’t experienced those for a while, so maybe it’s time for an upgrade to something grippier now.
Club 24 in Stock pedals:

I can respect that…my turning while riding is this way. Rather than smooth turning, my turns are very jerky, where the outside foot is the only one making the turn happen; as I push that leg down to pedal, I also bring it inward towards the tire causing the uni to pivot into the turn. (I also swing both my arms opposite of the turn at the same time which helps turn my torso into the turn. Needless to say very awkwardly and newbie-like…

Touche! Although now I kind of want to try one of those! :wink:.

Okay, then the easiest way of learning would contain the following tricks in the following order:

  1. riding seat out, seat touching body (maybe riding stomach on seat as step 0)
  2. riding seat out, (seat and arm not touching body)
  3. trying to stretch the arm more and more until it’s fully extended
  4. reduce “gripping force” (hold saddle only with fingers instead of hole hand, then 3 fingers, then 2. Lower your body (squat) until your head does not move up and down any more while riding.)
    After this, you will learn to ride the UW pretty quick.
    Next step after the UW would be drag seat. (So this is also the way to learn drag seat, no matter if you use the UW or if you go directly from step 4 to drag seat, what is a little bit harder.)
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Yeah, some free mount mistakes can result in some nice cuts on the shin and calf! You don’t want pins when those happen.
The Club pedals are, I find, strangely grippy - partially because my runners have indents along where the little pins (not quite pins… but whatever) are, so I cannot move my foot for the life of me unless I take it off the pedal. Sliding is not an option, and they actually have to come relatively high before I can adjust foot placement. It definitely made my mounting placement better, knowing how important it was for the first couple of pedals.

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Ok, so I get those pedals after I learn to freemount! :wink: Actually I have been wondering about what I can use, protection wise for that too, some kind of elastic sleeve/shin pad perhaps.
I am using some triple-8 knee pads that came in a set with elbowand wrist guards, but they don’t protect the calves/shins, and I don’t like them that much, as they have very thin mesh fabric between the foam padding and your knees that invites sweat and chafing quickly while pedaling, so often i don’t bother to wear them.

I have these shin guards. They don’t chafe and won’t give you pedal bite. At unicycle championships they make you wear safety gear. Though if you ever want to learn to ride Ultimate Wheel, these shin guards aren’t the best. They start turning and aren’t smooth enough to let the wheel turn and start acting as a brake.
The only times I got pedal bite was at the start when learning to free mount and when learning to hop. There are also some unlucky moments where you step wrong or make a strange twist and slide off the uni.
Nowadays I only ride with a helmet, also when riding off-road. With UPDs I just step off and my static mounts are very controlled.