Finding balance...and keeping it

Since learning to unicycle, for about 4 months, I think I have come to appreciate the feeling of balance and centre of gravity when riding and how this shifts.

I am curious about this though because I seem to have a fairly constant battle with balance when riding. I can shift weight forward, hold the seat handle and speed up. I can lean back and feel balance through the seat post shift rearwards and I slow down. However, I seem to be constantly fighting this forward and rearwards shift and can’t seem to hold a specific ‘balance’ position for any length of time.

When I see distance unicycle events I wonder how riders maintain an effective balance position for any length of time – they seem to go on for miles. Do I just need more practice I wonder?

I am riding a 36er and assumed the rolling mass of the wheel might kind of dampen the swing or oscillation of the seat post from front to back. It does, but I still find myself unable to reach a consistent comfortable position that might allow me to settle into a groove for a number of miles. At present I am trying hard to sink my body weight onto the seat and this seems effective, but that switch from front to rearward swing of the seat post is still frustrating.

Question is – does anyone have a technical interpretation of setting up the seat and riding position? Surely it need not come down to just, trail and error? What is going on with weight distribution? I have a rail type seat post. There seems to be a lot of adjustments in this – but where do I logically start?

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I have come to interpret this balance in the forward/backward axis as being highly dependent on an individual’s reflexes. There is a thread about riding as a second nature here. I have a post toward the end of the thread that partially discusses this thinly defended belief system. You’re 60 and I’m 56. I don’t see our reflexes improving in the near future. Are you able to ride smoothly with little thought to what you’re doing at a slower but unsatisfactory speed?

I cant add to this since I’m just now learning, but I wanted to thank you for your posts as those and the vids are helpful to me. So thanks.

Unicycling, like walking, is always a matter of dynamic balance–you’re always wobbling and correcting. As you get better is that the magnitude of your wobble is reduced. (Think about watching a toddler walk, as compared to an adult).

Personally, I usually prefer my seat to be tilted upward, so I can sit back on my sit bones. (This works well on a KH Fusion Freeride, and not so well on other saddles). When I have a rail adapter, I generally tend to place the seat a little further forward.

Try concentrating on reducing your pedal force. When I’m riding a big wheel, I’ll generally have as little weight on the pedals as possible; a feather touch means that you’re wobbling less and having to correct less. You won’t be able to go straight to having a feather touch, but it’s something you can work on.

Thanks for that specific advice. Just a few pointers like that will give me hours of fun experimenting :slight_smile: Clearly it is an individual thing but it helps knowing others use similar seat settings when trying to work things out.

Thanks HARPER for the reference from another thread about balance that I missed. You may have something there about ‘dominant leg’, so I will give some focus to that.

In my semi-retired situation I get 2 weekdays off work and do the garden, fix the drainpipe, paint the walls etc, or…go play on my unicycle :slight_smile: Hmmm what should I do on my day off today :roll_eyes: No contest!!..let’s adjust my seat and get that dominant leg fixed :smiley:

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I found that forward/backward balance shift, almost an inverted pendulum effect, became much worse when I first scaled up my wheel size. What seemed under control on a 20" suddenly became a quite pronounced forward backward continuous compensation on a 29". But it quickly gets better with practice.

I switched to 125 mm cranks from 150 mm cranks on my 36" and found that the “sweet spot” for balance appears to have become much narrower. With a week of practice it is now feeling better. With some time on a 36", I find the balance on a 24" to be automatic. I agree that larger wheels and shorter cranks are more challenging, but trading down to a smaller wheel makes if feel easy.