Freemount success: a matter of the right time and intuition, or of determined effort?

Is success at the freemount something that is likely to come at its own time, naturally and spontaneously, or rather as a result of intention and determined practice?

I need to know so that I know how to proceed: to practice more despite my lack of success or to leave it until later to a time when I have put in more hours of riding and am more confident in my general riding ability (i.e. can idle and backward dismount, etc.)

Thanks for any advice.

prob with much practice…but everything you do on the unicycle helps all unicycling. just like practicing one song on guitar over and over will help with other songs slightly.

but if you can ride 100% consistently right now, it’s probably all in your mind.

three quarters of the battle of learning anything new on the uni is trying to overcome fear & mental blocks.

I had to PRACTICE it a lot. However, I would practice and then go ride for fun. Practice it, then move on to something less frustrating. I caught on to free mounting pretty early on. Now I’m learning all over again with a 36" wheel. I ride way more than I practice so I don’t have it down yet.

How are you trying to freemount? There have been a few different “versions” kicking around. I found that having my cranks parallel to the ground was WAY easier that starting with the perpendicular to the ground.

Also, you may want to consider which leg/foot is dominant. I was told is was my right foot… it’s definitely my left.

I learned freemounting on my 24" conundrum and recently built-up a 36" nimbus…it took my 3 tries… having a little momentum on the 36" helped (fremounting downhil to start).
Good luck, don’t be afraid to fail in the process.

If assisted mounting is still sort of iffy than I’d keep working on that, but if that feels pretty easy now than you should try free mounting a few times first whenever you mount.

I assume that determined effort will eventually get you there but I think knowing your abilities and how to push them just the right amount is a more efficient approach. I think I remember reading something about how after a certain point extra practice has greatly diminished results on performance.

What I do is decide on a skill I want to learn, then think about ways of approximating that skill which are easier for me to do.* The optimal difficulty being one where I could imagine succeeding, and which after a period of practice I feel that I have been in a state of success long enough to get sense of familiarity with it. Occasionally I try something a bit beyond what I think I can do in order to see if my expectations of it’s difficultly are warranted, and at the other end, once I can do something often enough that I generally expect success at it I move on.

*So with free mounting it would start with holding on to something tightly to using a wall to maybe something wobbly or trying to mount with the wheel against a curb or practicing placing one foot on the bottom pedal and balancing there as long as possible.

I second MBalmer’s advice. I would definitely practice, but don’t kill yourself over the freemount. Riding the uni is way too much fun to be stuck just trying to get onto the thing. Idling was helpful for me to learn freemounting.

You might want to try giving yourself a number of attempts before a break, like 5. After 5 attempts, without success, ride around a little bit with a wall/fence/pole assist. Then try mounting again.

I learned to freemount pretty easily, but after riding for a while I am far better at it. When I got my 36 I just jumped on and rode away first try. It’s still a little tricky mounting on narrow singletrack, but I get it first try most of the time. Translation: Anything you do on the uni will make you better at freemounting.

As with all skills, you need to practise. You can’t learn intuition. But you need to practise consistently and constructively, and know when to take a break.

If you practise too hard, you can just learn to fail more consistently. Your brain needs rests so it can sort and filter and store the information it learns from each 10 - 15 minute practice session.


With a 20 inch Torker I learned to freemount just by doing it over and over. After falling 10 times I would hop on using a pole or wall. I also found learning how to idle helped me a bunch. With my new 36 inch I can freemount but only every couple of times (I just need to build up momentum so I can rock back and then go forward)

In my case, I kept trying to free mount on my own. I did not know about and knew no other unicyclists. I kept trying to free mount and managed to get mounted maybe 30-50% of the time. I finally found a local club and the guys explained/showed me a good way to mount and I mastered it the next day (well, mastered might be a bit strong, but I definitely went to near 90%).

I think I would have eventually gotten it on my own, but it probably would have taken much much longer, and quite possibly I might have given up before mastering it. I am glad I ran across the Memphis Unicycle Club when I did or I might not be unicycling today.

The way they showed me was to have the cranks at a bit less than parallel to the ground with the pedal closest to you lower than the furthest pedal. Then put your foot on the nearest pedal but with almost no weight on it. Then jump up and put your other foot on the far pedal. When you jump, you still don’t put weight on the near pedal. It’s like when pretending you are going to step on someone laying on the ground but you don’t want to hurt them so you put your foot on them and hop over them without ever putting any weight on them. Anyway, that is what worked for me.

Eventually, I evolved into mounting with weight on the near pedal but it is counter balanced by my weight on the seat (the uni is not fully upright which allows for the counter balancing to work.). That was just a natural progression over time.

Good luck.

thanks Hugh. good explanation. I will work on it tomorrow.

Determined effort.

I second that: mental blocks are very important for me.
For example I ride a Coker since 2003 and still miss often freemounts. the main reason is fear: I hurt myself very badly (snapped an Achille’s tendon) while freemounting and now my brain just refuses the challenge. I freemount easily when I disconnect my brain.

Both. Don’t practice too hard, but do it regularly. I used to make sure that every time I rode I put in a couple of freemounts. I’d often finish the ride with a few mounts, working up to doing two, then three, then four in a row. If it’s going badly, just ride and leave it for the next day.

Mind tricks can help. Tense is bad. Try to relax. Droop your shoulders. Mount on a slow exhalation. Make sure no-one is watching. Om!