Freestyle tips

Hey, I don’t know if I’m crazy but I really want to get into free styling with unicycles. I can go for a few miles without falling down but I have a feeling that, that wont do very much with freestyle unicycling. I was wondering what things would help me a lot with learning my first tricks, thanks!

Don’t kid yourself. Thats the first step to being a great freestyle unicyclist!

Some good first steps will be learning to idle, backwards riding, one footed idling, one footed riding, and wheel walking.

…and of course searching the forum for “freestyle tricks” :slight_smile:

The USA Skill Levels are a great place to start:

Seat in front (SIF) riding is a good, easy freestyle skill, or at least that’s how I feel right now, having just learned it. This thread was helpful.

One thing that I couldn’t really figure out from searching the forums, though, is the relationship between SIF and stomach-on-seat. I was actually trying to ride on my stomach and learned SIF by accident. The main trick, for me, was to keep the rear of the seat pressed firmly against the front of my pubic bone at all times, as if I were wearing a giant dildo with the word “Nimbus” written on it. SIF seemed difficult or impossible at first, but once I tried holding the seat that way, my average ride instantly grew from 2 or 3 revolutions to 50 meters or more. I apologize for the graphic imagery, but think it will be helpful to anyone trying to acquire SIF skills.

Thanks loads for that visual!

(I’m laughing as I’m typing this…)

If people can read the “Nimbus”, you may be riding the uni backwards. Your pedals may come loose. :smiley:

To be more clear, when doing Seat in Front, the seat, and the hand holding the seat, may not touch the body. The “dildo” version (ouch!) is called Seat in Front, Against Body. Those definitions come from the Standard Skills List, which is more detailed. Naturally, seat against body is the version one learns first, but after that you will learn to support all of your weight on the pedals. With more practice, you can hold the seat with just one finger, or squish yourself down and hold it with your chin. Then forget about the dildo thing. :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re right, with more SIFAB riding experience, I am slowly finding myself able to relax my death grip on the saddle. When I get settled into one of my longer rides (100 meters or so), I also can keep the seat at about navel height, rather than religiously attached to my pubic bone, and I put more weight on my feet than before, even bouncing up and down a tiny bit. All I’ve been doing is trying for longer and longer rides. Sometimes I go in a trembling, clockwise circle, but usually just in a straight line, slightly downhill. Is there some other technique you can recommend for practicing SIF?

Just work on mastering it. If you can turn to the right, next work on turning to the left. On level ground. Try going slower, or faster. Then you can start practicing the transitions; pulling the seat out and putting it back. This generally happens as your pedals pass through horizontal, standing then gets you maximum space.

Also mix in seat in back and stomach on seat. Same basic rules for those. Also practice falling off, so you’ll know how to do it without getting tangled up in the uni.

In no time you’ll be doing a running jump mount to Seat in Back (not against body). That was one of the “repair” mounts I used to use in shows if I fell off when I wasn’t supposed to. It was mostly lost on the audience, but the main idea was to make it look like I’d gotten there on purpose.

John, do you have a video of this mount? I’m having trouble visualizing. I can think of several ways to do it but am curious which one you are talking about.

I don’t have much video of me riding. Most of what I do have was originally done on Super 8 and VHS. :slight_smile:

Really, that mount is basically walking next to the unicycle while holding the front of the seat and rolling the wheel beside you. Then you jump to the side, landing on the pedals as they come level. Followed by the hard part, which is riding away!

That make sense, I’ll have to try that. I’m always fascinated to find skills I’ve never seen nor thought about. :sunglasses:

Hey, John! I tried that side mount to seat in back and it works like a charm, sounds harder than it really is. Thanks for the tip. :smiley:

Is there any sort of ideal distance to hold the seat out from your body? Being able to ride without it touching you seems like a good way to get into SIF hopping, but if I hold the seat way out in front, it starts to thrash from side to side. Do I just need to be lighter on my feet?

SIF hopping is easier than SIF riding. For learning it I allways do the same steps with the kids of my training group:


  • Grab the seat at its curvature, thumb is over the saddle, other fingers are under the saddle. press the rear bumper against your stomache and press your elbow against the side of your body. Connection between saddle and body will be nearly as stiff as sitting on the saddle.
  • If you can do this, try the same without the elbow at your body.
  • Next step will be to take the saddle away from your stomache. A bit farther with every ride till your arm is totally extended. The more you extend your arm, the more you have to go down with your body.
  • Try to grab the saddle at its rear bumper and try to decrease the number of fingers ... [/LIST]

    If the unicycle starts to thrash from side to side, then there’s two things you can do: going down with your bottom (imagine to sit on a really really low saddle) and not pedaling so hard.
    You can pedal by placing your whole weight on one pedal and then on the other … but this will not work with SIF or dragseat. Try to keep the weight difference on the pedals as small as possible, just enough to keep it rolling …

    The nearer you are, the easier it gets … so near is ideal for beginners. The goal should be to extend your arm.

  • Hmm, maybe for you! I can now easily ride 100 meters SIF, can do figure-8s, can put the seat back in with no problem when I need a rest, but am lucky to manage even one tiny SIF hop! The problem is that it’s hard to reach a position with enough stability for hopping, and idling SIF has not worked out for me yet. Otherwise I seem to be progressing along the path that you have described, though.

    Oops, never mind! Today, after yet another session of careful study, I had some breakthroughs with SIF hopping, so in retrospect it seems that Eric aus KMS was right. The next step is to jump higher- that’s the main point of SIF riding, isn’t it? At least if you assume that every skill has to lead to something else. SIF riding is also fun for its own sake, though.