getting up hills!

Hi all,

Just wondering if any one has any tips for getting up hills, I am fine with long progressive hills but struggling with short step hills.

I have found a fantastic track that is perfect and hilarious on my hatchet but towards the end of the track there is a hill that is only around 100 feet long which climbs steeply and i fall off about 15 feet short of the top which is annoying.

I have tried just doing the hill when i am fresh to see if i can do but still fail, I have tried to do it both slowly/steadily and charged at it but fail at about the same point each time having lost all my speed.

currently my hatchet is my only muni/off road cycle but i am thinking of building something a little bit tamer soon but any tips or advice would be great thanks.

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Longer cranks and/or more speed as well as more practice and muscle strength works for me.

if the path permits it, try zig-zagging up or if you are really intent of at least making it once, try hopping up. Once you’re on top, all the energy will have left you for sure :slight_smile:

It’s hard to know what exactly you are failing from. Could be running out of momentum, in which case (aside from setup changes) more practice helps the most. It’s hard to pedal hard, but also maintain good pedaling form.
Could be fatigue, in that case you may need to build muscle, and maybe increase your efficiency at the first part of the hill. I find that staying in the saddle as long as possible is good for me.

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Or like some say, pull more on the seat while going up, which I happen to do less when going up. I let my uni drop and catch it again by pedalling, more like falling forwards uphill. You can try both and see what makes more sense for you. When it is sandy and for me very steep, I sometimes stand up on the pedals having both hands in the air.
Can you describe more what your hill looks like? How wide is it, what is the surface etc.

Thanks everyone for your advice, the hill is about 100ft long, about 20ft wide and about 25ft high with its surface being stones and mud.

I find that I loose momentum and fall either due to stalling or because I’ve hit a bump so slow that’s it’s caused me to loose balance and fall off the front.

Of course almost all of the above as well maybe try to work on a cadence that is similar to walking when it gets steep or tiring. (I mean to pedal, pause, pedal, pause, etc…)
Draw a line on the ground where you fall. Surely you can ride past that line and repeat.

I’m not a fan of sessioning.
I would suggest to go ride something else and then another time when it permits try riding past your high mark with lots of determination.

A few things I like to do for uphilling rough terrain:

1.) Strength(endurance) & Coordination: If you have plenty of strength at the base, but you start getting tired at a certain distance? Of course you will fall because coordination is gone with strength. Unless, it get’s flatter(easier) at the top, but I am assuming a constant angle. Then you might consider just doing repetitions and make a note of your rest time and the location where you fail. Eventually, you will get stronger.

2.) Stall control. From my experience riding up hills on my 24" muni this is what I tend to do. Take it one step at a time, and I am pretty much “stalling” between each pedal. Crouch forward and pinch your thighs together for saddle control. Also, allow the unicycle to wobble side/side a little bit for stability. It works. (You ever watch George Peck unicycling over rocks?) Keep both hands off the saddle and “free” to help with balance. To stop/go successfully you must not only be able to stall, but be able to throw your weight and rock the unicycle forward/back with control/speed/precision. So, a great exercise to develop your ability to ride slow and stall without falling is unicycling on grass with hidden bumps and gopher holes. It’s all about keeping your legs tight/ready to deliver precise stop/go power and duration when needed. Can be a very exhausting workout, but falling down on grass is safe. As I get better, I attempt a few raised tree roots.

3.) Do not rely on speed or momentum. Unless, you are on a very smooth surface. If you are going to encounter rocks and bumps at the same time as steep uphill, you need to “work” over every bump or drop with one pedal at a time. This is true off-roading, but twice as difficult because you are not down hilling with gravity.

Anyways, have fun with your hatchet. Keep on.


All of the above is good advice and I’m sure it will mainly come down to practice. One thing worth suggesting is to use a different uni (different wheel size, cranks, something different). Maybe swap with someone local for a period of time. This will force you into a different riding style and then you’ll be surprised what you can land whenever you switch back. It’s a bit more fun than just pure practice and conditioning. You can also just swap cranks. The bigger the change, the more interesting things become.

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All good advice below. Since we can’t see the nature of your riding and terrain, we are taking shots in the dark but these are all good ones. I will add to the idea of trying to go slower. If you’ve ever seen a video of George Peck (the Grandfather of Mountain Unicycling), he goes a half-rev at a time, kind of like walking. This is usually in fields of rocks, but can be done anywhere. You will learn a lot of control by slowing things down, plus save some energy for that last part of the climb. This is your present Everest. There will be bigger and meaner Everests after this one, but you must conquer this one first. You will. :slight_smile:


Is it better to try to keep one hand on the saddle handle rather than getting both arms forward? I tend to put out both arms when the going gets steep (for me), but I’ve been told that it is better to keep one hand on the saddle to help with control over bumps/ruts. This was going up dirt trails and gravel roads - it might be a different answer for paved roads?

Since you’re still learning, just do what feels best.
When it is very steep, I also tend to keep both hands in front of me to still keep momentum. You can do that too with one hand on the seat, but to me it feels like I don’t have enough weight to continue pedalling.
When reading what the others wrote above, and trying your half-rev pedalling, it is prolly better to keep one hand on the seat and have your weight closer to center. Once you get more experienced, trying different things will become easier.

If it gets really step then pulling hard on that handle will help you to apply more force.
It also helps you to recover more easily when you are about to trip forward.

That being said, I agree with finnspin that you should try to remain seated as long as you can.
Then when it gets too difficult you can stand up and use gravity for extra power during the half-rev phase.

In any case: rest assured, it will get easier over time.

I can now ride some inclines hands ree, sitting down that required standing and handle tugging in the past :slight_smile:

I use three different techniques for climbing relativity steep slopes, often all three in progression.

First I would try to get your speed up, stand up and spin. This is easier to do with shorter cranks and smaller wheels,

When spinning is no longer feasible I switch to the George Peck style half revolutions stalling between with the cranks horizontal. Each pedal stroke can be quite C shaped, just let the uni go where it wants as long as it’s in the general direction you want to go.

When the wheel just won’t turn anymore as your legs are giving out or it’s just too steep I switch to side-hopping which I’m not that good at and it usually results in me falling over or if I’m lucky making it to the top all sweaty and out of breath.

I climb with one hand on the handle and one arm flailing around keeping my balance. If you have a long handle I would hold it as close to the saddle as possible when climbing at the edge of your ability to increase the force you can put down to your pedals without torquing the frame and seat rearwards.

Whatever technique you use make sure you are still having fun!

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Thanks everyone for your help and tips which I will try next time I get over to the hill, I think also I will get a photo of it to add to my post.

Find a hill you know you is too steep for you. I am not talking about a hill where you run out of energy halfway. Find an impossible (for the time being) hill, one where you can’t even make it a few pedal strokes. Work on that one. That is what is going to make you adapt. You will have to try a bunch of different techniques. Good luck!


Hi all,

Thanks for your help with hills, I have managed to do my hill in question a few times now! I find that to manage it on the approach i ease off a bit on pedalling to give legs a little rest then as the hill starts i put all my effort in which has got me to the top :grinning:

I also have been playing with riding slowly up hills to get the feel of when you slow down at the peaks,This has helped my balance and to work on the point where you think youve fallen off but still have control if that makes sense!


That’s what unicyclists do at Unicon at the uphill challenge. It’s very impressive to see because it’s such a power display!

Ah, here’s this thread. Quick note on holding onto the saddle:
If you don’t, all the power you have is gravity on your body (and, until you slow down, your momentum).
If you do hold on to the handle, you can also use your leg muscles and arm muscles by simply pulling up at each pedal. This gives you more power and also waaay more control, in my experience.
To test the theory, I went to a very, very bumpy thing of uphill grass that i usually have trouble doing, but this time I pulled on the saddle. Seemed to work pretty well, so if you’re struggling with a hill that might be the technique to use?


Depending on what surface you’re riding, you have to be careful not to spin out when you do this. It’s more subtle than just pulling up on the handle and stomping on the pedal as hard as you can. You need the right amount of forward lean, the right amount of power, and I think it helps to try to pull the pedal around the bottom instead of just pushing straight down. It’s a skill that takes practice.