Help with idling bigger wheel

OK, I’ve had my 29er for a couple of weeks now and am getting a lot more comfortable riding it and my static mounts are getting more consistent. I can also manage a roll back mount every once in a while but it’s not easy. The thing I’m currently having trouble with is idling. The bigger wheel has so much momemtum that I just can’t seem to stop it from rolling in whatever direction it’s going and get it reversed. Does anyone have any tips or tricks for idling on a 29er or even a Coker? Any ideas are always greatly appreciated.

when I was learning, it helped to try and idle in as little space as I could, in addition to pulling up on the seat as hard as possible to make sure I could exert enough pressure on the wheel to keep it from shooting backwards.

This was on a 29’er with 125mm cranks.

I disagree.

I think it is better to let the wheel slowly roll up to near cranks horizontal. This allows you to slow and reverse the wheel at the point at which you have the most torque.

Once you start learning to control the front/back motion of the wheel (and it is a learning process so keep trying), You will have to learn to control the side to side balance. This is much harder on the bigger wheel because your idle cycles take longer to complete, meaning it is more difficult to move the wheel under you in time, because if you accelerate it too much you will be unable to stop it from shooting off.

So you have to practice keeping yourself over the wheel without moving the unicycle much. This can be done though arm or hip movements, or a quick twist of the whole unicycle.

I don’t know if thats helpful, but I wish you luck.

It’s not brute force you need. It’s timing.

On a 20, it is possible to idle by stomping the pedal. You can more or less choose the speed of the idle. There is little momentum, and lots of leverage. Also, the small wheel is easier to control to maintain the sideways element of your balance.

On a larger wheel, especially a heavier one, you need to work with the unicycle rather than trying to dominate it.

Idling consists of two almost stable positions, and a well timed transfer from one to the other.

Position #1 is with the wheel forwards, and your weight about to tip backwards.

Position #2 is with the wheel back and your weight about to tip forwards.

Instead of blindly pumping away, wait until the unicycle reaches position #1 or #2, and then ride it the short distance (about 1/4 of a wheel-turn, if that_ to the opposite position.

Talk of “momentum” is misleading. It’s not that the bigger wheel has loads more mass and momentum, it’s that the leverage exerted through the cranks is different.

Pulling up on the seat may help in the short term, but it will also encourage you to stick with bad technique.

And as with all idling, look at something fixed a long way away, at least until the movement becomes automatic.

S-L-O-W-L-Y…weight on the seat. You are using the same engine (your legs) to drive a system that has more angular inertia. (This means that I disagree with Mikefule somewhat but I’ve done that before.) Picture yourself and a friend rolling a basketball back and forth between you. Now picture the same thing with an automobile. Which is slower?

I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me (in which case, i am now disagreeing with you because you said you do, and I don’t), but I was trying to emphasise that he difference in inertia is not that great.
people blame intertia/momentum because it sounds like an absolute that is beyond their control.

A 29 is about 50% bigger than a 20, and I guess weighs about 50% more, give or take. If your wheel weighs a few pounds, and you weigh 140 pounds, then an extra couple of pounds on the wheel isn’t the problem. That’s not to say it isn’t a factor, just that it’s not as big a factor as some people claim - as an excuse.

Atlas, this is a skill I am trying to master still. But I found learning how to go backward helps alot in idle. Because you are almost GOING backwards and forward when idle on big wheel. My Coker is like a graceful blue whale, it will go where it wants to and I only can ‘ask’ to change directions. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here are some links to some movies of me idling and riding fast on my 29er.

Idling video number one (good)
Idling video number two (best)
Video of riding pretty fast (not top speed, though)

Tyler, nice 29er idling in your ‘best’ video!

Thanks, brah!

Idling is quite often described as being like a pendulum, with your head remaining in pretty much the same spot a the wheel of the uni swings to and fro.
With the big wheel, the pendulum starts way above your head and if you try n idle a big wheel with your head in one place, you might be on a hiding to nothing.
I’ve recently been spending a lot of time on JayneZA’s Coker and it was only when I started getting into moving my body (and head) futher forwards and backwards in time with the idle that I started getting to the kind of reliabillity that allows me to consider doing it in public.
I’d like to hear from the more experienced Cokeurs about the head-movement-when-you-idle issue.

Gild beat me to the pendulum thing.

There is also a “pause” at the stall point that seems more pronounced than on a smaller wheel.

Throw on a set of shorter cranks and practice for a while. When you put your regular length cranks back on it will seem so much easier.

Thanks for all the tips. Some very good descriptions here. I did neglect to mention that I’m idling pretty well on my 24" now and have a couple of different techniques that work for me. One way I idle is to go from full horizontal on the pedal, pause, then go to full horizontal on the other side. This is slow and requires a nice pause and has been helpful in developing my balance. The other way I idle is to do a quick, pendulum action, swingin the bottom pedal from about 4 o’clock to about 8 o’clock. This one is faster and smoother and I can keep it up for a longer time. I also neglected to say that my 29er is set up with 125 cranks. UniTyler, thanks for the videos. I’m at work right now so I’ll have to wait until I get home to look at them. The ‘internet police’ here frown on downloading videos. It’s a miracle they haven’t cracked down on me for the amount of time I spend on this site.

The pendulum swing using the bottom foot from 4 to 8 (or 5 to 7) is the way to go.

The horizontal to horizontal idle is a fundamentally different skill, less practical in a real riding situation (hockey, traffic, MUni etc.)

I believe the horizontal to horizontal idle is referred to as the “circus idle” . Shudder…

The biggest adjustment when you go from idling a 24" to a 29" is the distance the wheel will travel each time. Obviously their is a difference in the torque it takes to get the wheel rolling but more important is timing and acclimating yourself the larger distance the wheel will cover with each half revolution.

If you’re idling fine on a 24" and having trouble with the 29", I’d say just put longer cranks on the 29".

I went from a 24" to a 29" with 150 cranks with an adjustment time of minutes for idling. I later put 125s on and had a hell of a time of it. I didn’t have the patience or interest in working on that particular adjustment so I just went back to the 150s. But if you get the idle down on 150s on your 29" - and you will probably find it very easy - then you can go back and make the adjustment to the 125s.

Keep in mind, responders, that it’s not always as easy as changing cranks, nor practical. I wouldn’t put 150s back on my coker just to get down idling, I’d just practice with the 125s more. Mainly because I use the coker every day for transport to classes, and 150s just wouldn’t work as well.

I have to laugh at this, but not in a mean way. I am fairly mechanically inept and have historically resisted taking on even the most basic DIY unicycle projects. Hell, I still chafe at having to change guitar or banjo strings.

So now I’ve learned to change cranks with relative ease and the first time I suggest this as a solution to a problem - as has been recommended to me on occasion - some clow…ah, other cyclist shoots it down.

:astonished: :thinking: :angry: :frowning: :roll_eyes:

I always thought that in the ‘crcus idle’, the cranks went from 10-15deg above the horizontal to 10-15deg below the horizontal without ever crossing thru the vertical and that it was called the 'crcus idle’ because that minimal movement made it easier to pass higher numbers of clubs with more success?

Re: Help with idling bigger wheel

On Wed, 2 Nov 2005 10:37:06 -0600, Mikefule wrote:

>I believe the horizontal to horizontal idle is referred to as the
>“circus idle” . Shudder…

I think ‘circus idle’ refers to idling where the cranks oscillate
around a horizontal position (as opposed to vertical). So, if you
don’t like the idling movement from horizontal to horizontal (around a
vertical mid-position), find another reason than its name :slight_smile:

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