Hopping without grabbing the handle is possible, i do rope skipping this way. But for jumping over obstacles I would definitely use the handle. You can jump less high without pulling the handle. Rolling jumps without the handle are much more complicated than thos with pulling the handle.
It is possible to hop without holding the handle, if you just squeeze the saddle between your legs. But doing so the hight you can get is very limited as you only get the hight out of the movement you can get from the tire.
It is way easier to hop holding the handle, so I’d recommend doing so.
If you hop up that curb SIF (seat in front), you won’t be grabbing the handle, only the sides or back of the seat. I don’t know if that counts, though, and anyway SIF takes a lot longer to learn than just grabbing the handle and doing a “normal” hop.
You really should get comfortable with grabbing the handle, as it’s also useful at other times than just when you’re hopping: for going over bumps, off of curbs, down the stairs or up a steep hill.
I suggest breaking the problem down into parts. First, practice putting one hand on the handle while riding. It will feel awkward, and you may only be able to do it for a second. Then try grabbing the handle with the other hand, momentarily. When you get better at holding onto the handle, try taking your weight off the saddle and onto the pedals, whilst still holding onto the handle. Lowering the seat a little might make holding onto the handle make more sense. Muni riders grab the handle while riding down hills, not just because of the brake, but because their butts are off the seat and they need their hand to stabilize the muni.
When I first started holding the handle, it was awkward. I could only touch it briefly before throwing my hand back up the air for balance. I found myself grabbing handfuls of clothing, as well, prompting me to find more tight-fitting clothes for riding.
If you’re not used to holding the handle, you will lose some balance control by putting your hand on the seat. If you keep practicing, though, you’ll find that the hand can do a lot of cool things to control the uni, and you may actually gain ‘more’ control with your hand on the seat. To use a video-game analogy: you sit on your butt, and you work the controller with your hands.
Once you are comfortable with grabbing the handle, hopping might make more sense. It is possible, as well, that a whole host of other techniques may reveal themselves to you. Keep experimenting and happy riding!
I once hopped without holding the handle, and didn’t realize what I had done until afterwards. That was following a 3 hour MUni ride, and I had just gotten back to the parking lot but took the wrong fork in the trail. Without thinking I just hopped and twisted to put myself on the right trail. I think I had been riding such rough tread for enough time that by comparison the smooth trail near the parking lot seemed like nothing.
I haven’t had any luck doing it on purpose.
So, yes you can hop without holding the handle. It will probably be easier to learn how to hold the handle though.
Now that I think about it I’m pretty sure that George Peck shows hands free hopping in “Rough Terrain Unicycling”. The whole vid is on Vimeo, and worth a look if you are into uni history.
A fairly simple hands free hop can be done by having your pedals level and squeezing the seat tightly between your thighs. Then you can simply crouch your body then spring upwards. It would be very difficult to do a rolling hop this way, and it is a much smaller hop then with the grab. I’d definitely learn to hop with the handle first.
Thanks for the suggestions. Good to know it is possible so wouldn’t be a complete waste of time trying.
I’m assuming one grabs with the seat with the thighs to keep it in place after getting some upward momentum happening.
I don’t want to lower the seat as I ride best with it as high as possible. This is just a small part of my distance riding just to get up these ramps when there is no other option.
Any other suggestions for getting over a two inch high obstacle with a square edge also welcome.
Seems like I should also get back onto my trials uni and seriously learn how to hold on for a rolling hop. I can bounce around on it for as long as I can endure but I can’t seem to get my brain around how to do it while rolling.
I did get back onto my trials uni (old KH Onza) and practiced a lot of hopping until eventually I could do a small rolling hop. Well more of a roll-stop-hop-roll to be honest but it is a start.
I also started holding the handle a bit on my road uni (24 inch Torker LX). It wasn’t too difficult because I had already mastered balance to the point where my arms were not so involved.
It did feel weird at first but with the hopping I had done on the trials uni it didn’t take too long until I started to appreciate the potential.
It really took off when I started seriously into hill climbing on New Year’s Eve and the progress has been amazing. Today I cruised up over the steepest hill in my vicinity (~ ten degrees) then went looking for more and unexpectedly climbed everything I encountered.
I had expected the increased power by holding but not so much the extra stability that came after a bit of practice and is still improving. The benefit of pushing down on the handle when I didn’t need the power was also unexpected.
The biggest surprise was how much faster I can pedal. High-speed no-hold always had a tendency to have the wheel knocked out from under me with any irregularity in the path and no recovery from the slightest overbalance.
Now I am zooming along over things that used to regularly throw me off. Just about ready to take on the those little driveway lips.
As for the hopping, it sounds like we are about the same level… I have been practicing hopping over a small board in my basement, and I can actually hop it better with a rolling hop. When I try the roll - stop - hop technique, I have a hard time keeping my weight forward and I usually just jump straight up, or sometimes backwards. Keep up the good work!
You are doing better then me. I can only hop at over imaginary obstacles at arbitrary locations. I can’t even get to the right position to hop over a line on the pavement.
I found it seemed to be better to get going again when starting the hop with the rear pedal below horizontal rather than level so there was a bit of stroke to push on landing. However this might be doing the wrong thing just compensating for something else I am doing totally wrong too.
I have also been practicing moving the crank position during the hop to get some more stroke.
I think one of the problems is the hop is so small that there is not much time to do anything in the air.
It bewilders me how someone can go from full speed pedaling to stopping the cranks and leaping.
I would love to get some coaching but I am on my own. Probably should set up a camera on a fence so I can actually see what I am doing.
That’s usually how it goes with unicycling, even in large cities!
Anyway, yes, it’s good to have your rear foot well below horizontal. I think mine is nearly straight down when I start my rolling hops nowadays. That’s not the moment when I become airborne, but it is the moment when my forward pedaling starts turning into hoppping energy! If you want your cranks 100% horizontal before you start hopping, it seems to me you’d have to come to a complete stop, but I’m not great at rolling hops, -right now, I’m a lot better at side hops- so you may want to get advice from someone else. Another thing I have read about rolling hops, though, is that it’s good to practice launching them from many different pedal positions. I haven’t consciously tried that, but as I got away from bringing my cranks to perfectly horizontal before hopping, my hops definitely started to get higher.
It would seem the upward motion of body and the lower foot is followed by the pedal during the lower-upwards crank quadrant. The pedal would be driven up by the downwards motion of the front foot. The tyre would leave the road with the cranks somewhat closer to horizontal.
This explains the transition from a full speed roll to stopped cranks without the loss of forward motion that I found so bewildering.
It also suggests that more of the jump energy is coming from the lower leg. Does that match your impressions?
The forward momentum would initiate the roll on landing without the need I found for the front pedal to be higher to get going again when I do the roll-stop-hop.
That would explain why I tend to do roll-stop-hops.
It all makes sense to me even though I have not expressed it well. Looking forward to spending some time on this over the weekend.
Yes, it does, but my forward rolling hops are no higher than 10cm, and I can only do them from certain crank positions, so they aren’t much use for getting around town just yet.
You definitely might want to get a second opinion by searching the forum. I understand, though, that at our stage of development it isn’t always helpful to watch a tutorial by some uni broad jump champion. One thing that is challenging for me right now is to ride along a street, parallel to the sidewalk, and try to hop up onto the curb without stopping first- in other words, a rolling hop with a little bit of sideways motion. Even though I can side-hop onto a 20cm step, a curb that’s only 5cm high is plenty challenging for me if I try to stay rolling.