Ken Fuchs and Mark Sands have put together a good description of how to hop on
the wheel. Here is their entry for the level 6 skill file.
Hop on the wheel 5 times
HOPPING ON THE WHEEL AND TRANSITIONS FROM AND TO FEET ON THE PEDALS
Sentences inside square brackets are comments rather then instructions to do
Feet on the Pedals to Hopping on the Wheel (transition):
Come to a stop with the pedals horizontal and the right pedal forward and
pull the seat out to the front with the right hand. Hold the front of the
seat with the right hand and back of the seat with the left hand. (If the
pedals stopped with the left pedal forward, switch “left” and “right” in the
above two sentences.) [This placement of the hands puts them in the best
position to do step 3 below.]
Hop with the seat out in front until balance is stable.
Leap up with both feet simultaneously so the body rotates 90 degrees right
if the right pedal is backward (or 90 degrees left if the left pedal is
backward). [The feet travel a shorter distance this way; turning 90 degrees
the other way would force the feet to travel a much greater distance.] The
wheel stays in contact with the floor and does not move throughout this
movement. [This may be an easier method to learn than twisting the unicycle
itself 90 degrees, mentioned in method #2 below, because the feet can land
on a stationary target. However, try both methods to see which is easier for
you to learn.]
The feet can land on the tire right next to the frame almost touching it or
about 4-6 inches from the frame on either side.
Start by hopping with the seat held to the front.
When you feel confident and well balanced jump off the pedals and spin the
uni 90 degrees so you can land on the wheel with one foot on either side of
the forks. (this jump is just a bit higher than the bunny hops, the other
difference being the wheel stays on the ground).
Brief description of Hopping on the Wheel (stationary skill):
Hopping the wheel can be done with the feet in two basic positions. In the
first position, the feet are squeezed together against the frame so the wheel
can not rotate while hopping. In the second position, the feet are 8-12
inches apart with the frame centered between them, so they can directly
control the rotation of the wheel with a slight rocking motion. Having the
feet apart like this can be an advantage when learning certain wheel hopping
variations and the sideways wheel walk. However, the position where the feet
squeeze the frame is probably easier to learn and is used far more often. It
is recommended that wheel hopping be learned in both of these positions as
soon as possible, since each has advantages over the other.
Pull the seat up all the time and oppose this by pushing down with your feet
to keep tension between the wheel and your feet. Just like with bunny hopping
keep your legs mostly straight, drop your heels down and get your hop from
Hopping on the Wheel to Feet on the Pedals (transition):
The right (left) foot on the wheel behind the frame reaches down toward the
back right (left) pedal while the left (right) foot on the wheel in front of
the frame maintains balance by not allowing the wheel to turn or by doing a
brief one foot wheel walk idle.
The right (left) foot lands on the back right (left) pedal and its momentum
makes an idle starting on a backward stroke a natural next movement. At
about the same time, the rider slides into the saddle. (Other final
movements are hopping (on the pedals), stillstand, riding backward, an idle
starting on a forward stroke, and riding.)
With both feet remaining on the wheel, lower the body down onto the seat.
Quickly move the feet off the wheel and onto the pedals which should be
horizontal with the right (left) pedal forward if the right (left) foot was
in front of the frame.