Hopping, tips please

According to those who can, Hopping up and over stuff will open up a world of curbs, crevaces, stairs, and trails uncharted.

I’m posting here to tap into your collective wisdom.

Right now I can hop in place OK. But when I try to hop up anything more than about 3 inches, I crash. Hard. I think my weight is still forward from bending at the waist. So Uni flies rearward. (Saturday, Uni almost flew under Park Ranger’s [moving] Jeep)

Launching appears to require so much more effort for me than for Tommy. He bounces, then, next thing you know, he’s on the next step. His body position doesn’t appear to change much. I grunt and jerk and crash. He boings and boings and arrives. I feel like I’m trying to jerk planks out of the floor.

Hard air pressure feels like bouncing on a wooden wheel. Too little air pressure feels like s…l…o…w motion photography. Tommy might weigh 150 dripping wet. I’m right at 200 lbs.

Tips welcome.

Please advise. (we’re talking seat in only. Lets not get ahead of ourselves.)

When you crash, are you failing to get the height nessecary to clear the obstacle or are you getting the height and failing to stick the landing or?

For the first, I would suggest trying to hop higher in place. There are many techniques you can use to get more height. Finding the “right” tyre pressure for you takes a bit of experimentation. The basic concept is the lower the pressure, the slower the tyre compresses so you have more time to react to the motion of the unicycle. Other things: bring your knees/legs/feets up and pull the uni up with them once you’ve left the ground. At some point (it sounds llike you’re not there yet) a pre-hop helps. This allows you to fully compress the tyre before your real jump giving you the full spring of the tyre. Lowering your seat can also give you added body compression space to increase your spring.

For the second I can only suggest practicing more. Keep your weight straight over the wheel and your legs strong when you land. The ground coming up faster than when you’re on flats is something that takes getting used to. If you land off balance, you can try to hop back into balance, which might not work always but should help your confidence in your ability to hop onto something until you can make it more frequently.

I think practicing the same movements on flat ground right before is pretty helpful. Hope my advice helps.
Did anyone notice I said “tyre” versus tire like I’m from the UK. Boy it was fun :smiley:

I presume you’re trying to hop sideways at this point, rather than forwards. If not, you might try that – I think it’s easier to learn first.

One thing Kris advises in his video on hopping is to kind of stomp down on the pedals just as you’re starting your compression. The idea is to preload the tire (notice the US spelling here, Zim) to give more lift. Also, after I get positioned (by boing-boing hopping into place), then I try to pause in a still-stand for a moment just before I stomp down to begin my “real” hop up the curb or whatever. Then, as Zim advises, you might plan on continuing some little hops upon landing as a way to stabilize balance. I find if I think about that in advance, it helps me be ready to keep bouncing when I land. Then you’ll eventually find you sometimes land perfectly and don’t need to bounce any.

Finally, it sounds like you’re really getting bent over in your upper body during the hop, causing you to be really out of vertical balance when you land. You might try staying more upright so you’re not landing with the uni out of center. Yes, you do need to do some body compression, but if you preload the tire, you shouldn’t need too much bending to get curb height. If you stay more vertical (ie over the seat), you should be in better balance when you land.

Hope some of this helps. Keep practicing.


Kris also reccomends you don’t hop like you’re on a pogo stick. He says you should make every hop a very, very short still-stand. This will give you more control and will make it an intentional hop, as opposed to just bouncing up and down (which doesn’t lend itself to as much accuracy and control). I’ve found this tip to be very helpful.


Good stuff. Thanks.

I’m going to build a progressive hop training center. 2 inch. 3 inch. 4 inch. etc. Something that won’t move much. Rounded corners.

I think what happened was:

My learning curve was curving along pretty good until one day in the woods, I tried to go over an 8 - 12 inch log. I crashed as hard as I’ve ever crashed.

In baseball, after being hit by a wild pitch, we’d say I’m “Ball Shy”. I think that about says it.

My head says “You’re gonna craaaash!!” So, I crash. I need more Zen in my diet.

So, there is a VHS tape that explains in detail various skills?

I went from hopping up curbs to doing rolling hops onto 15 inch park benches just by raising the seat.

Raising the seat? Curious… I got better at jumping upon lowering the seat.

Although I haven’t practised rolling hops for a while…
<mode=jesse>This week I have been mostly doin’ pedal grabs… </mode>


The video clip I’m referring to is on Jeff Lutkus’ server. There are a few clips of Kris giving impromptu workshops at one unicycle convention or another.

This is the one on hopping:

I would highly reccommend all the other videos in that folder: