How do I learn to ride backwards?

Any suggestions about the best ways to learn
to ride backwards?

Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?

Remember from the very beginning that the same technique of keeping your weight solidly on the seat applies to riding backwards as well as forwards.

Good luck,
Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Whether this is actually a good idea or not is possibly debatable, but I found it easier to not look where you are going. Find an area large enough so you’re not going to crash into anything, make sure no-one’s around and go for it. Once you get it down smooth you can start peering over your shoulder.


I learned to ride backwards by doing a “super idle”. I would idle normally and then throw in an extra half revolution backwards and then return to normal idling. Once I got comfortable with that I would add in a full revolution backwards. I just kept on adding more backwards revolutions until I was riding backwards.

I like the “super idle” method because it keeps you in control. You learn how to stop and control your backwards riding early on in the process. I never once fell on my back while learning to ride backwards. My big fear in learning to ride backwards was getting out of control and landing hard on my back. With the super idle method I didn’t have to worry too much about crashing like that. I was always mostly in control.

Some people have learned to ride backwards by just holding on to a wall and going for it. That’s not my style. Too much risk of crashing badly.

I’m no expert, but…

I learned how to ride backwards by the following:
Just ride forward, come to a stop or idle, then immediately begin to go backwards until you fall off or have a UPD. It seems like the stupidest and least creative or effective way of learning, but it really isn’t, and I’m sure that loads of others have learned it this way. You will find that every now and then you will go a little further than your previous record (just like in any other skill you learn). I remember that eventually I began to “involuntarilly” turn in order to regain balance when I was about to lean a bit too much. With this accidental turning, I began to learn how to turn at will…and so on. Blah blah blah.
Hope this helps you, but you should just do what is most comfortabl to you. Any technique will get you there, just some might be more effective for you than others.
BTW…the “john_childs” method of the “super idle” is also a fantastic way, I mixed this in as soon as I was able to go a couple revolutions, because (for the sake of learning better) its better to do the trick and exit the trick properly vs doing the trick and falling off before trying again.

I discovered today, if you ride backwards far enough your pedals unscrew!

Re: How do I learn to ride backwards? wrote…
>Any suggestions about the best ways to learn
>to ride backwards?

Below is a excerpt from my booklet ANYONE CAN RIDE A UNICYCLE. on riding backwards.
Please contact me if you would like to get a copy.


To become an outstanding unicyclist you must master riding
backwards. Riding only forward all the time may result in your
picking up bad balancing habits that may be hard to correct.

There are several ways of learning how to ride backwards, three
of which are introduced here. IL you have mastered the main
skills up to now, particularly double idling, riding backwards
will not present any special problems.

To ensure safety, you should change to forward riding before
dismounting. To prevent falls, always strive to maintain
complete control. A common mistake is to ride too fast.

Posture is extremely important. The upper body should be kept
more or less straight, but bending slightly forward at the waist
increases stability, especially at faster speeds. Try to pedal
smoothly and maintain control at all times. Considerable
practice may be required before pedalling backwards feels
natural, but if you follow the methods introduced here you will
find it is not as nearly as difficult as you anticipated.

Method 1

One way of learning to ride backwards is to ride side by side
holding hands with another unicyclist. Both riders stop and
without dismounting pedal half a revolution backward then resume
riding forward. After several times, try a full revolution
backward before resuming forward riding. You will soon find that
you can both pedal backwards for considerable distances. Try to
let go of each other’s hands briefly for longer and longer
periods until you are confident you can ride by yourself. The
side by side support given each other in this method enables
both riders to concentrate on the forward-back balance and
hastens learning by eliminating a lot of unnecessary falls. Both
riders should remind each other to maintain proper posture.

Regards, Jack Halpern
President, The CJK Dictionary Institute, Inc. Phone: +81-48-473-3508

If you can idle, then John’s method is perfect. I think that with backwards riding it is good to start with more momentum than you would get from pushing off a wall. Plus you don’t really want to have to have a wall around to start going backwards, it isn’t alway possible to find a flat area next to a wall.

I couldn’t idle when I learned to ride backward, so I did the practice of forward, stop, one half stroke back and then forward. This has all the advantages suggested by John, essentially I was learning to ‘super idle’ before idling.

However, once I could do a few strokes backward, I would usually abandon my reverse to forward riding and just go as far as I could, usually running into my garage door and starting over.

Eventually I could go the length of my driveway a number of times without dismounting, so I started focusing on stopping and riding forward again. If you are more patient than I am, follow John’s suggestion and do ever longer super idles. If your backward upds are controlled and you land on your feet, then speed won’t be an issue, but it usually means you are leaning too far backward. Keeping yourself as upright as possible, this also helps when you need to stop and go forward.

Wear a helmet and either gloves or wrist guards.

Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?


In message “Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?”,
jynxzero wrote…
>I discovered today, if you ride backwards far enough your pedals

Not if you tighten them properly!

Mit vareme yidishe grusn,

Jack (Yankl) Halpern
Direktor funem Yapanishn Yidish-Klub

Kanji Dictionary Publishing Society
Mayn yidish vebzaytl:

If you really want to eliminate most chances of them unscrewing, use LOCKTITE.

The idling/superidling method worked for me. That is, find a big empty space, then

  1. ride, stop, ride
  2. ride, stop, half turn back, ride off
  3. ride, stop, half turn back, half turn forwards, half turn back, ride off
  4. and so on.
    5 Then try ride, stop, whole turn back, ride off…

I think riding backwards is one of those skills where it might be counterproductive to count pedal strokes and keep going for your high score. Better to keep control at all times.

A good exercise is to ride three turns forwards, three turns backwards, three turns forwards, three turns backwards, and so on.

Then extend to say ten turns.

And try it with one foot leading, then with the other, otherwise you become ‘one sided’.

Riding backwards is a useful ‘real world riding’ skill, rather than a trick. The ability to do a three point turn on a narrow path, or idle and adjust your position before an obstacle is very useful.

Wear a helmet. Don’t go fast. If you fall off when riding backwards, you will usually fall backwards, and there is a risk your head will hit the floor.

Good luck.

I am in the process of learning to ride backwards. I can go 10-15 feet on an (ir)regular basis.

One thing that really got me started was to learn idling with my non-favored foot down. Once I could idle more than 5 or 6 times with either foot down, my Backwards riding improved dramatically.

Follow this with John’s “super idle”(mentioned previously). 2-3 cranks forward then the same backwards…then forward, then backward…until the cows come home.

I’m certainly no expert. But you’re welcome to my 2 cents.

John’s super idle method is how I learnt (I think). Another thing that I found helped me was that if you think about going backwards it can feel really unnatural, but if you imagine that your face is on the back of your head then it feels more like forwards riding. This might sound silly but it worked for me. Good luck!

Well gotta add my two cents as well… err, ah, should be be up to 10 cents by now…?

anyhow, I am just starting to learn to ride backwards as well. I is such a neat feeling though I can only doing about 7 pedals strokes backwards, under control, at best. But I also find learning the skill with control to be the most successful and satisfying.

I start with three pedal strokes forward and then three back. Do that for a bunch of times then try for four and four, five and five and so on. It feels good to be able to go backwards smoothly under control and then make a conscious decision to make the transition to go forwards again.

Also, with this controlled method of practice I am finding that my veering to the left is starting to be less of a problem as my correcting skills are improving along with my pedalling backwards skills.


Riding backwards practice is a nice way to rest after being duckered out from tons of hopping. :slight_smile:


Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?

On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 06:01:23 -0600, Mikefule
<> wrote:

>I think riding backwards is one of those skills where it might be
>counterproductive to count pedal strokes and keep going for your high
>score. Better to keep control at all times.
Could you explain why counting pedal strokes would be
counterproductive? Maybe if you can’t count on autopilot so that it
would take away from attention to control…
>A good exercise is to ride three turns forwards, three turns backwards,
>three turns forwards, three turns backwards, and so on.
>Then extend to say ten turns.
Without counting… :slight_smile:

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

The world is full of apathy but I don’t care.

Re: Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?

Usually, I’m a big advocate of counting pedal strokes and aiming to improve on a previous ‘best score’. For me, it’s a simple, almost inevitable, way of motivating myself. I did it when I learned to ride forwards, when I learned to idle, idle one footed, and ride one footed, and to some extent I admit I did it when I learned to ride backwards.

BUT! I do think that riding backwards is a special case, for safety reasons. If you fall off when riding backwards, it is easy to damage your coccyx (sp?), crack your skull, or even damage your spine.

Motivating yourself by counting pedal strokes can encourage you to ‘hang on’ for that extra turn for a ‘best score’. That extra turn is often that little bit faster, and is always less controlled. The uni is already leaning too far before you bail out and get your feet off the pedals.

It is better and safer to learn by a method which maintains control at all times. So by all means count in the sense of deliberately riding 5 turns back before stopping (that introduces discipline and control to your practice) but I’d counsel against counting for a maximum score, because you would be just that bit more likely to have a nasty fall and a potentially life-changing injury.

Re: Re: Re: How do I learn to ride backwards?

For backward riding I never counted while I was riding. What I did was to have a start point, pedal forward some number of strokes and then go backward. It allowed me to ‘clear the area’, or make sure there were no rocks, or anything else I didn’t want to run over. Also, just in case there might be other people around, it kind of marked my territory. (Actually that never worked too well, I get no respect in this area.)

Anyway, if I really wanted to know how far I went, I would just walk the uni back to the reverse point, thus saving the counting for after I ‘fell off’.

Eventually you will exhaust your practice area. Then you will know how far you can go. What you do then is see how many times you can cover that area (forward then backward) without a dismount.

i’m busy learning to turn while going backwards
or, should i say, learn to turn int he direction i want
i’m also busy transferring these skills to the raffie
there john’s ‘super-idle’ method really comes into it’s own and i can sit and do 4forward, 4back all day
time to move to five…

On Sun, 23 Feb 2003 15:41:17 -0600, Mikefule
<> wrote:

>BUT! I do think that riding backwards is a special case, for safety
>reasons. If you fall off when riding backwards, it is easy to damage
>your coccyx (sp?), crack your skull, or even damage your spine.

My first attempts at riding backwards were in the gym of the uni club.
More folks tried it there and no one had a helmet or any other safety
gear, nor were we ever urged to use said gear, or was any danger
indicated (AFAIR). So I never thought of riding backwards as a safety
risk, except for running into someone else or into some object. Maybe
I should rethink that view.

==>> Q FOR ALL: Has anybody taken a bad fall when riding backwards?

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Adult child of alien invaders.


I haven’t*, but I can see the potential. When I come off going backwards I usually end up running backwards at a fair lick, so it could be nasty if I tripped or was going a little bit faster.


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