How good can you be and still not idle?

I have now been riding for less than half a year and I can now do long rides with hands in pockets etc, freemount almost all the time (kinda throwing myself on), can hop continuosly and can hop to about 1’ and other kinda basic stuff.

I cannot however freemount properly or idle :angry: I have tried to learn to idle but it’s just not happening.

I was wondering if any of you lot are really good but there is still something simple you can’t do (idling for example).


I can idle with either foot, ride backwards and pretty much roll over any obstical on a 36er, but I can’t hop to save my life : )

I think you can be pretty good without that skill… It helps to have, but you dont need it. I would say I cant properly ride backwards, but I can still do street/flat tricks that I would say require a lot more skill. Its just one of those ‘tricks’ I never put enough time into. I have tried, but I never tried hard enough.
I think there are a lot of skills that people just pass over and eventually do or do not come back to. Its up to you how you decide to set off on your path of the unicycle. I would say the main benefit of learning that idle is just when you are riding around and come to a stop light or are in a crowd of people you can stop and stay on the unicycle without having to hop around and look like a pogo stick champ…

I learned to muni and hop up and over obstacles years before I learned to idle, and my idling is shaky at best even now. And I can only do it on my trials uni, not my muni :wink:

I worked on my freemounting a lot though. I was heavily into muni, and found that I needed to freemount often, but the terrain rarely looked like idling would be practical :wink:

I know someone who can hop very well, but cannot ride!!!

Both idling and freemounting defeat me. I know, I know, I need to spend more time at it.

i found that when i was learning i never needed to learn to idle

i learnt other things like hopping up stuff, 1 footed and some different mounts.

i tried to idle at one point but failed miserably so didn’t bother. i carried on riding just doing other stuff, tried it again and i could do it. i think it just comes with balance. once your balance becomes good enough you will be able to do it.

to speed up the learning process, learn to go backwards

As I am mainly into MU (downhill most of the time) to me this is a completely useless skill therefore I am not able to do it :wink:

I think so too and if not that’s no problem for me :wink:

I think it’s the other way around. Balance (on the unicycle) comes from challenging yourself to learn new skills. Though riding backwards is fairly basic, not everyone needs to idle to do the type of riding they may prefer.

But either skill are what I would call “core disciplines” of a well-rounded unicyclist. Even for the dedicated downhiller, for instance, if you come to a section of trail that you have to pick your way through, being able to back up or pause for a moment, without having to hop all the time, can be handy. And people who can idle are much better at riding slowly through technical stuff, because they have the option of rearward movement.

Hopping is quite a bit easier than riding. We had a school program once, back in the late 80s, where the kids all suddenly started learning to hop, including kids that couldn’t ride. Unfortunately the “affordable” unicycles of the day didn’t hold up well to hours and hours of hopping, so they started getting lots of bent cranks and then the school had to put in a “no hopping” rule.

Unicycling is something we do for fun. One should not feel guilt if they aren’t interested in idling or hopping, though there are times when you may find those skills (or the subsequent skills that come from them) could come in handy.

I’m riding more long distances and really enjoy climbing. I can’t idle well enough to pause at traffic lights. I usually get on a sidewalk and hold the light post. I wish I could idle but not enough to put much energy into it. The one thing that I can’t do that I WANT to be able to do is hop more than a couple of inches. I still can’t hop up a freaking curb. My hops now are no different than two weeks into unicycling.

You can always hop backwards, for rearward movement. Pausing, you can do a still-stand. If your cranks are not in the right position for hopping, you can do a single backwards rev, no idling needed.

IMO, idling is probably the least useful off-road skill.

I have to agree with that. Even the roll-back mount can be a problem on rough terrain. I pretty much never idle on the trails. But I do use the skills derived from idling for trying to pick my way through a rock garden, or any rolling-Trials type of situation.

Idling is not even very useful for juggling. As anyone who does it knows, it is much, much easier to juggle while riding. The idling part starts to become useful if you have an audience that isn’t riding along with you (like on a stage). :slight_smile:

While agree that idling itself is not a useful skill BUT learning to idle helped my muni riding leaps and bounds. It helped my overall balance a lot and really helped with pausing for second to figure out my way through a line. If you are having a hard time learning to idle, sticking with it and learning it will help you fix any problem areas in your riding skill.

Take it slow, when I was trying to learn I told myself I would just practice 15 minutes a day. After a week I began to see a little progress, but I really had to force myself to stick to the 15 minutes a day as I was frustrated from not getting it. The second week I progressed faster, by the fourth week I was doing very well, and practicing a lot more because I wasn’t frustrated anymore.

I can attest to that! I think it’s easier to juggle riding backwards, too, but maybe that’s because I’ve practiced it more. I’m definitely more apt to crack myself on the head with a club while idling!

My advice if you’re trying to learn something and finding it impossible is to work at it 10-15 minutes a day. That way you stay below the frustration level and let your body and mind catch up to what you’re trying to do. When you’re making good progress you can always up the time. But maybe I’m too laid back!

definitely, I think riding backwards is easier, I started idling by going a full rotation or two backwards and changing direction, rinse and repeat until comfy, then the actual idle is much easier.

I’ve been riding for about 4-5 months and I am learning how to hop. I’ve found that I’m learning how to idle naturally by just riding a lot and doing muni. Muni helps a lot because you often have to stop and rotate yourself in place, and since I don’t know how to hop I just have to do it, you know. If I really focus on idling I can get a couple ‘swishes’ back and forth before I fall off, but I am not focusing on learning the skill at all really.

In my opinion the best way to learn to idle is to ride forward, stop, half-rev back, then ride forward again, stop, half-rev back, then forward again. Just see how it feels. I think, and I say I think because no one else has ever told me this, the trick to idling is just maintaining enough speed during the idle to have a very small amount of centrifugal force (or whatever) holding you up. Also keep in mind you have to balance AGAINST (as in away from) the pedal that is down. Keep some of your weight on the pedal that is up. As someone who can’t idle very well this the best advice I can give you!

If you can hop in place very rapidly then you don’t need to learn how to idle, as far as I can tell, because you can just hop in place and that holds you up.

I can freemount at about a 99% success rate and I DO NOT do it “properly”. I mount with my left pedal at the 6 o’clock position. I can do this with a slight rollback or without. It’s easier with the roll back but either way I am pretty golden. I’d say a ‘proper freemount’ is only necessary if you’re trying to ride across railings or start on other narrow obstacles that you can’t shuffle on. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you’re trying to mount something that is less than 4sqft.

I think the 6 o’clock roll back mount is cooler looking anyway. I’ve seen online that the ‘learning process’ to freemount with the pedals horizontal is basically ‘throw yourself over your seat and hope your other foot hits the pedal’ and I just don’t like that idea at all. It doesn’t look like fun to me and I don’t understand at all how I’m not supposed to put any pressure on the foot I’m mounting with first. Seems silly! It looks cool as hell (to me) when people do it, but only because it seems like pure magic.

I rode a 19 for 187 yards backwards

Yet I have never completed a circle riding backwards. Not even a very large circle.

For the 187 yard run, I cheat as much as possible. There is a 250 yard straight paved walk along a double soccer field, with a 4’ high chain link fence on my right. I ride it carefully forward, and stop to move any stone or stick I find. Then I wait at the end until no one is coming.

I suppose it would be better if I could just look back all the time, but I’m not that good, so I steal fast glaces when I get worried. It’s a fun game, always exciting to be riding past the old mark. Also, no dogs or cars to worry about in this park.

On a side note, once you are cool with the riding forward to riding backwards transition, and the riding backwards to riding forwards transition, you will be able to idle.

I personally found hopping to be easier then idling at traffic lights. Partially becaue for years I commuted to school on my muni, which I still can’t idle on anyways, but also because I can stoll stand for a secod or so and rest. Good balance practice, and if you’re waiting a few minutes for a light you get some good practice in. People are also easily impressed by it :wink:

This is becoming an interesting thread! Thanks for all the great replies. I will get back on my ‘learning field’ and try going backwards. I have not really tried it becuase I have not found a need for it offroad but I can see the possible benefits.

I will need it for when I try to get into trials and tricks with a 20".


Plus it’s freaking fun! The thing that helped me the most to learn to ride backwards was doing full revolution idling. At first I would just try to change direction, forwards to backwards and backwards to forwards. Once I could do that I tried to get it down to one complete revolution backwards, one complete revolution forwards, etc. I repeated the process learning to ride backwards with my hands behind my back.

In case Moucius is still to freemount well, try practicing/learning with a birck paver set about a foot or so behind the wheel so that it does not continue back to far. Then you only have to focus on not letting it roll too far forwards.

Five minutes doing that and I was freemounting, after not much success for several days.