How good can you be and still not idle?

HA, yesterday I tried to idle and it worked quite well for never having been practiced. Although I must admit I have learned to ride backwards about a year ago but I have never done it since so I am not good at this either.

Sounds like we’re at a similar skill level, even down to the time we’ve been riding. I’ve been trying to learn to ride backwards and/or idle for a month or so now and still haven’t mastered it, although I think I’m finally getting somewhere with it.

I spend some time working on free mounts, roll back mounts, jump mounts, and riding on skinny stuff to pass the time when I get too frustrated, but I try to work on my idling and backwards practice every day. Mounts are always good to learn to distract yourself, improve your balance, and impress people - I’m working on the reverse jump and the 180 jump now.

In short: I feel your pain!

This is also how I learnt.

I don’t know that anyone answered the question in the thread title. You can be really good at a lot of things, but without being able to idle there will be a gaping hole in your skill set and it will limit or prevent you from doing other things.

The assumption here is that a rider who doesn’t know how to idle also doesn’t ride backward. Once you learn one, the other only requires minimal practice. For best results, work on both together (take turns).

I never specifically learned to idle. I just kinda ignored it. But then one day I tried it, and I just kinda could. I think eventually it’s a self-learned trick, which is pretty awesome :stuck_out_tongue:

You see it brah. It requires lots of thinking. It’s about pedal awareness. It’s a changing in direction. 180* shift in balance. “Where is the pedal in relation to my momentum?”. It’s a good skill and has made me a better muni rider.

Funny, just yesterday I rode my uni(20"er) down hill to the gym and did a big leg workout with weights. After leg workouts I always fall off the uni on the ride home. This time I was determined not to have a UPD! Well I made it up the 1st leg of the hill on a bumpy sidewalk and was coming to a red light. It’s the one place that I use the idle. For 15 seconds I idled. Trying not to idle, but just balancing and using the idle just when I had to(resting the legs:D). I continued on the ride without any stoppage or dismounts. Nice.

I recently started to learn how to idle on my 20". I think my best has been about 40 cycles. That’s getting close to be enough to be useful at traffic lights. I commuted to work on my 29er for the first time today. Do any of you have any advice on idling a bigger wheel?

larger wheels can sometimes be a beast to idle, I’m still working on my coker idling skillz : P

if you have some longer cranks, learn with those, then switch back down to what you like : )

I’ve seen a few different methods. You can try a large slow idle or a small faster idle. It sounds stupid, but there’s a big difference between a full idle on a coker and a small idle.

Yes, do it slower.
If you can go for 40 cycles, you’re close enough to being able to do it indefinitely. In the original USA Skill Levels, it was 50 cycles to pass Level 3 (among other things). Practice idling slower on your 20"; this will increase your skills. Then, the bigger a wheel you move to, the slower your idle will generally be.

For 36" wheels, I don’t recommend idling for utility purposes. You can do it, but it’s more for your own satisfaction than to be useful. It takes up a lot of space so it not necessarily something you want to do at a red light. I either get off or lean against a post. Let the people in cars think what they want. Most are interested in seeing me get back on when the light turns green…

I must admit, I think it would be much easier to just mount again, or hold on to a post. there are a few places I’d like to be able to idle though, especially if I see a light is about to change, though I can usually slow down or speed up to make it through without stopping.

one of my uni friends just told me to hop : P lol, you would be so tired after about 10 seconds of hopping that huge wheel.
edit: that . . . and I can’t hop O.o . . . YET!

Once you become comfortable hopping you can do it very efficiently. Just barely getting the wheel off of the ground, and sometimes going a couple seconds between hops. I think it is easier than idling on a 36er.

That is one of the most underrated 36er skills.

Hi, it seems that I’m not the only one, and that’s the topic for me… :slight_smile:

I’m riding for about 2 years now but it was very occasionally until recently. I had 24" and I got some basic hopping (in place and not very high) and I’ve felt that idling is possible to learn… then to go faster and further I’ve changed to 29" (24" sold unfortunately) and with 125mm cranks it was not possible to me to even try idling. Now I’m having 125/150 twins and on longer set I feel that it comes step by step. Not practising too much currently, because as long as there is a snow I prefer some offroads. But definitely hops and idling are on my list for this spring :slight_smile:

I had the same feeling (some day back on my 24") but one day I was going back from the shop. I’ve tried and… jumped over the uni. But somewhere on my “flight” over uni I’ve realized that just a bit less of power and I could land on it. Seems strange but maybe try putting one leg on the pedal and just jump with the other over the uni to land in front of it…

That’s exactly why I started to learn idling, plus the fact that I could easily practice that skill in a small space just outside my back door on a cheap unicycle without worrying about breaking it. Any other skill one should learn to help xc muni riding?

Great relies guys!

I can freemount fine, it is just not ‘proper’.
I have not been out recently but when the weather clears up, I will get out and practice idling again. Often I just want to get out and ride but I will try to fit in a bit of practicing here and there as well.


I have been told that one-foot riding is helpful for muni. I can do it to some extent. It does improve my balance, but I find the sweet spot quite narrow. As with idling, one of the keys appears to be managing your momentum.


Probably hopping, rolling hops as well as hopping up and down stuff. Practice riding up to a curb, then stop, then hop up or down it. Hopping up stairs is a great exercise in balance as well as hopping, I can do a few stairs (3 or 4), but not as many as I’d like to. Every time I go out and work on my hopping I’m amazed at how much of a workout it is.

Sorry to be off the main topic… Thanks for that timely advice John. I have been primarily practicing in the evening so far so during my first commute to work I realized that I was not used to have people staring at me. I must say that my interactions with other people using the road have been positive so far. On my way home I was in front of a car and the lady could not pass me because the street was too narrow with cars parked on both sides. When I got to the corner I was able to get out of the way to let her go. She stopped and rolled down her window, I was expecting her to be mad and as I started to tell her I was sorry I blocked her way she said “no no, oh my god that was amazing to watch you!”. From now on I’ll try to assume that most people in cars think just like her.

That’s a great thought, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. Most of the people in cars are nice (or at least share the road) but as long as they have armor shells and you don’t, it’s important to remain vigilant. The biggest danger is people not paying attention. The second-biggest is people who think they’re being “funny” by trying to scare you. Same as being on a motorcycle, keep an eye on the larger vehicles!

John is right about being vigilant in traffic. I don’t worry about people being mean or mad at unicyclists (like they can be with bicyclists) for sharing the road. I find most people very forgiving of being held up for a few seconds waiting for me to get out of the way. They usually smile and wave. I worry about people texting and/or other distractions while driving. Last weekend, there were two bicycle deaths due to stupid drivers, in the community where I work. That is the stuff I worry about.