How long until unicycling becomes specialized?

Unicycling has spent a hundred years or so being relegated to the likes of oddballs and fools. Only in the past 20 years has there even really been any real idea that there could be more. And only in the past 5 years has that really been understood by any great number of people. And still, it has only been this past year that I would consider street to have truly begun.

When you first learn, you are informed of the skill levels, and of all of the different basic things that unicycling is about and entails. This instills a form of wholeness to the sport.

A bmx rider, a freestyle biker, a road racer, and a mountain biker can all come into the sport of unicycling and with a fair amount of certainty, it can be assumed that they all begin to learn the same things. They all feel that they must learn riding, hopping, idling, backwards, one footed, coasting, stair sets and the like.

My question is, how long do you guys think it’ll be until a mountain biker comes into the sport of uni solely to learn great MUni? How long until a freestyler comes to only learn that? How long until a road racer begins uniing only on a coker?

I’m just interested, because I came into this sport not too long ago, with the idea that I should learn everything. I soon realized that I’m not so hot at anything other than basic (albeit hardcore) riding. This was kind of depressing at first. I figured I wanted to be a level 10 rider and know all of the “tricks” of the game. But then I realized…there isn’t one “game” there’s many. I enjoy riding with my wife around town, and much more so, SingleTrak’n*

Now I have fully come to terms with the idea that I came into unicycling from a casual rider/would-be-mountain biker perspective and that there’s no need for me to learn other things that don’t relate to ST’n. I’m a level 3 only, but I’ve yet to find something that I can’t cope with off-roads. I’m not great, but I can do things that hardcore mtbers think should be impossible for one wheel to do. So, even though I’ll never be very good at freestyle or street, and even though I greatly enjoy watching people perform these “sports”, I’m quite happy only being a off-roader.

Does anybody understand where I’m comming from? I’m sure I’ll get a lot of people that don’t read fully what I’m saying, and come and flame me (to which I’ll have to fight back, and then everyone will start a war against me :smiley: ) But does anyone understand what I mean, and dare I say, even maybe agree with me?

*The term MUni is very apt for people living in the mountains, but “mountain biking” confuses many people when there are no mountains around. I therefore hereby copyright that term “SingleTrak’n” as I think it is much more appropriate in non-mountainous areas as well as has an interesting dichotomy as we only make a single track…plus, I think it looks cool spelt that way. :slight_smile:

I, for one, am a mountain biker who learned to uni for muni… :thinking:

Granted, I’ve found that I also enjoy freestyle.

Well, Im a mountain biker that learnt for learning, then decided I wanted to do MUni, then I decided that Trials was awesome too. Now I try and do both.

AscenXion, your wisdom surpasses your years.

I’ve been riding the unicycle since I’m 10 years old (that’s 33 years). And your absolutely correct that once you learn to ride you don’t have to pursue level 10 status. When I was younger I may have had the passion to learn the skills. But as I got older I just wanted to enjoy unicycling. I enjoy riding 30 - 40 miles on my 36’er; so I do it. I enjoy Muni; so I do it. I enjoy playing unicycle hockey with my boys; so I do it. I no longer enjoy practicing different mounts or freestyle skills in my front yard; so I don’t do it.

Unicycling is slowly gaining momentum as a viable sport and/or form of exercise. However, I believe it’s still a long way from mainstream due to the fact that you can’t simply purchase a unicycle and ride it. We’ve become an instant society and unicycling is not “instant pudding.” I’ve written the book, “Ride The Unicycle - A Crash Course!” and while I communicate with many who like the idea of learning to ride, very few ever do because they don’t practice. They either don’t have the time or don’t make the time to practice. With a mountain bike, you can take it out of the box, assemble it and ride down the road. You may not be able to ride it in the dirt but you can still ride and enjoy it. You can’t do that with a unicycle which will, more than likely, doom unicycling as a worthless pasttime for clowns and fools.

I think most everybody gets what your saying so you shouldn’t worry about getting flamed about it. I can’t say the same for your cool avatar. I’d like to hear your story behind the avatar but so not to hijack this thread and so you don’t get flamed on this forum send me a private message about it.


“”""“I therefore hereby copyright that term “SingleTrak’n” as I think it is much more appropriate in non-mountainous areas as well as has an interesting dichotomy as we only make a single track”""""".

How 'bout rough terrain unicycling? (Thanks George.) For people with no mountains or single track.

Specialized unis are here, have been for years. The sport is growing but it’s not that young. Like another sport I remember…do do do…do do do…flashback…
When I started playing hardcore frisbee in the late '70s it was pretty new. We did all the games that the flying disc had to offer.:: MTA,TRC DISTANCE,Ultimate, DDC,Frisbee golf and last but not least Freestyle … plus hundreds of games we made up along the way.
. Now people only play golf or Ultimate.

I loved freestyle and I new if I wanted to get good in it I have to concentrate on one thing. How bad do you want it?

I think that all the disciplines of unicycling are intertwined. So do what drives you or do whats fun. Keep it fun…with hard work or not

Hey, thanx for responding. I guess to put one more clarifying point on what I meant, from the help of what you said. You pointed out that unicycling is becomming more of a viable “sport”. What I wanted to point out is that unicycling is rightly “many sports”. Just as bmx is a sport, mtbing is a sport (actually that’s many sports all within itself as well, such as dh), and road racing is a sport. Bicycling isn’t a sport, it’s many, and that’s what I wished to convey. Unicycling isn’t yet deemed a “sport” by the mainstream. But by us, it should be deemed “many sports”.

I only worry about getting into a war because it’s what seems to happen when I say anything that might be misconstrued (don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I like warring…it’s just that I also like people to read an entire thread before replying).

And about threadjacking, I HATE people that bitch about it, so, go right on ahead and threadjack all you like.

My avatar was just thrown together by myself when I read a tutorial on how to do flame graphics in Photoshop. I plan to make a cartoon in the near future. AscenXion will be the title, and that’s an idea for the title graphic. The line under my name applies to the title character, not (esentially) to myself, though I see the character somewhat as myself in this alternate universe. If you’d like to know more, just ask.

I like RTU, there’s a local club around here that Sem Abrahms has at least periphery association with called the RTUC.

I’m not talking about specialized unis, I’m talking about specialized riders. The way that you acknowledge all of the different disciplines in frisbee is what I’m talking about. But then you go and say that all of them in unicyling are intertwined. And that’s what I mean. It seems to me that people THINK that they ARE all intertwined. And I was just wondering how many people agreed with me, and if they do, when they think they will be totally seperate from one another. A hardcore mtber doesn’t worry that he’s not a good road racing, he doesn’t even think about road racing. But it seems that all uniers want to learn everything. I’m just wondering how many don’t.

Hard to say…all the styles right now sort of borrow and share each other’s skills. Muni’ers hop and idle all the time, street works on hop height and riding skinnies, trials incorporates backwards riding and other skills all the time. Most of the more common unicycling skills are just universal to the entire concept of unicycling. That’s probably bound to change in the years to come, though; it already has, to an extent, with people like Shaun attempting to define the style of street.

its already happend to trials biking and unicycling. i know lots of people that ride trials bikes and ride uni trials.

i also know for a fact that most proffesional dirtbikers ride unicycles for a certain kind of balance.

the sport has grown crazily in arizona. i was the first. and than i thought a close friend. than 4 other friends got one. and more to come.

I had a cheap begginers uni, and was looking on the web for tips and I found this sight. The first video I think I saw was the Macht Nada video with Shaun in it. I was blown away, and I wanted to do that type of riding specificly. So, the answer to your question is, it’s already happening.

I come from an XC Mountainbiking and Roadbiking background.

When I started Unicycling almost 6yrs ago I didn’t know how many different types of unicycling there were. I started off learning some freestyle skills, dabbled in a bit of trials, but now they don’t really interest me at all. I guess that may have something to do with my original background in biking- I don’t really do trials biking or freestyle/BMX stuff anyway- much prefer going fast and going places. Now all I do are XC MUni and Road Unicycling, and Unitouring.

It will probably become more specialised in future- if you look at UNICON- the top riders in each discipline are all different. Although there are still some people that are good at everything (like Ryan Atkins), and some of the Japanese riders like Daiki.

Your also assuming that everybody that bikes only does one type of biking. I started out mountainbiking, then got a road bike, then a bmx, then more of an urban assualt bike, and eventualy I want to get a trials bike too. I came into unicycling sort of with the same idea, I saw trials videos and thought how great and awsome that was, but after killing a starter uni I got a 29er for riding around the city, and then upgraded to a coker after riding one. I still plan on getting a muni and trails uni, but they’re in a list of a ton of other things including trials bike and track bike. At the same time, I don’t have much of an interest in freestyle or street, though I enjoy watching other people do it. I don’t think unicycling will become specialized to the point that say biking is now (though most people I know have road bikes and mountain bikes, along with possibly other bikes too) just because once you learn how to ride you sort of want to try everything, until you realize the people in the video just make it look really easy, and then stick to what you enjoy most.

I learned to learn, but have been off-road more than anything since I learned and doubt I’ll bother learning many skills that don’t have direct application on the trail.

To me, it’s just like I’ve been cycling and mountain biking all my life without ever learning trials or freestyle or artistic cycling. When I was into rollerblades i did distance and never learned to grind a rail. I have no desire to juggle, twirl, or stilt-walk either, but I love to ride. I love to climb, and for me XC unicycling with an emphasis on endurance is probably where I’ll end up.

I think it is starting now.

A few of my friends, and my girlfriend, once I showed them about unicycling, they wanted to learn how to ride and start doing trials, right off the bat.

No, that’s completely not my point. I’m sorry if that’s what I conveyed. I only want to point out that unicyclists seem to think that unicycling is “one sport”. And I am wondering how long it will be until unicyclists think of unicycling as “many different sports”

When I was starting 5 years ago the only reason I wanted to learn was to was so I could do northshore riding on it (I had seen kris holm do it at a film festival) I never related unicycling to clowns until people asked if I wanted to be a clown. but I would tell them about MUni, they would say “oh, have you seen… uhh…oooh… ahh… Kris…um…Holm? he can do that stuff he’s amazing…” I think people know its becoming a sport, it just needs to be ground into their heads so it is their first reaction to think that.

Change 100 to 130 or so, when unicycling was almost exclusively relegated to the stage and circus. Very few thought of it as anything other than a performance. Then change to 35 years since we started formalizing the “more” in the United States (longer for some countries, like Germany, and shorter for most others). A National Unicycle Meet was held in your nearby Pontiac, MI in 1973. It wasn’t the first. On the 5 year thing, that’s mostly a question of what you’d consider a great many people. The vast majority of people are still only marginally aware of the various types of unicycling.

And lastly, Street got its start in 2000, with the release of Universe by Dan Heaton. I’m counting not from when Dan and Adam started riding the way they did, but from when they made it public and people loved the video. But maybe 2000 is still too early, because nobody called it street yet. Not sure when that started. But we held the first “big” Street competition in 2004 at MUni Weekend.

My experience was possibily similar to yours. I was inspired to ride by watching unicyclists in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade. Many years later when I learned, I was able to dig up the local club (Redford). On my first visit there, I was shown a copy of the (four) skill levels and my jaw dropped at the concept of riding with one foot!

But now it’s a little different. I run into people on the trails a lot who have seen MUni (Kris Holm on TV mostly), and talk of wanting to learn that. Others get inspired by Trials or Street videos. And I think there may now be a few people starting to unicycle mostly for road riding. But it’s true, other than MUni, this is all relatively new. People being inspired by MUni goes back 10 years or more, to the 1996 George Peck article in the Atlantic Monthly or perhaps earlier.

But they have to. Almost everybody starts out with a “basic” uni, and they have to learn to ride, turn, mount, etc. before they can get to their specialty. In doing this, they may decide they like other forms of unicycling as well. Or during the process, they may have learned that these other forms of riding exist that they hadn’t been aware of before.

Roughly minus ten years.

If by Freestyle you mean performing/entertaining, that goes way, way back, at least 110 years. If you mean to enter the competition event, that would probably be limited to people who have seen it, which probably means people with exposure to unicycle clubs like TCUC. Again that’s in the U.S. In Japan, Freestyle is probably a lot closer to being mainstream.

For roadies becoming Coker riders, not sure if anyone has specifically done that, but there was a guy, way back around when the Cokers came out, who learned to ride on one. And a Coker is definitely a road (or light trail) machine. Unlike a hard-tire big wheel, they aren’t very good at spins and tight turns.

An interesting question for you to answer for us would then be what your perception of “everything” in unicycling was when you started. I’m not even sure what mine was, but I’m sure it didn’t include racing, riding on dirt, riding long distances, and especially not jumping on cars!

Yup. I’d say most of us specialize at least a little. In other words, we have one or two areas of unicycling we do the most, and some areas we either don’t do at all or only dabble in. This is true for tons of “regular” riders, and event applies to some of the top riders out there. Sem Abrahams, for instance, does basketball and Freestyle (and super-tall giraffes). If he’s interested in any other types of riding these may be recent developments, though he also plays with lots of unusual unicycles as well.

Ken Looie mentioned how the top riders in each discipline at Unicon were all different. Though this wasn’t always the case, it’s becoming more and more so. In fact, Unicon XIII definitely had the most variety of people and countries winning world titles. Though it used to be possible to be a Freestyle, Standard Skill and track champion, this would many times harder in today’s world than even a few years ago.

But getting back to your original concept, since everyone has to learn a unicycle from scratch, they get a “blank slate” so to speak. They start at the same base as every other unicyclist, which gives them the opportunity to try any of the specialized areas. The same is true with bicycling, if you think about it. We all pretty much learned to ride on very basic, generic bicycles. It was probably many years before we branched out onto specialized bikes, and chose our favorite type of riding. On unicycles this tends to happen quicker, depending on how young you start.

Everyone knows you can ride a mountain bike on the prarie though, don’t they? But yes I’ve been confronted with the same concept when asking for off-road races at conventions in places like, uh, Michigan (Adrian, 2000). George Peck came along first with his 1991 video Rough Terrain Unicycling. If we need an official name for it, that’s probably the “dictionary” term that resides behind MUni. I like the “single” in SingleTrak’n" but otherwise find it pretty generic. I can go singletrak’n on a bike or a motorcycle. Also I was going to say I’m not crazy about words that are spelled wrong, but that pretty much applies to MUni as well… :slight_smile:

Good thread

Who knows?

The videos of riders that are now available are great and inspiring, but in a way, they can be an enemy for beginners and the public. There is a certain amount of stereotyping with trials like the circus and the clown used to be. People who will never have a hope of riding a unicycle expect me to jump off picnic tables or ride down stairs to impress them. I have asked " why do you think I would jump off a table for you?" “Because I saw a person on TV…etc”, My reply is “Yeah, I have seen lots of stuff on TV too”

I have heard beginners say “I will never be able to do that” after I have lent them a DVD and they have almost walk away from the sport, as they think that is what is expected to be a unicyclist.

I will never jump off a table, I am too old, to scared and too heavy and don’t have the skills. I also have to go to work and don’t have all day to practise.

HOWEVER, I can go for long rides on some pretty wild country on 20"s to 36"s. A video of me would bore the crap out of people, but I love what I am doing, I can hardly idle, can’t ride backward, still try though but basically it doesn’t concern me too much. I do some basic trials, have started to do more static stuff and it all helps with overall unicycling skills. But realistically, I just love going for a ride in the bush and on “Rough Terrain” (mountains and flat country).

So to the brilliant trials and Muni riders who specialise and make DVDs etc, keep making them, keep making me envious of your skills and I love to watch them, but maybe put a note in somewhere “If you can ride regardless of your skill, your pretty good” Welcome to the sport. This is why I like TWNR so much. I vaguely aspire to most of the skills in it, that’s why I built my 36UW.

Basically I am trying to say, lets accept and encourage all levels. I have found this to be the situation already, lets keep it up. That’s my two cents worth.


Thank you very much for a very long and very boring disertation on how every one of my points was wrong in some way, shape, or form. I greatly appreciate it.

As to everything that you said, please please learn to read, and then use your new found skill to look at EVERYTHING that I said, and perhaps you will understand that EVERYTHING that you tried to bitch about is NOT what I meant.

Re: How long until unicycling becomes specialized?

AscenXion <> writes:

> johnfoss wrote:
>> all that crap
> As to everything that you said, please please learn to read, and then
> use your new found skill to look at EVERYTHING that I said, and perhaps
> you will understand that EVERYTHING that you tried to bitch about is
> NOT what I meant.

John posted a thoughtful and tempered response to your provocative
article. Why provocative? Because you state incorrect assumptions as
if they were fact, stereotype riders, and assume everyone else had the
same experience you did when learning to ride.

In the hope of shaking some sense into you, but at the risk of raising
your ire, I’d like to point a definition of (internet) troll found on

One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being
self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on
a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his
or her peers.

Think about it before posting…