How to free mount unicycle without cranking pedals.

Hi all! I’m a beginner unicyclist, and I can rdie up and down the street fairly easily. However, I can only mount my unicycle with a mail box and quite a few attempts and time. I’m trying to learn to free mount using the “stepping up a stair” method, but it won’t work for me! When I’ve tried free mounting in the past, it always ends up with my pedals straight up and down, so I am unable to actually pedal forward when I get into position. I know this means that I’m probably putting too much pressure on my dominant pedal, but nothing I do helps keep the pedal in place. Plus, how are you supposed to get your foot into the air if your other foot isn’t supported by something?!

I’ve tried a variety of exercises, like jumping on to the pedal and riding, leaning forward while getting on, and many others, but I am never able to avoid cranking my pedals to a 12 and 6 o clock position! I don’t want to try using a curb to restrict the wheel, because that really doesn’t teach me how to free mount. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Graves Broderick

Hi, welcome to the forum.

A backstop mount is a good half way stage to learning to do a full freemount. That means bracing the back of the wheel against the kerb, and later bracing it against something lower, and then something even lower, or mounting on a slight downhill, until one day you can do it without bracing it against anything.

However, the technique I use is to brace the pedal against my own forward momentum. I do a static mount, but with a little forward push.

This is what I do:

Put the cranks at somewhere around 45 degrees, with the lower of the two nearest to me. I put the left crank low and the right crank high.

Standing with all my weight on my right foot on the ground, I place my left foot on the pedal.

I put my crotch on the seat. It’s not quite in the proper riding position because the unicycle is leaning towards me and the seat is pointing up at 45 degrees.

I hold the front of the seat (handle) with my right hand.

Now as I’m about to hop up, I push forward with my right foot. The effect of this is that the unicycle moves forward about an inch and the left pedal rises very slightly. I can now put a small amount of downward pressure on this pedal and it stops dead and makes a temporary “step”. It gives me just enough support to be able to step up onto the seat.

This works or me on any size of unicycle from 20" right up to 36".

There are other things you can do to help:

Practise riding slowly.

Ride at normal speed then slow right down to a stop, without dismounting, then start riding again.

Practise riding, slowing to a stop and doing one little hop before riding away.

All of these things will help you to develop the skills that you need to ride away from a freemount.

I’m guessing that you’re learning on a 20 because most people do.

The hub of a 20 is only 10 inches above the ground. The cranks are likely to be around 125mm which is 5 inches. Therefore, when the pedal is at its very lowest point, it is only 10 minus 5 = 5 inches off the ground.

When you’re using the technique I have described, the pedal will be a little bit higher: maybe 6 or 7 inches off the ground. Think of something that’s about 6 or 7 inches long: would it be difficult to jump that far?

One day soon, you will wonder why it was ever a problem.

Good luck.

Watch all the free mount videos on Youtube (there are a bunch of them) and keep practicing. You will get there if you are persistent.

Hi Mike and Jim,
Thank you for your responses! Funilly enough, I figured it out a couple of hours after I posted this. I had been watching a bunch of videos on it up to that point, but everything said to say the same thing. I didn’t understand what force was to keep you pedals parallel. Finally I found a video that used the same method Mike described: using forward momentum to keep the pedals straight!

Anyway, so I started practicing by placing my foot on the right pedal, and jumping forward/up briefly with my left foot, before landing in the same position. My goal was to keep the wheel in the same position while moving up. After I got used to it, I went in for the kill and started jumping on to the pedal! After a few tries I got it! It was exhilarating! The whole process took about 15 minutes to accomplish!

Thank you all for your help, I hope other beginners can learn from this too!

Graves Broderick

Brilliant! Well done.

Good for you zacocast, excellent! My free mounting progress has been pretty poor. I get one or two successful mounts out of about twenty tries. We had 16” of snow on October 1st so not much practice in the last two weeks until the past few days. The snow will come again at the beginning of November and stay until late April. This technique from Mikefule looks like it could be the ticket to free mounting. I’ll give it a try tomorrow and see if the light finally comes on. Thanks for the lesson.

I totally understand what it’s like to have such slow progress, the same thing happened to me whole learning to free mount. Just take it one step at a time and I’m sure you’ll do great! Good luck, lowerstackmac!

Obviously a bit late to the party as the OP figured this out but I’d like to share my experience as I’m also quite new to free mounting (2-months or so) and newbies can help newbies. This video by Terry Peterson is the video that got me going in the right direction:

The goal is to jump forward and land on both feet at the same time with one foot forward and the other one back. I didn’t have bricks like Terry’s so I practised on a high kerb before moving onto the real deal. Getting past the the mental block is the most important thing; forward momentum is the next most important thing. Later you will find that different pedal positions require different amounts of forward momentum and you will learn, by trial and error, variations of the free mount:

For example, on my 20 inch uni I usually start with my left pedal at the 6 o’clock position and literally “walk” onto the unicycle with enough forward momentum to get me past the point of balance but not to throw me forward. This soon becomes second nature.

On my 27.5 inch uni, the “walking onto” method doesn’t fare so well because its too tall so I have no choice but to hop onto it. However, I find that the bigger and heavier wheel and the smaller crank length to wheel diameter ratio make the whole wheel assembly harder to start turning, which means you can get away from applying downward force on the first pedal and the pedal will not move much, thus the unicycle won’t just fly out away from you like it would on a 20er.

I probably don’t have enough authority to give advice as I started riding last June, but my experience and a couple of butt landings tell me to never start with the first pedal higher than the second pedal. If you do there’s a good chance you’ll tumble backwards. By having the second pedal higher, you are essentially shortening the gap between your second foot and the pedal, which means you don’t need to put so much energy into the jump, and it takes less time for your second foot to come into contact with the pedal.

On 20 inch unis you can also mount from the side quite easily with the first pedal in the 6 o’clock position and the saddle positioned under your groin. I use this one in tight spots where there is not enough room for a run-up. It’s also useful for dismounting side-ways which can be handy some times.
Another thing that I find helpful is learning to hop, like a po-go stick. You can very effectively hop to prevent a fall while mounting and riding at very low speed. I learnt to hop before I could ride, so it’s not too hard. It also looks cool, the wife says.

One more thing, you will soon grow fond of certain foot-hand combination, for example, I’m left foot first left hand on handle. It’s a good idea to train yourself to learn all the possible combinations equally well:

● left-foot-left-hand
● left-foot-right-hand
● right-foot-left-hand
● right-foot-right-hand.

Have fun!

Short answer to the original question:
Pull the top pedal back until pedals are level, then ride away.

Even shorter answer:
Free Jump Mount

I recommend method #1.

well balanced diet


So true.