how to relax when cycling (newby)?

hi unicyclists,

I’m a newby and started unicycling 1 week ago with a 20" QU-AX Profi unicycle.
Afterabout 5 trainings I manage to cycle up to about 100 meters.
Now I have some questions to those of you who are quite used allready:

1.) How can I relax when cycling? … Do I have to put nearly all my weight on the saddle?.. My distancelimit is more defined by the stressy uncomfortable sitting than the ability to manage the cycling stability…

2.) Funny enough for me the right turns work relatively well, but I have a hard time to turn left… How can I solve this problem when cycling?

I’m looking forward to your feedbacks guys :slight_smile:
cheers from Switzerland


I am still learning, but I will try to help because I have also had these problems.

1a) breathe out just before you mount, it relaxes the stomach muscles.
I found I was taking a short breath and holding it in. During the early days, my distance was determined by how long I could stop breathing.

1b) I think the answer is yes, full weight on the saddle is correct, although I still need to use back pressure to stabilise the Uni.
Do not try to learn by weighing the saddle down, the uni will shoot out from underneath you.
Instead, concentrate on pedalling in circular movements, so there is less pushing down on the pedals, and more forward, backward movement of your feet.
That is how I (accidently) learned how to place my weight into the saddle and steer with the seat.
Before that I was stamping down on the pedals to turn.

  1. If your dominant foot (your starting foot) is your left, you will be placing it close to the crank.
    Your second foot onto the pedals will be your right foot, and it can land anywhere on the pedals - but will normally land 20-30cm away from the cranks.
    This means that your right foot will have more leverage than your left to turn corners.
    To correct the symmetry, deliberately place your left foot away from the crank before you start the mount.
    This will balance your feet on the pedals.

  2. don’t give up.
    It sounds like you are making excellent progress in one week.

hi Reeny,

thank’s a lot for your feedback!
well… very interesting points…

I was the whole evening reading about the fatique problem of newbe unicylists…
and there were several guys saying that the bodyweight really should be nicely bedded in the saddle… obviously a bit less on munis because of the uneven ground / stability issue.

Your aspect of assymmetric leverage on the pedals because of different positions of the feet on the pedals causing the problems when turning … this is really interesting and I will focus very much on that point the next time.

I’m looking foreward to more inputs from the experiences of unicyclists when they learned to cycle :slight_smile:


I am interested in advice for placing more weight in the saddle.
Hopefully there will be more input from the experienced riders.

Ride more. I had both of these problems in the beginning. They went away with more practice.
Beginners tend to waste a lot of energy keeping balance – standing up, waving arms around, speeding up and slowing down constantly. I think the first step in learning to ride efficiently is to feel heavy in the saddle and lighter on the pedals. You’ll be able to go farther without exhausting your legs.

I just went on a Muni ride today, and found out it was 89 degrees F when I got back to the car. I feel “quite used already”!

How to relax? Learn not to tense up so much. This is really hard to do in the beginning, but comes along naturally as you get more comfortable riding. Weight on the saddle is an easy-to-monitor aspect; keep reminding yourself to sit down. This applies to riding on smooth, flat ground, which is where you want to be until you learn to relax more and increase your range. Start riding dirt a little later.

How to turn left? Watch the movie Zoolander. not the sequel. I guess that doesn’t help much for unicycling. Practice turning left more than turning right. Everybody tends to have a dominant side. The way to even things up is to work the “weak” side more. This will also smooth out as you get more comfortable riding.

More weight on saddle means less pushing down on your feet. less pressure means less energy expended, which leaves more left over for riding farther. As you ride along, keep reminding yourself to sit down. Give it time.

I see one footed riding on YouTube and wonder how that is even possible.

When I swapped seat posts around this week, I ended up with the saddle a little higher than the setting used for practising roll-back free mounts.
It helped with the posture, which helped with the free mounts.

Onwards and upwards.

Try figure 8s

Practice riding figure 8s. Forcing yourself to try tighter turns and switching hands. When turning left your arm flailing, body posture, and movements should be a reflection of right turn flailing, posture, and movements.

Have fun,

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If you were relaxing, maybe you wouldn’t have made such amazing progress in just a week!

I suggest getting padded some bike shorts. If you’re like me and embarrassed to be seen in public wearing bike shorts, put some regular shorts on top of them.

Most beginners are, I think, interested in distance, so they ride past the point of comfort, losing control as they tire out. Just a take-it-or-leave-it suggestion, but maybe you’re ready to start focusing more on free mounting, riding short distances, then attempting a controlled dismount. Practicing mounting helped me focus on a bunch of details of riding, like foot position, seat height, dominant and non-dominant feet and the relationship between weight in the seat and weight on the pedals. A good static mount balances the weight between the first pedal and the seat, and can be executed slowly; you may have to raise the seat to achieve that balance.

The hardest thing in general about unicycling, for me, is practicing strenuous stuff, then having to perform something requiring finesse. I find it easier to do things like ride one-footed and ride the length of a curb … at the beginning of my ride. Later, when I’m tired, my finesse suffers. A lot of riders have reported trouble mounting near the end of strenuous rides.

I suggest practicing free mounting at the beginning of a workout. If it takes you 50 tries to ride out of a mount, it’ll still be worth it. Getting to ride will be your reward for successfully mounting.

Want more weight in the saddle ?
I know I’m not much good at unicycling so I’m not really qualified to give advice.
But what does work for me, is telling myself that my bum is as heavy as a bag of mashed spuds and to sink into my saddle.
Once I’ve done that I can immediately feel my thighs relax.:slight_smile:

Still no good at right turns :frowning:

wow… thank you very much all of you guys!
So many good advices indeed.
I’ve gon through all of them and tried to apply them to my unicyclingtraining in the evening…
And I can just tell you… it helpoed sooo much!
Thank’s a lot

Well I think that I today for the first time could feel moments of relaxation when cycling… Yeah the thing with the weight in the saddle is key!
I also found that it was a big change when forcing the paddles more for and aft than downwards… that brings a lot of stability too.
Today I also got to the point where I could free idle without jumping… also here the crucial change was the weigthplacement in the saddle.

I tried to focus on frremounts instead of holding myself at a post… freemounts work pretty well… meaning about every second trial is successful. I realized that it can be done quite slowly when balancing the weight distribution between saddle and pedal smoothly… this brings relaxation as well.

But guys to be honest… I was still totally exhausted after 1 hour of intense training :-)))

The problems with the curves are still the same… it alway bulls towards right… as if the earthrotation would cause that effect… just kidding.
however I hope this will change in the next trainings.

Now there is one big question which suddenly came up while sitting on the floor and observing my so loved new unicycle…
I realized that the 4 screws that hold the saddle in place go through longholes which means that the saddle can be moved fore or aft.
I have the feeling that it could be a good idea for me to change the saddleposition somwhat forward as indicated on the attached picture.
What do you think about this idea? :slight_smile:

Your supposition is correct, most riders feel more comfortable with the front of the saddle elevated somewhat. How much is very subjective, everyone is different. There isn’t a lot of adjustablilty in your setup, but play around and see which feels best for you. If you need more adjustability, replacement seatposts with more adjustability are available. (check

You are making great progress! Keep it up!

I remember very well my first “long distance” ride – 5 miles. I commited myself to it by driving my car to a service appointment with the uni in the trunk, then riding back home. It was either ride or walk. I thought I could do it, but after about 100 yards I was very tense and nearly exhausted. I thought to myself, “If you can’t be more relaxed, you will never make this.” (Something about being out in traffic tends to increase the stress level.) With concentration, I managed to relax, and made it home. It got easier after that. The point is, I think every rider has essentially the same experience in the beginning with learning to relax in the saddle and take the weight off the legs.

I still easier for me to turn left than right! :stuck_out_tongue: As the others have said, it’s something about the dominant side, just keep working at it.


Do the figure 8’s like Bungee Joe said – he is A MONSTER unicyclist!

There is no harm in trying. However, the current saddle angle looks totally fine. Beginners, with both hands out for balance, benefit, I think, from the saddle scooping/bending in the middle. Later on, when we learn to grab the seat handle, and when we are better at readjusting ourselves on the saddle, it is a good time to point the nose up. I went through both those stages. Now, I’m back to a neutral position on the saddle of my 20". I can sit on the raised back edge of the saddle, place both hands on the front of the seat and ride comfortably in this position for fair distances, even though the saddle is a very hard, Nimbus street saddle. Or, in that configuration, I can practice freestyle stuff where I need both hands for balance, sitting in the scooped part of the saddle, knowing that I won’t slip off the back of the seat.

Warning: when you change something in your setup, avoid coming to judgment too quickly regarding the change. Changing the angle of your seat may feel awkward, but you need to ride a bit with it in the new position. Then, try switching it back to the way it was, before. What’s easier? What’s harder? What’s more comfortable? What’s less comfortable?

Keep in mind that you may need to raise the seat post a bit, because you are tilting the back of the seat down.

Good luck!

CORRECTION: 98 degrees F (36.6 C). 89 ain’t nothin’ in Sacramento…

It isn’t.

But it will be. Learning to idle, then idle with one foot is the path there. And learning backwards.

I remember the first time I saw someone ride one foot. It was my first time at a unicycle club, March 1980 with the Redford Unicyclists. They showed me a copy of the (4) Skill Levels. I saw one foot riding in Level 3. Preposterous! So they called over a 10-year old kid and asked him to demo it for me. My jaw hit the floor.

That’s good advice. Also, when turning twist your upper body toward the direction you want to go. To turn left, put your right shoulder in front. I learned this from my Artistic Bicycle training.

If that were the case, I think riding south would help. The ground should keep pushing you to the left…

Nope, it’s a fairly subtle change, not affecting seat height. Mostly it puts the wider part of the seat under your butt, which can be more comfortable (depending on your type of activity). That post design goes all the way back to the Schwinns (1967), offering that little amount of adjustment. In my early days of riding we always shifted the saddles as far forward as possible, especially on the Giraffes. Don’t expect a big difference, but it might be more comfortable.

No point obsessing about weight on the saddle. It will come in time as your balance reflexes develop and the uni stabilises more. Observe your weight distribution as part of your development but remember it is just one part of a many faceted learning experience.

Meanwhile, as you have no doubt noticed, you are getting a serious workout, preparing you for when you start climbing hills and riding bigger wheels. Or you want to learn Seat-in-Front.

Clearly no weight in the saddle for SIF and there isn’t a lot either pushing a big wheel up a steep gradient. Any weight that there is under these conditions comes from pulling up on the nose/bars because the rider is putting their whole weight and more on one pedal then repeatedly transferring the force to the other pedal. It requires a lot of rhythm, balance, strength and fitness to sustain for long. Just like you are doing now.

Soon enough you will find yourself in the wonderful phase where your riding progresses phenomenally because both your fitness and skills are improving so rapidly. Sometimes I miss those early days where everything was a physical challenge. Maybe it was the Endorphin I enjoyed so much.

ride w/ your legs

My $0.02:

Try riding around w/ your hands on the front seat handle. This will feel very awkward at first but you’ll quickly realize that you can steer the uni with your legs and hips. This will help tremendously in relaxing your upper body which is mostly along for the ride. It did for me, at least. You want eventually to get most of your control from your lower body. The arm waving routine is just inefficient and mostly ineffective for controlling the uni. Arm waving can correct for momentary imbalances but shouldn’t be relied on for directional control. Like skiing, most of the action should be below the waist with a quiet upper body (as much as possible).

Yes. Initially leaning is all about tilting the uni and counter leaning with the body to keep the point of contact below you. If you lean your body in it can be very difficult to come out of a turn especially is you don’t maintain speed in the turn, which is difficult for a beginner.

Later you learn to lean your body into the turn too and even to use a controlled “high side” to get back up.

You are correct, in terms of not affecting seat height in the middle of the seat. I ride with the seat already pretty high, and I tend to sit on the back of the seat. For me, tilting the nose up or down is more than a subtle change. For the OP, however, I suppose the change would be small.

hi folks… thank you all for your daily advices :slight_smile:
so cool to get such an interesting discussion with the pros in my early stage of unicycling.

Well, I did change the saddle position today… I moved it all the way forward… ideed not an enormous differens as it only was a change of about 10mm. I had a good feeling… but let me train more to find out what works best for me.

Today I changed my training location for the first time from the basketballplace to the street (a small street without traffic). There was a bit of a gradient in the road and I realized that it is calmer and more stable to unicycle uppwards… and there where some edges up to the pedestrianlan etc. which was a bit of a challenge.
today only freemounts… it’s cool because one is so much more independent when there is no need to find a post.

Oh yeah guys… for me it still is a real workout everytime :):):slight_smile:
But I enjoy every step of improvment.

So thank’s for today!
I hope this inspiring discussion will go on.
I really like the very positive spirit in your posts guys… so nice and motivating

cheers from Switzerland