How to ride 800 meters, and beyond

Raise the seat, worked wonders for me when I was were you are now

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I raised my seat about a centimeter and just returned from a mini session. I would like to read your thoughts about the result.

Mounting the unicycle from the lamppost was slightly more difficult.

I noticed that I was forced to put more weight in the saddle. I went to two of my practice places. At the first practice place the distance I could ride was slightly greater, but not much. At the second practice place it was about the same as yesterday.

At both places I noticed that I have less control over my unicycle. There are some slight inclines and declines and some imperfections where I practice. I dismounted immediately at the first imperfection during my ride.

Raising the saddle will make mounting harder, but will generally make riding easier.

On a bicycle, the correct seat height for a road bike is considered to be at or near a full leg extension with the pedal in the downward position. This provides maximum efficiency. On a unicycle that doesn’t work quite as well as you can’t coast and may need to bend your knees somewhat to absorb bumps even at the bottom of a pedal stroke. I think the consensus here is that slightly lower than a full leg extension is good for road use and slightly lower than that is good for muni.

I generally keep my saddle about 1” or 2.5 cm lower than I would have it on a bicycle.

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what Duff said
what size uni are you riding

My unicycle is 24 inch. It was advised as the best choice for me and required to participate in the Dutch Unicycling Nationals .

Keep in mind that every time you change something it will usually take a couple of rides for you to get used to it and find it natural and if it’s a big change it may take a week or more. Saddle height shouldn’t be a big change however unless you’ve been riding with it set way too low.

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Just wondering, are you ok at riding bikes up hills?
Personally, after I started riding, doing a distance of 800m wasn’t ever an issue for me. Turning corners was a problem at the beginning though, and also my back muscles would get sore but that wouldn’t stop me from riding.

Up a hill with a normal bike is no problem with a suitable gear. With a unicycle it is impossible for me for the time being.

When I first started I found myself getting sore muscles after only a couple hundred meters, and I could ride a bike 20km at the time without it fazing me.

The more level and smooth the surface you ride on the more weight you can put on the saddle and the further you can ride with less effort. Can you find a really flat smooth place to ride? It could even be a larger area were you could ride in large circles.

I feel ya, I still can’t ride more than about 450m in one shot, and still can’t freemount- but that is my own fault… I focus what little practice time I have on trying to increase distance/efficiency almost exclusively, ignoring freemounting most of the time. ( I should though, long walks back to a handhold get old!)
But I will share that i made the most significant increases in my distance, when I tried not to focus on putting more weight in the saddle, but trying to focus on minimizing pressure placed on the pedals instead (which accomplishes the same thing). Also I found i often rode further on the second or third run, even though my legs were more tired, almost like the fatigue forces you to be more efficient, so you get less tired as a result.
I do need to spend more time practicing than I do, but lots of times it seems like progress is very slow, which is frustrating and discouraging. It also seems like being able to ride so little before getting exhausted limits how much you can practice at once/how fast you can get better.

Keep on keeping on, that’s what I do, but I have a long way to go. I have been at it a little over a year myself, and figured I would be a lot farther along than I am, as I am sure you feel.


The only thing I can imagine flatter and smoother than what I’m practicing on now would be a running track, but I don’t have that at my disposal.

  1. I have the most difficulty mounting from the lamppost. It takes me a lot of energy to get into balance, but once I succeed I have no problem. Until I feel my tired legs.
  2. Especially when mounting I swing wildly around me, less when riding, but it’s not consistent.
  3. I do not suffer from deviating to the left and right. I am right-handed and right-footed and I make turns to the left the easiest.
  4. My height is 186cm and my weight is estimated between 70 and 75 kg
  5. As far as I know I don’t have any specific weaknesses in my body
  6. I assume by the word “sports” you mean physical exercise. In my case that’s walking, cycling, running, Stand-up paddleboarding, surfing.
  7. I once tried another unicycle, also 24 inches, with a wide tire. That was not a success at the time. I also once tried a giraffe with a 20 inch wheel. I quickly fell off that. I have never tried to ride a 20 inch unicycle.

I’ll see if I can make a video of myself, but I actually need someone else’s help for that.

Hi UniJohn, surely you have asphalt cyclepaths that aren’t too heavily travelled near you. Those are pretty flat. And don’t you have anyone who can hold your hand/arm while you ride, so you can relax more on the seat?

Riding with support, such as along a wall or having someone walk next to me for support, doesn’t work well for me. If I have support then I use that too and it rides and therefore feels different than when I ride without support.
My third practice spot is an asphalted cycle path, for which I have to walk a bit further from home. I also made an estimate where I should end up if I can ride 800 meters in a row there.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Taking weight out of the saddle is not the bad habit. Spending three years using an assisted mount, that is the bad habit. I recently returned to the curb/fence where I first practiced assisted mounts. Pretending I was a beginner, I put weight in the seat while holding onto the fence, then let go and rode. It was almost impossible for me not to remove weight from the seat under those circumstances, and I already know how to ride. Practicing weight in the seat during an assisted mount is totally unnatural and has very little to do with actual riding. It is obviously not working for you.

I think @OneTrackMind pointed out that a bigger problem with lack of weight in the seat is the loss of stability between the rider and the unicycle. A suggestion: Instead of focusing on getting more weight in the seat, practice getting more stability. This can be done by practicing holding onto the grab handle with one hand, or by adding a bunch of foam between your butt and the saddle. My own sitting position on the unicycle has never been very stable, partly because I have relatively wide hips and skinny thighs. It pushed me to learn how to hold on with one, then both, hands.

Perhaps the 800 meter goal is holding you back. If you feel you are close to achieving it, you may be less motivated to change fundamental things about your approach. Maybe you should forget about distance for the time being, focusing rather on mounts, steering, changing speed, momentary stops, etc.

Keep practicing!

If the 800m goal is frustrating you at the moment, then maybe you need to concentrate on something else, like freemounting or hopping or anything else that will continue to make you a better unicyclist. I’d go with whatever I found interesting and challenging. Just keeping riding and eventually you will get it.

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One: Stop letting the unicycle win. What you are experiencing is normal early riding fatigue. You are still at the “just learning to go distance” phase, where we all overpowered the pedals. So this is where you may need to concentrate first. Concentrate not on distance, but on smoothing out the pedaling and relaxing. Don’t expect to be completely relaxed, only to reduce the tension. It will be a process.

Two: Without the benefit of photos or video, I am going to assume your seat is still lower than it should be. While sitting on the seat with your heel on the bottom pedal (don’t ride like that; this is just to figure leg extension), your knee should just have a slight bend in it. If you do have to raise the seat, it will feel weird, but that’s okay. Change is good; your current setup isn’t working. Having straighter legs gives you more power, which equals longer rides before getting tired.

Three: Turn. If you aren’t turning yet, you will have a long walk back to your mounting spot. If you have room to do so, practice making a gradual turn until you’re headed back to your starting point. Next try, turn the other way. If you don’t have room to turn, consider moving to a wider space. You will have to be able to turn to ride around a track.

Four: Repetition. Stay as relaxed as you can, and believe in your power to keep riding as long as you want. When you start getting sore from the seat instead of from your legs, you will have reached the next level! Buy some bike shorts. :slight_smile:

Five: Why are you avoiding the question about being a Computer Programmer? Now we’re all curious…

Greetings from John, the Uni-Cyclone. Say Hi to Klaas from me when you get to the Dutch Nationals and have fun! Participation is more important than how well you do. Of course, if you’re able to complete the 800m you will be a winner at any speed!


Being a computer programmer myself, I am curious about why this was brought up… Is that what’s holding me back??? :slight_smile:

I think you are right, but what other option do I have to try? I know, learning to freemount. I’ve had a lot of practice sessions where I’ve tried to mount without support, but to no avail. I also tried to mount from the curb. In the beginning I succeeded about 1 in 10 times, but after a while it only got worse and at a certain point I couldn’t do it anymore. If I go by the tips I come across when I start looking for learning to unicycle, then the general recommendation is to first learn to ride, start from the support, and only then learn to freemount. In addition, after a practice session in which I only try to freemount, the riding gets even worse.

At the moment I still need to maintain balance with my arms, especially during mounts, but I already tried to grab the handle with my hands, but it is only possible for a moment.

I know, but how much practice do I need? I’m in the “just learning to go to distance” phase for years now.

At the moment practicing is a bit difficult for me, because of strong winds and a lot of rain. In a few days I will make a video of myself, practising with a raised seat. I will post it here.

My practice spot is part of a walking route along the water. This route is not straight, but has a number of bends to the left and right. In addition, many lampposts that I can use as a support. Last November, when the riding was a lot better than now, I rode a large part of this route, with frequent dismounts. Right now I’m riding so bad that I’m not doing that now, but I know a place where I can practice making turns again.

That’s a major problem. I push myself away from the lamppost and then it usually costs me a lot of energy to balance and ride relaxed. By the time I’m there I can already feel my tired legs. Depending on all the wasted energy I can still ride a limited number of meters, but it soon stops. If I don’t push myself away I won’t be able to ride because I don’t have any forward momentum.

As far as I’m concerned, that question is off-topic and asked in a sarcastic context. I’ll make a guess why this question. Possibly @Canoeheadted thinks I’m overanalyzing things. However, I am aware of that. To learn how to freemount, I analyzed a lot of videos on YouTube and other channels in great detail, in slow-motion and even frame by frame. One of the methods is the static mount that I have come across on many videos. What struck me is that, in my opinion, some demonstrations are not at all as static as what is claimed. In many cases I still see the wheel rolling backwards when mounting, but the rider manages to get the front foot on the pedal in time. In another case, I see very clearly that the wheel is already rolling forward before the front foot is placed. All the videos have not given me the golden tip to freemount on my own.
Oh yes, I am indeed a computer programmer.

You are correct about the Computer Programming thing. Everybody who posts here tends to overanalyze things. :stuck_out_tongue:
Also you are right about the so-called Static Mount, which is a misnomer in many cases. However I do not agree with elpuebloUNido; I think freemount practice would still be a bad use of time until you can ride farther, and more relaxed. That should be the focus based on your descriptions. But if you’re stuck in a rut, it’s time to change things up. Maybe give another location a chance. Even if the pavement is not as smooth, or the size is limited. If there’s room to make big circles you don’t need lots of distance.

Sounds like you are still coming up against the limitation of your leg energy, which suggests your fitness level may need some help (do other activities), or that your seat is still pretty low. Or both. One form of training for your legs is to walk around with your knees bent, so your head is at least 20cm lower than normal. This will simulate what your legs are doing when you ride, but be boring and still make them tired. However it’s something you can practice throughout the day. Go lower if ~20cm is too easy.

Or try an alternate activity to get your mind out of the unicycle rut. A skateboard perhaps? You have to keep moving all the time, and it works your core. Might not be a bad alternate activity to help you form some new neural pathways.

Lastly, get together with other unicyclist if you can. They will be able to see your technique in great detail and be able to offer help and support. Even watching other people ride, in person, can be a great motivator. :slight_smile: