I can't figureout how to rock...

I’ve had my unicycle for about a year now. I can ride in a straight line and turn decently, but I can not figure out how to rock back and fourth :thinking: , do you guys and girls have any advice for me? It would be greatly appreciated, thank you!!

You could try it while holding onto a wall or doorway or something. Idle back and forth until you feel comfortable- one foot down will probably feel easier at first than the other foot down. When you’re ready let go of the wall and idle (rock back and forth) and eventually you should get it. Some wheelsizes and crank lengths make it harder to idle- generally a bigger wheels and shorter cranks increase the difficulty due to inertia. Idling is useful for when you come to red lights, pedestrian crossings, or other times when you need to stop briefly but don’t want to get off. Alternatively you could hop on the spot- one hand on the seat and pedals/cranks horizontal. These days I mostly just use small hops on the spot at the lights on my 29er because it seems easier than idling. Good luck Alien Stick!

thanks, i’ll try that…i guess i just gotta work at it…heh, i did learn how to ride it with no help from anyone at all, i’ll get it, thanks Rowan…any others advice would be helpful as well, thanks

The wall idea is good. You might also try a progression approach. Ride slowly forward and come to a stop with pedals in roughly 3/9 position, do one half pedal stroke backwards, then ride away forward. When comfortable, add one more cycle of rocking before riding away, etc. I think this method is also better suited for learning to ride backward. First you try to get one full backward revolution before riding forward, then two, etc. Work on the balance, i.e. pedal two full revolutions forward, then two back, then two forward. Over time, increase your numbers. Pretty soon, you’ll have the stopping and riding forward part of it nailed (versus going until you fall), then you can shift focus to just increasing your backward distance.

One point of view. Disclaimer: I’m not great yet at riding backwards, but this method is helping me increase my distance and control.

Have a look at the tips and video tutorial on ‘idling’ at www.unicycle.2ya.com .

Good luck!


my standard advice for learning to ‘rock’ (or ‘idle’ as u’ll find it called by a lot of people on this forum) is to slow down
i’ve seen a lot of people battle with it because they’re moving too fast
it is actually a pretty gentle and well-controlled movement
having your weight on the seat is also crucial

hit the blue ‘Search’ button (top right hand corner of the page) and search for ‘idle’, ‘idling’ and ‘learning to idle’
u’ll find a plethora of threads with some pretty kewl bits of advice

keep us posted of your progress

VERTICAL CRANKS!!! sorry, i always say it, cuz that was the only thing holding me back

Tom’s suggestion is the way I was able to work into idling. This allows one to “get a feel” for the stop-start-stop-start motion involved in idling… developing your balance for this motion can’t be done as easily whilst pressed up against a wall, IMHO. As an added bonus, you are simultaneously working on your transition into and out of backwards riding!

Also, try making your transition between forwards and backwards pedaling as smooth / slow as possible. My first mistakes in idling came from leaning forward / backwards too much when changing direction – I’d just fall off! Sit up nice and tall, don’t think about leaning, just let your legs do the work of pushing you forwards and back.

When i say vertical cranks, I mean that one pedal should be in the 12:00 position, and the other should be in the 6:00 position. DON’T EVEN TRY W/ YOUR PEDALS HORIZONTAL, IT WON’T WORK.

if you learn to go backwards it helps allooottttt, well for me it did io leanred to go backwards for like 15 rotation that night i became a level for beuase i learned to idle


My instruction to the kids includes the following:

  1. My wheel idles underneath me.
  2. I can feel the idle translation through my legs and feel it terminating at the waist.
  3. My upper torso and head remain motionless.

To teach the skill, I have the kids hold onto a wall or some other solid object, find the idling rhythm while trying to keep the swing arc small, then try to let go of the wall for brief periods of time and grow into the skill until they can finally let go altogether.

Re: I can’t figureout how to rock…

On Wed, 8 Dec 2004 18:14:28 -0600, “gasmaster” wrote:


Shouting is not nice especially if it isn’t true. Horizontal idling is
certainly possible, it’s just more difficult than regular idling.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“Deflating pi does not reduce calories, it just concentrates them. - billham”

Re: I can’t figureout how to rock…

This is copied from “Learning to Unicycle” by Andrew Carter and
myself. You can grab your free copy from <www.unicycle.2ya.com> or
near the bottom of <http://www.xs4all.nl/~klaasbil/uni_beginners.htm>.
The two versions may differ slightly.

Idling - Idling is riding half revolutions forward and backwards
repeatedly, effectively staying on the spot. Learning to idle may take
quite a while and can be very frustrating, however it is an extremely
important skill. Firstly, you will often find yourself in a situation
where you’re riding and need to stop for some reason but want to stay
on the unicycle. This is where idling is very useful. Secondly and
possibly even more importantly, the coordination you develop in
learning to idle is needed for many more advanced skills and will give
you a much greater control of the unicycle.
· In the “Learning the basics” chapter we have described
“Rocking on the spot” while holding onto a support. In it, the cranks
oscillate around the horizontal position. If this is done without
support it is called “Horizontal Idling”. This is more difficult than
normal idling, which involves oscillating the cranks around the
vertical position.
· To start learning (normal) idling, sit on the unicycle beside
a support with the cranks horizontal. Hold on to your support with one
or both hands. Lean slightly forward while keeping the wheel
stationary for a little while. Then pedal forward for half a rotation,
at the end of which you should be leaning slightly backward.
Immediately after the forward half rotation, pedal a half rotation
backwards, at the end of which you should be slightly leaning forward
again, so you can rightaway start the next idling cycle.
· Focus on using a pendulum motion as opposed to moving your
whole body back and forth. That is, your body should ideally stay
more or less in the same place, while the wheel “swings” forward and
backward under you. Remember to keep your upper body straight and
upright and to keep your weight on the seat. Your leading (or
“strong”) foot should be on the bottom and move back and forth past
the 6 o’clock position.
· Try to maintain forwards/backwards balance by adjusting the
timing and power of your pedal strokes, as opposed to pushing the
support. It is OK to use the support for sideways balance for now, but
try to push and pull as lightly as possible.
· If you idle too slowly it will be more difficult to maintain
balance. On a 20" wheel the idling frequency should be about 1 per
second, on a 24" wheel it is usually somewhat less.
· Now it’s time to leave your support. Ride forwards in the
open, not too fast. Slow down while leaning back, throw in one half
revolution backwards, during which you should regain your forward
lean. Then continue riding forward. Repeat.
· If you are somewhat solid at throwing in single idles, try
inserting two idling cycles at once, then three, etc.
· The greatest difficulty is usually found in controlling the
side to side balance. Focus on keeping the unicycle under you rather
than you staying on top of the uni. If you find yourself leaning too
far to the right, you must move the wheel to the right to keep it
underneath you. To do this, twist your lower body to the right as the
wheel rolls forward and to the left as the wheel rolls backwards.
That way, you turn the whole unicycle by the seat.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“Deflating pi does not reduce calories, it just concentrates them. - billham”

anybody mentioned doing it in a doorway yet?
it’s kinda handy to progress from a wall to a doorway where it’s easier to support yourself (very slightly) on both sides and let go for those brief periods as u learn


nope, sorry, u just mentioned holding onto a doorway
u didn’t suggest doing it INSIDE a doorway…


re: idling

Hi, Alien Stick! You got alot more good advice than you deserve for such a small question:D

My 2 cents. Get a set of longer cranks for learning. That little trick sped up the learning curve drastically for everyone in my family!:wink: One son had been trying for weeks. I changed his cranks and that same day he idled more than 1000 times without falling.

Good luck!

yeah, i got a ton, thanks everyone…i think i might invest in the longer cranks, and i did try holding on to something, and i was up for like 3 rotaions…but i was going WAY too fast…i’m still working on it…thanks again