I can't sit down.

newbie here, I’m to the point where I can ride as long as my legs allow, which is only around 20 seconds lol … i’m having a VERY difficult time putting my weight down onto the seat and taking the load off of my legs. the second I put my weight on the seat, it’s game over and I lose all balance. the result is that my legs are done after about 25 minutes of practice and I give up.

I’m on a 20" torker CX with the seat all the way up and I’m 5’8".

I need some kind of advice on how to progress. it’s discouraging how i immediately fall off (50/50 I fall forward or sideways) as soon as I try to sit correctly.

I sùppose you can try a while longer along a wall, focusing on sitting with maybe just a finger against the wall

The problem is probably tension. If you’re fit enough to ride for 20 seconds, you’re fit enough to ride for a minute or two without putting your weight fully on the saddle. The answer may be as simple as riding and riding and riding, until one day soon you suddenly realise it’s not a problem any more.

Take breaks in your practice. Try different things: a different starting point, setting off at a different angle, aiming for a definite destination, counting pedal strokes.

Keep your head up, keep your gaze on something some distance away, and don’t stick your arse (US = “ass”) out. The higher your centre of mass (US = “center” of mass) the easier it is to balance.

It will come. We’ve all been there.

Ah great idea… I feel stupid - I forgot about using a wall now that I no longer needed it (or thought that I didn’t need it!) funny thing is that I still have to start on a wall or pillar but then I immediately ride away out in the open. Thanks for the quick advice!

At what stage should i attempt to learn to free-mount? i tried a few times and fell down completely. It sure would be great to learn but I’m not sure if I should even bother to try at this early stage.

For learning, it helps a lot to have your legs most of the way straight when the pedal is at the bottom. If your seat doesn’t go high enough for this, you may need a longer seatpost. The more bend you have, the harder your quads and knees have to work, even if you’re sitting down and relaxed.

So keep relaxing, reminding yourself to sit down, and if necessary, practice stillstanding, which is trying to balance without going anywhere. Doing it for any decent amount of time is harder than riding, but it may help you find your balance until you can get more comfortable.

And a pair of padded bike shorts will probably improve things as well, if you want.

well it helps to hear that everyone goes through the same struggle. i just hope it doesn’t discourage me enough to give up. sounds to me like the best thing to do is just continue, it’s just frustrating because it feels like i’ve made no progress in the last few days but i probably have, just not enough to realize. i try to settle into the saddle for a second or two each ride, my legs just can’t take it for long.
It interesting that part of learning the uni is this physical conditioning! my legs and feet are burning as I’m sitting at my desk. :slight_smile: but it’s exactly what I need. just turned 41 and not nearly active enough so this is whipping me.

Thanks for the advice. I figured at my height and the seat all the way up it should be pretty good. my knee is slightly bent. I think the seat height is pretty decent, it is still a couple inches below the bellybutton though.
I’ve finding it very hard to relax. It’s funny how I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards!


Just keep forcing yourself to sit.

You are just putting in the time the rest of us have.

You also might want to take a day off and recover a bit. I find I ride better when learning a new uni skill if I take the occasional day off to let my body and mind process it.

Stick with it. It is absolutely worth it.

I know what you mean, sometimes it does seem to help to take a day off. I’ll be taking 3 days off from it this weekend so we’ll see how things go on Tuesday. I do plan to give it one more run here right about now, my legs are still not recovered from the practice a few hours ago but I’m determined to ride this thing!

I know people who learned in the 40s and in their 50s. I learned in my 20s, but only really got into it in my late 30s early 40s.

It’s not (just) the physical conditioning. It’s the wasted energy of muscles fighting each other. Unicycling on the flat on a small to medium unicycle at a medium speed is almost effortless once you can do it. Only changes of speed, manoeuvres, and hills make it hard work.

However, when you’re learning, every muscle in your body is fighting all the others. You’re doing much more than twice as much work as you need to. We all have at some stage.

Three things about learning a balance skill:

  1. Don’t learn to fail. If you fall off on the 5th pedal stroke 10 times in a row, you’ve learned to be very good at falling off on the 5th pedal stroke. That’s why you need to take breaks and try different things so that you don’t inadvertently put failure into your muscle memory.

  2. Eye level. Look at something in the middle distance, keeping your eye line level or very nearly so. Don’t look at the floor.

  3. Distraction. Your brain is much better at doing things when your mind isn’t getting in the way. All the time you’re riding, your various senses are taking in information, your brain is processing it, and signals are being sent to your muscles. Add a conscious mind that’s trying to analyse all that, and you’re in exactly the same situation as you are at work when your boss decides to be hands on: everything takes longer and comes out worse. Distract your brain by singing a song, whistling a tune, or reciting a limerick.

True story: in the last 6 – 12 months, I’ve spent a lot of time learning the ultimate wheel. I made the break through into riding continuous figure 8s when I picked up a harmonica and tried to play a 3 minute dance tune all the way through as I was riding. Riding ultimate wheel while playing harmonica takes a lot of processing power. By concentrating on the music, I left my legs and balance to sort themselves out, and they did.

Ah, i just saw one of those ‘ultimate wheels’ somewhere for sale, i hadn’t seen one before. must be interesting! i need to check out some videos of it for inspiration. I understand what you mean on #1, i think i have done that. your brain wants to repeat what its done for some reason!
#2 never had an issue with, always look up and out.
Kind of funny how our brains work, just by repetition we slowly learn and don’t really realize it’s happening.
I know what you mean about distraction, it seems if i try too hard, failure happens fast. I kind of just try to clear my mind and go for it and it’s usually more smoothly.
I just went and practiced for about 15 minutes and that’s all my legs could take. i’m hoping I can get over this hump and start to relax on it so that I can actually put in more time soon! I really had no idea that learning to ride a uni was so physically demanding… It doesn’t help to be out of shape!

I was there almost exactly a year ago. Best advice is:

Don’t worry about weight on the seat - JUST KEEP RIDING!!

Looking back, I have to say I miss the awesome workout though! As you get more comfortable, you will naturally put more and more weight on the seat. Then comes the time you realize you can actually move your feet around on the pedals! Enjoy and embrace the journey. I remember thinking there had to be a quick fix. Seat too high, seat too low, too high of air pressure, not enough air pressure, leaning forward, leaning back, etc etc. Keep putting time in the saddle and enjoy the progress even if it is slow. It’s worth it.

Here’s one of mine. :sunglasses:

Try riding up a gentle hill, just a couple percent grade. When I was at your stage ~5 years ago, I found it easier to practice getting weight onto the seat on slight climbs. It’s a simpler task when you only have to press forward more or less on the pedals. You’ll eventually learn to switch smoothly to back pressure, but at this point you’re probably making big corrections with a lot of weight on the pedals each time, and weight that’s on the pedals is weight that’s not on your butt. Frequent big balance corrections interfered with learning to putting weight on the saddle and having a light touch on the pedals with my feet.

It was also easier to keep weight on the saddle in the early months when I was riding a bigger wheel. It’s harder to be smooth on a 20" because the wheel has little inertia and the pedals have a lot of leverage.

Making a conscious effort to put more weight on the seat is helpful, but my feeling is that this problem sorts itself out after a while, through all sorts of imperceptibly small improvements in your riding. You may now find it educational to ride over uneven ground, grass, bumps, off of curbs and so on. Assisted riding (with a hand on a wall) will probably not help at all, in my opinion.

A unicycle and its rider are a complex system of balance which someone here described as a “bimodal double pendulum.” While I lack the technical expertise to determine for sure whether this is the correct term, I do believe that sitting down on the seat adds a sort of third variable to the system, and it can be quite frightening when you are just starting to ride. You feel that the wheel could easily shoot out from under you -forward or backward- and that putting pressure on it from above would only propel it faster.

Agreed. I used my practice wall more than most and I think I got a lot of benefit from it and I’ll continue to defend it, but I don’t think it helped me learn to get weight on the seat. Riding smoothly with light pedal pressure and making small corrections without over-correcting takes a certain amount of speed unless you’re already an extremely good unicyclist. It’s a dynamic process, and you don’t go fast enough to figure it out while holding onto a support.

Getting to the “burning quads” stage, which many of us experienced when we could go about 100 meters non-stop, was a big motivator for learning how to get my weight off the pedals and onto the saddle!

A good way to stop using so much energy is to stop having so much energy. Keep practicing after you get tired. You will have no choice but to relax. 15 minutes is not enough. As a beginner I got my second wind 30+ minutes into a workout. Keep going. Your chances of falling increase when you’re tired, so move to grass when you get tired. If you’re concerned about pacing yourself, start your practice session with unassisted mounts. Only let yourself ride after you’ve succeeded in a mount. That way you’ll be able to practice an hour or more. Weight in the seat is a fundamental to a successful mount. Learning to mount will help you learn to keep weight in the seat while riding. The most important factor in your success, at this point, may be saddle time. Keep us posted on your progress!

Yeah, I never went through that stage. The seat on my first uni was so uncomfortable that it always stopped me long before any sort of quad burning could happen. Once I got a decent seat, I was immediately able to ride at least several hundred meters, though I did use to sweat profusely on rides that now seem very easy, especially if hill climbing was involved.

One of the nice things about unicycling, especially in the beginning, is that you so often end up doing something that seemed impossible only the day before.

By way of encouragement:
When I first started riding, I would ride about a 100 yards in the street in front of my house, and when I got back to the house and dismounted I would literally fall over, because all of the strength was gone from my legs. I had to sit there on the ground for a few minutes until I could get up again. So yes, it’s a common thing when learning, and yes, keep riding!
Another one: The first time I tried a long ride (about 5 miles), I drove to the end point to ride back (I wanted to make it so I couldn’t easily give up). After about a block I was so tense I thought I would never make it. I had to order myself mentally to calm down. It sort of worked, and I made it home, but I was tired!
Tension is (or can be) a real impediment to riding. Unfortunately, the only solution that I know of (which happens to be common to most uni ailments) is: MORE RIDING.
Good luck, and don’t give up! (I’m still not a great rider, but 5 years later I can go 20 - 30 miles without feeling like I’m going to die.) :slight_smile:

My learner uni had a seat suited to a kid and the post was way too short. I looked at replacing the seat but whole second hand unis were cheaper on eBay.

Once I got the Luxus I went from struggling to ride a hundred metres on the learner to riding several kilometres within a few days. Never stopped by burning quads.

I remember the terrifying down slope a few hundred metres from my house that I called “The Edge of the World”, because I figured that it would forever remain impossible for a unicycle. I would get to the top and jump off. Then one day shortly after I just rode down it, turned around and rode back up. It soon became a small hill.