Idling is hard

Just like when first learning, practice ½-1 hour a day. It will take a week or 2 to learn. If you just practice once a while when you have time and feel like it, then I think it might never come.

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This fit young lady is 65 next week. She learnt to ride as a teenager but never learnt to idle. Her original uni has a 28" skinny wheel and a very wierd shaped seat.

Well, look at this!

And she’s riding on my nimbus 20". Anyway, she’s planning to get a nimbus 20" for a birthday present (it was kinda going to be a surprise from her husband but he figured it was best to let her choose exactly what she wants) :slight_smile:
By the way, she had always dismounted off the front in case you are wondering.


You’re doing a poor job boosting my spirit Gockie

For me, idling took a while, (after 2.5 years of riding) but I got it. It’s really about the feel.

I’ve been learning to idle for the last couple of years. Agreed that it’s hard. I would probably progress faster if I practiced more than monthly.

I’m in the “just go for a ride” category. I have so little free time these days that when I have time for a ride I want to go somewhere!

I just want to add that I still love that you put out videos like this. You get a lot of credit for some of your videos, e.g. your mounting videos (rightly so I might add). Many users, especially new users might think, he can do everything. But this video shows honesty, that a lot of us are still learning.

P.S. Between yourself, Erlend and I, I kind of feel like Erlend might be the first to idle. Prove me wrong! :stuck_out_tongue:

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Can I suggest try it not in the house?

Anyway, I’m going to say, I never wanted to pedal backwards from riding, but I think one day it clicked. But my neighbour kid could do a couple of idles from riding the first time I suggested it to him. Not fair.

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Jumping on the spot is easy though.

Here’s a few physical technique’s that I focused as I “evolved” from barely idling to being able to do it for over 5 minutes. (The first one is how I started, and the last technique is what I am using now. Don’t use all of them, of course, but try one or the other other. They all work, but differ in efficiency and energy needed):
1.) Put a lot of weight on the down foot, and shuffle the top foot back/forth(from about 11 to 1 o’clock) as fast as you can.
2.) Twist also as quickly as possible. Twisting in one direction prevents falling in that direction. Your body will figure it out.
3.) Start adding hip motion(buck the hips) while keeping your upper body still. Kind of looks like you are riding a mechanical bull or doing a rodeo on a horse.
4.) Start to add less weight on pedals and more on the seat. The pedal weight/force becomes lighter and quicker, and less rotation. Yes, you do not need to rotate a lot to idle. In fact, you can get to a standstill or stall, then gently rock back and forth.
5.) Now I have a combination of 3 factors orchestrating together: maximum weight on seat, bucking my hips, and equal weighting on both pedals where both feet work together(there is no dominance in either feet…just a connected feeling of both feet rotating together). To balance side/side if I start to fall on one side, I quickly add a little weight on the opposite pedal. I don’t need to rely on a rapid upper body throw or hip twist to counterbalance.

I’ve read through a couple comments here, but I thought if it’s all the same to you personalized advice may be better!
I’ve been riding on and off for the last two years, maybe, but I really got into unicycling this summer. My skills are quite limited, but I can ride while juggling/playing ukulele or guitar, and I can bunnyhop and jumpmount, etc. Hopefully that gives a fair idea of where I’m at.

I haven’t put too much time into trying to idle, but I’ve gone out for a couple of hours at a time and worked on it. For a while, it seemed to be getting better and I managed to get a half rev back, and forward again, but I wasn’t able to get my weight back on the second time and so was forced to move forward again. That time seemed pretty lucky, I haven’t done that since.
For me, it feels like I keep getting stuck in the dead zone where I have too much weight on the bottom pedal for it to come up when I’m going backwards. To combat this, I thought that if I put virtually all my weight on the saddle and not on the peddle, it won’t get stuck. However, that has failed me too.
Contrary to what @slamdance said up above, I’m barely using my top foot at all, so maybe I should use it a bit?

Does it sound, from my very limited and confusing descriptions, that I’m doing something wrong? Or is it just a case of more practice?
Thanks in advance for the help! :slightly_smiling_face:

I’d say more practice. No matter what trick you use, more or less weight in the seat, faster or slower pace, or with or without arms the basic idea is the same. It simply takes time to burn the idea in your head (muscle memory) so you react instantly without thinking. I learned to idle in the past year and I agree with what others have said, it is just as hard as learning to ride normally in the first place.

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How are you practicing? From what I read, it sounds like you are trying to get into idling from riding. I’d personally recommend starting on a lamppost (or similar).
Idling is a lot about getting the rythm correct. If not, you get the “stuck at bottom dead center” issue you describe. While it is boring, I think spending a few minutes just practicing the idling motion without needing to worry about keeping balance is worth it.
I tend to focus on checking if the outcome is correct more than the detailed technicalities, so I wouldn’t worry about focussing how much weight to put where. Whatever makes it so that one foot stays at the bottom, and you get an even “swing” of roughly 1/8 rev to the front and back is fine in my book.


Thanks for the response!
Before, what I would do is come to a complete standstill when riding and then go for it. I did this on grass because I hadn’t found any good places with walls/posts that weren’t on the sidewalk. Anyhow, after my previous comment I went out, found a nice patch of concrete with a wall and some poles, and just idled alongside them for several minutes.
I noticed a couple changes right away, and I was much more successful doing it alongside a wall than I had been previously.

  1. I used my top foot to keep myself controlled. Previously, I used no top foot at all.
  2. I went for a 1/8 rev rather than a half rev, which means I didn’t have to move so much and was key (why on earth was I going for a half rev? Not sure…)
  3. I tried to keep my shoulders in one position and swing my body. I read someplace that you can use your hips, so I did that too and it helped.

Anyhow, after doing it on the wall I tried for about… 45 minutes? I got much better success than previously, so it seems like the added knowledge was doing something.


Thanks for all advice. Since this thread was ressurected I’ve decided to give idling another go. 10 minutes every day. Started today so we’ll see how it goes.


Good! I find these learning threads inspiring. I am rooting for you. It really looks like you almost had it back in January.

Plus I’m nosy and I like seeing how people around the world decorate their houses. Your kitchen is nice :). The short sleeve shirt was definitely working better for you. I would go with that from now on.

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Seeing you just are picking up idling practice again, I’ll have to agree with AndrewA here; no need to do half revs when idling. Go under half a rev and pick up the pace a bit, that should help you out. Also, idling is pretty much a 1 foot trick, your “upper” foot is only following the movement, and guiding the pivots to rebalance yourself, but the vast majority of weight and work is on the “bottom” foot.

Good luck.


±30° up to ±45° is enough
half revolution (±90°) isn’t idling in the sense of the word idle anymore. Idling shall feel really easy (at least on smaller wheels like the 20").

Day 2, 10 minutes idling: All the advice is great, but kinda hard to apply. At least all at once. So today I decided to take the advice of a samurai: “Two many minds”. Except for clearing my mind, I did try one thing though. Trexinvert (Slamdance) told me I was leaning to much forward, and that I needed to arch my back while rocking. This actually instantly felt a little better, even though I didn’t stay on for long. So “two many minds” and “arch back” is what I’m going to try tomorrow.

(Slamdance) told me I was leaning to much forward, and that I needed to arch my back while rocking

@UniMyra, just keep in mind that while the idea of arching your back might help you have a straighter position and stay above your center of balance, actually arching your back would be just as detrimental as leaning forward.

±30° up to ±45° is enough
half revolution (±90°) isn’t idling in the sense of the word idle anymore. Idling shall feel really easy (at least on smaller wheels like the 20").

@Eric_aus_Chemnitz, that would be very little movement and would require tremendous tempo. I don’t think idling between 35 and 45 degrees is bad, simply that it is a much more active style of idling.
Check out this video of Fu Xiuyu idling on giraffe on a balancing ball, one footed while flipping bowls from her foot to her head. You can see the idling is definitely hover between above 45°, and under 90°. You can skip the video to 5:35 to go straight to the biggest feat of the act.

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