Idling Questions

I can Idle for a long time with either right or left foot down without leaving a 2 foot radius circle or changing the direction that I am facing.

The thing is that I don’t put much of my weight on the saddle. Most of my weight is on the lower pedal. I am hearing that in order to progress to riding one footed and other more advanced tricks that you should be able to Idle with most of your wieght on the saddle. Ohters have said that this is the correct way to Idle.

Where do most professional unicyclist put most of thier weight while Idling? On the saddle or on the lower pedal?

I have read the terms “horizintal pedal iddling” and “Circus Idling” What are those?

Appreciate the help.

If you get hired to idle on a giraffe in the background in a TV commercial, the shoot usually ends up with you holding that position for several hours until they get all their takes just the way they want them. Do that with your weight on the pedal and you’ll die before the first hour is up. I did it for most of a 7-hour period. Weight definitely on the seat. Didn’t you believe the people that told you this?

Horizontal idling is where the pedals are at or near horizontal. It’s not really idling, in that it’s mostly balancing. We usually call it Twisting, but the Standard Skill definition of Twisting is different. The advantage is quick takeoffs. It works if you’re playing basketball or hockey and don’t want to get caught on the back-rock when play suddenly takes off.

For Circus Idling I’m inclined to say it’s the same thing, but I’m not sure as I’ve seldom heard that expression. The other possible description of circus idling that comes to my mind is an exaggerated idle, one that makes it look harder, less stable and like more work. Especially useful for comedy performers, or someone who wants to add an extra degree of perceived difficulty to a combination trick on a giraffe at the end of a performance. A combination trick is like where you idle the giraffe, spin some rings on the non-pedaling leg, spin some more rings on your arms, and balance something large on your face.

Thanks John!

Thanks for the answers John. I appreciate the time that you take to help everyone out. You usually give very good answers and advice!

As a MUni rider, and an Urban commuter I have never had to Idle for 7 hours!
I think that it would be quite boring! The most I ever had to idle was for a traffic light to change.

I learned to Idle after learning to ride backwards. The idling came once I started changing directions from forward to backwards. I needed to stand up in order to get enough weight on the pedal in order to brake. That is why I think that I have developed the bad habit of idling with the weight on the botom pedal.

Any suggestion in how to develope the more correct way of idling with most of the weight on the seat? It seams like I always just kind of start standing up a little while idling without even thinking about it.


I can ride one-footed with any foot just fine, and do some other “advanced” tricks too, but I never bothered learning to idle properly. It just never appealed to me. I’d rather practice still-stands.

Can you ride or idle with one foot?

I found that riding one footed teaches you to vary your pressure on the pedal which leads to less effort or energy for ideling. You also tend to learn its not so much all downward pressure as well, its a kinda push and pull.

Well thats from my experience anyway.

Idling Questions

Thanks for the sdvice Jamin. I have been working on riding one footed for the past few weeks. I am actually at the point where I can do a complete revolution totaly one footed. Still working on doing the whole length of the out door basket ball court one footed! It will come soon.
I have heard from a few people that riding one footed really helps with balance. I mostly ride MUni and was never interested in all sorts of “Show Off” tricks before. However after learnign to ride backwards a few months ago I felt like my MUni riding has gotten SO MUCH BETTER! I am therefore going to spend this year, my second year unicycling learning how to ride one footed, wheel walking, zero plants, foot plants, crank flips and other tricks that no doubt increace balance and skill while riding tough terrain.


Here’s a way to think about the weight issue on your pedals that’s changed the way I think about idling. I think I figured this out when I went from riding a 20" to a 26" five or six years ago. Anyway, it was much different to idle on a long-cranked, big-wheeled uni, and I discovered that if I stopped focusing on what my left foot (my dominant foot, the one that’s on bottom when idling) was doing and thought instead about my right foot, it helped me a lot. I started to focus on my right foot just sort of scuffing back and forth over the top of the pedal rotation. For whatever reason, that gave me a different way of thinking about controlling the idle. It might be worth a try in your case, and could change the weight you put on each pedal (and seat).

I learned to idle my putting all my weight on the pedals, worked fine for me, i can ride backwards, one footed, one footed backwards, sideways wheel walk, hand wheel walk and all that freestyle stuff.

Idling Technique

I actually do what Pkittle says. I concentrate much more on my top foot. I just leave most of my weight on the bottom dominant foot and kind of just pull the top pedal forwards and backwards a little bit. When the bottom foot hits the point in the arc where it starts going up more that forwards or backwards the weight on it is just to much for the top foot and it naturaly reverses direction. Of course I swing my hips backward and forward but my head does not move to much. It is a good Idle but as John Foss says it is much more efecient to sit on the saddle and give the legs a rest. It just seams like I need the extra weight in order to stop the direction momentum of the Unicycle. I learned Idling by initialy changing directions. Now when changing directions you actually have to break and this needs weight. I will try to idle at a much slower rate maybe then I will not need so much weight. I also have to keep in mind that I am idling on a 24x3 Duro tire. On a friends Semcycle I was able to idle so much more effortlessly.

Thanks for all the comments.


Did that help for cross country and urban riding? If not, which “tricks” would you recommend learning?


I would suggest learning to idle one-footed. It helped my idle a lot and gave me much better control over the process.


I’ve been practicing idling sporadically, especially over the past month.

Last night I felt like I had another break-through, getting 40-50 full “rocks” 3 or 4 times. In the previous week I had only gotten 20-25.

I have two problems. My lower leg gets tired and I drift to the side of my upper pedal.

I haven’t tried to correct these, because I’ve been concentrating on beating my high score.

Like all things uni, I’m sure practice makes perfect, but if anyone wants to offer advice, I’m all ears.

EDIT: Sorry, I just realized I didn’t search with the keyword “drift”.
Found a good thread addressing the drifting problem:

I think the thing with idling is relaxing and working with the uni instead of against it. Your head stays almost perfectly still and the uni sort of swings beneath it like a pendulum. If you can get the cadence right, the uni moves smoothly from the forward position tot he back, stops, then moves smoothly to the backward position and stops, and so on. You then need only a small amount of pressure on the pedal.

It’s like pushing a kid on a swing. If you push with the swing, it’s easy; if you try to push against it, it’s hard.

Relax, do lots of it. Maybe raise your seat a bit until you’re really confident. Most unicyclists have their seat low as this makes various skills easier, but it is a less efficient position for pedalling and idling and can tire your legs faster.

Here’s my two cents. I came fairly late to idling and could ride backwards before I did any serious idling. I got into the bad habit of looking down while idling and now make an effort to look straight ahead when I practice. I used to practice with my arms behind my back but now usually hold a basketball at about chest level. And of course I practice juggling while idling! I also make an effort to practice both legs. I noticed playing basketball I tended to idle on my left and it was making my leg muscles noticeably asymmetrical.

You should definately practice with both legs down. It helps you with alot of stuff like one footed idling, riding with one leg nd mounting with both feet.

Also, i think its better to keep more of your weight on the seat because it helps with riding with one foot:)

I would suggest learning to idle no footed but I’m still working on the two footed scenario. Getting about 8 in a good run on my 29er. I tend to turn counter clockwise but practicing with feet reversed helps correct that.

any tips on trying to idle on a 29"?

:frowning: xx

I have practiced on a 20" 24" & 29". I can actually do it the smoothest and best on the 29er and second best on the 20". I think it has more to do with what you are more used to. I am interested in the opinions of others.

Are 36ers hard to idle on? What about riding backwards?

The bigger the wheel, the slower you have to move. As the wheel gets bigger/heavier, it’s less possible to make quick corrections so it takes more planning ahead and patience.

And it’s harder to do than on smaller wheels.

For riding backward, same basic idea only you don’t need to move so slow. But don’t go fast either; stuff can go wrong pretty quickly until you get comfortable doing it!