I'm a newbie... any tips?

Hello all! After 15+ years of wanting a Uni, I was given one this Christmas as a gift. I’ve always said, “I have to learn to ride a unicycle before I die!”

I’m anxious to begin learning. There’s more than a foot of snow outside, but I’ve been pedaling forward and backward in my basement. I can’t wait until spring!

Any tips on lowering the learning curve, and helping a guy learn faster? One website I visited said it takes between 10-15 hours to learn (roughly 2 weeks of practicing one hour each day); that’s good news, but I’d still like to learn quicker. Any secret tips? What worked for all of you?

Another thing… my Uni came with training wheels! Seriously, there’s a curved bar sticking out of the back, attached to two small training wheels. Do you think the use of training wheels will help or hinder my progress? I’ve never been sure of their effectiveness when teaching children to ride bicycles, so I’m wondering about their effectiveness with unicycles.

Nice to be here! Ride on!
Mark D

Great christams present. welcome to the fold.

I never seen anyone learn using training wheels and I doubt it would help.

There aren’t really any secrets. It just takes practice. You pedal, fall off, pedal, fall off, and so on. Hopefully over a few hours you will get better and better until eventually you get the feeling that you are almost riding it.

Riding in snow is much harder although the landings are softer :wink: If you can find a nice smooth, flat area it will help progress. Try to ride away from a wall or support rather than along it. The more you are willing to ‘let go’ and go for it the quicker you will learn.

Good Luck



Learn without leaning/holding a wall

Downside: you can’t ride a unicycle until you can mount it
Upside: after the initial period (finding the balance point)
everything will come really fast. You won’t get to ride it for the first couple of one-hour sessions, but one hour isn’t enougfh time to get frustrated with something…you’ll notice improvement with each lesson.

You hear people on this board saying things like “I can ride for a few kilometres, but I can only mount 30% of the time”

Whenever you think you can be doing something better, you probably can. Check back here frequently with any questions, allot of time hearing 5 different versions on how to practice something really helps

Good Luck


Some recent observations



You will ride!!

As someone who learned about 2 and a half years ago, I remember learning. And, I just taught my Dad not to long ago, so I remember what it took him to learn. Though unicycle.com does not think training poles(you can use ski poles) is a good idea. But, I think they are great. They help you develop muscel memory, and with poles you can practice riding without another person helping you! What you do is just try to ride a bit using the poles. Eventually, you lift them up for a rotation or two, then put them down again. You will eventually get many rotations and will not need the poles.

   Another thing you do is use the internet to help.  I wish I used the internet to help me learn.  You can go to places like www.unicycling.org and www.unicycle.com .  Those sites give many tips. I recomend www.unicycling.org the most.

    As far as the training wheels go, I think it might be a good idea to learn the petaling motion.  Who knows, mabey it is a good idea.

     So tell me if you make any progress, and ask me any more questions if you have any.

                                                               Thank you,

First, lose the training wheels. If it is a product that came with training wheels it is somewhat suspect already. Is there any way you could post a photograph of this new unicycle? I would like to see if it is a real unicycle or a modified tricycle of some kind. Some things to indicate that you’re REALLY in trouble are:

1.) A hard rubber tire, one that is non-inflateable
2.) A one piece axle and crank assembly. The cranks should be removeable.
3.) A too-small seat that is rock-hard, flat, and covered with cheap vinyl.

There are always lots of people learning to ride and learning various skills that post here. This is a GREAT place to get helpful information on learning, riding, unicycles, hardware, clubs and a number of other topics.

Keep your weight on the seat, look ahead, and focus in the distance.

I’d suggest losing the training wheels first off. Make sure you have enough air in the tires, all the nuts are on tight etc. Set the seat height the same as you would a bicycle, get on and ride. Don’t sweat how much time it takes and don’t get discouraged. Everyone has different learning curves, just enjoy the experience.

Keep in mind that I too am new, having been riding for about 2 months.

In learning, I was able to go about 50 yeards or so in under an hour. I will share my experience and hopefully it will help you.

I learned on the outdoor walkway on the 2nd floor of my apartment. A wall (and doors) on one side and a railing on the other, straight for about 100 feet. I would use the rail to mount at one end and for the first lap time or two along hte walkway I held the rail as I learned to stay on the seat while moving.

After that I tried to ride straight while only bracing off the wall or rail if I was gonna fall. Look ahead, not down and don’t be afraid to pedal at a quick pace, not super slow. Not so fast that you would get tired, but enough that you don’t fall to the sides, just like when you learned to ride a bike.

After I went almost the full length of the walkway I “graduated” to the parking lot. I found the dumpster to be the best height for me and it was at one far end of the parking lot. I would use it to mount and then ride away. I was able to do the distance of the lot a few times till I decided to see how far I could go. I left the lot, turned right and headed sown the road, past a small school and fell at the church. I couldn’t get that far a second time and stopped after one hour from the time I started trying to sit on the unicycle.

Key points:

  1. If you look down as you go, you will fall. You already know that the ground in front of you is smooth so there is no need to study it as you move along.

  2. Pedal faster than you would think. This one right here made all the difference for me.

  3. When you start, the pedals should be at the 3:00 and 9:00 positions. Whatever foot forward that you find comfortable.

  4. Let the unicycle fall when you fall off. I padded my seat ends with several layers of duct-tape so it wouldn’t get destoyed. At first I was worried that it would get banged up and would be reaching for the seat everytime my balance started getting off. I would jump off with seat in hand before I fell. Dumb. Instead of grabbing my seat, I figured out that flailing arms, however funning looking, would get me back in balance and keep me from falling. Besides, one arm out and the other with the hand on the seat would automaticly put me out of balance. Not so much once you’ve been riding for a while, but it makes it harder when learning.

I’m sure I’ll think of more after I post this.

Good luck and have fun. Be warned, you mght be “bitten” with the bug and find yourself riding it much more often that you thought you would.


This is what experienced unicyclists would have done if they could have started over:This post might help

Maybe you could use some of this stuff to help you learn. My personal advice would be to 1)not hold on to a wall, and 2) keep trying!!

Keep us updated

Definitely a real uni, not a trike

Thanks for the tips so far, everyone!

Harper - No need to worry. This is definitely a real unicycle, and not a “modified tricycle.” The tire is inflatable, the seat is the same as other unis I’ve seen, etc. It just happens to come with detachable training wheels, I guess.

I know its not some expensive top-of-the-line uni, but its definitely the real thing.


Re: Definitely a real uni, not a trike

I’d still like to see a photo or at least find out who the manufacturer is. Thanks.

Simple answers:
Keep your weight on the seat, not on the pedals.
If you fall off the back, you’re doing it wrong. Commit yourself.
Sit comfortably upright - don’t lean forward with your backside stuck out.
Look ahead, not at the ground.
Count your pedal strokes. It gives you a goal.
Stop for a rest every few minutes.
As you struggle to learn new skills, take the odd break to practise and improve skills you can already do.
Enjoy it. It’s a game, not an examination.

And finally, get out on some varied terrain as soon as you can - even a rough surfaced carpark. Riding over ‘obstacles’ makes you feel good, and improves your ability.


The first 2 big steps

1: landing your foot on the 2nd pedal
2: The first full crank rotation (you’ll like this feeling)

These may seem to take a while to get, but once you get in that first rotation, everything else comes quick (compared to the first steps)

Definitely a Uni, not a trike

Thanks again to those who’ve responded to this thread with words of advice. Now a word about the make and model of my Uni, for Greg and anybody else who’s interested. The following may sound prematurely defensive, but oh well.

I’ve done an online search for what I think is the brand name, but have (mostly) come up empty-handed. What I did find was a thread on another unicycle-themed bulletin board in which a guy said he had a similar Uni, and asked if anybody would be interested in buying it. His query was met with ridicule; several following posters jokingly offered this man used cotton swabs (Q-tips) in exchange for his “sub-par” unicycle.

I’m hoping that the members of this board are mature enough and not so elitist as to rip the quality of a fellow member’s Uni. My unicycle may not be some expensive top-of-the-line model, but I’m happy with it and very grateful to the person who bought it for me as a gift. I’m not looking to compete in unicycle competitions, ride up mountains, or even become a street performer. I just want to learn to ride a Uni and then tool around some local neighborhoods on it. Given my needs, the Uni bought for me seems more than adequate. Please don’t tell me my Uni is a piece of doo-doo, even if it is! My mother spent more on my Christmas present this year than she normally does (over $100), just so her adult son could have his hearts desire… a unicycle! Now here’s the information about my Uni…

There are decals along the fork which identify it as a “Barracuda.” My online searches have revealed that “Barracuda” is the model name, and Rand is the manufacturer. It has a 20” inflatable wheel, solid steel construction, Xerama pedals, traditional unicycle-shaped seat, can be adjusted for height… and also has a detachable bar with training wheels.

So that’s it… a “Barracuda” by Rand.

Re: Definitely a Uni, not a trike

Inexpensive unicycles are not necessarily bad unicycles. My first unicycle cost me $20. My second one cost me $40. Four of the eight unicycles I now own cost less than $100. I was or am pleased with all of them.

I’d just like to see what it looks like. I don’t know you well enough to make fun of you. That will come later. You know me well enough to make fun of me right now.

Just enjoy what you have. George Peck who is an amazing (understatement) unicyclist started out with his first unicycle found in a dumpster. Don’t worry about name brands etc. Part preference, tire size preference etc. will come with both time and experience.:slight_smile:

I dont mean to ridicule you in any way, but thats what I said at first too. I now own 3 unicycles including 1 trials and 1 muni, and I love the sport.

Keep Trying, and you will succeed.


I tought a neighbor to ride today. He tooled around on mine before, but I taught him today. The key things that come to mind are:

1: Sit, you’ll have more control sitting on the seat then standing.

2: Put your chest forward, and but back. It’s easier to find your balancing point off of that position.

3: Last, and one of the important ones… Don’t go fast! Although your body will thrust you forward, go slow, not to slow, but a nice even pedal speed and don’t let one foot get in front of another.

Good Luck


This is interesting. Barracuda was apparently an independent manufacturer of mountain bikes and as recently as 2000 had links all over pointing to a computer on the University of Washington campus that I’m familiar with. But those links are no longer valid. The Barracuda line seems to have been purchased by Rand International whose website has deadend links for all models of bicycles manufactured and distributed by them. I sent them an e-mail asking for a photograph of any and all unicycles manufactured in the Barracuda line or at least a link to point me to some. If you could post a photo or if anyone knows about this line it would be cool to find out what they are.

Adam (AccordNSX) apparently made a query referring to the thread cited in which someone very quickly over-reacted to the Q-tip joke that Chris (Rhysling) made. The guy apparently became very upset and then ran away so he is not a source of information either. Pity, maybe he had a photo.

Re: I’m a newbie… any tips?

Many people in the general public seem to think it is actually
impossible to ride a unicycle even if that conflicts with the obvious
facts. The little secret between unicyclists is indeed that learning
to ride is quite doable.

One tip I haven’t seen yet in this thread: think of keeping balance as
keeping the unicycle (and specifically the tyre contact point) under
you, as opposed to trying to stay above the tyre contact point

The reasoning behind this (if you want any - I usually do but it
seldom helps :-)) is that you can control the position of the wheel by
pedalling and steering, while the position of your body mass is beyond
your direct control.

>I’m hoping that the members of this board are mature enough and not so
>elitist as to rip the quality of a fellow member’s Uni.
Rest assured, the posters on this unicycle forum (newsgroup) are
usually a very friendly and helpful bunch. Even though world class
riders post here, they are far from elitist in their attitude. Having
said that, I also would like to see a picture of your unicycle out of
curiosity, especially if the training wheels are still on - I’ve never
seen that in reality.

If later you go out riding outdoors, you’ll certainly get the question
Where’s your other wheel? My favourite comeback is “I don’t need a
training wheel anymore” (especially if it is from someone on a

>I’m not
>looking to compete in unicycle competitions, ride up mountains, or even
>become a street performer. I just want to learn to ride a Uni and then
>tool around some local neighborhoods on it.
That is exactly the mindset with which I started unicycling 2 years
ago. Now, Mounting Unicycling (MUni) is my favourite branch of riding
even though I’m still very much in the learning stage at that. Indeed,
you may find that your aspirations go up with your abilities, it
happens to most of us.

Have fun learning!
Klaas (Netherlands)

Klaas Bil

"Venus’s ““day”” is longer than its ““year””. The planet spins on its axis once every 243 earth days and orbits the sun every 224.7 days. "