Impossible to Learn to Ride my 16" Uni?

Hi all,

I’m as new as can be to unicycling at all. I’ve always wanted to learn to do it, and I finally decided to get one. I know it’s against all advice there is, but I wanted to get a cheap one to learn on to see if I could do it and if I liked it before I shelled out a lot of money. So, I went on craigslist, found one for 20 bucks and got it. I’m having a horribly hard time trying to learn it. Here it is:

(well I guess that will show up somewhere else. never used this site before)

Anyway, I’ve put about 5 hours of practice into it, but it’s still very hard to even get some rocking the pedals out of it. I’m practicing on my porch because it’s cold and snowy here and I use a half-column type thing to get my balance and then take off from there to try to get some pedaling distance. At most I’m getting about 10 feet before I fall off. 10 feet might even be wishfull thinking. I think I’m getting an average of about 5-7 and then I’m off it.

I was reading that after about 5 hours of practice most people should be able to cross the length of a gym, and I’d be nowhere near that. Is it because of the severely small wheel size? 16"? Is that implausible to learn on? Or am I just extremely slow at this? Thanks for any help anyone can give me!

It’s not the optimal unicycle for you to learn with (unless your 7 or 8 years old), but it should do the trick. Your seat may be a bit low, when your sitting on it, with your pedals at 6 and 12 o’clock, your bottom leg should not have much of a bend in it, that will help you keep more weight on the saddle which is important.

The first time I tried to learn I put in close to twenty hours, finally gave up because I wasn’t getting it. A few months later I tried again and finally got it. If you keep trying, you will get there. Usually when your feeling like your never going to get it, you are close to breaking through :slight_smile:

There is no magic number to describe how long it takes to learn to ride. I’ve seen someone pick it up after half an hour; I’ve seen others take 20+ hours to get it.

I’ve taught plenty of kids on 16" unicycles, so that’s not the problem, per se. It’s probably pretty small for you, so make sure you have the seat post up as high as it will go; a low seatpost makes it harder to learn. To the extent that you can, make sure everything is tight so the unicycle isn’t fighting you when you try to ride.

But other than that, just spend more time on it. Put your weight on the seat as much as you can, and look out at the horizon rather than down at the ground. Hold your arms out for balance, and try to get to a fast walking pace (riding slower is harder).

Good luck!

Just my quick observation, it looks like your seat is way to low. If your seat is already as high as it goes, it will be difficult to learn or move around at all (having the right seat height can make a HUGE difference). I’m not sure that the small tire is optimal either (it’s definitely a kid’s unicycle, and one that wouldn’t last long at that).

If you’ve always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle it’ll definitely be worth your time to invest $100 into a decent uni. You don’t need this one to see if you can do it (because absolutely anyone can do it). And I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t like unicycling (unless you were stuck with a hard to ride unicycle).

It took me ~15 practice sessions at 1-2 hours per session.
Stick with it; you’ll get it.

“The length of a gym after 5 hours” thing might be realistic if you have professional coaching from a unicycle teacher, but I think you’re doing fine for someone who’s self-taught.

I learnt on a 24", which a lot of people will tell you is too big for a learner, I think the general consensus is that smaller wheels are easier to learn on than larger ones. That said, you’ll definitely want something a bit bigger when you get good and want to do some serious riding. :smiley:

Keep it up!

Where about do you live? If you happen to be near someone in these forums, you might be able to buy/borrow a 20" or 24" learner unicycle from them.

I remember the “keep you weight on the seat” was really good advice for me.

I learned on a unicycle similar to this but 20" and I think it made my progress slower. The seat was way too low, making me crouch forwards and fight myself on the pedals, eventually I got an extra post welded on the end to make it high enough. You could buy a new longer 22.2 seatpost- or weld something on. 20" is a good size to start with perhaps and if you spend a bit more money you will get something actually designed for riding in relative comfort.

Make sure there is enough pressure in the tire. Everyone is different at learning times, but your own learning time might take longer if you do not ensure your equipment matches your size- e.g. optimum seat height.

With unicycling almost anything you think is impossible is possible or will become possible with more practise!

First unicycle.jpg

I live in Kalamazoo and would be able to help and ride with any time you want. I have quite a few unis to go around and do happen to have a spare 24". Took me ~ 2 weeks of 1-2 hours a day.

That’s the same uni my son has, it fits him. He hasn’t managed to ride it independently either. He is 3 years old.

That uni is not tall enough for an average adult, even good riders struggle to ride a tiny uni with their knees all scrunched up.

It took me about 10 days at 4 or so hours of practice a day to teach myself how to ride my 20" Torker CX, and it wasn’t until day 7 or so that I was actually able to ride forward any sort of distance. Now that I can ride that seems silly, but I have terrible balance and had never done anything like this before—when I was a kid I was too scared to ride my bike without my hands on the handlebars, and every time I let go I would freak out and grab them immediately.

Anyway! To be encouraging: nothing is impossible. Some things are very hard, but nothing is impossible. Give yourself a week or two and you’ll be riding that tiny thing in no time and wishing you had bought a better uni to learn on.

Haha that one really gave me a laugh.

Still chuckling even now…

I also think that the uni is way too small for you and that’s the main problem. Because of the small wheel you also have quite short cranks which make it even more difficult to learn. Longer Cranks mean more control and therefore easier learning.

Hey, How’s the learning going on the 16"er? I just started a website that you might find helpful. It’s at

Don’t give up - you’ll get it.

UNCunis’ website is very cool and full of resources…

Try riding along a wall, fence or railing that you can touch for balance while you get used to the feel.

I got my 20" learner on craig’s list for $20 too! Hard to find at that price but might be worth a little dough for something bigger. After you learn to ride you can take some time to pick out a good one that will be worth the bread to you.

I am positive most people are not riding across gyms after 5 hours… I’m not sure of your age, but at 33 it took me at least 20 hours to be able to go that far without falling. I found a nice pedestrian bridge with a fence at once side, and after about 2 hours I was riding back and forth without falling… holding onto the edge… 1 time out of 100. It was at least 10 hours before I could make it across only touching the edge a bit… then I would ride as far as I could on the path past the bridge. Probably 15 hours before I made it 50 feet… that is with using the fence to steady my self the first 30 feet. Eventually I just made it past where I had kept falling and kept going. I know I was practicing in 30-60 minute sessions over a couple months.

If you are younger you will tend to get it faster, but not everyone is as coordinated as the kids riding across gyms in 5 hours.

Keep at it and you will get it… There are 20" and 24" Sun and Torkers on craigslist in my area all the time, you might consider upgrading to one of those.


I got my first wheel (20") when I was a kid and it was summer (No school)… I’m an EARLY riser and all my friends sleep in… So I spent 5 - 6 hours a morning for a week just to go 50 - 100 feet… The next few days to turn and suddenly I was riding to the store or my GF’s house…
And yeah, that first week my butt was SORE!
Now at 40 (in a few weeks) I am getting back into it after a 25 year hiatus, and it took about 15 minutes till I could freemount and ride off, but there were a few falls that first night again…

Spend the bucks for a bigger wheel, you could always sell it if you give up.

I actually learned on a friends 16". its not a bad sized wheel, but like one person already said, the seat may a little low. It took me prolly a good 10 to 15 hours before i could ride a few hundred yards, so just stick with the practicing. just use the railing or wall to get used to being on the uni, then work on mounts. alot of people i have met can’t ride without the help of a wall to mount. Mounts were the hardest thing for me to learn, but i learned by myself with no wall so it took a while. but use the wall to learn how much pressure to put on the pedals as you get on and just work your way to using less and less help. just takes time, just keep with it. just remember, anybody can learn.