Improving ultimate wheel efficiency / endurance?

I’ve been riding my 24" UW for a few months now, for some definition of “riding”. When I manage not to trip myself first, I have to dismount pretty often because of lactic acid burn. Recently I learned to do some short stalls (standing up straight and letting the wheel rest against one leg) that let me recover a little, but my max distance is still probably only around 200 meters.

I imagine a bigger wheel helps a bit, and would make it easier to grab the wheel for stalls and other techniques.

Are there any other major tricks or techniques for improving this? Other than continuing to grind for little gradual efficiency and fitness gains :laughing: ?

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Other then adding a saddle that you can sit on, I would say there are no major tricks or techniques for improving the efficiency. An UW is simply a very inefficient way to travel and that is the reason there are no long distance UW riders. That is the nature of the beast.


Forgot to add - the longest I’ve seen is @UniGeezer going 1 mile on a 36 UW . Any tips, Terry?

Anyone know of longer distances than that?

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At the moment, I no longer ride UW. I used to only do them indoors and now I mostly do drag seats. It’s very similar, but I can practice picking up the saddle. :sweat_smile:

Otherwise, one year ago, I bought 2 lunicycles (16" and 20") to test the leg supports.
It wasn’t bad at all with my 28" UW. But the leg supports are made of plastic and break quickly.

@UniGeezer has had its own metal leg supports made, and I’ve also recently seen someone having some made by @jaco_flans .

I’d like to have some metal ones too, at least for my 28" wheel. But the ideal would probably be to have a 36" UW.

I think it’s possible to ride several kilometers with leg supports.

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Oh interesting. I thought the leg supports were mostly for comfort, but I can see how they might improve efficiency too. I should actually have a chance to put that to the test this weekend at Jugglefest in Austin; last year there was a lunicycle in the “toy library” but I wasn’t able to ride it then.

You’ll see, it’s really easier with leg supports.
I’ve had lunicycles tried out by unicycle beginners who only knew how to ride a regular unicycle, and they’ve all more or less succeeded, whereas the traditional UW wheel is impossible for them.

However, lunicycle marketing consists of saying that to ride a lunicycle is easier than to ride a regular unicycle, but I don’t agree.
It’s truer to say that it’s 10 times easier than the UW.

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Got to very briefly try a lunicycle at jugglefest. One of the leg braces broke almost immediately. I’m not sure how I did it, though didn’t notice the breakage until after coming back from a short break, so maybe someone else had given it a go. Thankfully the guy who owns the toy library was very relaxed about it; basically “yeah that’s what happens when someone actually tries to ride these”

I didn’t find the leg braces to be all that helpful, but i probably also didn’t have enough time to get used to them. I’ll probably keep carrying on braceless for now, though if someone were to sell sturdier leg braces I might give them a go.

This is the warm up ride I currently do on my 20" UW:

Google says about 0.3 miles. I try and often succeed at doing that in one long go.

At the end of that run I often order some food and practice idling and other UW tricks for the 10 minutes or so it takes for the food to get ready. Then I eat and ride back.

On the ride back, I am tired and do it with a couple stops, but, I’m also fully warmed up and dialed in, and parts of it are the smoothest I ride that day.

I tried a 24" UW many years ago, with soapy water on my shin guards, etc. Never made it more than a block or 2 absolute max, usually only made it a few buildings. Always legs wiped out after an attempt. Could only go straight-ish, no turns. Gave up after a month or so of attempts (some after work, hard long pushes on weekends). Gave up. Sold it.

Fast forward to July, 2022 and I bought a lunicycle to try out. I could pretty quickly ride it, maybe a day or so practicing, but I didn’t like the way the leg supports felt, and they broke quickly (as did the replacements the company sent me). But, having some success there, I ordered another 24" UW around end of that July. Back to the soapy water. :wink:

2 days later of hard practice, could ride it with just leg armor underneath sweatpants. Was really really excited not to need the bucket of soapy water and sponge anymore!!!

2 days of more hard practice after that, didn’t need leg armor, but did need 2 layers of pants. I could get some slight distance, but it was still rubbing my leg pretty hard. Even in not so many days I could see the rubber wearing away from the sidewall, and my pants didn’t look so great either.

Just like with regular uni, I really wanted to free mount to open up where I could actually ride without having to find a starting spot. So pushed on that. 1 week later had free mount finally with either leg. My left leg always learns slower, but I’ve learned that it’s bad news for me if I only learn something with one leg and don’t catch the other leg up. I eventually need it and always wish I had started practicing with my L leg sooner.

But, 1 month in, I was still burning through rubber sidewall too fast. And my riding was making serious S turns as I went, despite best efforts to keep the wheel straight:

I decided that I was too comfortable in this semi-dysfunctional riding style so to shake it up I figured I’d challenge myself with a harder UW, the 20".

That was an interesting challenge, got me a bit stronger, and maybe a bit more in control on a UW, but I was still not riding smooth at all. Here’s me back on a 24" UW at 3 months.

At that point I could idle, make circles, and even ride a bit backwards. But, still very very choppy riding. And you can easily see the type of holes I was still wearing away in my pants over time:

I had some heroes I wanted to emulate.

And when I saw this! Then I thought I had the answer for sure!

It’s not touching his leg at all. AT ALL!

That surely was the answer. No more wearing out tires and pants, no more drag from the rubbing. This was going to be great… … .

So, I tried cranky 24" UW, and after a very hard week of practice (endless hours before and after work, every day) I got here on it:

At first, I couldn’t even get one rev. Not even half a rev. Eventually I could ride it a bit, but it was much more tiring. I was still doing S turns a fair bit. And with this I needed the leg armor again, at least at that point. And I was still S turning and rubbing on regular UW.

Then, I saw this!

A 10" UW!!! The answer finally! There IS NO WAY for it to hit your legs. IT DOESN’T EVEN REACH YOUR LEGS!!!
I would be forced to learn proper form on that, having my crutch stripped from me. And then, finally, be riding smooth and efficiently!.. … … .

So, after a month of practicing that pretty seriously I got here:

I got somewhere with it. But, I still wasn’t where I wanted to be on the other UW’s. None of this was a magic bullet. But, it all incrementally strengthened my legs and increased my skills.

Last June, I checked in with the community here for advice. My riding was still not where I wanted it. Still couldn’t keep the wheel off my legs and ride as straight as I wanted:

Feedback from that led to me focusing on practicing pedaling faster and smoother, with this as my start (on a 20" UW):

I was still a ways from my goal but almost immediately having gains in speed, efficiency, and form.

This July I will have been at it for 2 years. My stamina is much better than when I started. And even much better than a year ago. There are stretches of rides where I hit my dream, but it’s far from consistent still. But, always improving. :slight_smile:

I’ll probably try to share some video updates this spring/summer. I can do some really fun stuff now. :wink:

Very long story short. Keep at it if you find it your kind of fun/challenge. Mix up things where you can, everything helps each other up to a point. Best of luck!!!


Thanks for sharing your journey! Very cool! I’m especially impressed that you can do a bit of backwards and idling; I’ve started experimenting with that recently but so far struggle even with a hand on a wall.

Here’s a video a got from a week ago at Austin jugglefest. I spent a lot of the weekend practicing pretty intently. Made a good bit of progress though I ended up taking most of this week off to recover :laughing: . Once I get going I manage to avoid “s curving” much, but still do rub my legs on most revs (hence the leather spats).

So yeah, continuing to chip away at it. I like the idea of experimenting with different sizes and types of wheels. Hopefully the three-way trade with you (@dreamisdestiny) and @Uni2ONE2 works out and I’ll have a 28" to play with in addition to my 24". I’ll keep an eye out for smaller ones too. In the meantime maybe I’ll try one of my uni wheels as a cranky UW.


Oh, it’s working out! @dreamisdestiny shipped his yesterday, and I will ship mine to you on Monday.

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