Is idling more that a neat trick?

Is idling more that a neat trick? I am Elmer’s son, and I have been wondering about that question. I am the only non-idler in our family, and it doesn’t seem to hold me back at all.

Depends what you want to do. I idle a lot when playing basketball, sometimes when playing hockey and very occasionally when riding MUni.

It is quite useful when riding around town waiting for traffic to pass or at lights.

I am not into tricks at all but I do idle as it is useful


Re: Is idling more that a neat trick?

i would say yes
apart from all the handy applications of idling, it is also a very good ‘in control of the uni’ skill that transfers to countless others

what kind of unicycling do u do where not idling doesn’t hold u back?

i think being able to idle is one of the most important things you can learn… if you have no way of stopping the unicycle without putting your feet on the ground, then you just dont have the same control over the uni that someone who idles does. i guess it depends on what you use your uni for. if you do muni, then you probably dont need to learn it. if you do trials, then i suppose you just hop in one spot when preparing to jump. however, i find it useful to be able to idle/go backwards when aligning myself for a jump so that i have the pedals in the 3 & 9 position when i ride up to the obstacle.

unless you feel like its “Holding you back”, then you have no reason to learn it. you know better than anyone else on this forum what is best for you. your style is different from everyone elses, so it up to you.



I ride muni & trials mostly, and I am not into the technical aspects of riding. I can 1 foot, and peck, and idle 5-6 times, and I am working on a seat-out hop.

Idling is a basic skill of unicycling. There is no doubt that you can get around without it, but it is nonetheless a very important skill to master. If you want to get into trials, you’ll need it to set up for hops and drops. If you want to get into freestyle it is an integral part of many moves. As well as what Nick said.

It is simply much cooler when you encounter a passing person, car or other moving obstacle to idle rather than dismount and wait for it to pass and then remount.

I have always wondered why idling with the dominant foot down isn’t a level 2 or 3 skill. And why idling with each foot down are equivalent level skills.

Learn to idle. It is time well spent.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Though you seem to describe yourself as a solid rider, generally people who don’t know how to idle also don’t know how to ride backwards. Without being able to idle, you can’t stop without having to get off. Unless you want to hop in place I guess.

I consider forward, backward, idling and turning to be the base skills of unicycling. Right now a bike can pretty much do everything you can. You haven’t fully experienced unicycling until you’ve learned those base skills.

Also, odds are you’re dangerous to be around. If you’re going to ride on a crowded sidewalk, for example, you’ll be less of a hazard to the pedestrians if you can stop when needed. Again you can get by with hopping, but I think you’re missing out.

It’s an absolutlely core skill.

It helps with freemounting, slow riding, negotiating rough terrain or tight corners, helps with reversing, 3 point turns, working near crowds… It gives you enormous confidence in all situations. Before you can idle, you can “ride on” a unicycle, rather than being able to “ride” a unicycle.

And, once you’ve learned, you should be able to idle a standard sized uni almost indefinitely with very little effort.

Learning things with your “second” foot is a lot easier than learning the first one. Your body already knows how to do it, you just have to get the first side to “share” with the other side.

As a core skill, idling with both feet is very useful. Sometimes you have to stop because you’re out of room. Or if you play games, pretty much any game on a unicycle requires quick movements, meaning stopping with either foot.

Fancier skills, ones that are just for show, don’t need to be done with both feet. But idling is more of a “utility” skill, and it’s very helpful to be able to ambi-idle.

I think that learning to idle with “the other” foot comes easier once you can idle with the dominant foot. And is very important because it will facilitate learning to ride backwards. Unicycling well means doing things either footed. If you must idle for a long amt of time, its easier on the leg muscles if you can switch over to the other foot.

Also, we like to play basketball. You can’t be picky as to which foot is where. You must quickly stop, idle, ride, idle, spin, go, stop… Funny thing though: if you can just barely accomplish the idling skill, play a game of Bball and you’ll be doing it without realizing it. Bball is a great skill accellerator. Your mind is occupied. Sounds intimidating but we get our riders out on the court just as soon as we can. They progress surprisingly fast. One kid can get an idle or two every now and then and he can’t even freemount yet… I’m just saying.

I agree that idling in Level 4 is misplaced. I think that’s something we’ve learned over the years since the 10-level system was put into place.

Many riders have found that idling is a very basic skill. In the new skills system, it is part of the Rider Base Skills.

The Base Skills include riding, turning, dismounting, freemounting (standard, either forward or rollback), idling, hopping, and going over a slightly raised surface.

Once riders master these skills, they can advance to the next tier, Intermediate/Advanced. That’s when they can branch out into other areas and focus on whatever kinds of riding they prefer – artistic, trials, U wheel, giraffe, and others.

The learn-to-ride tier (Rider Base Skills) is divided into 6 skill sets. It will be easier for brand new riders to pass these, and they are cumulative. So, riders can skip some if they’re good enough. In other words, if they pass Base 6, they’ve passed them all.

If you have questions for the USA, Inc. Skills Development Committee, please let me know.

email: cettermclean at hotmail dot com



I enjoy Muni and trials riding a lot and have found the idling has given me more confidence and balance in both areas. Definitely learn both feet, in many situations I have had to stop and back up a 1/2 or full revolution with Muni and trials and you can’t always choose the foot.

Idling also helps set up riding backwards. On many occasion I have tried a trials move and started to fall backwards. I just pedaled backwards a little. Again either foot here is important.

This past winter I worked on a lot of freestyle skills and have found it has helped my Muni and trials a lot.

I believe idling to be a important skill. And it just looks so cool!


What is idling on the unicycle?

Idling is staying on the unicycle withought any overall travel in any direction through gentle rocking of the wheel.

I personally think idling is important for all types of riding. When going back to pedals from wheelwalks I go into an idle, and when muniing I find that if I make a long skid at the bottom of a technical hill or something like that, my weight is back and an idle is a very convenient way to control the wheel and get back on track. Also, if my wheel gets forced onto a line I don’t want to take, I can force an idle, even over rocks and roots, and then turn my wheel and continue on a new line. In trials, I find that idling has many overlooked uses. Firstly, on a large line, one can take breaks without dabbing by just idling for a few minutes. Also, rather than doing energy-consuming flat gaps, I find that I’ll do a couple of idles to move my tire closer to an obstacle. Another use is that on some types of moves, I may suddenly find my pedals vertical. If I couldn’t idle, I’d just tip over, but instead, even when my seat’s out, I can idle my way back to the ideal position.

Then comes uni basketball and street riding around pedestrians. In uni basketball, I idle a lot, although lately I find small hops leave me more ready to manuever. In the street and sidewalks, I get cut off by cars in the middle of the street, in which if I couldn’t idle I’d be off my uni standing in the middle of a street. Instead, I idle, and then go. When around thick pedestrians, I idle lots, at lights, behind strollers blocking the sidewalk, and many other peculiar things. I agree with John, someone who can’t idle in a pedestrian environment is not safe.

Now, I’m curious, what do you mean by “I ride muni & trials mostly, and I am not into the technical aspects of riding.”? Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? Isn’t the whole point of muni to ride a really difficult, technical trail? And trials is all about a technical obstacle with limited space and difficult, precise moves. Is it trials if it isn’t at all technical?

Re: muni

I can idle and I don’t think idling is as useful as others seem to. On distance rides, I get too tired to idle because it requires slowing down. If you can consistently idle 5-6 times that is “good enough.” 'Course, I could overstate the skill because I am good at it to boost my ego :slight_smile:
Don’t worry about the skill, just use it when you need it (and you will get good at it through it’s use). In unicycle sports, I feel turning and sprinting are much better skills to develop. Idling and riding backwards are useful, but you can get by without either.

“even when my seat’s out, I can idle my way back to the ideal position.”
Seat out idling! Dope!

Re: Is idling more that a neat trick?

“gkmac” <> writes:

> For those who can idle: it is really necessary to be able to idle with
> either foot down?

Necessary? You can answer that for yourself. I find being able to
idle with either foot is very rewarding: Only now that I can idle with
either foot and ride backwards do I begin to feel like I can really
control the unicycle.

I’ll feel even more in control when I can get more weight onto the
seat while idling. Currently, I use the upper foot too much, which
makes idling pretty tiring. Now I’m working on one-footing it, which
I think will help :-).

> I learnt to idle over the past month or two with the right foot down and
> it took a lot of effort (for me) to learn, so I’m wondering if it’s
> worth learning all over again to do it with the left foot.

I found off-side idling really easy to pick up, and was soon better on
my awkward foot than my comfortable one!


just from here to there

By non-technical I meant that I don’t care what happens as long as it gets me from a to b. My riding aint pretty, but it works. About the being a danger to others, I live out in the country, and we don’t have ped. traffic.


Justice rides fine for his level of experience! But he hasn’t had as much seat time as the rest of the kids, because of homework and sports etc. etc.

He actually is able to do many of the things that you all talked about, he just doesn’t idle very long or ride more than four or five revolutions backward. He has a confident still stand before jumping or changing directions.

And Justice, if you read this, the same offer I made to the others applies to you! 25 idles(back and forth is one) earns you $25!

The rest of you forum members have to find your own sponsors :angry:

Is learning to stand important to a species of walkers?

Re: idling

Deal! Thanks Elmer… :smiley:

And Justice, Take my previous comment in the spirit it was given. Not idling may not hold you back now, but it is a core skill that supports many other aspects of riding. To make an analogy, Wynton Marsalis and Yo Yo Ma both run standard scales on their instruments every day. Idling is like running scales on a unicycle.