Just starting out...

Hi everyone, I’m new to the forums and very new to unicycling. I’ve always wanted to try it so I decided to go for it and 3 days ago I bought a used Kris Holm 19” Trials unicycle that a guy was selling for around $200. It seemed to be in really good shape so I hope that was a good deal.

After a few attempts, I can finally get on the thing (with assistance… no freemouning yet!) and “ride” maybe 10-15 feet at a time. I say “ride” in quotes because to me it’s more like a semi-controlled fall.

My question is this: would it be easier to learn on a 24” or a 26” wheel? I’m only 5’8” so I was a bit leery of getting a bigger wheel, but maybe I’d get better faster if I was peddling less rapidly.

Would a Muni, Free style or street unicycle be better to start out on?

I also am having a bit of difficulty with my side to side balancing. I’m a bit older (over 40) so maybe the learning curve for me might be a bit more gradual. Are there any off unicycle balancing exercises that people do to help?

I’ve been viewing the forums and the biggest tip that people say is Practice! Aside from that… does anyone have any other tips for someone that is just starting out?

Thanks for reading!

Yes, you got an excellent deal on that unicycle! I wouldn’t worry about getting a new one right now, as the one you have is incredibly versatile and also the ideal size for both learning and advanced techniques, at least in my opinion.

There was a thread here a while back about off-unicycle exercises. The consensus seemed to be that they don’t help much. Try to ride further, obviously, and if there’s a direction in which you have trouble turning, practice those turns more. Oh- and start trying to ride over surfaces that are not smooth, dropping off curbs, etc. Adjusting to uneven ground is good for your brain and will make riding on smooth pavement seem incredibly easy. Maybe try riding up or down a gently inclined plane. You will think of all these possibilities and more on your own, though, once you manage to ride a little further. You should also set aside a little bit of riding time to learn how to free mount, as it will save you a lot of time and trouble once you start going for rides that take you far away from your trusted lamp post, fence, etc.

Sounds like a really good deal indeed!
The only problem I might see with a trial as a learner is the crank length. On my Impact, there are 140mm which is a bit cumbersome for riding. When I lend it to friends who went to (try to) learn, I usually put some 125mm on it. It’s much easier with those.

That was me a couple of weeks ago. Just keep at it. One of the things that was really informative as I started going longer stretches (a city block or two) on the bike path at a time was to be able to feel that the wheel was getting progressively ahead of or behind me and correct that by changing my pedaling rate temporarily to recenter it, then returning to whatever speed I wanted to be going.

Everyone does. It helps to get your arms out to the side. My early attempts that managed to survive the first mistake involved a lot of “arm swimming”, and I still find riding with a hand on the seat handle (after mounting or transitioning from hops) difficult. It’s also interesting to experiment with torquing the tire using your body - oddly it feels like that was a key early on, though I’m not aware of still doing it.

Once I got so I was sometimes stable at all, I started trying to do laps of the lounge area at work. At first I could only make the first turn, then made it most of the way around and finally a complete circuit. The second challenge after maintaining balance was extreme leg fatigue, but it has gotten better: Beginner Struggling to Relax. Getting the seat up makes a huge difference too.

Not having yet ridden a tire like yours I can’t comment if that is ideal, but apart from that assuming you can get the seat high enough (it’s often set lower for trials) it should be fine. Put it this way - if you had a typical learner unicycle, inside a month you would really be wishing you had that KH you scored instead. Wanna trade?

After taking my learning 20" out to a bike path and feeling lost in the wide open space pedaling like mad on my little (word we don’t use here) toy, I ordered a 26 road unicycle. Given how much seat post I have exposed I would guess you would fit on it (vendors often list a minimum recommended inseam, but there are people shorter than you who have ridden 36ers). It does ride more smoothly and with less effort when I finally get going on it, and I’ve actually had more success trying to freemount on it as it stays in place better. But I have to say I still find it a lot more intimidating - my longest distance so far came in part because I wasn’t looking forward to trying to get down, though in reality that part went fine when the nice stretch of path ended. Generally though I’m happy riding the 20" in laps around in the office, but the 26" still feels too big indoors to do anything but try to get on it without support and pedal a few revolutions to prove I’m stable.

You can always start watching your local classifieds for a deal on a larger unicycle, but I don’t think you need to go out and get one yet. Especially if you have nice areas to ride around in circles and work on skills, rather than feeling like most of your options are narrow paths where there’s not much to do but ride in a straight line.

Perhaps, but there are a lot of us who started well into adulthood. The primary issue may be that we have more developed instincts towards self preservation. And longer healing time when muscled get wrenched in panicky reaction to the unicycle doing something unexpected - something that should improve when control ends up being achieved by applying invisibly small corrections earlier, rather than desperate ones later.

Something else you can do that’s worth starting early as it changes your relationship to the unicycle is to find a nice support aid, get your cranks level, grab the seat with your free hand, and learn to hop a bit. Experienced people will say not to treat it as a pogo stick… but I think maybe you have to start out that way, and slow down later.

I didn’t get into hopping until I had been riding for months, but that’s only because I started out on a cheap unicycle that would have cracked up more quickly than it did if I had hopped. The handle on its seat was also hard to reach. You don’t have either of those problems, so yeah, hopping would be a good idea.

When I first practiced on a 20", a neighbor commented that I had not “found my core”. Later, he saw me on a 26", and then he told me I’d officially “found my core”. Not much had changed, though, in my riding skill in the interim between the two comments. What changed was how my riding looked.

With a 20", you’re going to ride like a crazed banshee. You will ride smoother on a larger wheel. That doesn’t make you a better rider on a larger wheel. Value process over product. The product of a big wheel may be a smoother-looking, less-jerky ride. Once you’re up and riding, you’ll look more competent on a larger wheel. But the credit for the smooth ride on a big wheel goes to the unicycle, not to you. The smaller wheel, every time it jerks to the left or right, that’s an opportunity to learn how to steer. So, you may look like a fool on the 20", but you will be learning faster.

Larger wheels are more fun riding forward longer distances. As a beginner, I obsessed about riding the 1/4 mile loop of my neighborhood without falling off. It may take you longer to ride a comparable distance on the smaller wheel, but in the meantime, you’ll learn a lot of other stuff, such as mounting techniques, which are more challenging on the larger wheel.

Search the forum…there are endless debates about the best wheel size for beginners. This is just my humble opinion.

Welcome to the forum. Keep practicing.

That’s an excellent unicycle. Overkill for learning but you can learn on just about anything. The disadvantages of the KH trials for learning are:

1.) The tire is too fat and squishy. Pump it up tight for learning.
2.) The pedals are unnecessarily aggressive. Cheap, plastic, pinless pedals are best for learning. They let your feet slide around and are less likely to damage your shins.
3.) As mentioned, the cranks are too long and will be prone to pedal strikes while learning. Great for trials, though.
4.) The frame stem is short to allow a short seat post configuration for trials riding. The saddle looks really low in the photo. Your height is unimportant here, it is your inseam that is important. Adjust the saddle so that your knee on the extended leg is just slightly bent.

The best learners are cheap unicycles with narrow high-pressure (60 psig) tires, cotterless cranks, and main cap bearings. If you don’t like unicycling you’re only wasted $50 to $100.

Yes, I could see how changing out the pedals for cheap, less bloodthirsty plastic might be worthwhile.

If a solid but more learner-oriented 20 or 24 turns up on the used market (lots of people buy them and give up, though some of those are $65 amazon cheapies with weak cranks and bearings) buying that could make sense with the plan to resell it in a month or two for close to what you paid. But buying one new probably means paying around $125+ and selling for not much more than half that. You’d almost do as well buying pedals, cranks, and a cheap tire.

Personally, rather than resell it if I get a better 20" I’ll probably take my learner one on the next out of state family visit and leave it there for future use, or else pass it on to someone else in the office.

I taught both my adult sons to ride on a KH 19 inch with a Creepy Crawler and 137 cranks.

Both were riding it competently over 30 metres with less than two hours in the saddle so I think it is an ideal uni to learn on, for them at least. They are 6’2" (187cm) and 6’4" (193 cm).

They rode in work boots so the pins were not really an issue. The uni was fitted with a Nimbus 400 mm seat post.

Thanks for all your replies.

Good tip. At first it seemed like the unicycle was taking me in whatever direction it wanted, slowly I’m getting a better handle on it.

Right now I’m riding up and down my driveway which does have an incline. I used to find that riding the slope downwards was easier than upwards, but now I’m not so sure… What did everyone find harder to do at first… up or down?

I’ve started to try and do this as well… only managed one successful attempt where I managed only one revolution before bailing… slowly getting there!

I never even thought of this! So a shorter crank length would be easier to learn on? For some reason, I thought it would be the other way around…

I’ve been kind of getting a glimpse of this but I think you’re right and I’ll need to go longer than 50’ to really be able to adjust my pedaling speed.

I started trying this after reading your post… it seems to be working!

I can foresee leg fatigue being a problem… I’ll be reading your thread soon. Thanks for the link.

There’s someone here selling a 24" Torker DX for $225. Is that a good deal?

So true!

Good idea… I’m going to add it to my practice regiment.

Interesting way to look at it. So is it easier to go from a small wheel to a large wheel than the opposite?

I learned on a 24" while free mounting at every attempt. It was the hard way, it took about three weeks. When i could ride i bought a 20" giraffe. Although i was scared the first time it was very easy to ride and i had loads of fun. So i would suggest to stick to the uni you have which is very nice! And think about what you want to do next, longer distance, goofing about, off road,… and then decide on the next one.

Good tip… I did that and it helped a lot… thanks!

I actually found that I don’t like my feet sliding around… the damaged shins I can do without though!

I think I do have it set right. I only have a 30" inseam… but I’m going to double check. you should be actually sitting on the seat as opposed to hovering over it, right?

Nowhere near the bargain you got on your KH trials, but if in excellent condition it’s not a terrible price if you precisely want a 24" unicycle with a big off-road tire. Otherwise it’s not much below new price for something that may not be a better fit than what you have.

You could offer less. Worse they can do is angrily say no.

Where do you want to ride right now?

You could keep the aggressive pedals but buy shin guards

For efficient riding on flat surfaces (rather than tricks or lots of hopping) you want the seat to take your weight and allow your leg to be nearly straight when the pedal is down. You will probably be able to get there with the stock seatpost on most unicycles, unless you get one that someone already shortened or ordered with an extra-long seatpost (they can always be cut, or if necessary replaced).

Something I found was that just having the seat in the right position doesn’t mean you will necessarily put weight on it - getting my weight onto the saddle and reducing the unnecessary effort in my legs has been a big challenge against which I’m slowly improving.

There’s some surprising truth here. Just got back on my 20" after a weekend of feeling like I was building some real confidence on the 26", and amazed how, well, bad I am at being stable on the that squirrely little wheel.

Good stuff posted here.
Newbie here too and I just picked up a 24" torker LX, I decided to go with a 24" because (well besides scoring it for $60) I figure this will likely ever be my only uni, and I’ve read a few folks say that once you get the hang of it, a 20 is not ideal unless your goal is tricks. i tried learning on a 20" cx years ago for a few days and i think i’m already further along in the couple hours of falling I’ve put on the 24 so far. I’ve heard people say a smaller wheel is easier to learn on but that hasn’t been my experience so far, maybe because a smaller wheel can feel less ‘stable’ or more ‘squirrely’?

Ha! wanna buy a bridge… in Brooklyn?

A 20" is definitely more suited to a focus on how you are riding or something you are doing while riding than it is to riding to somewhere.

If a 24" is what you have, and you aren’t feeling intimidated by it, then it’s the perfect unicycle for you to be practicing on right now :slight_smile:

Really, it sounds like you got a lot of capability for a bargain price. Chances are if you stick with it you will buy others in the future, but right now you have something that’s not too big to do interesting things, and not too small to cover short distances.

Right now, I’m content to just ride in my driveway or in a school parking lot or playground. Eventually I’d like to see if I could do some off road Muni riding on trails but I think I need to develop better balance and control first. I’m still struggling to turn left or right but I hope that will come in time. Right now I can ride about 50’ about 60-70% of the time. I figure, aside from turning, that I should learn to free mount and idle before attempting to go off road.

Here’s a question, is there much of a difference between a 24" and a 26" uni? (Aside from the obvious 2" of course!). For those that have ridden both, which would you choose and why? Also, what type of riding do you do? Are these wheel sizes meant for different riding styles?