Kids Learning

I have seen a couple of 16" kid’s unis on ebay and it got me thinking.

My boys have been asking about getting a uni to learn on for a while, they are 7 and 8. I still have my old 20" learner and was going to cut that down for them. Of course that means I don’t have a 20" at my disposal anymore, so I’d have to buy myself a new Hoppley or something similar :roll_eyes: .

Is there an advantage to using a purpose built kids 16" over a 20" for this age to learn on?

Does the ski-pole method work best, or is it best to just go-for-it hanging on to things like I did. I recently taught a 13 year old who got on and rode within half an hour. I imagine progress is a bit slower and more traumatic with younger kids.



I would say just teach them to start in the middle of the street and free mount it without holding anything, it will make them better riders in the future. that is how i learned to ride and didnt take to long.

interested in your progress…

I just borrowed a 20 from a local uni rider who wasn’t using it. My oldest (10 years old)has a 23 inch inseam, which is right on the edge of reccomended size (as posted on I think it will be OK. I need to put some more duct tape on the seat,as it was a bit torn up. Beggars can’t be choosers.

I think most people discourage the use of poles. Having you help them directly is better.


well if there real short they should have a 16 inch 1 but if there kinda tall get them 20 inchers but i think the 7 year old either way should probably have 1 16 inch 1 just my opinion.

I’ve never taught any kids, but I’d imagine with younger kids the process isn’t necessarily much slower / more traumatic - it’d depend on the kids.

As a general rule, kids are supposed to be more robust to falls (and they have less far to fall), so it seems likely they could learn quite quickly. I always have a suspicion that the develop balance skills more quickly than us oldies (I use the term relatively), although my co-ordination as a child always left something to be desired!

The way they used to teach children in a place called the Clocktower was to get them set up between two chairs. And just let them get some balance and go for it.

I would say the advantage of 20" over 16" is that with the 16" the cranks are more likely to hit the floor when you are learning.

For myself, my son (who is nearly 8) is very afraid of falling. He was like this when we took the stabilisers off his bike too. He is a wimp, like his mother (who managed to learn to ride despite overwhelming wimpiness). He is not robust to falls. He has rubbish dexterity (also like his mother). And has rubbish ability to concentrate and persevere (unlike his mother). However, I am hoping that he will grow into unicycling but just isn’t ready yet. (I do still love him nevertheless and we have nice cycles - him on his bike and me on the uni).


also, sun makes a 18" uni thats sound slike it would be good. Here is one place that sells it.

here is another one


As it happens, my oldest (8) is away at Grandpa’s for a few days so it seemed like a good idea to give it a go with Ewan (7) while I had a “one-to-one” situation last night.

I cut down the 20" and made a small uni. Proportionally it is the equivalent of me learning on a coker, the seat is right down onto the wheel, so I’m not sure if it will work that well, but we tried for an hour or so.

One good thing with Ewan is that he is robust and has a natural flair for sports and bikes, and showed real determination, trying over and over again. The best he managed was three pedals, setting off from holding a workbench. He seems to know instinctively what to do, and when he fell it was from not having the leverage to make the pedal next turn, so I do think shorter cranks and a smaller wheel would help. He will probably get there on this uni but we might speed things up a bit with a 16" or 18" if I can find one in the UK.

The other thing is that once you have cut the frame down to such an extent, there is no room left for adjustment up or down. I’ll persevere for the rest of this week and if it looks like we are still struggling I’ll buy a 16" off ebay.



Try this, this, or this.

On the first one, you could cut the post just a little to fit the child better.

We got a really cheap 16" for Sam from ebay.


I’ve never ridden a 18/16/12" unicycle that wasn’t really cheap and nasty even compared to a learner 20".

I’d say if they can fit their legs on the 20" then stick with that if the shortest one can fit on now.

If he’s got to 3 pedals already, he’ll probably learn silly quick. I know I taught a couple of 12/13 year olds on a 26" that looked massive on them, and they had it down in a couple of hours damn them.

Once they’ve learnt, you need to find them a muni. Luke Hinson had a 20" trials cut down short to make a muni, which was super cool and seemed to work well for him, although I think he was a couple of years older before he started riding that. You can always bung a bmx tyre on the current 20 to make it a muni, Tue’s son Tom had a 20" muni like this at Dartmoor muni weekend and seemed to keep up with the 29ers okay, although possibly due to him and Tue being super fit.


Thanks for the suggestions. There’s a 16" kids uni on ebay right now I might go for, even if it’s cheap and nasty, it’s only got to last long enough to get them going. Still, we’ve got a few days yet so you never know he might be riding by the end of the week.

Bribe them with chocolate! it works!

Ive just been teaching a group of 11/12 year olds circus skills for an hour and a half a week for the past 7 weeks as part of their wednesday afternoon enrichment thing. The thing they were most interested and determined in was the unicycling above anything else, i think was because they felt they were achieving something even if they were only sitting on it.

My method of teaching involved them starting in groups of three, so they start by clinging on to a person each side, then they used the fence to cling on to with a person the other side, then on their own, then when they looked relatively stable i made them ride away from the wall clinging on to me to start with using me less and less as they went on, then launching themselves on their own. Then i used chocolate as a bribe…

One girl got it within 2 sessions, and could easily ride 100 yards by the end of it - although the only reason she first rode that far was because she was managing to ride 10 feet, then getting off because she didnt try hard enough to stay on. So to get her to ride further i told her i would give her a bar of chocolate if she could ride 100 yards, which she immediately did!! the next week - spurred on by the thought of chocolate - another 2 got it! which meant i had to spend my well earned money on lots of chocolate… but it was worth it because it was great to see them learn and achieve it and have lots of fun trying!


P.S. i stole the chocolate/bribe trick from when i was taught! and its worked for everyone ive taught so far! set a goal with a prize and theyll get it quick! then once they get it theyll be so pleased theyll keep ridin to see what else they can achieve on their own.

I also have a cheap n nasty 16 inch for the smaller ones, which worked nearly as well for them as the 20s for the ones who could reach easily.

My son is 7 he learned recently on a 16 and I moved him to a cut down 20". He is happier on the bigegr wheel.

I recommend hallways with walls on both sides. Chairs, and fences. The child will pull away from the wall when they are ready. I don’t believe in just putting them in the middle of the street and letting them go. When in the later stages of learning. He put a tall stool on the side of the road, would use that to mount and get his composure, then he would ride off. A slight downward incline is a big advantage.

I also was very lax on encouraging practice. It took my son a year on and off to learn to ride, but he learned because HE wanted to not because I wanted him to. It makes a big difference in how long he may sustain interest. When he did practice I was full of praise and coached him only when he looked like he wanted help. I really let him own the process. He rarely was injured as a result of that, too. Little kids tend to know what they are capable of and what kind of injury they can sustain instinctually.

He was up and riding well mid May, about a year after I bought him his uni. Now he rides mUni with me and freemounts about half the time.

Good luck!

Our club had a 6-year-old boy who learned on a 20-inch. His dad cut the seat post really short. He rides well but back then he looked a bit like a waddling duck because of the relatively long cranks and short seat. I think he is 8 or 9 now.

We had another boy who started at age 7 on a 16-inch. He just turned 10 and still rides the 16 but he is small for his age and that is what he is comfortable riding. He can ride across grass and down curbs and is a very stable rider but shows little or no interest in any skills that might lead to a fall.

Both boys took almost 6 months to learn but with parental proding, self motivation and help from club members they both learned.

My son is 9, almost 10, but small for his age, about 60-65 pounds.

I bought him a Torker LX20 for Christmas. I figured it was better to cut down a decent uni that he can grow into than get him a 16" that he’s going to grow out of as soon as he actually learns to ride. Once you can ride, 16" seems pretty useless.

He figured out the riding… learned to freemount about a month ago. He’s dropping off benches and learning to hop up curbs. He went on about a 2-3 miles MUNI ride with us and kept up just fine. He calls his uni the Puni Muni. 16" would not be working so well for him right now, so I know we made the right call on 20".

I am beginning to think the cranks are relatively too long, he seems to know what to. We have a bench in the middle of the street, he gets himself up easlily, rocks to-and-fro, and when he feels good, sets off. He has the technique pretty well, but he mainly stumbles because he can’t get his next pedal over the dead-zone at the top. When you look at him in that position his knee seems up in the air far too high. I think it throws him sideways aswell. This happens when I lead him along too.

Thanks for all the advice, it’s been interesting. I think I’m going to try a smaller wheel. For the sake of a few quid, I reckon it’s worth it. I’ll let you know how we get on.


This is probably a dumb question as it sounds like you’ve been pretty careful about the seat height, but his leg is fully stretched if he sits on the seat with his heel on the bottom pedal? I’m sure it is set right, just I have seen people having real problems learning because their seats were too low and their knees were coming right up, so it’s worth checking.

Kiddies bikes come with shorter cranks (sometimes much shorter) so you might be right on the cranks though, if he’s got half the leg length and they’re 150mm cranks, maybe they’re a bit like you riding a 300mm crank.

If you end up with a super small unicycle with 80mm cranks, you’ll also have the added bonus of a pretty challenging unicycle for you to play on!


I’ve set the seat up OK so his leg is extended at the lower stroke, but the seat is right down on the wheel. There’s only enough frame left for a seat clamp, and the seatpost itself is now one inch long.

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, when I watch him trying it just looks all wrong. And I wouldn’t try to learn on a coker with 300mm cracks so why should I expect him to - aren’t I a nice Dad!

Ha ha! And now that I’ve wrecked my 20" I can buy myself a new one;)

BTW He loves it when the other kids in the street come out and watch him, he tells them all about uni and how to do it, even though he can’t do it himself yet. He keeps trying to wheelwalk too, I’ve tried to explain that that come next, but he just keeps trying!

I would avoid using ski poles as they can be very dangerous especially with kids

If they fall off and hit the ground still holding the ski poles in their hands they can dislocate their thumb, I did this when skiing and was told it was one of the common ski injuries.

Or if the ski pole sticks into the ground as they are falling off, the handle end can then impale them or even worse go into an eye socket.

best way to learn is with something to hold onto and getting the courage to ride off unsupported making sure theere are no nearby hazards like cars, spiked fences, bottomless pits, etc

good luck teaching them