Re: Leaning turns
Let me add my two cents…
It seems people use the term “action-reaction” to describe jerky,
flailing, swimming turns, while elegant, smoothly flowing turns are
called “leaning”. It seems to me the real difference is that one is
performed out of balance, with the wheel weaving side to side passing
the boint of balance each time, while the other maintains dynamic
equilibrium throughout the turn.
Before going into what make a turn, I want to mention one factor which
does not. Although leaning the tire creates a slight angle of roll,
this angle is too shallow to be a relevant factor in actually turning
the unicycle. For example, I did a quick calculation for a 20x2"
wheel tilted at a 15 degree angle. If you let this wheel roll with no
slip, the resulting circle is over 600 feet in diameter - too big to
be a significant contribution to turning. I admit I’m rusty at doing
calculations like this, so feel free to check my math
[mailto:email@example.com if you want to see my work].
So what does make a unicycle turn? Friction allows one to slolwly
twist without letting the wheel slip much. Then with a quick twist,
the rider can steer the wheel. This twisting is a complicated
business, but the end result is the unicycle steers one way and the
rider rotates the opposite way.
Of course, steering is only half of the equation. The rider has to
stay in balance, too. Just steering the wheel in one direction puts
the rider out of balance to the other side. All turns require leaning
either the rider, the unicycle, or both, to shift the center of mass
towards the inside of the turn. Otherwise, the rider falls to the
outside of the turn. The amount of lean depends on both the radius
and speed of the turn.
So what is a leaning turn? I don’t really know what everyone means,
unless it is simply a turn performed with good balance. If this is
the case, then the “action reaction” turn is the result of weaving the
wheel back and forth over the line of balance. If this is so, a
“leaning turn” is a better turn in all cases, and “action-reaction”
turns are the result of the rider’s lack of skill. This makes some
sense, becuse the rider perfoming and “action-reaction” turn feels
himself twisting back and forth throughout the turn.
Still, I’m not sure this is what everyone is talking about. It may be
that how one leans makes the difference. Do you lean bicycle style,
with the unicycle upright and the body tilted inwards, or do you lean
like a skier, with the legs and hips angles, but upper body straight?
I have a definite preference for the latter. Does anybody turn
The other possible distinction is how the turn is initiated. You can
start leaning by allowing the unicycle to get ever so slightly out of
balance, then allow your body to smoothly fall into the turn, or you
can countersteer, moving the wheel opposite the turn first.
Again, I am reminded of skiing. To carve a slow turn, you can just
fall in the direction you want to go to get into balance before
bringing the skis around. Performace turns are initiated by driving
the skis to the side of the rider, then carving like mad to get them
to swoop back underneath.
Finally, I don’t really understand how a rider develops the rotational
velocity for 360s, spins and pirouettes. Maybe that’s why I’m still
struggling with some of these skills
I hope this helps. I’m interested in what other riders think of my