Learner: uni size and seat type

Hello all you smart people!

I am just learning how to ride and I wonder if anyone can answer a couple of questions. I have been learning on my cheap 20" uni and sharing with a friend. He just got his own uni, a 26" Torker LX. I thought he might have trouble adjusting to the larger wheel, since he was only at the point of going about 20ft or so before that, but he did just fine. This weekend he learned to ride from one corner of the tennis court to the opposite corner.

I’m a bit behind him, but I do want to get a 24" uni since the 20" is just so small. Originally, I was going to wait until I finished learning, but it is taking longer than I thought, and my friend did so well with his Torker, I’m wondering, should I get one now and continue learning on it? He thought it was easier on the larger wheel. Maybe because he is over 6’ tall (I’m only 5’7’). I can’t ride his, because it is too high (unless he cuts the seat post).

The other problem I have is that I sat on his uni and I thought the seat was very uncomfortable. Mine is also uncomfortable, but his is even worse to me. He likes his better, but he will probably get some kind of upgrade (who knows when). I told him about the air seat kit he can get and he might get it. I don’t know if I want one of those or not. I wouldn’t want to try the assembly myself, but he could probably do it for me. Are they really the best? Or is there another reasonably good seat upgrade I can get?

I started riding along a wall

Find a nice neighborhood with little traffic if you can. I wouldn’t consider buying a new uni or seat until you can ride 1/2 mile or so. That much experience will help steel your imagination about where you want to go next. Arranging stuff on the seat, and other comfort issues will rapidly get better by themselves. I think you are doing fine, and need to have more fun exploring riding around your area.:slight_smile:

I like the tennis court

Thanks for replying. I know you get a lot of newbies here asking questions like this. Believe me, I read a lot of them and the replies and it helps me a lot.

I have been holding on to the fence around a tennis court, but I’m letting go more and more. That nice neighborhood with little traffic–I live there!:slight_smile: I’m not quite ready for that yet. The streets are a bit uneven and my uni-buddy said he tried it today, but it was much harder than the court.

About the seat, I’m not worried about arranging stuff :thinking: ; I don’t have anything to arrange and no built-in padding whatsoever. I’m just a very thin bony female with very sensitive skin. My seat has to have padding or else!

If you are thin and bony try bicycling shorts with plenty of padding. Seams in pants like jeans are a no-no. Sweat pants or shorts made from them are pretty good, too. A good combination is thick padded bike shorts worn without underwear and a sweat pant outer layer. By the way, “arranging stuff” means moving your genitals out of the way and applies primarily to males.

The sweat pants sound like a great idea (if a bit hot for July). Thanks! Essentially the b*** shorts would be my underwear. They probably cost $$$, though. Incidentally, my uni-buddy tried b*** shorts yesterday on the uni and they didn’t work out for him at all (even without underwear). He is a guy, though, and obviously built differently.

I’m a noob as well. I just started this summer, so I know how it feels like. At the moment my longest runs are a about a mile, but I still can’t free mount :o I’m going to tackle that next.

Give it a try! As soon as you can let go of the fence, wobble a couple of yards and hop off safely, try it outside. Every time as you are done practicing and leaving the court, grab a lamp post or a traffic sign pole and go for it. It will feel very different from the court, but you have to get used to it.

Otherwise you will develop a comfort zone inside the court and great mental barrier for the outside. You won’t ever feel “ready” for the big world. This was happening to me, when I realized I have to try the pavement someday. Should have done it way earlier. Don’t worry if you can’t turn yet. Your first runs on the pavement won’t be that long anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

I got a 20" no-name unicycle as a present. The seat was horrible! Nevertheless I started with it. As soon as I was convinced I just might be able learn this unicycling thing, I ordered a longer seatpost and a Kris Holm Fusion Freeride Saddle. That was what the salesperson recommended as the most comfortable seat at the moment. It feels sooo much better! I have never tried (or even seen) an air seat, though.

Now I have a 26" uni as well, which came with a Viscount saddle, but I like the KH so much better I switched the KH on the 26" and the Viscount to the 20" uni. (I am still practising new stuff on the 20". The 26" uni feels like a freight train compared to the 20".) I have now three saddles and I can tell the saddle does make a difference.

You might also want to read

Being able to ride a mile after a few months is great! We have been at it a lot longer and are nowhere near that point. I’ll tell the story here sometime.

As far as learning is concerned, my current barrier is a pair of bad habits I have to get rid of. One is not enough weight on the seat. The other is not being forward enough. I guess these are common for beginners. Even if I can start out okay, I always slip into those and can’t get back. The good thing is that I know these are my problems and the other good thing is I now can detect the moment I lose either or both of these. The tennis court fence is helpful in case I get off to a bad start, so I can restart easily. Once I get consistently able to do 3 to 4 revolutions without my bad habits, I should be able to control them well enough to just ride away from the fence. I did 4 once and boy did it feel good!

I doubt the “real world” would be much harder for me, once I’m at that point, but my friend should heed your advice. He can ride great across the tennis court, but if he goes over a dip, crack or tiny pebble he falls off.

Regarding the seat issue, thanks for the link to the other thread. I actually had started to read it a while back, but they kind of went off on a tangent. I went back and read it more carefully and here is what I learned.

  1. The seat can be tilted. I didn’t know that before. I looked under it and the bolts attach to the seat not through holes, but slots. It came from the store with the front tilted all the way down. I’ll try a different position and see what happens.

  2. People need to be more specific with their seat complaints. Everyone has different issues, and therefore there is no universal solution. My pain comes from where the edges of the seat press into the crease at the top of my legs. It is a very sensitive area for me and the bone presses me hard into the hard seat edge.

  3. People offering solutions need to qualify them with at minimum their gender, since their priorities seem to vary a great deal. Ideally, they should state clearly what problem their solution is intened to solve and how it does solve it.

I think a padded seat may help me a lot. This is only becoming a problem now because I’m learning to actually put my weight on it.

I still don’t know whether it would be a plus or a minus to upgrade to a bigger and better unicycle at this point.

Don’t worry too much about putting weight on the seat, yes it is important and is something that you will eventually need to do, but as a fairly new rider (6 months) I found it pretty much comes by just riding alot. The more comfortable I got riding, the more weight I put on the seat. Like most everything in this sport, it seems impossible at first, but with practice it becomes doable, then with more practice it becomes second nature.

I’d have to agree with this. I’m still struggling to get all my weight in the seat, but it is getting better the more I ride. The runs are getting longer and more comfortable. I’ve been riding for a little over a month. Today I am absolutely knackered after going for a rad 1 1/2hr ride yesterday :slight_smile:

Don’t fret. I am maybe four months old at unicycling now, and I can ride like no other. Can’t really do tricks just yet, but i can free mount and longest ride to date is about 5.5 miles.

I upgraded once I knew I could ride decently to a Nimbus II. It made a HUGE difference from the no-name uni I was riding. I had to get a new seat, the free style. But as far as upgrading, I would upgrade as soon as you think you need to.

And get away from the fence! I learned how to ride by pushing myself off a basketball post time and time again. Eventually (two weeks) I was able to ride a decent amount, and got out in the real world. It truly is a different world from the courts, but boy is it fun!!


Thanks! I thought everybody else learned it in hours or days max! I am old and slow to learn, but I am also stubborn. I like to call it determination, though.

I practiced sitting on the seat in a standstill or supported idling. I just sat there holding on a post and concentrated on putting my weight on the saddle. When I felt relaxed I pushed off and did a few revolutions trying to stay relaxed and sit down. When I go through my UPDs, the most common reason is to not sit in. Very soon after I start taking my weight off I UPD. For some reason that happens when I am getting exhausted, although it is much less tiring to sit in.

I was leaning too much forward. I was pedalling like crazy just to keep up. Only recently have I been able to slow down a bit. The idea of falling backwards just doesn’t tempt me at all. I still unmount in front of the uni, need to practice that as well.

Does your court have a door narrow enough for you to hold both hands? (I read somebody used a phone booth.) I found it best to start through a narrow opening, where I can balance myself exactly, push some initial momentum and start pedalling in the open without obstructions. I didn’t mind walking back a long way after a successful run, I was smiling all the way :slight_smile: Mark the spot where you UPD so you can monitor your progress. When you are no longer reaching the previous mark, it is time to take a break or call it a day. (…And if you are leaving the court, remember to give it a try on the pavement!)

That’s when you need to get your weight briefly off the saddle! It also helps to lower the pressure in the tire. You can practice “muni” in the court by using some scrap as obstacles. Or you might want to use a piece of soft rope to run over.

Keep it up!

Weight on the seat not that important? Then why oh why do my knees hurt? I have never, ever had any trouble with my knees (they are like steel and I baby them) until just a few weeks ago as I started to practice hard almost daily. Nothing else had changed (in my life), so I assumed it was because I keep standing on the pedals. When I ride with sore knees, the more weight that gets distributed on the seat, the less my knees hurt. Also, a while back I kept getting stuck with one pedal up and one down. More weight on the seat solved that problem right away. I think there is a minimum amount that makes it work well (and saves knees) and I’m trying to get to that point and stay there.

Right now I’m taking a few days off and resting so my knees can recover.:frowning: One day on and three days off will make learning take forever. I’m not kidding. At my age and this rate, I just won’t live long enough to learn this.:slight_smile:

Don’t let people give you that impression. We have now totally rejected the idea that it takes 10 hours or whatever because we are on our way to setting a new kind of record;) Setting an expected learning time just causes people to give up. We won’t, but there must be a lot of people who got frustrated and gave up when it didn’t come in a week or so.

Pretty much the same here, except I’m taking that weight off pretty quickly, usually. That is the thing I must change. When I fix that, watch out!

There is a place where the fence just ends and it is open. If I start about 10 feet before that, and I can get that far ok, then I just keep going in the open.

Oh, and I don’t need to mark distances, because I naturally count pedal steps (I can’t help it, actually). So I know exactly when I’m getting better or worse.
I tried to get my buddy to mark his progress, but he rejected the idea for some reason.

That makes sense. I think I’ll be good at that part, but my buddy…I’ll suggest the rope idea and watch him go


I found weight on the seat to be important. When I finally sat down I doubled my record instantly. It is still my main cause for UPDs. Somebody recommended one third on the saddle and the other thirds on the pedals. I can’t estimate my distribution though. I just try to sit down.

I’ve never had any problem with my knees, not even now when unicycling. It is my thighs that are killing me. The reason is my leaning forward, so I have to pedal like a madman to not fall forward. My thighs are growing stronger, though, and I am learning to slow down :o

How about changing your foot position a little? It might change the stress on your knee. By nature I walk toes slightly outwards. That made my heels grab the cranks (I’ve never noticed this on a bike), so I had to turn my toes in for unicycling. It was very difficult to change the position, it was like starting from zero again. You might also try to move your foot a little forward or back on the pedal (half an inch is plenty). The pedal should still be under the ball of the foot, so don’t exaggerate.

This thought crossed my mind as well :smiley:

If you try my exercise, try concentrating on your weight on the saddle and relax. Keep holding the support until you are feeling comfortable on the seat. Then try supported idling. When you let go of the support, pedal only as long as you are relaxed. Don’t try to break any record. Make up your mind that you’ll stop if you are getting tensioned.

Could it be that you are still leaning on the fence? Between two supports I can check that I only hold the supports by fingertips and equal pressure. That way I start well balanced.

Unicycling (like many other things) is mental to a high degree. Just knowing there is no fence may cause you to fall. The first couple of times I tried to run over a piece of cardboard or a twig, I UPDd five yards in front of it. Just for the thought of it.

I will agree that learning is mostly mental. You have a crutch (the fence) and might be afraid to get away from it. Leave the crutch behind and start unicycling! You can also try to mount up holding on to the tennis net posts. This way, you have to get out there and pedal. That’s how I learned, I jsut shoved off and rode till I managed to get it solid.

Also, make sure your seat is high enough. I had this problem when I first started out. It killed me legs till someone here told me to make sure my seat was just below my belly button. It made a HGUE difference, and made getting my weight on the seat so much easier.

As far as your knees, i’m gonna bet you have them at an angle they aren’t use to being. In due time, it will sort itself out you won’t hardly notice it. Once you get riding down, learning to turn and ride over bumps will be fun. All I will say on turning is swivel at the waist on the way you want to turn.

Don’t give up, check your seat height, and get rid of the crutch. In due time, you will be on the mean streets of (your town here) making people throw tasteless unicycle jokes your way!!


From my unicycling website, specifically from the Tips for Beginners page, you can download a spreadsheet that will calculate how long it will take you to learn riding, depending on age, sex, wheel size etc. In fact, it doesn’t give a single expected time but a probability histogram. That should prevent Universal Unicorn to give up as per her last post above. :slight_smile:

I started out with a no name unicycle in my backyard on the patio which is very small. After about a month of trying to go from one end to the next I gave up. But about five months later summer came along and I went out in the street to try once more. Didn’t hold onto anything and just tried to freemount and three days later I was cruising everywhere. I’ve taught two of my friends to ride with this method and they can both ride fairly good now. When your practicing my advice to you is when you feel like giving up keep going until you get one good run and then you stop. Good Luck, and keep riding!

Keep your weight in the seat

Keeping your weight in the seat is very important. I never heard of the 1/3 - 2/3 ratio. When you go over bumps, you will lift yourself out of the seat slightly to compensate, but your weight should be in the seat most of the time. It’s a lot easier on your knees. Once your balance develops, you will do it without thinking about it.


take it slowly but be persistant

Not to discourage you, but I found it important to limit my daily practicing as I was learning. Early on, after about 30 minutes I was so tired that it was pointless to continue. I rode every day though. I’m 46 and started learning last year. If you are younger, you might be able to have longer sessions.


That is good advice for beginner riders. But once you master basic riding, it depends on riding style. Especially for trials and technical MUni, your weight is not much on the seat.