Learning a double-wheel uni (DWU)

I’m still in the just learning stage but thought I’d add some info in case
someone years from now wants to check the forum about how to ride (or
fix*) a double-wheel uni.

I was lucky enough to have nearby a really tall metal gate with .75" (2
cm) posts. The posts were spaced apart about 6" (15 cm), and I would ride
along the gate holding onto these for dear life until I’d gotten the basic
feel of riding.

Before you get started:

*1. Off-true: If the wheels are out of whack, that can usually be fixed by
deflating the top wheel a bit. The bottom wheel should probably be higher
PSI so that you get good maneuverability; low PSI means the wheel grabs
the ground more, which can often be a minus.
If the top wheel (and therefore the unicycle part) of the double-wheeler
is off kilter, the pedals might hit the frame. This should be remedied
however the situation demands (truing the wheel, realigning the two
wheels, etc), but you can also avoid this problem by using flanged cranks
like LASCOs. I normally hate Lasco cranks, but luckily I kept mine because
I put them on my DWU and I no longer have to worry about the cranks
hitting the side, which can cause a really unexpected dismount.

*2. Cranks and pedals: You’ll be pedaling BACKWARDS, so don’t forget to
put that the left crank/pedal should be on the right side of the uni (and
vice versa). If you don’t do this, the pedals will eventually come off.
That would be bad.

  1. What to wear: I actually broke a wrist guard, not on a fall but from
    hitting the gate so hard while trying to prevent a fall. So wrist guards
    are definitely IN. A helmet is a good idea – you’re pretty high up and
    riding in a counterintuitive way, so a fall is more likely to be
    disastrous. I never had a bad fall over the first four days.

Getting started
4. Mounting: Even before you try riding, it’s good to know the best way to
mount. I don’t mean free-mount – that’s different. But even getting on
this thing is tough. For the first week I only used the stupid method of
pulling myself up sideways once I’d put my foot on the pedal and my butt
on the seat. The better way by far is to approach the thing like a
giraffe. Place the dominant foot on the same side pedal and, holding a
post or even leaning carefully on a wall, hoist yourself up so that your
dominant leg is now straight. Get your butt and other leg situated
correctly from there. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it gets much
easier over time.

  1. The best way(s) to learn: Some people (John Foss, for one) have written
    that they liked having a wall and a friend, but if your DWU puts you up
    too high (mine is made of two 24" wheels, so the seat is over 5 feet off
    the ground), it’s really hard to learn with a friend because a fall will
    imperil your friend’s life, and most friends aren’t tall enough to help
    you anyway. One person suggested learning in an alley, but the danger here
    is that you could fall really badly and hit your back, neck, or head on
    one wall as your wheel hit the other wall. I was lucky enough to have
    nearby a really tall metal gate with .75" (2 cm) posts. The posts were
    spaced apart about 6" (15 cm), and I would ride along the gate holding
    onto these for dear life until I’d gotten the basic feel of riding. So if
    you’re lucky, you can use a long, tall, fence with separated posts. This
    is my favorite way to learn because if you start falling, you can grab a
    post for support and prevent the fall, which saves a lot of time in
    re-mounting. Another excellent item would be a long pole or beam at arm’s
    height (about 7 feet off the ground).

  2. Learning: You definitely have to override your impulses to pedal
    backwards when you are leaning too far backwards, and vice versa.
    Normally, that’s what you do on an odd-number wheeled uni: You pedal
    forward to catch the uni up with you when you are leaning too far forward.
    On a DWU (or any even-number wheeled uni), you pedal in the opposite
    direction of the way you’re leaning. That makes it really
    counterintuitive. It’s sort of like what you do when you drive backwards
    while looking out the back window (so that you turn left to go what
    appears right). I found that it was hard to override this the first night
    but that each night, I got much better. On night #1, it took me a minute
    at best to ride the length of the fence, holding on with two hands the
    whole time. On the second night, I got across in 45 seconds on average.
    The third night I was under 30 seconds and didn’t need both hands – I
    could get a few feet with both hands off (less than a revolution). By
    night #4 (yesterday), I rode unassisted for four revs.

I hope this has helped.

David Stone

Very descriptive. This may very well be my next uni! Sounds fun