Learning the 36 Inch Wheel

I still have freemounting problems after 7 years of Coker riding!
(I probably need a head shrinker help on that one :o -because I hurt myself badly once while freemounting a 36" I have bouts of failures and I can miss a few dozen tries in a row !!!)

I wouldn’t really call that a static mount. You can’t really do a “proper” static mount on a 36" unless you’re really tall. In regular unicycle terms, what your video shows, I would call a partial rollback mount. Problem with that is you not only have to cancel the rollback of the heavy wheel, then you’re starting from zero to get it going.

In my 29 years of big wheel riding I have always used the same kind of mount (unless I wanted to show off or get some variety). This is what I would call a rolling mount. In a textbook rolling mount, the wheel never stops turning. Mine does. But taking a step or two before stepping up onto the wheel makes a big difference. While not using the wheel’s momentum to help much, your body’s momentum is what makes this mount much easier than a static or rollback mount.

Take a few steps, then step onto the rear pedal when it’s about level. Let the wheel stop while your body goes up, over and slightly ahead of the center of the wheel. Then start pedaling.

Not that this is easy at first, espcially on a 36". Those wheels are no only heavy, they’re large. The greater radius means the weight of that heavy wheel takes more effort to get moving. But if you try to rush things, it usually doesn’t work out well. Often an adjustment is needed just before you start to pedal. When I get up there, if I feel like I’m a little bit off to one side or the other (which is usually the case), I will give a slight twist before I start to pedal, so the wheel heads off in a “corrective” direction. I have found that, for me, the key is to not rush this. Even with short cranks, or in high gear and with an awkward handle and backpack, this method works for me almost every time.

Yes, we all do. As a hill gets steeper, your range of balanced riding, or “balance envelope” gets smaller. In other words, a unicycle is harder to balance when going uphill. Add bumps and it ups the difficulty even more. It’s a great way to refine your balance, as every error is exaggerated when you’re going uphill.

As you said, it’s all in your mind. I have a similar problem with shifting my Schlumpf, and riding above running speed. For shifting, I need to focus more on just the shifts. But I always end up taking off, with an emphasis on covering distance. My shift training gets neglected. Spend some focused time on mounting, and try the method above. If you focus on just that, your confidence will be repaired in time.

Since you asked…While I was learning inside, I noticed a looseness in the crank, so I took it to a friend of mine who owns a bike shop and he tightened up the crank bolt on the left crank. Then I took it out for my first road ride and a little over a mile out, it became loose again and so I had to walk back and was not happy. UDC reffered me to Coker and they (can’t remember his name right now - I have it written at work) told me to put locktite on the bolt. I did so and went out for another road ride and it came loose again and had to walk back again. Now Coker is sending me a prepaid shipping label for me to send it back for them to fix. I also have a problem where the seat post rattles in the frame. Want them to fix that as well. I guess it will be a week or so until I get back on the V2.

Anybody else have problems like this?

Congrats on the 36er. I hope you enjoy riding it. I purchased my first 36er a Coker Big One, this past summer and practiced mounting after successfully riding it.
What I did was I would mount, ride to the end of my street, purposely get off and not go back home until I managed to mount and ride back. I would do that over and over to both ends of the street for about two nights straight. At first I’d be stuck at one end of the street for sometimes 15 or more minutes, :astonished: , it worked though and I can mount successfully as long as I ride regularly.
I use the rolling mount and found this video helpful (thank you Terry P)
I know for me John Foss is right, I could not manage to do a real static mount, I’m only 5’2" and it’s just too big for me to stretch that far.

Good luck, have fun and enjoy the 36er, I love riding mine.

I agree with Jo

Yes, the left crank on my Big One has the same issue. I finally got the problem under control when I went with blue loctite, rather than the purple I started with. I also rotated the cranks. It still comes loose occasionally, so I monitor it. I also carry a socket wrench with me on long rides, just in case. And I try to avoid hopping. All in all, an annoyance but not a big deal. I’ve had the Coker for >1.5 years and have put many miles on it.

+1. When learning to mount the 36 I found the running mount - or rolling mount? - was my prefered way to get on top of the wheel. Here is a practice video when I was first learning the mount that might be useful as it shows a beginners efforts. This was also before I could ride with both hands holding the handlbar.

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@flyjeffva: It looks like we have similar problems. It is a real pain for me to mout my 36er. I tried static mount, rolling mount - and now ended up (again) with rollback mount.

My Problem with static mount is that I always have to do a few hops before riding off (and I fear that my geared hub will not be happy about this in the long run…)
And with the rolling mount, I have timing problems.

It may sound weird, but the rollback has the highest success rate (for me). It do not need to jump a lot because when I step on the pedal, the seat will just push me up. I find that much less exhausting than doing a static mount.

Nevertheless I made 2 short videos last summer. I will add the rollback mount as soon as the weather allows.

Here are the videos:




That is agood question. I don’t have an answer.

When watching your mounts, the pattern emerges that all of the failed mounts are errors of not getting your body far enough forward. When you do make it up to the top you take a bunch of those little hops that allow you to position the wheel a little bit behind your body’s center of mass. This tips you forward which allows you to then accelerate the wheel forward, get the wheel back under you and get going. More practice and the resulting increased confidence will allow you to mount directly to that forward position and cut out the middle step of hopping to reposition the wheel.

Flyjeffva, don’t be afraid to maximize your control of the wheel. Getting longer cranks could really help. I love to ride on the steep hills where I live. For most of this riding I use 165 mm cranks on my 36" guni. When I’m training for long distances on flats and rolling hills I put on my “short” cranks (152 mm). Although I’ve never had any mounting problems on my 36, I notice a significant improvement in my ability to climb steep hills (8-10+% grade) when I’m using my 165 cranks. I can only imagine that your mounting will improve more quickly with longer cranks. Your wheel will be more responsive and you will gain confidence more quickly.

36" unicyclists (I’m referring to wheel size here, not unicyclist size :p) have a tendency to ride with shorter cranks in order to maximize their ability to spin fast. I see no problem with that, but don’t let this “shorter-is-better” crank culture interfere with your finding the crank size that best fits your riding and your terrain. Try out a pair of 165 mm cranks and see how you ride. It’s not a big investment compared to the time you’ve spent learning to mount. With all of the steep hills you have around you, you’ll benefit from having some long cranks in you quiver. Speaking from experience, a 36" guni with long cranks and a brake is a very versatile and capable vehicle. Maximize your potential and maximize your fun.

Hope this helps.


Torso twist

Thanks for the video Monocyclism. I am right handed but mount the same way with you do, with my left foot first then stepping up with my right. I think they call this “goofy foot” in surfing/skateboarding/snowboarding. Are you the same, or are you left handed? I also noticed that you had a pronounced upper body twist to the right. I am struggling with the exact same thing and was wondering if it was just me… I am making some progress, but it is still there. I don’t know how new of a rider you were when you made this video, but I would love to hear how the torso twist is now, how long it took you to overcome it, and if there was anything specific that you did. I am currently riding a 26" muni, and am just focusing on keeping my shoulders square. Sometimes I even force myself to twist hard to the left to see if I can get my body/brain to stop going so hard to the right. I just ordered a 36er and will start riding it later this month as the weather allows, and then just keep checking back on this great learning thread!

Thanks everyone for the excellent posts :smiley:

I have to say that, as mounts go, this thread has done me wonders. In my very short time on a 36er, I’ve been doing a static mount with reasonable success on flat or slight downslope, but pathetic on upslope. Today, I read John Foss’ comment a couple of times, then went for it on the rolling mount. 3 of 10 on the first go round, then 8 of 10 on the second, including a couple times on slight uphill grades. I was surprised at how natural it felt after getting past the mental hurdle of just going for it. For me, the rolling mount is going to be a serious game changer when it comes to overall confidence on the 36er. :slight_smile:

c( = got some 170s for my 36er this Christmas, can’t wait to try them out. I had it down to 114s, but I’d really like to try some single track on it, I have tried some offroad with the 150s and I wasn’t very confident. I can’t wait to idle and ride backwards easier on it : )

Got my new Nimbus Impulse today. I assembled it this evening and could not wait to go ride.

My riding environment was not the best. It was my gravel drivway. It has a circle about 150 feet in diameter. There is what I would have described as a slight hill.

Initially, I could not make it up the hill. The first 5 or 6 attempts at going around the circle resulted in UPD’s on the uphill slope.

I will say that my static mounts have become quite reliable on the downgrade when I would turn around and go the other way after a UPD.

Then I completed a loop YEA!! Never was able to complete 2 loops. After completing one, I would UPD on the next uphill. At that point, I was panting for breath - after just 1 1/2 loops around the driveway. I run and ride regularly, so I am not out of shape, but 1 1/2 loops around my driveway was kicking my butt!

I did get enough courage to pull the brake on 2 of the down hills. It worked great - absolutely no balance problem and the drag was a “welcome addition” on the downhill. I think I am really going to enjoy having that disc brake.

Then when I was done - Only 1.2 miles on the computer - it ocurred to me to wonder exactly how steep that little hill was. I went out with a 6 foot level and yard stick to measure. The rise over 6 feet was 8 inches. That works out to just over 11% grade - no wonder I was having trouble - and that was on an inconsistant gravel surface.

Oh, forgot to mention that I got KH 135/165 cranks with the Impulse. Have them on 165 which probably helped with the 11% grade. At some point further down the learning curve, I will go to 135 and report on the difference.

Tomorrow will hopefully allow for some road time. Will advise how that goes.

Today, I finally braved cutting my 36" frame. I’m now able to ride with the 165s. I also removed the handle and brakes. It’s like riding a toy. I’ve sacrificed the “dreamier” feel of the 125s, but have much more control when I need to turn sharply, climb over bumps in the road, or start from a dead stop (holding onto a pole at a traffic light). I can even see going off road as long as it isn’t technical. Now I need to take it to a hill to see how that goes. I still can only freemount on the downhill, even if it’s the downward slope of the road crown. I feel like the 165s are more work physically, but the 125s are more work mentally.

As another new 36er rider, I think longer cranks are great. I got my first 36er put together last night and now have about 10 miles on it, mostly on-road but have also ridden some easy trails. I’m running 160mm cranks which give good control even on rough terrain and I’m getting around 80% of my free mounts. Riding strictly on pavement I can see the desire for shorter cranks but really like the versatility the 160s give me - some 165/137s could be in my future as well.

this may be bad advice, but i’ve sort of gotten down the 36" after only about 2 weeks of riding and i’ve found that, when freemounting, it is a lot of help to actually grab the wheel and then pull it towards we when i jump.

I started with 150/125 dual cranks and still only use the 150 mm holes.
I tried the 125 mm once or twice and I simply can’t mount (or after 20 tries).
And with the Schlumpf hub, I really need the 150 mm to ride without the risk of UPDs at speeds above 13 mph …

Although I must say that all my UPDs so far happened at lower speeds. Running in high gear with high speed (I reached 15.5 mph) also gives the 36er a high stability. I hope I can improve to 18 mph this summer.

165 mm cranks would be too long when riding long distance. I think that the 150 mm are optimal (for me).

Cheers on getting your first high wheel. Ironically, the day I got my thirtysixer there was half a foot of snow on the ground; didn’t stop me for a second :smiley:

I’ll see if i can’t post a vid tomorrow, but i’m off to Asheville to go on a uni bar crawl with my buddy Donno.

I use 24 inch for 3 months now and I see a 36 inch … 3 feet wheel…wow!