Learning to Idle

Hi Everyone
Could you please share the secrets to learning how to idle? I have heard the longer the cranks the better. Most of your wieght on the lower leg that stays mostly at 4 to 6 to 8 oclock positions. How do I learn this much needed skill?

Hi Uniqueways, all the things that you mentioned and…

  • Get inspired from vid tutorials - learning from imitating is very significant. The rider here gave me a lot of inspiration in my early idling days:
  • Put your focus on the lower leg - it's all about that leg, BUT... a perfect control just with the lower leg, will come later when you master the trick. So meanwhile you can "cheat" and help controlling the pendulum movement with the upper leg. Gradually you will realize that you actually use the upper leg less and less, until you can take it off the pedal comletely!!!
  • Here is my idling tutorial. Keep in mind that I've wrote it just after I mastered the trick, but for the first steps in idling it's O.K :) :
  • Don't get frustrated, it takes hours and days of practicing :D
  • You can share vids of you idling, and get good tips from people here... ;)

    Good luck!.


Here are my two tips that may not work for everybody, but it helped me get over the learning hump:

1- practice on a slick surface where you can turn your tire easily to keep it under your body when you fall left or right

2- rock faster than you think you should until it starts to feel somewhat natural.

Thanks for that - a couple of things I’d wondered about myself, as I’m currently learning to idle, and good to have some confirmation. I guess I could pump my tyre up a bit, as I have it pressured up so that it works well for hopping (the difference in ease of turning on my 29er where I have the tyre pumped up hard is noticeable - but I don’t fancy learning to idle on that!) Also I have found that rocking faster seems to work better, though wondered if I was doing it wrong, as looking at videos of others (including yours for instance) you seem to be rocking slower - presumably that comes with practice?

My current pb is 17 rocks, so it’s getting there - though I didn’t manage to beat my record yesterday (to be fair I didn’t practice that much) I am more consistently managing 10+ rocks. It feels just like learning to ride all over again, when I was counting my revs - though if anything it’s a lot harder, when I made it over 17 revs I’d pretty much cracked it, and I still feel like I’ve got a way to go on idling.

Yes, during the learning process, I recommend rocking faster than you think you should. Once it becomes more natural, faster isn’t necessary most of the time. My record with left foot down is 100+, but that is on my 20 inch trainer. I still can’t idle as well on my 24 inch Muni or my 19 inch trials. Like everything else, consistency comes with lots and lots of practice. I am now trying to work up to 100+ idles with my right foot down. I am up to 12 or so I think. I haven’t been practicing much.

Don’t forget your other foot too! Once you get one foot down, start learning on the other, it’s a very helpful skill to have…

Idling also helps with riding backwards and vice versa.


it seems like everybody is using a 20" to learn idling …is that the best size to learn on…because i don’t have one…when I practice on my 24" I get going maybe 3 times and then fall sideways before i can turn the wheel in that direction…I hate idling… :angry:

On the contrary, I was wondering if a 24 might be easier than my 20! If you’re falling sideways before you can turn the wheel, then it sounds like you’re still at the stage of needing to learn to turn the wheel quicker - I spent a little while working on that consciously (deliberately moving the uni sideways so I fell off the other side). It also helps to pump your tyre up hard and find a slick surface to make turning easier. I still can’t idle (my pb is only up to 18, though I get more than 10 more consistently - haven’t managed much practice in the last week), but can move the uni a couple of metres sideways whilst I try to counteract the topple - at least one way, not quite so good the other way.

…too late to edit. Have just been out practising after 2 days off the uni, and my pb is now 30 - making it over 25 more often than not (I think I’m now actually hitting fatigue). I reckon that means I can now idle :smiley: