Learning to idle.

This is by far the best unicycling web site that I have ever seen. I would like to ask of the unicycling comunity for more info and advice. I’m also a juggler and would like to learn to juggle and uni, but to do this I must learn to idle. Please send any info you have about idling (including your experiences idling), it’s greatly appreciated.


Logan :slight_smile:

You can always search the past threads in this forum using a keyword like “idle” or “idling” for several stories of how different people learned to idle. I learned in my basement in the winter. The rafters are at just the right height that my head clears them and yet I can still reach them easily. I would hold onto two rafters using very little force and idle in place and slowly let go. It took about 30 minutes or so to learn. I did pretty much the same thing to learn to one foot idle which is just about as easy. Remember to KEEP YOUR WEIGHT ON THE SEAT and focus in the distance, not on the floor in front of you.

I rode for 15 years without ever managing to idle, then I saw someone doing it and learned very quickly. Moral: meet other unicyclists and you’ll learn more quickly.

First thing: imagine that your uni has only one pedal. That’s the working pedal, and you can eventually learn to idle one footed. When you idle 2 footed, you should be concentrating virtually all of your effort on the one pedal.

So, taking your left as the working pedal (you may prefer to use the right - it’s a personal thing)…

The working pedal passes from just below horizontal, through the bottom of its travel and up to just below horizontal. On a clock face, it would move from about 8 through 6 to about 4. (Ideally, it should be from 7 through 6 to 5. The better you get, the smaller the movement.)

Now, as you can already juggle, I guess you do various balancing tricks. Imagine balancing a broom on your finger. Now set the broom swaying. The way to keep it balanced is to move your finger from side to side, so that the SUPPORT (your finger) passes under the centre of mass (say the broom head). The broom head only moves a little bit; your finger moves quite a long way. The better you are, the less your finger has to move. The more you want to ‘perform’, the more you will move your finger.

So with idling the uni, the SUPPORT (the point where the wheel contacts the ground) moves quite a long way (say 1/4 - 1/3 of a revolution) but the centre of mass (your bum) hardly moves at all. Idling is like a pendulum movement, with the wheel being the bob, and your centre of mass being the hinge at the top.

So that’s the movement you’re after.

Now concentrate: Weight firmly in the saddle. Plenty of pressure on the bottom pedal. Light pressure on the top pedal. Look at something a long way away. Keep the movement smooth. Pass from wheel in front and about to fall back, to wheel behind and about to fall forwards.

Now how to learn? Some people recommend holding onto something. Some others recommend the following, which is what worked for me:

Ride forwards slowly, and stop with your ‘working pedal’ down. then ride on.

When you can do that, ride forwards and stop. The ‘working pedal’ will rise slightly behind you because of your momentum. Push it down so that you do a half (or third) revolution backwards. Regain control and ride off.

Practise this [stop, back, ride off] several times.

Now try [stop, back, forward, back, ride off]

When you’ve got this far, it’s simply a matter of practise practise practise. Count pedal strokes and aim to beat your best score. All the stuff you did when you were first learning to juggle.

You may well find that learning to idle and learning to ride backwards come more or less together. The skills are related.

For performance purposes and general improvement of skill, you may want to practice the super idle and mega idle.

In a super idle, the working pedal is allowed to pass over the top, so that the wheel does 1 1/3 revolutions instead of 1/3 revolution. In a mega idle, it’s 2 1/3 revs each way.

Other things which will help are finding a smooth floor, and pumping your tyre up very hard. Get your seat as high as you comfortably can. Later, when you are confident, you may want to lower the seat a bit and soften the tyre.

Good luck.

justgo look in the gallery

justgo look in the gallery for idling stuff. :roll_eyes:

I learned how to idle recently, and I find it a very useful uni skill.
From personal experience, I have found that sitting on the uni next to a wall and idling back and forth holding on the wall or holding onto anything gets you NOWHERE. You can start holding onto an object, but then let go andjust move back and forth.

What uni are you using?
I found idling a 20 with 140 mm cranks is very different from riding a 24 with 170s, because the way you balance is different.

I thought the whole idea of idling was that you go nowhere.



A very good clown in our midst (Spunky) says:

After learning to idle (see above), learn to idle with your arms crossed in front of you. This way you are not using your arms for balance, leaving them available for juggling.

I learned to Idle by teetering in a doorway, letting go, then trying like mad just to stay up. I can’t tell you how I do it, I just kind of do it; but learning took effort.
If you want to get really solid while idling you could start now by regularly juggling while riding. It really helps. carjug

the thing that i didn’t realise when i was learning to idle was that your strong foot should remain in the bottom half of the wheel and your weak foot in the top half. your cranks should never be hoizontal,unless you want to “circus idle”, which is very hard in comparison to regular idling.

think about where the force comes from and where it goes,

your bottom foot does most of the work.

Re: Learning to idle.

On Sun, 5 Jan 2003 23:08:21 -0600, Scott Stephens
<Scott.Stephens.gtjjm@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>I found idling a 20 with 140 mm cranks is very different from riding a
>24 with 170s, because the way you balance is different.

Yes and no. I found learning to idle a 24 with 125 mm cranks
difficult. I learned much quicker on a 20 with 125 mm cranks. But then
the skill transferred easily to the 24".

Klaas Bil

Cows clean their noses with their tongues.