Learning to unicycle - Day 1

Put the new 29" nimbus road uni together last night after work with the schwalbe big apple godzilla tire! Quickly realized that you need a speial tool to remove stock cranks and replace with the 150mm cranks I purchased to learn on. So it will be middle of next week before I try again after the crank tool arrives.

I took her outside for my first go. I only tried for about 10 minutes because it was less than 30 degrees and spitting snow. I basically succeeded in floating over the top of the uni about 3 or 4 times and maybe got both feet planted twice (I went straight for free mounting). So far the score is uni 1, new guy 0. Hopefully cincinnati will throw me a 50 degree day in march sometime soon and I can manage to figure this thing out. already dropped it trying to free mount on the sidewalk and gave it a little character.

I have major respect for folks that can just hop on these things and take off.

How long did it take you to become proficient on a unicycle?

Here’s my graph of learning to unicycle. I plotted pedal pushes (in space, no fence involved, one wheel revolution is 5 feet) against time spent learning.

I left freemounting until I could do this, that then took me about another hour and improving my freemount technique is an ongoing process a month later :smiley:


It took me about 6 weeks to learn to ride with some control, and then another couple of weeks to learn to mount consistently.

The rumor is that it takes about 15 hours to learn. That can be done 20 minutes a night or all in one weekend. So how long depends on how you split up your practicing.

BTW I think it’s better to concentrate on one thing at a time. Learn to ride first then work on mounting. They’re both difficult and frustrating, so I think you’ll have a better time if you don’t try to combine the two.

Getting your 150s on should give you a big jump in leverage, that’ll help.

I have never heard of anyone actually doing this but I haven’t been around unicycling very long. Most people take about 10 hours to learn to ride. As the others have said, forget free mounting for now. Find some support (wall, railing, fence) and climb on. Practice rocking back and forth and eventually you’ll want to try to pedal. Pedal along with your support then try to pedal away. Fall off and repeat.

Keeping a log of your progress helps keep you motivated and is nice to look back on. Mine says that it took me a couple of days (1-2 hour sessions) to be able to ride away from my support. Within a week (~10 hours) I was making longer unsupported runs (50-60 ft) and had a few successful free mounts (out of hundreds of attempts) but could not turn.

Within two weeks I could ride loops around my practice area. Within a month I could ride 1/4 mile around the block and my legs would be shot. Soon after that I began to be able to put more weight on the saddle and was able to ride longer distances.

Don’t give up! Once you start making unsupported revolutions it becomes addictive.

Took us old fools around 15 hours. Now it is about 15 mos. and we can freemount by holding the wheel and have ridden up to 3 mi. without a UPD.

Starting with 29" is a big step imho, but forget about freemounting for now. A lot of the skills you learn by riding the uni helps to learn freemounting later.

Have fun,



Presumably you thought just learning to ride on a 29er with 125 cranks was too easy? Seriously don’t even think about learning to freemount until you can ride - learning on a 29er is certainly possible, but I’m not sure anybody has ever learnt to freemount without being able to ride first.

It just takes practice. That and learning things in sensible order, taking small steps. To most Muggles, just riding a unicycle at all is something magical - apart from some really extreme stuff, the very hardest part of riding a unicycle comes right at the beginning.

Took me about 10’ish hours I figure. I can free mount, pedal around, depending on the smoothness and hillishness can go a block or so without an UPD. My stamina is horrible though, so as soon as I get tired (quickly) I fall more.

I’m still really really new though. I can’t really do a circle, and 90 degree turns are still approached with “will I be able to do it or not?”

The link in my signature will take you to my “diary” of sorts. Remember, have fun and keep at it!

Darkarcher…crazy stuff…trying to learn on a 29 in and freemount all at the same time. Keep us posted…I started on a 20 in…switched to a 29 after 4 months and in a year was riding a 36 in. Freemounting took me a while to learn. I am still not very good at it. But don’t let me discourage you from trying it that way…

Day 2 (45 minutes of practice)

Found a good wall with a little ledge to hold on as I mount. I took everyones advice and forgot about free mounting as it makes perfect sense that even if I could free mount, I cant ride yet so its pointless. I basically mounted, pushed off the wall gently, and made about a half pedal stroke (full stroke once) before falling forward. I fell backward a couple times on purpose just to see what it felt like. Overall I feel like I made far more progress just trying to ride tonight. Cant wait for my tool to arive so I can switch out for 150mm cranks.

Also by forgetting about free mounting, I learned my seat was really low. The higher I raised it, the more comfortable I felt. Obviously not comfortable enough to get more than a half pedal stroke, but I can feel mild progress already.

Tip from a Newbie: Cover the front end of your saddle with a sock before the concrete and asphault eats it up from falling.

Awesome, you’re on your way.

This is important. Having the saddle too low can make things much more difficult.

Good plan! Remember to always fail differently, as you did. If you find yourself leaning left and falling off, lean right several times.

Do the opposite of anything that happens a lot so your body and brain learn to find that central balance position.

Don’t worry about the bumpers on the saddle, that’s their job and they’re replaceable later if cosmetics bother you :smiley: mine are pretty beaten up…

Hats off for learning on a 29er. I’ve got to think that learning on a 29er will increase the time it takes to learn by some amount… especially on 125mm cranks. You’ll probably get a nice boost in progress once you move to the 150s.

WheelieDaft, I also find it amazing that you were getting up to 25 feet after just 3 hours. My experience was that I snuck in an occasional full revolution here and there but by and large I was in the 1/4 - 1/2 revolution phase for the first several hours. 25 feet would be 5 full revolutions according to your chart. I’d consider that knowing how to ride because from then on it’s just building on what you’ve already learned.

I learned to ride in what I guess people would consider a reverse order.

  1. Learn how to get off safely. Most of my first few hours were spent just getting the feeling of comfortably falling off the front of the uni. I’d stabilize the uni against something and just practice coming off.
  2. Learn how to ride. “Ride” as long as I could, then come off safely because I already practiced #1.
  3. Learn to get on. No point in learning how to get on if I couldn’t do anything once I was up… even if learning to get on before learning how to ride is possible. In the beginning it was much easier to learn to freemount on a downward sloping surface and gradually learning to mount on flat or even slightly uphill surfaces.

Take that with a huge grain of salt though. I am a slow, slow learner. Likely the slowest but I’ve learned things without getting hurt. The injuries didn’t come until I started to do muni years later. :stuck_out_tongue:

Took me about 9hrs to get to a point where I could ride a semi respectable distance in one go (about a mile) though I learnt on a 19" trials which was a bit easier to mount as I just stepped on and started hopping. When I got my 29" the size scared me to death, it’s huge and a big step up so freemounting took me another couple of attempts to get it right though I used the cheating method of holding the wheel to get started. After about 9 or 10 goes doing it that way I can do a rollback mount (I think that’s what it’s called) 95% of the time now.

Not to say you can’t do it, but I continue to not understand why people would want to learn on a 29. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not a 36, but it takes considerable skill to control that big wheel, and it’s a lot less forgiving in some ways than a 20 or 24.

If you get to far ahead of yourself, it’s a lot harder to catch the wheel up since it has a lot more rotating mass. I’ve ridden for many years. I hopped right on the 29 only this year for the first time and was able to freemount and ride well from the beginning, but it took me months to get really comfortable on the thing and feel like I could really control it. Even now, I’m glad I have a brake, since when that big wheel gets going it can be hard to stop. I am also pretty small at 5’8" and 150lbs.

Seems to me when you learn something hard you want to break it up into pieces and not make it harder than it has to be. Basic 20 and 24" unicycles can be had for very cheap…

Congrats on the new uni. I learned to ride a few months ago on a 29er. Mine is a Nimbus muni 29er but I think it is really similar to yours. Here is my sort-of diary of learning to ride: Bought a Nimbus Drak 29". Learning to Ride... . I bought mine with 165mm cranks and thats what I learned on. Then I changed them to 150s to gain a little speed and I found that it set my learning progress back. The longer cranks seem to make learning easier. I’m not trying to say you need 165s, but I think you will like your longer cranks better for learning. I’m up to 3-4 mile trail rides now and really am having a blast. The Nimbus seems really tough so I wouldn’t worry about all the times you’ll drop it.

Pics and status update

I got the new cranks on last night and she is looking pretty sweet. I havent had a chance to try them due to to weather but I think this will make learning a ton easier.