I’ve had my Torker LX 24" for 2 months now, and I’ve started working on level 2 skills. Something which I’ve found difficult has been turning more than 90 degrees. (One of the level 2 reqs is a figure eight with <3 meters radii - yikes)
I worked first on a u-turn using the whole width of the street. In the last couple days I’ve found that leaning (like on a bike) along with a pretty fast pedal cadence is the trick, and today I actually succeeded in my first few figure eights, though the radii were probably 6 or 7 meters.
This lean-and-pedal turn is great fun!
Having not seen too many hints on this particular aspect of unicycling, I wonder if it’s common to find u-turns difficult.
They (turning as a whole) were difficult for me to start. It’s impossibl to give instructions on turning though, it’s more of a try untill you get it type of thing. It also depends how long you practice, none of that seemed very hard ot me but that’s because I practice endlessly. All I need for level 3 is to learn to ride with my stomach on the seat and I’ve only had my uni for a month.
I can JUST pull off that 3m figure 8, but only if I start to the left (I find it easier to turn right, so starting on the left-hand section means I get the easier bit second, if you see what I mean).
I was struggling with smooth turns (rather than swerving about by twisting my body) and found some of the video clips on http://unicyclist.org to be helpful. What I found most successful is sticking my hips out in the direction I want to turn, but actually leaning my body the other way - sort of so the unicycle leans into the turn but my body is still more or less upright. This seems to keep the whole thing more controlled and less likely to end up in manic pedalling to try to stay on. It’s hard to explain, but if you watch the video on unicyclist.org it looks like that’s what Leo is doing.
3m diameter is about my limit at the moment though.
My tips to make turning a little easier… (love 'em or leave 'em)
The unicycle will follow your body if you maintain a tight grip on the seat. Using your hand will help keep your feet on the pedals, but it won’t help you turn as well as using your thighs. Squeeze the seat between your thighs when making a turn and you’ll find you can control the unicycle more precisely.
Once you’ve a good grip on the 'cycle, look at where you want to turn. This usually means you’ll have to turn your head in one direction or another. Once you’ve turned your head and decided that’s the way you want to go, turn your shoulders, then your hips, to match where you’re looking. If you’ve got a good grip on the uni, it will follow your hips.
At first practice turning when your cranks are parallel to the ground… this should be the easiest. As you get better it won’t matter how your cranks are oriented.
With a week or two of practice you should be able to turn well within a 1m radius… the figure 8’s will come shortly thereafter.
EDIT: “Leaning” is a bad practice which leads to “falling over.” Keep good posture while turning… your body should be in a (mostly) straight line.