Learning Unicycle for Big Guy

Plastic pedals are a bit better on your shins, but shin guards are a good idea either way. When I started I used a cheap pair of soccer shin guards. I still took a couple of hard hits to my calf, but not too bad. On the plus side my shins were spared many times. The gouges and marks in the shin guards are a testament to that.

Oh, it looks like the metal studs are removable with a small wrench. That reduces my concern. I plan on getting some Hillbilly Wrist Guard Gloves, but I haven’t figured out shin guards/knee pads yet.

That tire should be OK for learning, but studded pedals can be nasty. I once met a big guy who started riding a 29 with metal-studded pedals before he had much skill, and the scars on his legs showed that he had been carved up pretty badly. When I was learning (with all-plastic pedals on a 20), pedal bites were actually my most serious injury -painful bleeding welts- but that was only for the first day or two of riding. Now I use metal-studded pedals quite happily on my 29, and in fact depend on them, as a large wheel has a lot of rotational momentum that could easily pull the pedals out from under my feet. Shin guards are also an option, though a week after buying a cheap pair, I noticed that they had never taken a single hit, so I put them away.

Congratulations, by the way. That uni sounds like a perfect choice for you. The leverage of those super long cranks should make your first revolutions a lot easier, though if you get into riding on pavement with a smooth tire, you might want to eventually get some shorter ones.

Congrats! Yeah, pretty impressive in person, isn’t it? That was my reaction too. Looking at pictures on the net hadn’t prepared me.

Most likely you’re right from the sound of it, but see what you think after a few practices. Seat height is something to keep working with, and what’s comfortable will change with experience. You might need to have it on the low side for quick easy bail outs at first.

Odyssey Twisted PC pedals are a forum favorite. You might find that swapping pedals is less of a pain than taking out those studs and putting them back in later, and having spare pedals around can be good.

I got soccer shin guards at Target to start out too. They were good for the first week or so, took a few solid hits and saved my shins while I was flailing wildly. After a while when things were more under control, I decided that an occasional nick to the shin annoyed me less than sweating underneath the foam in the summer heat every day.

Your seat-post sounds like it’s too high; can it be lowered without sawing a bit off the bottom? I hear a lot of beginner advice about keeping the seat as high as possible and focusing on putting your weight on the seat. This advice seems, IMO, dangerous. For beginners, I think it is better to err on the side of too much weight on the pedals, and this may be done more effectively with the seat somewhat lowered. All the awkward UPDs I had as a beginner were a result of losing contact with the pedals. Don’t let this happen to you.

Yeah, in the beginning a high seat can be more intimidating. It’s good to eventually learn to put as much of your weight as possible on the seat, but just having one leg fighting the other as you pedal around can be an OK way to get started learning to ride. It’s simpler, or at least seemed simpler to me, than adding the third variable of my full weight on the seat.

Now that you’ve got a good unicycle for your specific needs, all you gotta do is practice. Someone watching you who knows how to ride can be extremely helpful, if you can find such a person. A friend of mine started learning to freemount before learning to ride, and it seems to be working for him, but that’s definitely not what I did. This thread is by a guy who learned to ride on a large wheel like yours starting from day one, so it might help.

I took off about 1.5" from the seat post with a tubing cutter. That is some thick wall aluminum. I am not worried about seat post strength at all. :slight_smile:

It feels a lot better as far as balance comfort and UPDs with the 1" lower seat. I can step off with confidence and hold the seat with my legs. I got up to two wheel turns unassisted before I had to get back to the wall. This is past where I was on the 20" before the welds let loose.

I also got a nice shin hit. I’ll be picking up some guards. I also may have sent the edge of the pedal into the pine post at the top of the stairs, when I launched it forward. My wife was not at home, and a little stain and it blends in well. :sunglasses: But I’m going to have to start moving outdoors.

This is really working some leg muscles that I haven’t in a while. I have a problem with one of my knees and got into cycling to help it, which it did. But my wife is not a cycling person and we just walk. I can see already that this will really help the muscles around my bad knee.

I’m going to setup some blocks and practice free mount like in the YouTube video by Terry, I think. It will be a while as I build muscle strength to get more stable, I’m sure. I’ve been taking 5-10 minute sessions. That seems to work out well. I’m sure being unsure of balance really burns up energy that is wasted.

Reading through that makes it look like some people came out of the womb with unicycle skills. :slight_smile:

Yeah, it does, but you’re on the right track, so don’t worry.

Taking it outside is definitely better- it’s amazing how inspiring an open stretch of flat pavement can become. You’ll see the beauty in every abandoned lot and every defunct strip mall. Unicycling converts it all into poetry. It’s also a workout when you first start learning, but if you want it to stay that way, later you’ll have to start climbing steep hills or hopping up the stairs.

You’re right about those Nimbus seat posts, they are high quality and unbelievably strong.

Well, I finally was able to carve some time to taking it to the tennis courts. Last night, I was ready to give it a go. But got hit with a thunderstorm just when I got to the house.

I put on my wrist guard gloves and my head lamp, then walked and rolled or carried the Uni 4 blocks to the tennis court. An unridden unicycle that is being rolled along is really a mocking little joker. 4 blocks of it whispering that I could already be there if I just knew how to ride it.

The 30 minutes I spent on the 20" Sun, before the hub broke, was a good bit easier than this guy. I can see why a 20" is an easier start. I worked along the outside of the fence for almost half the circumference. This is a two court fence. I got one run of 3 crank turns with only fingers dragging. I then switched sides and tried on my left arm. I made it about 1/3 of the way down that side in half or full crank turns at a time. I started jumping off instead of trying to hold up on the fence, to get used to bailing. One thing seems to precede the “wrecks” I’ve read about on here, hesitance to bail.

I’ll call it a half way around as a measurement for now. I rode recumbents for a while, so I’ve gotten used to strange looks. I expect I’ll get more on a uni. I don’t know if I will look any more ridiculous than I did tonight. Holding onto a fence, wobbling on a unicycle with a head lamp lighting the path in front of me. The older couple that walked by had a nice chuckle.

I think I’m going to cut just a little more off of the seat. I’m not uncomfortably low and I could see how the lower mount height and shorted distance to jump down could help a bit. I also wish this old fence was a little tighter. I might go looking for a little nice practice area.

My uni was even a little more mouthy on the walk home, as I wasn’t quite as successful as I had hoped this outing. I rolled it over to the other side of the bed, where it can’t talk to me any more tonight. :smiley:

Sounds like you had a really good session there. Well done! Keep at it, focus on process and not results as they say. It takes a while for everyone but one ride at a time and you’ll get it.

Be careful about sawing off the seat post. You can always cut more off, but you can’t put any back on!

What I always tell people to do when first starting is:

  1. Grab a pole or other support in the middle of some flat pavement and get on your uni
  2. Get your cranks horizontal
  3. Let go of the pole and fall forward as if you’re going to do a faceplant, but then start pedaling. You will fall eventually, hopefully forward rather than back, but you almost always land on your feet. You have to physically commit to that forward fall, though- it’s the first step, and for my first few days of riding, it was what I had to re-learn each time I arrived at my little practicing area.

Once you rely on your pedaling to keep you upright, you will be surprised how quickly it does just that. All you need is a bit of patience for trial and error. It’s definitely better if you have daylight, though!

Yes, at worst it is a $28 mistake. :smiley:

I figure that there are going to be times that I might want it lower than currently possible once I’m ridding. As long as I can get it high enough that I’ll be rocking back and forth to reach the pedals (i.e. too high) with a sufficient length in the frame for strength, I’m good.

I mentally know about the lean forward and go for it. That is what I’ve been doing along the fence, but not fully committed. Daylight would definitely help with that. Kind of a bummer coming to work in the dark and leaving after dark. I’ll have daylight on Friday.

Keep enough seat post so that you can safely raise your seat to the highest point you would ever raise it on a bicycle. The insanely long cranks you have right now are good for learning, but if you ever want to put on shorter ones, you’ll need to allow another two or three inches of seat post for that as well.

Ideal seat height on a unicycle depends a lot on what sort of riding you plan to do. When I first learned, I wanted my seat low because I was scared. Once I got good enough to travel around my neighborhood, I started putting the seat much higher so my legs wouldn’t get tired. Later I got interested in hopping and lowered it again, etc.

Once you learn to ride smoothly, darkness isn’t too much of a problem, especially on a large wheel.

Hadn’t thought of the shorter cranks. 125s are probably the minimum, so 40 mm difference. So I need an extra 1.5" there. Good to keep in mind.

No, in the future you could go a lot shorter than 125.

Wow. OK Good to know. Thanks for the education song.

Replaced the stock tire with a Hookworm. This gave me about 1" less effective diameter. It also allowed me to lower the seat post by another 1/2" without cutting.

I tried the “just ride” method. I kept locking at the bottom of the first stroke. It was a mental lock of knowing I could hold the foot down and bail forward. I finally talked myself into a full revolution. I was mostly stable, but was bailing after a full revolution. I finally got two revolutions. Ended one on my butt pretty hard. Anyhow, I’m pleased with the balance progress today.

Second real practice time with the 26". I’m about 2 hours total uni practice so far. I think I’ll keep this as a training journal. Little more accountability for me. I’m trying to keep me learning this mostly a secret to many people, because I think it will be more fun to be half way decent before they find out. :smiley:

Too bad more people don’t do that!

Knobby tires aren’t necessary when you’re first learning, though eventually any fat tire, knobby or not, can be a lot of fun. Once you start to go for longer rides on cambered streets, you may find the Hookworm makes you dance the Twist a bit, but it’s not a big problem. The Hookworm has a nice range of tire pressure you can experiment with, too. The qualities and behaviors of different tires is something unicyclists talk about a lot.

When I was first learning to ride, I used to take my uni apart and carry it to my practice area in a trash bag so nobody would see it, but soon the fascination of possibly getting there on one wheel grew to outweigh my fear of becoming the neighborhood clown.

I decided to revive this old thread. I stopped posting progress, as I came off the back of my Nimbus and hyperextended my knee pretty bad. This took a month or so before it didn’t hurt and over a month more until it felt back to normal.

My Nimbus has sat unused, as just after I went to China and work started piling up. I decided that I wanted to pick up a 20" to start again, just to make the drop a little less when I UPD. I think part of it is a confidence thing about getting injured again.

I found a good condition 20" Sun Flat Top for $35 on Craigslist that I picked up. I may need to add a 400mm post on it, but I’ll see after a little time. It was strange to have such a small movement when I tried to back pedal it under me. I’ve definitely lost something in the balance department in 2+ years off.

I’ve been also doing very well with watching my nutrition and dropping weight. I will probably wind up ragging out this wheel, but hopefully it will take a while. We have a 1.1 mile trail through the woods and many acres of space off trail that would be a blast to Muni at lunch, once I get to the point. But, I’m not planning on letting anyone know that I’m working on this, until I can jump on the uni and bust around the parking lot and roads a bit. :slight_smile: