looking into unicycling

Hello :).

I am an avid yoga practitioner and mountain biker. Hoping to add unicycling to my workout routine. Eventually I would like to get a good mountain unicycle and take it to trails. May sound crazy especially at my old age of 48, but crazy is good.

But just to learn and get a feel of unicycling, I am thinking about picking one from craiglist (example) first instead of shelling out $300+ to get one from unicycle.com. So is a 20" easier to learn with than bigger ones like 24" or 26"?

You’ve got the right idea. Pickup a cheap learner usually 20" or 24" is the size to learn on, once you begin to get the hang of it and look at all the sweet uni’s people post around here you will be ready to buy one for yourself. people have learned on 26 and 29 but it is more of a challenge. Once you learn the basics on a cheap learner it will be easy to switch to other sizes.

Welcome to the journey! Good luck to you.

Welcome to the forum.

You’re going to here a lot of “use the search before creating new threads” with post’s like this. As I’m sure you can imagine this kind of question comes up a lot.

That uni that you posted from CL looks like a decent starter. I don’t have any idea what brand it really is, but it has a Viscount saddle. Depending on how tall you are you may need to add a $15 seatpost to the price. In the photo’s it looks like the post is most of the way down, so not much room to raise it.

For what you describe I think you have a good plan. 20 is easier to learn on, and to have around later on when friends want to learn. Once you pick up some confidence then spend the money on something more aligned to your goals/style.

An inexpensive uni such as the one you linked is a good way to get introduced to unicycling. (It’s probably the most common way.) By the time you learn to ride it, you will have decided if you like it well enough to keep going, and if you want a better one or not. You will also have a better idea of which type of riding most appeals to you (looking through the forum topics, you will find there are several styles), and can move towards a unicycle that is well suited to you.
The 20" wheel size is the most common for learning. It may vary somewhat from person to person, but that is the general consensus.
Welcome to the unicycle world! It is fun, great exercise, and very rewarding. (And no, you are not anywhere near being too old.)

(edit: anton and jtrops posted while I was writing. I second their comments.)

I’ve been learning on a 24" unicycle. You might consider that size as well if you want to cruise around a bit. I tried an old 20" CX Torker a few weeks after being able to ride my 24" and found the 20" harder to control. Not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s easier to move up rather than down. Everyone seems to recommend a 20" but a 24" inch is fine unless you’re really short. I’m 5’5".

When I was looking for my first unicycle I wanted a Torker LX. One of those in good shape would be a good first unicycle. I wasn’t as impressed with the CX.

Good luck.

This is my first post here as well but I figured I could chime in on this considering I am only about a month ahead of you. You are not too old, I am 42 and just started to ride (tired of watching my kids have all the fun). I started practicing on my son’s KH and I very quickly decided I wanted my own. I ended up buying a used K1 24" Muni and I have not regretted the move. Love the size and it has not been any harder to learn on in my opinion.

I would add that while a cheap uni is ok to learn on, I would go for a better one if you can afford it.

The reason is that some people can be put off continuing due to the poor experience of the cheap uni. Uncomfortable saddle and poor quality peddles for a start. Of course you can replace these items, but the cost just goes up.
A better uni can also be used later for learning new skills.

I started with a Nimbus 20" freestyle, which was on sale offer.


A strong 48 spoke uni, suitable for various types of riding.

They can be picked up second hand.

Thank you everyone. I ended up snagging the one posted on Craigslist. Tried it in my backyard, but couldn’t pedal even once before falling on my butt. :slight_smile: Oh well, hopefully it will get better.

Fortunately, that fall is about as bad as it gets. Its not a fall that anyone would want to repeat so we don’t lean back again. It then becomes a matter of finding a way to get over falling forwards.

Persist and the reflex will eventually build up. You will be surprised how quickly you progress once you ride across your backyard.

Regarding the choice of uni, I realise now how much easier it would have been to learn if I had done it on my QUAX 20 inch rather than the little unicycle I now get kids to have a ride on. A well proportioned round profile tyre makes a big difference too.

I now ride a 24 inch with a seat post that goes high enough. Recently I tried that original little uni and I am amazed I actually learnt to ride it at all, knowing what I now understand about the dynamic of flailing thighs if the seat is too low.

I certainly had to persist to do it and that is what counts for anyone on the learning curve. The reward is that once you reach that point it just becomes as natural as riding a bike. Then we get better at it.

In the end most unicyclists will all take on every size of unicycle we can ever get a hold of and each of the extreme poles of the design present their own challenges. Any enthusiast will soon collect several unicycles. I already own four after having learnt to ride in January.

Just for fun I also ride the little unis set up to the height for my ten year old grand daughter. I do it for the variety of challenges each configuration brings to my skills. Treating the seat as a handle is necessary skill for serious riding and it is too low to sit on so it is bound to be treated as a handle.

One advantage I do see now with a small uni is that the amount of moving metal is less in a small uni and less likely to do you damage.

But when you are starting out, make sure the seat can go high enough for you or you will be making balance harder.

I started on a $50 ebay unicycle, a 24". I think it was a good first uni as it took a lot of abuse. I have since moved up to a UDC 24" Club. The UDC uni made a big difference immediately. I also started late in life at 50. After about 5 months, I can cruise all over my neighborhood. However, I still can’t freemount, idle or do any tricks. But, I am getting better every time I ride so it is just a matter of time and practice.

I pretty much agree with this - I learnt on a 24" eBay special, and while it worked, during the time it took to learn to get anywhere on it (a few weeks), I had stripped the threads on cranks AND pedals, worn the tyre to the canvas, and snapped the saddle in half (seriously… I was riding up a hill and fell forward. the front half of the saddle, in front of the seatpost bolts, snapped off cleanly…). After buying a set of cranks, pedals, new tyre, new saddle and new seatpost (as the stock seat wasn’t a ‘standard’ fitting, so the saddle I bought to replace it wouldn’t fit on the seatpost…) I’d pretty much spend what I would have on a slightly better uni.

That one on Craigslist looks like a child’s unicycle. It’s probably going to be very hard to learn on for an adult. The seat will be way too low.

My first unicycle had an uncomfortable seat that would spin around in its socket and chew holes in my thighs. A month later, I bought a decent seat and was freemounting almost immediately. With a comfortable seat, that unicycle was OK for the next six months or so, and could have maybe lasted for a year- depending on how long I was willing to go without learning to hop…

I’m only 5’7". I am guessing that with a pedal at 6 o’clock, my leg should be comfortably extended with a slight bend at the knee with my butt on the seat. The seat can be raised.

How big is the wheel? It should be printed on the side. If it’s indeed a 16", it’s very hard to learn on those.
During the learning period, on a flat surface, you want the seat very high. With your leg fully extended, you should just about reach the pedal (or be half an inch above it) with your heel. The front of the feet will manage to reach, no worries, but it’ll force you to really put your weight in the saddle as you won’t be able to lift yourself off the pedals.

Welcome to unicyling, profnachos. Everyone who’s not a freak prodigy needs somewhere between a few days and a couple of weeks to learn to ride even a short distance. Keep trying and you’ll get it.

And your new unicycle looks good to me. I might be in the minority here but I’ve found that style of saddle very comfortable.

One thing to check though: On most unicycles the seatpost clamp is on the back, while yours is in front of the post. Most likely the seat is turned 180 degrees, which means your pedals will be on the wrong sides. They will unthread themselves quickly and damage the cranks like that, especially while you’re learning and putting all of your weight on the pedals. Look for “L” and “R” labels on the crank arms or the pedals or both. You really need to have “L” on the left and “R” on the right.

There are some unconventional seatclamp designs and this might be one of them, in which case no worries. It might also be that the seat and the wheel are both installed backwards which looks odd to an experienced eye but isn’t a real problem. But check so you’ll know.

Good luck and stay safe!

I teached many people unicycling, on both 20 and 24 inch unicycles. And based on what I’ve seen myself I have a firm opinion:

20" will not be easier, unless you’re really small: the distance of the revolution of a 24" wheel is on average the closest to two footsteps making dosing your speed easier than a 20" which -compare to the 24- has less reverence to something you already know (walking).

However, the difference between 20 and 24 isn’t that huge.
But a 24" gives a tiny bit more centrifugal force, stimulating you to keep going, which is very useful for beginners.

A 26" might be an odd and unpractical size to learn, but if muni is what you’re aiming for, then I’d say; go for it straight away!

So my answer in resume:
20": wouldn’t do that
24": IMHO best beginner size for adults
26": harder, but maybe more useful on the long term.

But more important than size: if you want to learn it then you will.

Find yourself a fence to lean on or better still a continuous handrail (balustrade). You want your weight on the saddle not your pedals, so set your seat post so that your leg is just a little bent at 6 o’clock. Now you just need to get used to putting your weight into the saddle. This will centre your core.

Hanging onto the rail with one hand for support mount the uni. Thinking about it you will probably start out two handed. lol. Your pedalling will be a stop/start affair. Try to stop with the pedals horizontal and your progress will be less jerky.

I find the quickest way to learn is to keep efforts limited to 15-30 minute sessions. Every time you get on you will notice an improvement over your previous session. You will surprise yourself.

As you make improvements you will change from a two hand grip on the handrail to one hand and gradually with increased confidence you will move away from the handrail without consciously thinking about it. Your hand will come off the rail slightly as you achieve multiple pedal turns. This will happen more and more frequently. Before you know it you will be solo.

I recently taught my son to ride and he commented that he found the 19 inch with 137 cranks easier than the 24 inch with 125s because it was “more like walking”. Since the pedals’ bottom sweep is not far from the ground on the smaller uni, the foot speed is not very different from the ground speed.

True, but with such sizes then that “more like walking” corresponds more to the movement of walking, then to the distance of 2 footsteps / 1 revolution of the wheel (as you already described).
Each person is different, so many different preference exist. Personally I find too large cranks on a too small wheel not ideal; like 170ies on very cheap unicycles: it makes it too easy to stop - while a beginner should keep pedaling!
But as unicyclists usually are unique persons, generalizing is always risky, so yes others may prefer it.