Hi, longtime reader, first time poster. I’ve had my 24" UDC for a little more than a month and have been practicing a few hours per week. I am making progress but it seems to be slow going.
One of the breakthroughs in the past few days has been to lower my seat by about half an inch. Suddenly I felt in total control especially when trying to turn quickly for sideways balance. I can even stop and start mid stride without face planting. However I can’t say the leg extension is as comfortable as on a bike.
Anyone else found that a lower seat (or lower uni in general) has helped during the learning phases? I’ve read lower is better but am am astounded that a half an inch would get me riding across a tennis court on the first try.
Whatever works for you. I tried keeping my seat really high to kill my habit of putting weight on the pedals but I hated it so much. I don’t like the feeling of anything stretching to the limits when riding, I like a relaxed body but I do agree on a straighter back.
I hear a small wheel is great for beginners too, especially since I’m short but I skipped that and went for a 24 and after a few weeks in, went for a 26 since I thought it was pretty large on me as it is. I’m not ready to be seen around town on a giant unicycle just yet
My biggest breakthrough isn’t really the seat height since I just placed it where I felt pretty comfortable at…it was actually when a homeless drunk woman assisted me. She was loud, drunk, and a bit crazy and I knew her a few years back when she rang the doorbell and said my house was on fire but it was the humidity coming from the dryer outside my house :p. But she knew what she was talking about that’s why you shouldn’t always judge the book by its cover, even when it’s filled with liquor. Anyhow, that day I found out having someone assist you by holding your hand makes learning SOOOOOOO much faster than holding a lame rail or fence…I wish someone would help me now since I’m learning to go backwards but I got no one
The other breakthrough that I got is about idling. I was told that I should put weight on a foot of my choice and rock back and forth with the other one. But I just realized that you should switch the weight depending on which side you’re leaning. Might be a “duhhh” thing to some people but that’s what most of the tutorials say. The foot that’s rocking back and forth, sometimes you got to put more weight on that then the other foot. Now I’m able to idle a bit, not in place, but I’m getting there. I wish I could practice today and tomorrow, unfortunately…I have to do work again…kill joy.
Congrats on your breakthrough. Remember to get basic protections when unicycling like shin guards and wrist guards.
Personal learner tip on the freemounting when you get to it: after watching the youtube videos, also remember that when you freemount, try to keep your unicycle right in the middle. They’ll tell you to put as little weight on the pedals as possible and one way to tell if you have that right is if the unicycle tilts or moves when you jump up. When I first learned to freemount, it kept falling off. After quite a few try I realize I fall tilting to one side. It’s because I put some weight and the unicycle tits and when I get on, it’s already off balance and I fall off. And as soon as you have both your feet on with full weight, start riding or else your balance wont stay. Another thing I found is that the bunny hop is a very common thing used to stabilize yourself. You’ll see some people that can’t freemount very well do a quick bunny hop to stabilize themselves.
Yup, I’ve found adjusting the seat by just a centimetre can have a marked effect. Like you I found a lower seat had some advantages while mastering the basics but as I improved and wanted to ride further I found raising the seat helped with getting your weight in the seat and taking some of the strain out of your thighs.
Seat height and tire pressure will both make a difference and I encourage you to explore their effects…all you need is a spanner and a pump/pressure gauge. In the early stages of learning you’ll probably pick a setup and won’t want to tinker with it but do remember to experiment as you get better.
I think the operative phrase here is “sweet spot”.
I’m assuming your original seat-height was the ‘correct’ one?
(Heel on pedal and when the pedal is at it’s lowest position, your leg is straight but the knee is not ‘locked’?)
While that is the generally agreed way of setting up a uni, small adjustments either way can make a world of difference.
Just as a fun experiment, loosen your seat-clamp and move the seat a little bit to the side and see what a difference that makes.
Nice job on doing the tennis court, what’s the next goal?
Great suggestions. I have tweaked a few things but have been trying to stay consistent during the learning phase.
Early on I realized how little rolling resistance a uni has compared to a bike. Lowering the tire pressure helped reinforce the idea of putting weight on the seat instead of bearing down on the pedals to move forward. Now that I have a feel for it, I am bringing the pressure back to normal. I want to bring the seat up too since I feel I can’t get good extension on the pedals when I do need the force.
Since I have a problem turning right, I also tried to angle the seat a bit to correct it. Turns out that my nascar-left-turn issue may be more related to my riding caged inside a tennis court and leaning against the right hand wall.
Next milestone is to circumnavigate the tennis court without killing myself. I can make gross steering corrections to avoid obstacles like the net, walls, etc.
Finding it easier to turn in one direction than the other came up on this site a few months back:
I was also having a harder time turning right at the time, a few months into learning. But it’s worked itself out pretty well by now just from practicing tight turns a lot and generally getting better. Whatever the imbalance was, it seems to have gone away. I don’t notice a difference any more.
It’s great that you’re working with seat height and tire pressure and paying attention to the differences they make. You’re off to a great start.
I’m sure you’ve figure out by now that you essentially turn from your hips.
Best advice on this forum about learning to turn was “Ride at a wall. Don’t hit it. Do what you did again.”
Slightly more seriously, when trying to turn in the ‘difficult’ direction, it may help to break it down into stages.
Look in the direction you want to turn.
Next time that side’s pedal comes down for the power-stroke, step on it just a “little” bit harder than usual.
You’ll feel your hips swivel in that direction.
Hope that helps?