Muni advice

Hi there… I’m 57 and have spent about 12 hours on a uni… (4 1/2 hours to get up and running), and about 2 hours off-road - in parks and on one trail - working on hills and bumps… and it’s not getting worse! Now have upgraded to a KH24 (nice!). Can freemount about 65-70% of the time. I would welcome any advice on what skills to work on, books, videos… anything to improve. Cheers.

The best way to develop MUni skills is to ride off-road. But if you are not already doing it, you should learn to ride with one hand at the handle all the time and use the other hand for balancing. Just for balance training you could even try to hold the handle with both hands.

Ride a lot (3-4x week), practice hills, do repeats on tough obstacles so you can build select skills.

Build your legs by learning to stand as you pedal
Practice using the grab handle for increased power, support/balance, and for steering
Ride with other people if you can, it’s inspiring :slight_smile:

Play with tire pressure and tire size, crank length, pedals.

What uni are you riding now?


If you have a nice trail nearby, especially one with moderately challenging features or sections, ride it regularly & often. Keep trying to ride through the technical/challenging bits (if they are not too difficult). As you ride more & more, you will improve, and you will eventually be able to cruise on through. By riding the same trail repeatedly you will gain confidence, and you will be able to better track your own progress.

Some days will be better than others; some days worse. By riding the same trail you will know what is coming, and you can psych yourself up to attack the challenging stuff. If you try and tackle a different trail every time you go out, you might become frustrated because it might not feel like you are making progress – even though you really do improve your skills & conditioning with every ride.

And, like Ben said, try and ride with other people – it’s inspiring and fun. :smiley:

There is some excellent advice already offered here but I’ll add some things that really helped me.

  1. Learn to ride with less finesse. By that I mean learn how to ride in full control at slow speeds, half revolution to half revolution. When you can do that you’ll find a lot more terrain will be rideable. This will really help when trying to ride uphill. When I was new I’d try to hammer up the hill as fast as I could because I wasn’t really good at riding slow. Once I learned how to ride slow and in control, half rev to half rev I could much easier ride up hill.

  2. Following on #1, learn some basic “trials” skills such as hopping in place, side-hops, 90° hop turns etc… All done statically. Don’t worry about being able to hop up stuff yet, just learning to be steady and in balance while not actually rolling forward is a huge skill to master and one that directly translates into improved MUni skills.

These two skills perhaps helped me the most in improving my offroad riding skills.

Good luck!

I have a KH24, new in June, bought from somebody who used it very little… near new condition. Thanks for the insights - every one is welcome, and will help build up my ride.

Okay, so munisano and I agree on most everything EXCEPT the hopping and jumping stuff.

Don’t think you have to do trials styled riding in order to ride well off road. I am a non hopper, very rarely do I hop over obstacles, about the only hop I ever do is when I need to make a super sharp turn and that’s more of a stall/hop/twist. I ride a 29er so that I have a bigger wheel for rolling over obstacles.

Being that your 57 yo, you don’t have anything to prove and you have much to lose in a fall. You have ten years on me and I am obviously more careful in what I attempt these days versus when I was in my 30’s. Even more so after having some very hard falls when I was learning to muni which resulted in numerous broken fingers and slow healing bruises on my hips and legs.

Do you wear armor and wrist guards? I highly recommend Hillbilly fullfingered gloves with built in wrist guards.

So, you know yourself and your body, assume that you’ll pick up some injuries, but you need to decide what it’s worth to you. I have a couple fingers that no longer bend well and one that is permanently bent, the result being that on certain days my hands hurt. I imagine that, like all youthful indiscretions, these finger issues will be much worse ten, twenty, thirty years from now :roll_eyes:

Keep riding, muni is the best! Consider expnding your muni quiver to include a 29er, they are much faster and roll over obstacles easier. Big wheels can go fast enough to pass bikers and provider a “swoopy” feeling when riding fast through the woods.

Hey Ben - thanks massively for the advice on gear, limits, perspective and injuries. I play jazz guitar professionally fairly often, and would really like to keep my fingers intact. I’ve done enough stuff that I don’t have to prove a lot to myself, and just like the fun of uni off-road (although my wife thinks I’m mad as a box of frogs).

@NurseBen: I think you misunderstood my advice, perhaps I wasn’t very clear in my description. For me, acquiring some basic trials riding skills radically improved my off road riding skills. I’m not saying you need to be able to hop up stuff, down stuff etc… but the balance skills I learned from basic trials riding really helped; in particular being able to ride slow and in control up steep trails. I’d also disagree that you don’t ever have the need to hop over obstacles; you must ride on some fairly benign XC routes! :roll_eyes: There are some uphills in my area that the only way you’ll make it up is if you can side hop up some waterbarred steps. Granted the bigger the wheel the more easily you’ll be able to just roll over what is in your way. However there are a whole host of other reasons why being able to hop is very beneficial. Ever have to quickly self correct in the middle of a line? Ever hit a bump that you thought would be unrecoverable? Ever adjust crank position on the fly?

That’s just a few more reasons. Bottom line, the more balance skills you can learn, either static or dynamic, the better off your off road riding will be. Just so happens that a lot of these skills can be learned by doing some simple trials. Worked for me.

Munisano… I’m also hoping to hop at some point. Cheers. What’s everybody’s perspective/advice/preference on tire pressure? Mine is fairly firm at the moment.

You’ll have to try different pressures. There’s a balance point where the wheel absorbs bumps well and still feels pretty responsive. I don’t know what psi it is exactly, but I can feel it by hopping a little bit. If the pressure is too high, it feels stiff and there’s no bounce. If the pressure is too low, the rim hits the ground when I hop and handling is sluggish.

Most people ride muni with low tire pressure - below the minimum psi written on the tire, so don’t be afraid to let a lot of air out of the tire.

Tire pressure really depends on what tire and rim you are running. Since you have a KH24 I’m assuming it’s the Duro 24x3.0. In that case you can run the pressure pretty low depending on your weight. I run mine around 22psi but I’m pretty light (135lbs).

I’m still very new to muni so I’ll second a few recommendations I’ve read here.

  1. Ride with someone if you can. I’ve ridden solo for my entire uni career and up until about a month or so ago I hadn’t even seen another rider in person. This site and facebook helped me hook up with some local people. Having someone along helps a lot.

It helped me in that the people I went with are much better than I am, so I can learn from them. The peer pressure element also comes into play a bit. When I went by myself I would tend to simply walk when I got tired and when stuff looked too hard. If someone is with me I don’t want to let them down or hinder their experience by being a dead weight, so I at least attempt those hard sections and I tend to push myself more than I otherwise would when I’ve reached my limit. Pushing that limit out little by little has afforded me some slight progress.

  1. The air pressure thing. I’m riding a 26 x 3.0 duro and on my last ride I finally decided to listen to the people that said ride low pressure. Up until then I had ridden just under 20 PSI. The last time I was quite a bit lower, I could pinch the tire and it would give a bit. I knew something was wrong 10 feet down the trail and thought about going back and putting more air in the tire but in the end I just went for it. It still felt too low and that the tire started to get a bit ‘twisty’ but I found that I could roll over most smaller roots without noticing them. I suspect I’ll need a little more pressure, but not too much, too much and I’ll have to work the roots and maintain the balancing act again.

And I’ll add another. Don’t get (too) discouraged. I’d consider myself a semi-decent unicycler on pavement and on gravel roads but the first time I got out on the single track was an absolute disaster. To a bystander that didn’t know me I would have looked like someone that simply couldn’t ride a unicycle, just some idiot out there getting in everyone’s way and trying to do something that just shouldn’t/couldn’t be done. Now a few months later I’m doing about 90% of that same trail that killed me that first time. Seeing videos of expert riders and hearing bikers on biking forums talk about how trivial your local trail is (when talking to other bikers) doesn’t help either. Best advice is to not compare yourself to other riders, only compare yourself to the previous you. Try to be a bit better each time out and don’t try to make progress faster than you are able. It should be a fun experience.

Lower pressure is slower, so slows down the action, but to slow and you’ll hit the rim on obstacles. It depends on your weight and what you’re doing, also surfaces such as hard, soft, wet, dry.

I weigh 200# and on a 24/26" x 3" I run 12-16psi, varying the pressure for the above, also I will sometimes change pressure if I feel like I’m getting beat up, like when I get tired, so I’ll drop pressure and let the tire absorb more of the impact, of course then there are times when the uni feels sluggish or I feel like I’m bottoming out, so I’ll add some pressure.

Temperatures will greatly affect tire pressure and tire responsiveness.

What got me on my fingers is that I ride a lot at a place that is very rooty, so a ground fall can lead to fingers getting tangled in roots. I don’t fall excessively or in any spectacular fashon, but from four falls over a three year span I have had multiple fractures on three fingers and single fracture on one finger. One pinkie finger has a ligament tear that might fix with surgery; it won’t straighten fully.

But, I don’t hit my knees or face, and no stitches to date; well, none from muni :wink:

I wear helmet and wristguards, have started working on the things everybody mentioned (cheers everybody), have lowered tire pressure (nice result) and have just ordered the Hillbilly gloves (cheers Nurse Ben). It’s not getting worse. Keep those insights coming… they are a big help.
BTW Kris Holm is coming out with a MUni and trials book next spring.

Depends mostly on your tire and it’s volume, riding style and weight. I carry around a digital gauge accurate to +/- 0.5 psi and ride my 24x2.6 @ 13.5 psi (I weigh 150 lbs and am a non-hopper). Ride w/ it as low as you can w/o it getting too squirmy or pinch flats (lower does create more drag and slow you down).

Once you get good at hopping, hop up/down curbs and stairs w/ L & R foot forward, to the L & R, and holding w/ either hand. Rolling hops (again L & R foot forward).

Ride lots of “skinnies” (painted lines on the road, cracks in the sidewalk, curbs, etc). Weave around the obstacles on the road/trail and later over (hop and/or roll).

Learn to ride backwards, w/ one foot (L & R), and idle. Learning SIF (Seat In Front) really helped my balance and smooth out my pedaling, SIB too, + it’s a serious leg work-out.