Muni Expectations

Does anyone know of any riders 275lbs+ that are capable of holding their own out on the trail? I’m relatively new to unicycling, but I’ve always enjoyed team sports. While I don’t expect to be competitive, I would like to know that a sufficient level of skill is obtainable that would enable me to challenge other local riders (or at least not hold them back).

I’ve spent the past 20 years powerlifting and playing football, so serious distance riding is not in the foreseeable future. While I think I would enjoy the challenge, my fragile ego couldn’t handle the transition:(. So far, I find muni to be a good compliment to my existing skill set; however, I expect that smaller, leaner guys probably excel off-road. For those of you who have been doing this for awhile, would you say that this is true?

Interesting question.

The unicycle is constantly in a state of falling, with the rider making a correction. Using the physics of f=m*a (force equals mass times acceleration), that’d suggest to me that, making a correction of balance for a heavy person is going to take more force. If you’re strong, however, you should be able to apply greater force.

Traction is another issue: it seems that a heavier person would drive the tire into the ground more, getting more traction; but then again, you need more traction to pull more weight up a hill.

Braking: I don’t know what the hills look like in your neighborhood, but if you’re bigger, that might put more stress on your knees holding back while going down hills, so I’d suggest a brake.

Rolling over obstacles: if you ride with a sufficiently big wheel, and you can keep your large mass coupled with the unicycle (weight on the pedals and a hand firmly on the seat or even better on some rigid bar), and if you are moving at a decent speed, than you should be able to roll over ANYTHING (cue heavy metal music).

Size: As a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend anything bigger that 26". A lot of people on the forum have listed the 26" as a great all-aound MUni size. You can experiment with different sizes later.

So, long story short, I say GO FOR IT!!! We’re rooting for you. MUni is awesome!!!

How far can you run?

I’m 5’9, weigh about 210 lbs, age 53, and I’ve been riding about 3 years now. Muni is my favorite thing to do on a unicycle; at this point I can ride at right about the same level as a beginner on a MTB. Most of my friends would say I’m in good shape. I’m not a runner; I can run about 2 mi in a pinch at maybe 6 MPH

The hardest thing for me in athletics is endurance, and I have no doubt the single biggest thing holding me back from more advanced unicycling is my weight - if I dropped 20-30 lbs it would have a far greater impact on my capability than any excercise regimen. That said, I could make up for my weight through endurance training - a lot of it, but at 55 I can only develop muscles and bone so far.

My opinion is that a bigger person can stay with lighter people on a muni, but it’s about the same handicap as it would be running or road biking. In fact, probably more than it would be uni road riding. But that should challenge you, not hold you back, if you’re a competitive guy like me, and it sounds like you are. No matter what you’ll have a lot of fun trying. I ride with MTBers much faster than me…they can wait.

Muni is Hela Fun!
Dont let any stereotpye set you back. You’re athletic, and as long as you’re willing to set your mind to it, it shouldnt be a problem at all. Im sure youll lose good weight at it too. Endurance is just a matter of practice and conditioning.
Look at me, im short, 5’6" my legs are even shorter than average, i just turned 40 when i got it. I didnt let it stop me from riding the 36er Nightrider, up and downhills is the greatest blast.
My next ride will be the giraffe. My goal, to jump mount it.

I wouldn’t know what it’s like to have other riders to challenge. Maybe that’s the difference between the mountains and the flatlands. :slight_smile: But from my experience learning muni at 50+:If you can hike the trail, go ahead and try to muni it. Rolling your unicycle over the parts you can’t ride is barely any harder than walking the trail without it, and over time you’ll be able to ride more and more. Stop for a few minutes when (not if!) you get winded. With your weight, a nice wide tire at reasonably low pressure would help a lot getting over the bumpy stuff. [Edit: I just looked again and it sounds like you’ve already gotten started. So much better there.]

Keep at it and your conditioning will get to wherever it’s going to get. The few unicyclists I’ve had the good fortune to meet in person have been super accommodating when it comes to allowing for riders of different speeds and encouraging beginners. But you’ll be having fun no matter what. Like elpuebloUNIdo says, it’s awesome.

I’m not exactly answering your question, but I started serious distance unicycling at 260 pounds. I dropped about 30 pounds in a short amount of time and was probably 230 when I started riding offroad. I was able to hold my own easily. Yes, the smaller guys had more natural speed and an advantage climbing hills, but I had the fitness advantage.

Thanks for the encouragement!

I’ve been reading the forum for awhile, but being new to the sport, I don’t often feel like I have much to add to the conversations. From what I’ve seen, this is a very supportive community.

elpuebloUNIdo, you actually describe my experience so far pretty well. I can roll up/over most of the small hills/obstacles I encounter; however, I have difficulty descending anything that’s even moderately steep. Right now, I have a 24" and a 29er (and a little 20" trainer that I still can’t ride). Oddly enough, the 29er feels much more stable on most terrain. Perhaps it’s a better match for my height and weight? I agree that a 26" might be preferable. I wish I had known that before starting this new obsession:). I do have some Spirit cranks, so it might be time to start looking at an external disc brake.

Samstoney, I have no idea how fast I run. I haven’t trained anything longer than a 40 yard dash in a long time. My longest ride so far was about 6 miles on my 29er. I only averaged a little over 4mph and it wore me out, so I would say that my endurance (and/or balance) is pretty poor. You make some good points about bodyweight by the way; at some point, I may have to reassess my priorities if I want to continue getting better.

LargeEddie, it’s funny that you mention the hiking element. I don’t know how the Asheville Parks compare with other places in our general area, but I’ve found that at Richmond Hill I have more trouble walking than riding when the weather is bad :thinking: . I’ve been wearing Chuck Taylors, but I think I may need to invest in some hiking shoes. Let me know if you’re ever out this way. I’ve been trying to meetup with some of the locals; but, so far, I haven’t had a chance to meet any of them.

Moran & UPD, thanks for the info. My biggest takeaway from this is that I should just have fun and ride! The rest will fall into place.

A few more thoughts: There’s muni and then there’s muni, but I don’t doubt that you were worn out after 6 miles at 4 mph if that was real mountain-bike single-track. That’s a bunch. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Asheville park trails are more challenging. Our parks are mostly built on that wasn’t good for much else, which means the sides of hills, but this is the foothills (Piedmont) and Asheville has real mountains.

I see mountain bikers on the trails when I’m on my unicycle, and their M.O. seems to be to get from one end to the other as fast as possible, and to never put a foot down if it can be avoided, let alone dismount. My sense is that muni is different. Stepping off is easier and maybe less of an admission of defeat. :slight_smile: On the few group rides I’ve done, we stopped to regroup every few minutes. If there was an interesting feature along the trail, some might go back a few times and try different ways of doing it while others were catching up or catching their breath. It was more about finding fun places to ride, less about getting from here to there as fast as we could.

And it seemed like technique matters at least as much as and probably more than fitness. If (like me a lot of the time!) you’re working flat out just to stay upright, you’ll tire out a lot faster than someone who might have more body weight or lower aerobic capacity but who rolls along and keep his or her momentum up. At the level of Unicon champions and such, I’m sure they’re way up on both scales. But in the usual group ride mix, the more skilled riders are the ones out front.

Will do on letting you know if I’m up your way. It’s been a while but I’ve been meaning to. There seem to be a fair number of unicyclists in NC but maybe not that many connections between us or easy opportunities to get together.

I totally agree with @LArgeEddie. Seems like the o.p. was thinking municyclists were like mountain bikers, so was concerned. Makes sense. Muni riders are so rare, when they have other people to ride with they don’t care much about skill level. On any given trail, there are usually more than one line we can take, a hard one or less hard, etc. Also the difference between pace of a good vs mediocre muni rider vs someone walking isn’t so great, so there isn’t too much waiting. There is usually some obstacle to mess around on at any given spot, a rock or a stump can provide hours of entertainment to us :slight_smile: We can ride and have fun in one spot, waiting for riders is no big deal.


Expect to have fun! And to drop some serious lbs. I’m 5’10 weighed 195 when my primary discipline was distance. Then my MUni obsession got me down to 155 lbs. Less weight to drag up that next hill and cheaper than titanium components. At least that is what I tell myself when I want a BigMac.

^^^ This. I’m basically a cruddy rider, and I’m always the slowest one. Two things for which I’m grateful (and which keeps the whole thing fun for me) are: 1) What is stated above, and b) Unicycle riders’ general tolerance for other, less talented, riders.

The Sauratowns are real mountains.

Yeah, echoing on Anton’s words. Municyclists are so rare. So any ride together is a good together. My solo wheel and I are anxiously awaiting for somebody to wait upon up on the trails.
I recently got my brother into it, anxiously waiting upon for him say, “ok, I’m ready let’s hit the trails”.

Santa brought ma a 24" oracle for Christmas and the weather here in KC has warmed up enough to finally get out on the trail. I have made it out twice and with upper 60"s tomorrows forcast I plan on making a day of it.

I can petty much get on my 20" and ride for a couple miles on the paved bike trails with out stopping before I need a break. On my oracle I am lucky to get 500 to 600 yards off road before I need a break. I am sure some of it is getting used to the bigger wheels and longer cranks as well as getting used to riding rough terrain.

I guess my question is this just the normal learning curve like you have with learning any new skill on the uni? Do I just need to keep plugging and be patient or is there different ways of practicing I need to do?

I am hoping to make it out to the Moab event if the weather across Colorado will allow me to drive but I am not going to go if I feel I will hold the group up. I will just wait for the UNACC to go Muning with other people.

Just so that I’m not exaggerating my current ability, that 6 mile was mostly on the Asheville Greenway and a couple of pedestrian-friendly dirt paths. If anything, I would consider it cross-country. Out in the woods, I might be good for 3 miles at 3-3.5mph. I could probably ride longer, but I doubt I could ride much faster than that on the local terrain.

What you’ve written about technique is very interesting. I wonder if that’s why I suck so bad at distance. In the woods, it’s relatively easy to out-muscle the unicycle for 1/4 - 1/2 mile stretches. When riding continuously, I feel like the muscle used for balance fail me after a couple of miles, and I start to swerve quite a bit.

Thanks for this. I did consider muni to be much like mountain biking. I’ll continue to push myself and attempt to limit my number of dismounts, but it’s nice to know that I won’t be expected to ride several miles full-throttle if I’m out with others.

I’ve tried to convince some of the guys around here to learn, but if my experience is any indication of the norm, most adults seem to fear falling off the unicycle. I actually have a friend who does drag racing and motocross who thought the idea of unicycling in the woods was dangerous :astonished: !

The more experienced guys can probably give you a better idea about what to expect, but my experience so far has shown that the major difficulties that we run into off-road start to clear up pretty quickly. My biggest challenge has been adjusting to the longer crank length. My mind tells me that I need to be moving at the same speed that I would with shorter cranks, so I have a tendency to increase my rpms and I end up redlining if I’m not careful.

Pace yourself. Unless you are racing remember to relax and take it easy on easier sections so you don’t waste energy. Actually, this is good advice when racing as well.

At nationals last summer I purposely stayed behind a rider I thought was about at my abilities. She forced me to slow down and take it easy (she was maybe 12 years old), the adrenaline would have burned me out otherwise. It’s taken a while to learn this about myself but has definitely paid off in the long run.

Usually about half way through my rides I realize that I’m not relaxing at all. Once I really focus on relaxing and flowing through the trail instead of brute forcing my way through, my pace picks up and I burn much less energy. Makes a huge difference, everything gets easier.

Yep! I’m always having to remind myself to relax and rest my weight on the saddle. Sometimes when I hit a bump I tense up and remain tensed up instead of relaxing again after recovering my balance.

Not to derail the thread (it’s a place where NC muni riders might meet) but have you unicycled there? I know local road cyclists who’ve done the Three Mountain Metric, which goes over Pilot Mountain, Sauratown Mountain, and Hanging Rock, and I’ve hiked in Hanging Rock State Park but hadn’t thought about muni there. It looks like some new trails have come online in the not-too-distant:

I’m less than an hour away and up for trying it.

I’ve ridden and do recommend all the Moore’s Springs Trails. PM me if you have questions.