Muni on steep and bumpy downhill

Hi sorry if there is already a topic on this, after a quick search I couldn’t find one exactly like this so I am just making a new post.

So I just got my 27.5 Muni about a month ago, and I am feeling very confident on it and can go down any steep hill in the area that I live but one thing that I find really hard is when the hill is bumpy then my feet start jumping everywhere and sometimes they fall off. So I was wondering if there are any tips for getting better at this?
I have been working on is one foot riding, I can do this on my right foot but not on my left foot yet, and have been able to regain control once or twice when one of my feet slips off during the steep section
I am also thinking that maybe I should do more practice without the break then my feet would be more firmly planted in the pedals, would this help or is it a crazy idea?

Also I have a bonus question, so on some muni videos on YouTube I have seen people doing a no footer going down a hill. I assume that they are using their break for balance and to control speed, I am just wondering if there is a good way to learn this? (I don’t believe that it is super useful but I think that it looks cool so I want too learn HaHa)

Good one… this is one of my weakest skills. (6’3" me + 29" plus tire + steep bumpy trail = scary)

A brake is needed to keep the flow smooth and save the legs.
It kind of takes the hill out of the equation (by applying a drag) and all you need to do is to stay balanced.

I try to ride down as slow as possible and roll everything I can in control.
I like slow so I can fall backwards if needed and it gives you more time to be ready for the next drop.

I use very upright handlebars and a medium to low seat so my legs can be big springs.

I also wear hiking boots with a heel. Great grip with the lugs and my heel has saved my foot coming off many times.

Can’t help with the others.

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Just to make sure, I hope you have a good grip on your handle, because that is the main thing that helps to keep you on the unicycle. I sound like a broken record when it comes to this, but make sure you have your brake set up in a way that you can independently pull/hold on to your handle and use one finger on the brake.

A cue I stole from mountainbikers is keeping the heels down. If you extend your ankles (standing on tip toes on the pedals), your foot tends to be in front of the pedal, so a bump will throw them off easily. By keeping your heels down, your foot tends to be behind the pedal and a bump will actually push them onto the pedals more.

Other than that, leaning forward from the hips helps a lot on bumpy downhill sections. Similar thinking to the heels down, but with your butt on the saddle, leaning forward from the hips brings your wheel forward relative to your hips. That way when you hit a bump, your hip can still travel forward relative to the wheel, while if you sit more upright, you don’t have any range of motion left. Note that this doesn’t mean having your weight forward, on a downhill I’d always tend to be more on the side of being behind the wheel with your weight vs. in front, dismounting forward on really steep downhills sucks.

Then of course there is knowing what speed to choose, when to stand up out of the seat vs. sitting down and also what pedals and shoes you have that can all lead to your feet slipping off.

Brake coasting (what you describe in your last paragraph) is best to learn on a smooth downhill. I’m only okay at it (2-3 revolutions pretty consistently, sometimes more), but what I did to practice is just doing it on every dismount.

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Thanks for the reply!
“A brake is needed to keep the flow smooth and save the legs.
It kind of takes the hill out of the equation (by applying a drag) and all you need to do is to stay balanced.”
yeah I guess my question about not using the break was maybe more about if I should use less break and more legs to slow down because maybe then with extra pressure on the pedals will keep my feet more securely planted?

“I try to ride down as slow as possible and roll everything I can in control.
I like slow so I can fall backwards if needed and it gives you more time to be ready for the next drop.”
I do try to go slowly but on the trails that I am riding they have a layer of loose dirt and are really steep so I cant go too slow because then the unicycle slides and I don’t have any more control and fall backwards.

I’ve been trying to do more brakeless descents lately as I think it will improve my riding ability. Using a brake is definitely easier and smoother though and there are places that are just too steep for me without it.

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I do have a good grip on my handle and can fairly easily grab the break with my middle finger and do it independently however sometimes I notice that when it gets intense I just completely grab with the whole hand, including the break, but I think this just requires more practice using my middle finger independently.

this seems to be what I am looking for. So would you say then that you have the balls of your feet on the pedals while doing this or the middle of the foot? because I was reading some other threads and it seemed that most people were saying that they used the middle of the foot to prevent spraining the ankles from drops and maybe it gives a bit more control.

ok this seems complicated and probably a little scary, but I am going to have to try this next time I go out on my Uni, maybe tomorrow.

so it is just practice I guess. Is there any skills to learn before hand that would make it easier?

I tend to have the balls of the feet on the pedals, but maybe a little more towards the middle of the foot on very rough sections. I think having the balls of the foot is good, because it actually allows you calves to engage instead of rendering passive, and I can’t imagine how mid foot would give “more control”. Heels down does still work with the mid foot on the pedal though, just not as pronounced.

I guess I’ll just quickly clarify the “leaning forward” in a picture:


This is roughly the amount I’m talking about, so not too extreme.

I think other than just generally having good brake control, I can’t think of anything that helps brakecoasting much.

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All good advice. Of course, the obvious thing too is to get off the saddle a little and have more weight on the pedals to dampen the hits from each bump. And it plants your feet more into the pedals.

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Not really. Just use your brake regularly, especially when you’re dismounting, then slowly work on putting your feet down slower (so the wheel does half a revolution, then a revolution, then two revolutions etc). Once you can brake coast to a stop, then you can try sharply pulling the brake before you stop to bring your feet back onto the pedals and carry on, and from there it’s just learning the modulation required to keep you balanced just with the brake.

Do be aware that if you’re using a stock brake on a muni you may struggle to do extended brake coasts with it as the cheaper ones tend to be harder to control so precisely, but you can brake coast to a stop with any brakes.

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How long have you been doing downhill?

There are four skills to master:
a.) Downhill riding on obstacles and rough terrain.(be glad you don’t have to actually pedal for propulsion…like going uphill at the same time…which is what I like to do).
b.) Human brake application. Yeah. No brakes. Just used your legs.
c.) Mechanical brake application.
d.) Orchestrating all of the above.

It’s best to master them one at a time or isolated. Then the combined effect results in a higher level of skill. Sometimes(actually most of the time) doing many things at once just creates “mush”.

Keep on…

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This will all become instinctive with practice.

Another bit of advice is to stand up and use your legs as suspension over the bumps. If you are sitting heavy in the seat, even small bumps can launch you off the unicycle.

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Thanks everyone for your help. I tried some of the techniques that you mentioned and they seemed to help. But last time I had two big falls. one I fell over the front and it was my hardest fall so far but thanks to my helmet It was really not too bad. and the second fall was really not that big of a fall I just kind of stepped back off the uni but somehow I twisted my knee, it felt funny but not too bad so I just kept riding but when I got home and rested for about an hour then I couldnt walk for a day and a half and I was scared that It was really serious but now it is much better just a little bit of pain. I guess I will be taking about a week off from unicycling just to make a full recovery