Muni skillz vs. MTB skillz

Is there any real cross over here? I under stand that they are fairly different, but there are also similarities.

I’ve never mountain biked, but would say I’m a decent muni rider. If I got on an MTB, would it be the same as starting from square one, or would some of the skills translate and put me a bit further along?

Don’t get it twisted, I’m not getting an MTB, just curious.

hmm… I’d have to think about it, but I think you have to consider 2 different things:

  1. how much does Muni improve your balance and motor control in general? which then helps you learn to mountain bike faster.
  2. which skills transfer directly?

As to 1, I think Muni should be pretty good, as you need to learn good balance and how to control your body, plus the way to “approach” and tackle problems, like “how do I clear this rock garden”, or “how to I have to transfer my weight to make it up this hill?”

As to 2, which is probably more what you’re asking, I’m not sure. When mountain biking the same trail as Muni, the movements are totally different and you have a lot more speed and can realy use momentum. I would say Muni provides you with a good basis so that you would learn to mountain bike faster than if you had no Muni experience. However, the weight transfer in a curve on two wheels is totally different, as is lifting the front wheel to make it over an obstacle or a bunny hop, which involves complex movements, weight transfer and timing.

So no, even with tons of Muni experience, on your first day out on a mountain bike I don’t think you’d be up there with the good riders. But, after X days of riding I think you would be way ahead of (the same person) without Muni experience.

It’s also very hard to answer b/c there are so many types of mountain biking… cross country, racing, freeride, downhill, etc. I think Muni would transfer most to freeride and downhill, as cross country and racing are more about being fit and practicing for that one thing (ok, riding Muni makes you fit too, but in a different way). But if you can do a 50cm drop on a Muni, I think it won’t be long until you can do a 1m drop on a mountain bike (and sadly, your typical mountain biker will probably never do a 1m drop, and even fewer a 2m drop).

For me, especially comparing Freeride MTB and Muni/Muni downhill, there are many similarities in that you have to enjoy looking for the challenge and pick your next obstacle/skill and work on it until you get it. That’s what freeride mountain biking is all about (ok, each person has his own interpretation, so I should say: that’s what it is for me). Plus, after so many years of mountain biking, it became ever more difficult for me to find a challenge (without doing overly crazy things like 4m drops and huge road gaps, where you can really hurt yoursefl). That’s one thing I have loved about Muni: I can really challenge myself on much “smaller” obstacles, like a 50cm drop, or a “normaly” steep mountain bike downhill. Plus, I don’t have to travel so far to find challenging trails.


Yes and no.

If you’ve never mountain biked before, then, as with any new sport, there will be a learning curve. Muni should lessen it, but don’t expect to be instantly awesome.

That being said, for those who do both there is definite crossover. For the last several years I only got on my MTB a few times a year. When I did, the muni skills helped me in tech situations (as long as I remembered that I needed to keep track of 2 wheels instead of one). The confidence from muni riding difficult sections made them much easier on the bike. The core strength from unicycling is a tremendous benefit when biking.

A few months ago I picked up a new MTB. In past years I’ve been able to snow muni all winter. Conditions this winter were such that the snow was impossible to muni on. It was barely rideable on a fat bike. But, barely rideable is still rideable. Pedaling outside was better than sitting inside, and the bike fitness will transfer when I need fitness on the uni.

Fortunately, we have an indoor mountainbike (and muni) park nearby. We ride there as a group every Friday night throughout the winter. Many nights we ride both munis and bikes. Often the bikes include mountainbikes and 24" bmx bikes. Working on flow skills on the bike helps with muni. Things happen at higher speeds on a bike, which can help sharpen reflexes. And having a freewheel and being able to pump is sometimes an awesome experience.

The owner of the park sees riding bikes and unicycles like speaking other languages: everyone should experience more than one and be open to new things. We (the unicyclists) have been working on biking skills, and we’ve had bikers take up unicycling. Neither of us are abandoning our passions, but we’re open to more options and not declaring a right vs. wrong on equipment choice.

Overall, there are a lot more bikers in the world than unicyclists. It’s good to have friends in both camps as we tend to share trails.

Awesome posts guys! Very good points.

So to throw this into the mix: I also road bike, so I’m not a total bike newb. Would that further expedite the process, or be fairly unrelated.

Experience with road biking might keep you from being a total newbie: i.e. know how to shift gears and when you should, plus how to spin, etc.

Other than that (and of course making you cardio fit), no. I would say in general, most road bikers who get on a mountain bike can’t ride a windy singletrail or navigate a technical downhill at all.

Of course there are exceptions: my brother-in-law who is a cardio and balance freak of nature. He picked up road biking after years of distance and trick inline skating and is already riding cat I road racing after 2 seasons. AND, when we go mountain biking he’s always right on my tail: a few years ago he was riding a 29" hardtail and we went to a bike park in Telluride and he just followed me down the whole run: over a 1.5m drop, a huge road gap and a huge side off-camber jump. He made all of them great but on the second run he overshot the off-camber landing and tacoed his front tire, as his racing wheel couldn’t handle the sideways force (his technique was fine and on a robus freeride bike he would have kept on ridng: the light-weight racing tire actually tore off the rim).

I gotta get to bed to get up early to head to the Alps for snowboarding!

Dude… :smiley:

bike think.jpg

I don’t need another bike…

Few years ago I did only freestyle unicycling and mountainbiking. I was also racin 24h MTB races. But when I was good enough riding my muni, I stopped riding bike. I feel like i totally unlearned most of my MTB skills since then.

I mountain bike maybe three times a year but since I muni I find I can go out and rip with my friends who mountain bike everyday.

I have MTBed for years, and I recently started Muni-ing. Some of the skills that easily cross over are the ability to read a trail and pick a good line. I think my side-to-side balance has improved on my MTB because of the muni. However, I am having a heck of a time on the fore-back balance on my muni. I am so used to anticipating an obstacle, that I instinctively lean forward–well, you know what the outcome is. It might actually be easier to learn how to MTB after riding muni, than the other way round. The joke about having a ‘training wheel’ when riding a bike actually has some merit :roll_eyes:


Just recently got back into mountain biking. My biggest lesson since getting back on the mtb: it is much easier to gracefully bail off of a unicycle.

Here is evidence of that.

Haha…love your vid!! Awesome! I coudnt have done it better:D:D Glad you werent hurt.

You cant always bail out gracefully on one wheel either. .They other day i ways zooming downhill on my 36er on this short and final stretch of the trail. Had done it many times before. I guess i had forgotten how steep it really was and a momentary distraction had my foot slip. Tried to bail but my left foot went under the pedal as my right foot torqued foward and my whole body leaned back. I ended up on my back on the dirt floor with my leg bent all the way back at the knee, with my left foot still stuck behind the pedal.
My obvious reaction was “oh crap” thinking i might of really injured my knee.
I Then unwrapped my knee from the pedal and to my total suprise, it was totally fine! The only scratch was a good pedal strike to the back of the leg and two cut up thumbs…Whooo! What a relief, just in a little bloody mess, but none the worse.
Totally awesome ride it was(!), riding down from my brother’s house way up on the hills.

Yeah, for me, i’d much rather crash on just one wheel…
ON two wheels just be sure to lean much back as you go fast downhills, that’s why the seat has to be pretty low. Yeah, its alot of weight transfer, such as making sharp turns. Fun but Crazy to think back, i used to do it on clipless.

Okay, so now for the main reason I posted this… :roll_eyes:

Me and Fugsworth went out and rode fat bikes today. I was a bit concerned about how I’d hold up when I’ve never MTB’d before. We were on some pretty sweet single track we’ve ridden before with a big downhill section.

Long story short, I actually had more fun on my fat bike than I’ve had in a long time. I still love my muni’s, but I’ll be riding MTB now as well and will just have to learn how to balance things out.

Chet gave me a few pointers along the way (THANKS!!!) and I feel like I held my own pretty well. Didn’t come across anything I couldn’t ride (apart from the 6 feet of snow on the first half that we had to walk through).

Biggest lesson I learned is that you need to pay attention. I had a near miss with a tree that would have been ugly.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to going out again on Thursday.

Interesting topic. Since my mountain biking experience is fairly limited, and almost all OLD, I can’t offer much there. The one thing that’s obvious to me, which has been mentioned earlier, is ability to read the trail. As unicyclists we probably read it more than an MTB-er needs to, but that can’t be a bad thing. :slight_smile:

Road spinning, esp hill climbing will help keep your cadence up when climbing or mild bumps, but not big bumps or moderate bumps uphill.

Ditto what others said about MUni. I’d add that MUni helps to keep pedaling over rough terrain, more so w/ a hard tail.

Weight distribution in almost all situations is different. Be careful, sometimes it’s almost exactly opposite.
Check out Ryan Kremsater here @ 1:42

His for/back balance if it were a uni would be near ideal but it’s WAY too far forward for a MTB.

It’s much easier reading the trail when I’m on my muni, because there I have not half the speed I’d have on my MTB