MUni, Trials, Freestyle...the differences

Again, please forgive me if everyone but me is familiar…

MUni: riding through the woods. The same trails I take on my Mountain Bike. You might want to let a little bit of air out of the tire to absorb shock. Longer cranks.

Freestyle: spinning, idling, backwards, one foot. More air in tire. shorter cranks.

Trials: At first I thought you folks were just screwing up the typing of trails. However, is trials riding over weird stuff? I think I saw pictures of Andrew Carter balancing across 2 x 4 s and changing direction to another 2 x 4 and riding up the horizontally laid ladder (but across the rungs). Apparently anything crazy goes.

Am I close? If I have this right, the trials category fascinates me.

Is there a clear (or foggy) set of rules/regs for each pursuit?

The primary difference is how you imagine yourself when you perform the task. My MUni Persona is half Tarzan and half Mountain Goat. When drilling for Freestyle, I’m one of Degas’ Ballerina singing, ‘I feel pritty, oh so pritty’, and when going to stick a Trials move, I’m a cross between Star Trek William Shatner and Beatnick Shatner doing public jaz poetry… uh… only without the words.


I’d say that trials is getting on,up and/or over one or a series of objects without having your feet hit the ground. Most of the stuff that you see on the north shore in BC or bike parks I would say are stunts not trials obstacles. They are made to be ridden over whereas a trial obstacle is not something that can just be ridden over.

That’s got to be the best trials advice I’ve seen yet. Next time I’m practicing trials, I’m going to try channeling shatner to see if that helps.

Re: MUni, Trials, Freestyle…the differences

There’s… …something on the wing, some… …thing!

Don’t forget agressive street uni.

Very similar to trials riding except add some grinds and some freestyle. Same setup as trials, maybe a psi or two more pressure. One of my favorites.

  • Sal


Mind set: Tony Hawk + Invader Zim (no not our local loud mouth)

This is some more trials…it’s really fun!


I thought your sandwich board was far bigger than that Andy. I think trails revolves around hopping, i don’t think there’s any trials trick that doesn’t involve a hop of some sort. i’m probably wrong, i’m always wrong. ( andy, just out of intreast is a sandwich board hard to build, and how high is yours?)

Wonderful explainations. Rhysling, very dali lamaic. There’s light shining from my eyes, fingertips. I am one.

A.C., thanks for the pic. Worth waaaaaaaaaay more than 1000 words. As long as I stay less than 2 feet off the ground, I’ll give it a go.

So, to summerize:

MUni: wear old clothes

Freestyle: wear something sexy

Trials: wear armor.

Riding skinnies like logs and rails is a trials skill that doesn’t involve hopping (unless if you’re hopping up to the skinny).

The rules for these things can be found in the IUF Rulebook, on the IUF Web site:

Rules are for competitions. You don’t need them for going out and having fun of course. Trials is very new, and still evolving fast. The current Trials rules have only been used twice in competitions that I know of (UNICON 11 and MUni Weekend 2002).

Here’s my (brief) definitions of each:

MUni: riding on rough terrain. Could be woods, urban, rocks, or anywhere. Can also include Trials-type work to get over obstacles.

Trials: riding or hopping over obstacles. Usually not associated with traveling many miles or riding long trails.

Freestyle: doing tricks, with an eventual audience in mind. The Freestyle competition event is 50% difficulty and 50% presentation. By “eventual” I’m suggesting that the goal of Freestyle is to put on a performance. But there are other forms of what we call “artistic’” riding other than Freestyle.

Whoa! ,hold the boat -it’s leaving without me. Would you expound apone this difference?


I don’t know if this is what John meant, but “artistic” depends on your definition of art [1]. Loads of the muni & trials videos I’ve downloaded definitely appeal to me in many senses, artistic is just one of them.

Have fun!


[1] Or as the UK Government’s Culture Minister said recently of the entries for Britain’s biggest arts prize “cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit” - spot on!

In addition to Freestyle (in the form of individual freestyle, pairs freestyle and group freestyle) Standard Skill, Open-X, Club Show and Parade are categorized as forms of artistic unicycling in the USA competition rules.

And most or all of these “artistic” variations are performed on smooth, flat, level, dry surfaces with good traction, usually under a roof or some other sort of cover.

Tom Daniels listed the competition events in the IUF Rulebook under the umbrella term “artistic.” The word “artistic” is too-often erroneously attached to the actual names of those events, none of which contains that word. It is intended as an encompassing term to cover all forms of trick/skill riding. In other words, it’s “Standard Skill,” not Standard Artistic. “Individual Freestyle,” not Freestyle Artistic, etc.

But those specific events are again just the competition end. A wider definition of artistic could be as varied as what you find in a museum labeled as “art.” A person can do an “artistic” dismount on a trail, where the unicycle cartwheels in an aesthetically pleasing way down the side of the hill and into the river. This is what I refer to as “style points.”

But back to common-usage definitions, artistic is the larger category, and Freestyle is a subset of that. That’s how it works in unicycling. In BMX, freestyle includes flatland and vert (ramps), and whatever else I don’t know about. The BMX concept of freestyle doesn’t necessarily have a final-product performance attached.

After all of that, when I refer to a freestyle unicycle, or better yet when creates a category by that name, they mean for doing tricks on, not necessarily for performing on. But knowing the competition events and names, and what they are, will help you to make more sense of what we’re talking about sometimes.

The distance from the bottom to the highest point is 270mm. I suppose those photos do make it look bigger don’t they, but I can’t hop up onto it from the ground as it is so I’ll use this one to start and then make some more. They’re not at all hard to build. This one cost me $4 for the hinges. I got the rest from a building site bin. All up, it probably took me about 1 and a half hours. It’ll take no time at all if you have the right tools. I had to cut the sheets of wood to size with a hand saw (which was sort of blunt and the wood was surprisingly hard), then get some nails out of the second hand planks, then drill some holes and attach the planks to the top with screws (this took me ages because I had to screw them in by hand but if you’ve got the tools it’ll take no time), attach the hinges, attach some thin rope to hold it steady. It’s really easy and in my opinion it’s definately worth it.

So its just the thin rope holding the two sides of the sandwich board from spreading out due to downwards force. I think I’m right on that. But if you land on it with any sideways force, it will still collapse, right? Is that the intent? What purpose does that serve?

Yes you’re right. As for the sideways force, I haven’t really tested it out yet but it doesn’t seem like i’ll be too easy to collapse. The intent is definately not to have it collapse because that’d probably end up hurting. I’m not really sure but I think the only two reasons for the hinges are that it can be folded up and packed away when not in use, and most of all, hinges are the best way to attach the two sheets of wood (is that what you’d call them?). You should make one, they’re heaps of fun.

Good luck,