I’m about six hours in and things are going well - consistently riding 30-50 meters. But my I find myself keep drifting to the left. Some things that may be causing this:
Sore left “cube”. My saddle (Sun Cruiser) seems narrow and it feels pinched. I wonder if the soreness is subconsciously making me pedal harder or lean left. One thing that I realized help relieve pressure is if I sit further up on the saddle and more upright (I’m guessing that’s more proper technique anyway).
I learned holding onto a fence (mostly with my right hand). Maybe I developed some sort of bad habit because of that? I’m guessing probably not because I’m so new and everything feels quite new.
Improper body position?
My left arm often moves for balance more so than my right. Not sure why that is or if that’s common for newbies
Any tips for going straighter or something to think about/look for while riding?
It’s almost universal to favor one side over the other. Just ride more, and you’ll eventually get over it. But don’t be surprised if left turns always seem more natural than right. Stuff like that is real common. It helps to do stuff that forces you to work the opposite side. (Like curve right if you tend to curve left.)
You’re making great progress – keep it going!
Might be obvious, but check that your saddle is straight. If it’s not it could be pulling you to the side. Some of the less expensive unis can get knocked out fairly easily when you drop them. Otherwise as said here, just practice!
One thing to keep in mind: we tend to turn in the direction we’re looking. So, without over-thinking things, try to look to the right. If you’re veering to the left, of course you’re going to look that way, because you’re about to crash into something on the left, but that exacerbates the veering-left issue.
Whatever foot pushes down harder…that one will tend to force the unicycle to lean in that direction. I have a definite strong and weak side of my body. I tend to push harder with my left foot. If you typically mount with one particular foot back/down, you could try the other way; this might help you exert more force with the weak foot.
Determine if there’s any camber (left/right slope) in the place you’re learning. Try to find an alternative launching spot; does the problem persist?
A certain amount of force has to be applied to counteract the self-steering of any tire. The tire is not responsible for the left-turning, but if the pressure is too low, it could make a correction more difficult. If your tire pressure is not already at the higher end, you might try adding more air.
Try the following stretch. Find something to hold onto, get on the unicycle, then alternately thrust your hips out to the left and right; eventually, you’re going to be using the right/left hop movement to control the unicycle, rather than flailing arms. Get used to how it feels, now, and later on you’ll learn how to apply it.
No worries, what you’re experiencing is totally normal. Keep practicing, and (assuming it’s not a mechanical issue, which I doubt) you’ll solve the issue. You’re making great progress; I was a much slower learner.
Riding twisted was the first thing I searched for when I found this forum. I am finding that with more time on the unicycle, this has improved greatly. It still gets to me at times, but as I get more comfortable on the unicycle, and am gaining more control, it is happening less often. Just keep riding and paying attention, especially to what your legs are doing.
I went back out today and was really frustrated starting out because I was having good runs, but really going left – at one point even doing a large circle. Then based on feedback in another post, I really started focusing on my hips and lower half of my body. Once I got a better feel for that, it was like the sweet spot of the balance point opened up and I could better control my speed and my arms didn’t need to flail as much. So I’d focus my upper body on going right / straight and it helped quite a bit.
My suggestion is to twist the seat slightly to the left to compensate.
It will relieve the frustration you are experiencing now.
As you get better you will be able to straighten out the seat more and more.
What you are experiencing is not all that uncommon. After my first 10 hours I could usually stay on for about 100m go straight and turn right, but not left.
Where you learnt holding onto a fence mostly with your right hand, I learnt against a building mostly using my left hand against the wall.
There was nothing mechanical stopping me from turning left. One evening I had a few drinks and some friends wanted to see me ride. Boom, I could turn left, right and go strait; The mental block was removed.
I remember when learning to ride, when things seemed to be biased to one side instead of the other (or center), I tried to concentrate on going the other way. If I was always falling off to the front, I tried to fall off to the rear. Drifting left? I concentrated on turning right. When doing the opposite, you’re getting to the other side of the “sweet spot”, which means you’ve passed it, which means you can find it.
Yes, you could. If you always went the same direction against your support, it can establish a riding position, shoulder position, etc. that can bias you toward one side more than the other. The (earlier) solution to that is to go both directions along your support, or use either hand, taking turns.
Nobody’s perfect. And when learning to ride we’re seriously not perfect.
It depends how you move it. A common early rider technique to control direction is what we call “swimming”. You use your arms to help change the direction you’re heading. Push your left arm hard to the rear, you’ll turn to the right. Do the opposite, you turn left. Using both arms increases the amount you can precess yourself. It’s something astronauts use in low/no gravity to change the way they’re facing. For larger movements, you “semaphore” your arms, which keeps applying the rotational energy into your body as you do it.
Mostly just keep at it. Concentrate on curving to the right on purpose. In the process, you’ll find yourself going straight at least some of the time.
Turning the seat to one side will face you in that direction, and tend to curve in the direction the seat is facing. In other words, if you do turn it, turn it to the right. But I recommend just making sure it’s straight and doing all the other stuff people have suggested.
I know this works, from racing on 200 meter indoor tracks, back in the day. Those tracks are almost all turn, with very little straightaway, and trying to go fast on them is really hard because you have to keep fighting to maintain the curve while going as fast as you can. So I figured out how much to twist the seat to cut down on that extra effort.
Another thing that can cause you to curve is riding with a twisted body. You will tend to head in the direction your upper body is facing. To go to the right, move your left shoulder forward. This is especially helpful when learning to do spins and tight turns.
With your body facing forward, if the seat is twisted to the left, the wheel will be pointing right, helping a left-dominate situation.
Back in the day, my subdivision had a bit of crown to the road causing me to turn into the curb. By putting a slight twist of the seat toward the direction I was gravitating to, I ended up going straight.(You could also say I was putting a twist of the WHEEL to where I wanted to go.
Quick update. Two 45 minute sessions later and I can now ride in a straight line. Focussing on my hips helped and I can correct the left (or right) drift by sticking the opposite knee out. I’m not sure if that’s proper technique but it seems to be working for me so far.
So I appreciate the replies especially the ones who said don’t worry about, it just takes practice. It’s so repetitive so far, that I don’t want to develop bad muscle memory habits but I think the main thing at this point is just getting more comfortable riding.
Even though it’s opposite of my recommendation, your method may work better for new riders. As a beginner, your body may be more oriented to the seat than to the wheel, which will achieve your desired effect.
My recommendation was based on experience from unicycle racing, where you are very focused on getting maximum performance and trying to cut down on extraneous effort (flailing) to make a curve. In a situation like that, a more experienced rider is probably more oriented to the wheel vs. the seat, but the angle on the seat may help orient their upper body in the direction of the desired turn, thus requiring less “work” to make the curve at high speed.