newbie - weight on seat

Hi everyone!

My wife gave me my first unicycle, a 24 inch Torker, for my 54th birthday about a month ago, and the learning is going pretty well, I guess.

The best way I found to get started was to position myself on the concrete back porch, between two lawn chairs, so I could hold onto both chair backs for support. Then I’d just launch myself and try to get as far as I could until I fell off, then go back and do it again. Over and over. Take a break when I got too tired, but be sure to keep on practicing. It took a long time to get so I could actually ride any distance, but the good part was that I could see actual progress just about every time. I read about using poles to get started, and tricks like that, which I did try at one point, but I have the feeling that there no special trick that would have hurried the progress, no substitute for just allowing the body time to build the reflexes.

I can cruise about 50 to 100 feet pretty reliably by now, and have started to learn how to turn left and right, and am trying to learn to freemount.

Question - all the newbie articles I read say to be sure to keep enough weight on the seat. But I still feel like 80% of my weight is on the pedals, so after about 50 feet, my legs are exhausted from the stress. Also, there’s no way I could freemount according to some of the advice on how to do it, seeing how I’m unable to ride with much weight on the seat. As I ride, I try to let my weight settle on the seat more, but when I do, it really feels like it makes me lose balance. Is this a normal experience that will go away once I get the hours in, and build more muscle and coordination?


Sorry, I can’t answer your question; but I can share my learning experience.

I knew from the beginning that you were supposed to put your weight on your seat, so it never felt awkward for me. However, I can somehow imagine the situation you’re in, and my advices are:

  1. You seem like the “rash” person; you just let go and try to get as long as possible. (Please note that this isn’t meant to be negative!)
    It sounds like it’s worked great - just the phrase “I could see actual progress just about every time” makes me smile.

So what’s my advice? I actually suggest you to try to “slow down” a little and try a new method. In this case, mount the uni with support, make yourself comfortable. Try to keep more and more of you weight on the seat. Does it still feel comfortable? Try to “idle” a little bit and pedal forward (still with support, for example a wall). Meanwhile, keep telling yourself to keep all of your weight on the seat.

I think the awkward feeling will disappear after a while. Try to ride without support and see how it feels.

  1. How are your legs in the “dead” position? I think I’ve used the wrong term here, but want I mean is when one of the pedal is directly above the other one.

If your seat is too low, this may cause discomfort to your legs thus making you stand ut when you ride. I think your leg should be quite straight when the pedal is in the 6 o’clock position, but since you’re still learning I think a little bit lower seat is preferable. The important thing is that your legs feel good.

Congratulations on learning, hope this at least helped a little. Oh. And please keep telling us about your progress!


Welcome David! Earlier this year I too joined the “never-too-young (45+) to try new things” club.

I took on a real challenge by starting on a 26" with the goal of doing XC and commuting. I’m confident I’ll get it with [regular] practice.

Lack of time has impeded my progress lately but mid-summer saw a few 40-yard+ straight-line rides one evening as my young son rode circles around me. It was a great feeling that left me craving for more.

As hansc said, conscious thought of keeping weight on the seat really helps as well as staying relaxed and thinking “circular” with the feet as opposed to just pushing down on the pedals.

Free-mounting is sure to come after we get consistent rides and turns down. I also want to be able to hold onto the seat with one hand as opposed to windmilling both arms :slight_smile: I’ll also be investing in some shin/knee and wrist protection. (If you haven’t found out already, “pinned” pedals are the wrong style to start on!)

Keep trying. Relax. Have fun!

Bluntly; yes!

People giving you advice will mean you know it mentally, but more than likely still cannot do it physically.

So, if you try and apply what you have been told, whilst persevering with your riding technique, in the end your body will learn how to do it and you’ll get it.

ps. Did I waffle?!

“If you build it, they will come.”

No, wait.
Wrong quote.

“patience grasshopper.”

That’s the one.
It will come in time, honest.


I can relate to your question because I went through the same process myself.

My son and I (45 years young) both started unicycling at the same time, less than 4 months ago. We would mount holding onto the entrance to the garage, and launch ourselves down the driveway. It was a fierce competition for a few days, with chalk marks all over the driveway showing our respective distance records.

We were more or less evenly matched at first, but soon he was riding up and down the street and I would be exhausted after 100 feet. The difference was weight on the seat.

I progressed to the point where I could ride about 1/4 mile on the flat before falling off exhausted.

I developed a little mantra of “be light on the pedals” and trying to “get the balance” better with weight on the saddle. It was like learning all over again while being able to ride but eventually it came.

So, you get the weight on the saddle eventually, but it might mean your progress halts while you work on it.

As with all this stuff, it’s worth the effort… just keep riding…

Probably the only way to really get your weight on the seat instead of the petals is to relax. The problem is that it is really hard to relax when you are uncomfortable with or still learning something. It took me almost 10 hours over 2 weeks to be able to really ride and another week to be able to relax and put my weight on the seat.

One thing that I did do to help me get more weight on the saddle was to raise the seat to the point that I could barely ride it. It felt awkward but there was no question that it forced me to have almost all of my weight on the saddle.

Once I had that figured out free-mounting came naturally.

In the end no mater what you do as long as you ride regularly you will continue to improve.

Hey David,

I just learned to ride about 9 months ago.

I went through the same thing you did, I could ride 50 feet, but would be exhausted. I just kept at it and you’ll be able to relax and conserve your energy better by putting more weight on the seat. It should come natural the more practice you get in and thus the more control you have.

After learning to ride on flat smooth surfaces, I started riding off-road, and one trail in particular was a half mile loop of loose wood chips. When I started riding the wood chip trail, same thing happend, I’d be exhausted after a few hunderd feet, why? Cause I was up out of the seat and fighting to control the uni. After riding alot, I can now ride that loop multiple times with out a UPD. The point being, practice and it will come, like you thought originally.

As you get more comfortable you’ll also learn to free-mount more quickly. I rode for maybe three weeks before bothering to learn to free-mount, but it came really fast at that point.

Seems like you’re on the fast track and welcome to the forums!

Good luck,

Welcome to the forums and to the best sport ever :wink:

When I first learnt, I did so without supervision and mostly without looking much stuff up offline. Somebody had just told me the basics and I worked from there…

I used to find that I was absolutely exhausted, with legs squealing to be rested after I’d ridden just a few metres. And then I used to try to turn a corner and fall off completely :slight_smile:

But the wonderful thing was that the more I rode, the easier it got to ride. I practised regularly and after a month or two I was able to ride the mile or so to work on my 20". I found it really hard work to start with but eventually was able to do a couple of miles without tiring.

Part of this was getting fit, part of this was my legs getting stronger and part of this was getting better at balancing so that I spent less energy correcting.

But I think a really big part of my learning to ride long distances was that as my balance and technique was improved I needed to put less and less weight on my legs and was able to sit on the saddle. Eventually you get to the stage where you’re just floating up there and putting just enough force into the pedals to keep you on course.

This all happened quite naturally as my technique improved, without my really trying to do it. That’s not to say that actively trying to improve at putting my weight on the seat wouldn’t have helped me learn quicker - but even without that, it came to be with time. I’m sure it’ll come to you too if you keep learning at the rate you have been!

Another hint is that it’s easier to keep weight on the saddle if the saddle is high enough. I initially learned with the saddle ridiculously low, and that perhaps wasn’t the best plan.

On the bright side, learning to ride standing up is a very useful skill LOL

I started last spring, and didn’t have any trouble with trying to not stand.

I think what is different is I learned in a place with a long wall next to a smooth sidewalk. This eliminates the extra complexity of learning to free mount or balance. I used one hand on the wall to mostly eliminate the need for side to side balance. This way, it was pretty easy to focus on learning to pedal smooth with most of the weight on the seat. After a couple days days of getting used to being in the saddle, it just sort of clicked, and I could ride away from the wall.

I taught a friend this way as well and after a few days he could ride several blocks without the wall. Then on day 3 he just started free mounting, something I didn’t try for months !

Interesting problem. What do you mean with ‘lose balance’; plain losing control, or; losing input to be used to control the unicycle, or maybe can you just describe this problem in other/more words?

My seat was really low; I raised it a good five inches and still was comfortable pedalling. I think that may have made a difference, because not only did I go for my longest ride ever (a good 2 or 3 minutes!) but for several moments during the ride, I did start to feel comfortable really settling my weight down on the seat. Probably I just need more practice with this changed geometry to get comfortable settling down harder.

Thanks for all the tips!