I’m new to the sport and have a 20" starter unicycle (Torker DX). I have a few questions.
It seems that I can only go about 100’ before I’m winded. I can ride my 2 wheeler 50 miles in the mountains, but riding my unicycle is exhausting.
Is this normal? I know a larger wheel will help, but does it make that much difference?
Is there a good unicycle seat. The one I have now makes my wonder if I’ll ever be able to have kids. Ouch! Is there any way to make a seat less painful?
Riding a unicycle is exhausting, especially in the beginning/while learning. The more you practice the more efficient you become which will save energy. Eg: I remember waving my arms around quite a bit to maintain balance in the beginning, now if I’m road riding I don’t wave my arms around at all so I’m saving all that energy I was ‘wasting’ before.
Still, it’s an exhausting activity even after you get proficient.
A larger wheel will make a big difference. If you want to go 10 miles you’re going to have to do a LOT more revolutions on a 20" wheel than you’d have to do on a 36" wheel. Larger wheels also translate to less time in the saddle to cover the same distance. Plus I find that it’s a bit easier to get into a rhythm on larger wheels, where a smaller wheel may require balance correcting due to being a bit twitchier.
Yes, they make a relatively comfortable unicycle seat. I too had one of those seats that felt like you were sitting on a knife… which you just dealt with until you went numb. I then got a Kris Holm Freeride seat. It was so much better that I didn’t even feel like I was sitting on a unicycle the first time I took my new uni out for a spin. So old seat: immediately deal with sharp pain, go numb after 10 minutes, completely crushed beyond my desire to stand it any longer after about 2 hours; new seat: no sharp pains whatsoever, start to get saddle soreness after about 2 - 2.5 hours but nothing too terrible.
In the short term you may try adjusting your saddle such that you increase the height of the nose a bit. It sounds counter intuitive, like it would just make the saddle push up even more/worse but I’ve taken that advice from this board and it’s helped me. I think the raised angle of the front of the seat puts your hips into a position where your weight is more distributed toward the back of the saddle.
Yes a larger wheel makes a difference. You might want to look at a 29 for riding longer distances. A 20 for that kind of riding is unbearable. 20s are good for practicing skills, tricks, and trials, performing type stuff.
A 24 has traditionally been seen as the most versatile.
If I had to have only two unicycles, I might choose a 20 and a 29, but that’s just me. If you are a beginner a 29 is going to be quite challenging, so you might want to pick up a cheap 24 too.
Try t keep as much weight as possible on the seat
When starting out its very common to be taking weight on the pedals this will exhaust you very quickly
Get the seat as high as you can (sensibly) so your leg is pretty strIght on the bottom pedal and really work on getting your weight in the saddle
Later worry about bigger wheels
The nimbus gel seat is better then the dx and not as expensive as the free ride seat. What size cranks do you have on your uni? The torker unicycles are notorious for having large cranks that are unnecessary. I ride with 110 moments and I mob around my small town on them pretty fast.
We don’t have much information about you, other than that you have gone on 50-mile mountain rides on your “2 wheeler”. Age and fitness are a factor. Your unicycle is a factor, as is how you’ve set it up. Is the seat high enough? You want basically a full leg extension when learning. The lower the seat, the faster you’ll tire out.
Then sit down, which has already been covered. But getting tired is still pretty normal in the beginning stages. That’s because you’re still very much trying to figure the beast out, which leads to lots of wasted energy. That will get better, and at the same time, your quads will get used to the different type of pedaling. Then you will be stronger!
Then you’ll want a bigger wheel, so you can do those 50-milers on your “1 wheeler”!
Seat: None are perfect. The main problem is that you sit differently on a unicycle; with your torso upright and also with a need for more “grip” on the seat with your legs. Make sure you aren’t sitting on anything important. Those go in front. Paded bike shorts are highly recommended.
I went thru the same thing when I started… I was putting all of my weight on my legs and not on the seat. My legs would tire out in about a minute. It took me a while until I was able to support my weight on my butt and not my legs. That was hard for me to learn. I had to force myself to do that. It is so easy to fall into that because it is easier to balance on your legs. I too ride my bike 50-80 miles at a clip and handle it alot better.
Newbie with questions
A few updates on my quest for unicycle excellence.
I have been taking out my 20in torker to the local park. I can now ride it up
to 200 yards without dismounting. Sometimes I need to get off due to fatigue, other times due to seat torture.
I have rasied the seatpost as high as possible, but it is at its max and still a little low. I’m working on putting most of my weight on the seat and it does help with preventing some of the burning in the legs. I’m amazed at the workout I get when compared to a regular b*ke.
I also just ordered a 29in nimbus street uni. My interest is in “long rides” and I hope this helps.
Interesting thread. Yeah, it’s probably pretty exhausting trying to get useable speed out of the little 20" wheel. I started on a 24" and quickly moved up to the 29" because I felt like I couldn’t get anywhere on the smaller wheel. The 29er is great. I ride to work a couple of times a week. The round trip is 24 miles, and my cruising speed is about the same or slightly faster than a fast runner’s pace. It’s a Kris Holm, so the seat is quite comfy. When I need a break, I just do a few out-of-the-saddle spins to restore circulation–works great.
Since you described your unicycle riding in relation to your bicycle, I’m assuming you’d like to use a unicycle for transportation. If this is the case, I’d strongly advise you to move up in wheel size as soon as you feel ready.
Since I’ve only had a Nimbus II and the Kris Holm 29, both of which have fine, comfy seats, I can’t really relate to your crappy seat experience. My buddy had a vintage Schwinn which he could only ride for a few blocks because he said it hurt so much, so yeah, I guess there are some pretty heinous seat designs out there.
Anyway, if you do move up, just get ready to spend some time adjusting to the bigger wheel. It’ll feel completely weird at first, but in a week or two, you’ll be flying!
btw: my little nephew (13 yr old) has a 20, and he can keep up with me for half a mile or so before blowing up, and it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I had no idea that human legs could spin so fast. hahahahhaha!
This exactly describes my learning experience. You’re tiring quickly because of your bad form. Putting all your weight in the seat will help - a lot. Besides that, experience and new muscle development will get you to a point where you can ride for hours.
Sure, a larger unicycle will cover more ground quicker, but the bad form won’t magically go away without time in the saddle. Stick with it and give your body time to catch up to this new activity.
Thanks for all the good information.
I will be getting my new 29 inch road unicycle on Monday. I can’t wait to learn to mount the thing and take it for a spin (on my new seat!).
I had a little trouble ordering my new uni. I got a package the other day thinking it was a unicycle and instead, got an ugly orange bar stool. I can just imagine some grandma opened her box and got a surprise when she saw a unicycle. I was tempted to keep the chair-much more comfortable, but not good for long distances.
One other thing. I live in Denver and have seen someone riding a unicycle up at Red Rocks and Lookout mountain. Is that person on this forum?