Offroad Riding

Hello All…:slight_smile: I am getting pretty good at riding the unicycle on the basketball court. It is a smooth surface with no hole or bumps. I can freemount two different ways, which is nice. But the problem is that when I try to ride off the court into the grass, I can get a couple of feet then the uni stops and I keep going.:frowning: it is like the 20" tire is too small for the grass and catches or gets snagged in the holes. What is the trick for riding in grass or dirt? how do you keep it from catching? I can’t hold onto the seat yet because I can not keep my balance…This is one reason why I don’t ride on the street yet. Any Ideas? Thank You all…Keith

Re: Offroad Riding


I am no offroad rider, but I have found that the little riding I do on rough surfaces, e.g. grass, snow, requires the ability to hold onto the seat. At the very least develop this skill.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Work on your balance. There is no way around that.

The technique for riding through lumpy ground is to ride a half wheel revolution at a time. Pause slightly while the pedals are horizontal, catch your balance and prepare for the next half pedal revolution. Pedal half a revolution and pause slightly again while the pedals are horizontal. Repeat.

That is a basic techinque for muni over technical terrain and you also use similar technique when climbing.

You can ride like that freehand, but it does give you more control to be able to ride like that while holding the front of the saddle.

Practice riding in a parking lot with one hand on the saddle. Then try riding around with both arms crossed or by your sides. This will help you learn to balance and ride with less arm waving.

When I started muni riding I couldn’t ride while holding the seat either. It will come with practice.

Try letting some air out of your tire so you are more apt to rolling over small bumps instead of them stopping you. Practice going slowly on the grass etc. to get used to riding uneven terrain.

I’m planning on doing my first off road ride tomorrow (on day 30). I don’t know if it will help, but I’ve been riding on some of the jogging paths near the high schools that are somewhat eroded and on the running track at the local high school. They have a “crushed granite” type of composite material on them and this gives you a feel of riding in the dirt. You may want to give this a try, just to get a feel of riding on something less solid than the basketball court.

I’m a reasonably good MUNiist and regularly ride 5 - 10 mile off road routes on my 26 or Coker, and I STILL find uneven damp grass can be a problem on my 20! The wheel is small, so the bumps and hollows are proportionately bigger than on a proper off road uni. The grass tends to stop the wheel rolling naturally, so you never get proper momentum. At the level that you’ve described, it is not surprising that you are finding a grassy surface difficult.

Up to a certain point, the trick is to keep your speed up…
keep rolling.

After that ‘certain point’ then I agree, a one-step-at-a-time approach might work.

I’m not sure about the advice to lower the tyre pressure. There are many variables. Reducing the tyre pressure will increase the rolling resistance, but will soften the sharper bumps in the surface.

I think what you need to do is (all together now…) practise practise practise. But accept that a 20 inch uni is not ideal for riding on yielding surfaces. Have fun.

Keith –

What Mike said.

That is, find a bumpy hard dirt trail to start with, and, like Drewni said, lower the pressure a little ways. It will still be hard but you’ll have a better chance and perhaps more fun. Soft grass with a small hard tire is a difficult starting point.

Off-road is a blast and it is challenging.

From my experience with off road which is generally single track with hard pack and roots, and imbedded rocks both big and small, I feel this describes the real world of off road.

Riding in grass is just plain HARD. I avoid it if possible and it saps energy as everything seems sluggish, depending how thick and cushy it is. I don’t think it’s really “real worldish”, from my experience. I think you will find that you will have a totally different experience on dirt.

If you want to be able to ride in grass, practice with the above mentioned tips. Your off road riding will benefit, but, there are more fun ways to practice for riding off road.


I’ve only spent a couple miles off-road on a 20"; the small wheel and narrow ballance point makes for very technical riding, requiring forthought/planning for tasks that you would just blow over with a big plush 24" wheel. Still, it’s great fun- and a chalange to keep up with the big wheels.

Most grass that isn’t a golf course sucks to ride on, since hidden holes are everywhere ready to stick your little wheel fast; I think it helps to ride with your weight evenly on the pedals in grass, ready to hop as need arises. The transition from pavement to grass and visa-versa is a skill unto itself -especialy with a small wheel.



Riding off road on a 20 is fairly hard work, especially if you are a beginner, but it comes with practice. Letting some air out will definitely make it easier. Holding on to the seat makes it easier on really rough terrain, but on grass it is not always neccessary. If balance is a problem then try riding on the flat holding onto the seat.