One footed riding

Hi all,

I had a try at one footed riding today on a 20" nimbus equinox and failed miserably!

I had 2 massive problems which hopefully other riders have had and can shed some advice on.

First was i rode along at sensible speed and tried to remove a foot from pedal but it was like foot was stuck to the pedals, I tried both feet obviously seperatly, different timing on when trying to remove foot, Tried watching where my weight was on seat/pedals.

Second was i just sat static holding a post with one foot on frame and the other on pedal at bottom of stroke to try and get a feel but it felt so odd and like my weight was in wrong place, mainly on the frame foot.

Are these just normal faults or am i doing something major wrong?

Sounds normal or at least similar to my experience. I learned on a 24, but it’s definitely easier on a 20, although there is less momentum, it’s easier to control I think, but maybe try a 24 if you have one just to see if it is more stable for you. I wouldn’t worry about putting the off foot on the frame just yet. Ride along fast, not top speed but three quarters or so, and then just take a foot off and see what happens. I would immediately fall back and kick the uni into next week as it skittered across the driveway. Eventually you’ll figure out how to stabilize and all will click after much practicing.

Okay. I’ve never “tried” one foot riding, but I can do one foot idling.
However, i’d like to try to “extract” some details on the action and controls involved.
Here’s my hypothesis and correct me if I’m wrong.

1.) All your weight is on your seat, so pedaling must be absolutely done from 9 to 3 o’clock.

2.) Fore/aft balance control is done by:
a.) Crouching and bucking your hips, for beginners.
b.) Sitting tall and leaning fore/aft, for experts.
Fore/aft control when “normal riding” is accomplished by accel/deccel your pedaling, but with one footing that goes away.

3.) You can “cheat a little bit” with your foot on the side of the frame. I can do one foot idling, and having your foot on the frame creates an “extra lever” to tip the unicycle fore/aft.
Thus, I would be “most impressed” if anybody can do a one foot riding with the other foot “off the frame”.

4.) You must “twist your hips” to counter the twist created by the one sided pedaling action. I can’t really see this action when watching other riders. However, it might be because they are “now experts” and this action is “too subtle/controlled” to be sloppy and observable. Yet, a beginner just learning must implement this for control.

5.) I think the “best training for one footing” for a beginner is to go back to the start.
a.) Find a wall and grab it. Preferably, with a slight downhill so gravity can help minimize pedaling.
b.) See if you can control the fore/aft dynamic, with aggressive/controlled hip motion or lean
c.) See if you can pedal with minimal twist.
d.) If “twisting” is unavoidable, find the solution to counter the twist with aggressive hip or shoulder

I’m sure some will say I am “overthinking it”. However, I “need something to think about” to give me some control when I go into possibly hundreds/thousands of repetitions when I learn a trick. Like when I learned SIF, idling and backwards riding. Riding a unicycle(in general) and riding one footed is not a normal thing to do. My body will never just “figure it out”.

Also, when I learned to ride a unicycle. I would describe my technique as one pedal at a time balancing. Not getting into a “perfect tight rope walking/book on my head” balancing position and then slowly pedaling faster/faster. So, my goal in one foot pedaling is not to be able to just get into “perfect balance” and take off one foot. I want to be able to feel total/absolute/unquestioned control at every clock position of the crank while riding. Thus, guarantee low UPD incidents.

I wouldn’t just suddenly remove the foot, try using one foot less and less while riding along before you take it off. Keep it on the pedal, but slowly try to transfer all the pedaling action to one foot. Once that is a bit more comfortable, you can start trying to put a foot on the frame (I’m a big fan of having the foot on the frame, makes the transition slightly harder, but stabilizes things).

That’s how I learned, but from experience teaching kids, I actually think starting from one foot idling is usually the better way. (Seems like an 80/20 split, 80% learn better through one foot idling). One foot idling you can learn with support, transfer all the pedaling action to the bottom foot and take the top foot off.
Once you are comfortable with one foot idling, you can try to get into one foot riding from there. Increase the idling motion, so that you are almost going to horizontal cranks. Stop the idling when the bottom foot is forward, pause/let your weight fall forward, push down the pedal and try to do one revolution of one foot. Then go for more and more revolutions.

One foot is really about learning the rythm and that for most that seems to be a bit easier from one foot idling. Using one foot less and less while having both feet on the pedals is effective, but it seems to me that a lot of riders couldn’t quite get their head around that.

Nope, you can accelerate and deccelerate just fine with one foot… Push down harder on the downstroke for acceleration, resist the pedal on the upstroke a bit more to deccel.

No, why? I see 0 difference between pedaling at 11 or 7 for example, the leverages are the same. I certainly push the pedal a bit during every part of the revolution on one foot riding.

I’ve found that learning one foot on a wall pretty much doesn’t work, as you need a decent amount of momentum. Someone riding along with you and holding your hand can work.


Thanks everyone for your help and advice as you’ve given me lots to work on :grinning:

Hi unigoof I did have a 24” but sold it as I found it to be a funny size!

I did just see a video of with guy idling one footed by wall for support which he managed easily but I couldn’t so I can try that as well.

Lots to try.

I learned using the “take one foot off” method, but maybe it was easier because I was used to briefly lifting my foot to adjust my position on the pedal (a handy thing for muni).

Also going slightly downhill helped with keeping my momentum while the pedal was rising. I can only ride very slight uphills.

I actually learned with one foot waving around freely. It helped me keep my balance. For me, putting the foot on the frame was a little like holding the saddle handle - a slightly advanced move.

I think in George Peck’s famous video you can see him doing circles with one foot in the air. And I saw it on instagram a few days ago, but of course I can’t find it again now…

When I did one foot riding I learned foot on frame first and foot in the air after. Riding one footed with your foot in the air can be learned pretty easily by practicing one footers. @UniQuest breaks it down really well in this video Beginner Unicycling - UNIQUEST - Level 4 - YouTube.

It’s definitely worth it to learn both. If you can do foot in the air it drastically improves your control when you have your foot on the frame and makes transitions much easier. I’d also suggest being able to do both in the air with your foot hanging back and in front. If you can can do it with your leg dangling back, you can get comfortable with your foot hanging in front pretty quick.

1 Like

thanks guys for this info. motivates me to try this. I am starting to “think” about “lightening my pedal pressure on one foot” during long boring bicycle trail rides.

One thing to note, since I am such a robotic mechanical thinker. The ability to lift a foot from one pedal is not so easy. Some unicyclists have commented that it feels impossible. Almost like their foot is glued to the pedal.

An example that best explains would be like a karate “double” front kick. You may not have ever done this, but it’s easy to visualize. When you do a double kick, it goes like this. Lift up your say right foot, bend knee and kick in front of you. Then what? Don’t bring that foot down, but instead bend that knee and “hold it up”. Then kick #2.

Now, rewind. Where does that muscle/coordination comes from to “hold up that first kick”?
Not your actual “kicking muscle” which is the quads. No. To hold up that knee doesn’t come from the kicking muscle. It comes from your “abdominal/core muscles” to “hold it up”. That’s exactly what you need to do when you unicycle, and try to attempt the one footing tricks.

If you want to say “lighten” the pedal pressure on your right pedal. You have to engage your “abs/core” muscle to lift up your whole entire right leg = quads, knee, calves, foot. Now, if you are an expert unicycle rider, you probably do this without thinking. However, if you are a beginner this necessary muscle action doesn’t even enter your mind. Now, it does…cuz, i just told you. So keep that in mind, next time you try to start sessioning one footing. You may also find yourself “leaning back” , which is another method of lessening the foot pressure…but be careful.

I have never actually removed my foot to do one foot uni riding but have often rode with the right or left leg/foot doing all the work while the other just maintains contact with the pedal. On longer rides with no break (20 miles+) I find the break that this provides the coasting leg to be quite helpful. I then do this on the right and left side to provide a moving rest break.

I think one of the advantages a bicycle has on longer rides is the ability to stop pedaling for a short time without having to stop.