One footed Uniing

I’m trying to learn to ride my uni one footed. But whenever I take my right foot off of the pedal, I can’t make my left foot come up. How do you make the pedals go aroudn when one foot is off?
Also, where exactly are you supposed to place your foot on the frame?

One Foot

Begin by riding while concentrating on your dominant foot. You put no pressure on your other foot on the pedal, making a hard downstroke with your dominant (left) foot and only slightly using the subordinate (right) foot to hold the other pedal in place. After a while you put such a small amount of pressure on the right foot that it lifts off the pedal, and whacks back onto the pedal when it comes round for the upstroke. I learned with my foot extended as I was not aware that putting it on the frame would make it easier. At first it feels totally weird but after you get the feeling of the pedal going all the way round with one foot, you wonder why you ever needed to pedal with two feet at all. The rolling motion gets smoother with practise, at first you will notice a spurts of speed on the downstrokes and a loss of speed on the upstrokes as the wheel uses its own momentum to bring the pedal into place for the next stroke. I think I am going to confuse you with my poorly worded description more than aiding you. Just do it, it gets easier after you get past the first few hurdles. Luckily for me I learned to one foot just before I snapped an axle. I then rode home with my left foot and much improved my one foot skills. For ages I rode around with a one-crank unicycle and I found that the frame perch was more comfortable for long distance one foot riding because you are not holding up the weight of your leg and it adds to the stability of the Unicycle since there is nothing else holding that side in place. The fork does not have many places you can put your foot. You could press it against the side, but most people perch it on the crown, which is where the fork bends from being one bar to two. Hints? I reckon find a nice flat surface like a basketball court or pavement, and don’t go too slow, get plenty of speed so the wheel maintains it’s momentum throughout each revolution. Perhaps even go slightly downhill at first to aid in the momentum. Once you start getting the hang of it then work on getting the foot back onto the pedal, I prefer catching it on its way up, towards the back. Also getting the foot onto the frame is something you can work on, I don’t think that is essential at first but it is worth trying once you are ready.

I can only tell you how I learned, but I followed a bit of a ‘system’ and it worked for me.

First, identify your best side for idling. (In my case, left foot down.)

Now practise idling until you can do it indefinitely - say a couple of hundred pedal strokes, and still under control. Idling solidly gives a good base for general unicycle control, freemounting and off road riding, so it’s worth practising in its own right.

Now work towards idling using only pressure on the bottom pedal. You can keep your top foot on the top pedal, but avoid using it to help the idling action. What you will find is that the bottom foot has to learn to stop pushing slightly before the pedal reaches bottom dead centre; the pedal then passes bottom dead centre and starts to rise, and the bottom foot then slows it down and stops it, ready for the return stroke.

Now you should be idling consistently on your good side, using only the bottom foot.

Now, mount against a wall or post. Keep the bottom foot on the bottom pedal. Put the the instep other foot on the shoulder of the forks - on the fork crown. If your unicycle doesn’t have a flat crown, you might need to make a grippy pad with a bit of tape.

Now, still holding the wall or post, start the idling motion with the bottom foot only, keeping the top foot on the fork crown.

At this stage, you might find that some forward/backward pressure on the fork crown helps, but get out of this habit as soon as possible.

Very soon, you will find that you can sit holding the post, and idling one footed, with the other foot on the fork crown.

From here, I found it an easy transition to idling one footed without holding the post. Once you’re up to 8 or 10 pedal strokes, you’re nearly there.

Now you’ve got the idea of idling one footed, you will find it is surprisingly easy to freemount directly into this position.

Alternatively, you can get into this position from an ordinary idling position. Wait until the bottom pedal (working foot) is at its furthest point backwards in the idle, and the uni is momentarily still, then quickly lift the front/top foot and put it on the fork crown. This is surprisingly easy if you’ve followed all of the above stages and consolidated your progress.

Now build up that one footed idling. Remember: don’t look down, look far away. If it helps, wave your arms, or at least raise them. Don’t hold the seat.

Soon you will reach a stage where you can idle one footed for almost an indefinite time (100 strokes or so, consistently).

Now is the time to move on to riding one footed.

Idle, and as the bottom foot comes up and forwards, let it rise higher than normal. This will take some judgement, but you should get the front crank to just above horizontal. This is the pedal with your ‘best’ foot on it.

make sure you have your balance - there should be a momentary still stand - then push the pedal down briskly, but stop pushing before it reaches bottom dead centre. (If you’re still pushing at bottom dead centre, you will stall.)

It will take several attempts - maybe several hours - but eventually, you will find you can time it so that there is enough momentum from that short push of the pedal for the wheel to do a full revolution. It’s that first revolution which is the most difficult.

After that, the progression to 2, 3, 4 and more revolutions is fairly swift. The important thing is to be smooth, and only to push the pedal from about 1 to 3 on the clock face. Just ‘flick’ in a bit more momentum every time the pedal passes the top of its travel. Don’t use a heavy foot, as it will stall you.

I make it sound a long-winded process, but if you use this approach, by the time you’re riding one footed, you will be idling absolutely solidly, and idling one footed confidently. The knock on effects will be improved reversing and freemounting, and better slow control, tight turns and so on, so it’s not wasted effort.

I reckon it took me a week or so to get idling to work reasonably well. When I went on to learn one footed idling, that took only a couple of evenings, but then a lot of time improving it. Moving on from there to one footed riding took a few sessions.

I can now idle one footed on either side, but I can only RIDE one footed on my good side.

Those helped me quite a bit, thanks! Not that I can do it yet, but I can almost sort of do it for a second.
I’ve heard from some people that learning to idle one footed first is better, and I’ve heard from others that learning to ride one footed first is better. Rowan is saying to just ride one footed, whereas Mikefule is talking about idling one footed.
Does anyone have suggestions on which to learn first?

I’ve never had any trouble with my foot slipping off the rounded crown except for when it is wet and my foot is also wet. Then it is hard to keep the foot there without drying the surfaces. I think I would have found Mike’s technique of one footed idling harder to learn with than forwards riding due to the problem which James is having of not having enough momentum to get all the way around. Whatever works best for you obviously works best, but perhaps try a combination of both techniques rather than only idling at first. I think that getting the feel of going all the way round made all the difference for me and going downhill while riding forwards and removing a foot was when I had the breakthrough of understanding how it works. One footed idling may be a useful skill which crosses over into other areas but I have only once given it much attention just to see if I could do it. I ride one footed quite often and can go almost for ever with either foot and do corners and stuff (but not ride backwards one-foot). One footing is a fun way to ride and you get some interesting comments.


I’ve decided to learn to actually ride it first, as it makes sense. Even if it’s not the easiest way. It still makes sense.

I learned to ride one footed first before I learned to idle one footed. I have heard from other people who learned to idle one footed before learning to ride one footed. It might be six of one and half dozen of the other. It depends on what’s more comfortable for you. When I was first learning I couldn’t get the one foot idling to work for me and it felt really difficult so I concentrated on one foot riding.

Going from a one foot idle into one foot riding is difficult. It’s something to try after you are solid and comfortable with both one foot riding and one foot idling. What makes it difficult is that you have to do a big and powerful idle stroke and then you almost end up stalling out as the pedal tries to make it over the top. It’s a delicate operation and it sometimes takes a bit of body english to get the pedal over the top.

I found it far easier to learn 1 foot idling first and then 1 foot riding. I’ve been practicing my 1 footed stuff a bit lately and have just recently learnt to do a rolling mount straight into 1 foot riding with the foot extended, 1 foot idle with the foot extended, and 1 foot idle to 1 foot ride. Just make sure you’ve got a reasonable amount of speed when trying to 1 foot ride.

Good luck,

It is hard to choose which method would be best. The skill levels seem to indicate that riding one foot is easier than idling one foot (with either foot).

Note that not everyone (uh, me) idles and rides one foot with the same foot. I do better idling with my right foot, but ride one foot best with my left.

One warmup you might do is to briefly remove your foot from the pedal, for a portion of a rev. Probably the pedal will slap the foot as you recontact, but eventually this will improve. Try to remove your foot until it is time for that foot to do it’s next push. Whenever you feel you are regressing in your one foot practice, do this warmup to get the feeling of the skill back.

My method for learning one foot was to mount against a wall, take three pushes with my left foot, and on the third push, lift my foot and put it on the frame. This gives enough time to build momentum, provides a consistent intro and doesn’t waste your time.

By all means practice getting your foot on the frame before worrying about continuing. This is a skill all by itself that you will need to learn. A very slight downslope will aid in maintaining your momentum. There are many milestones, look for them and get happy when you discover one.