pedals for a newbie

I started learning how to ride my unicycle just under 2 months ago. I started with an affordable 26" Club, with the initial goal of just riding a few local bike paths. However, I have been bitten by the bug, and now am readjusting my goals to include muni riding. I have mountain biked for nearly 25 years and have very good technical skills and am itching to get out there. However, I am being patient and building my skills before getting in over my head. I currently can ride up to a mile and a quarter without upd’s, though that isn’t a guarantee. My turns are improving, and my free mounts are getting more reliable each day. Today, I switched to Shadow Conspiracy pedals, and I was completely unable to ride. I had to take all the pins out, totally defeating the purpose of having them in the first place. It turns out that I move my feet A LOT while riding, constant micro-adjustments that I wasn’t aware of until I felt like I couldn’t adjust at all. I had to go back to a fence and still couldn’t ride. Is this normal and do I need to just push through? I’m thinking of putting just a few pins in at first and adding the rest as I get used to them. Thanks for any suggestions!

As a beginner, I started with smooth pedals on my learner 24". I was convinced, and still am, that beginners, for their own safety, need to slide off the pedals during their typically awkward dismounts, to increase the probability of landing on their feet. When I started to mUni, on my 26", it came with Nimbus pinned pedals; I initially did ‘not’ like them. I smoothed off the edges of the pins. I used the same Nimbus stock pinned pedals for mUni ‘and’ on my 20" Equinox. I learned to climb steep hills on mUni and do some mild jumping on the 20", and for these purposes, I appreciated the grip of pinned pedals. I improved at adjusting my feet on pinned pedals, though adjustment wasn’t easy. Then I got meat-grinder pedals (Deity) for mUni, and used them for a while. Readjustment got harder with the sharp pins. At some point, I was doing more, varied tricks on my 20", and I decided that I needed more control moving my feet forward, backward and sideways on the pedals. So, now I’m using Odyssey Twisted PC pedals, the plastic pins are pretty much rubbed down, I LOVE them, and I can’t imagine how I could ever go back to pinned pedals on a 20". As I got used to the plastics on the 20", the sharp-pins on my 26" mUni pedals (Deity) became, by comparison, too much for me, and I went back to the stock Nimbus pinned pedals. So, from total-beginner to current-riding, I’ve come full circle, starting as a beginner with smooth pedals, moving to pins, and coming back to smooth pedals for current street/flatland/freestyle. I still use the Nimbus pinned pedals, however, for mUni.

Pinned pedals help in the application of sideways force on the pedals in the weak, 6:00 and 12:00 position of the pedals, which is good for hill climbing, and they are effective in keeping the feet from being jostled off the pedals when riding on rough ground or during drops. Personally, however, I think my climbing skills and ergonomics suffered a bit with overly aggressive pedals, because my feet would get caught in awkward positions on the pedals, and this made pedaling less efficient than if my feet had been allowed to slide into a more natural stance on the pedals.

You might consider how your shoes are interacting with the pedals. 5/10 shoes seem to work well with pinned pedals. I had a pair of different shoes, at one point, and the pins got buried in the ridges of the soles. Not good.

I suggest taking a gradual approach to moving to pinned pedals. A good place to start is by getting more grippy shoes to use with your plastic pedals (5/10 Impact are my shoes of choice). Then, later, get some plastic pedals (with plastic teeth which you can file down if necessary), then, even later on move toward something not-too aggressive, like Nimbus pinned pedals. At this stage in your learning, lots of grip is more of a hindrance than a help.

I’m a beginner like you (started in January)and I had done a lot of mountain biking, motocross and trials (motorcycle trials) and was used to moving my feet a lot whenever I rode. I started on a club 24 and was able to move my feet around and adjust my feet as needed pretty good. The only issue I ever had with the club pedals was when my feet or the pedals were wet and I was riding up an incline. My feet would slide off frontward. I assumed it was a combination of my lack of skill and my choice of shoes. I wore a pair of Skechers sneakers. I jumped right in and bought a KH26 , which came with more aggressive pedals. I had some trouble adjusting my feet at first but I adapted pretty quick. I ended up really liking the more aggressive pedals and bought a new set for my club 24. So I think you just need to give it more time and get confident with the new pedal and then decide which you prefer. Being that you already know how to ride I think you will adjust quickly. Take my advice with the knowledge that I just started and everything I said may be wrong and I’ll have a different opinion in a month!

I appreciate the feedback. Sounds like I might be exploring a bit to get it right. Throughout this entire learning process, I’ve been able to tell myself that whatever I couldn’t do at the time, I would eventually be able to do it with ease. I will take that approach here and trust that I’ll get the hang of it. I do agree that the new pedals as they are, are too aggressive for where I am in the learning process. I have been thinking about the 5/10 shoes. Between that and easing into the aggressive pedals over time, I’ll hope for the best!

As your riding improves, you will notice that your feet play a big part in your control. Especially off road. That’s when pinned pedals (and sticky-soled shoes, like Five Tens) will play a bigger part. I agree that in the learning phase, the ability to quickly get your feet off the pedals and on to the ground helps keep injuries to a minimum. Perhaps you can try this: go back to smooth pedals until you notice your feet slipping off the pedals at inconvenient times. Then when you switch to the pins, they will accomplish their intended purpose.
Good luck!

I just got a new unicycle yesterday that has plastic pedals with metals pins on them. I was prepared to take them out, but I decided to give them a shot before deciding. I did notice exactly what you did; it’s hard to readjust my feet, especially immediately after mounting, but I was able to make it work, and ultimately, I’ve decided to leave them in.

That said, I would recommend that you take yours out and ride with a smooth pedal for now. I’ve been riding for nearly 30 years, and I feel confident on a unicycle. I’ve always used smooth (or mostly smooth) pedals until yesterday, but it really wasn’t that difficult for me to transition, almost certainly because of the decades of muscle memory with riding.

I think others have said it very well that you need to stay on those smooth, or mostly smooth pedals for a while yet, until you get that muscle memory and skills rock solid. With persistent practice, it probably won’t take you long to get there, and eventually, you’ll just have to put the pins in a learn to deal with them if you want the extra grip you’re after. As someone just recommended to me today, you might want to invest in leg armor when you do.

As an intermediary step, I might offer one idea. I got a used unicycle a couple of months ago, and while they are cheap, I really like the pedals it came with. They have tiny spikes (see image below) that help to grip my shoes better than completely smooth pedals, but not enough to keep me from adjusting my feet, and if they were to contact my legs, injury would be minimal.

I have found similar pedals for under $10 online and in large warehouse stores, and they should be fairly easy to find. Just make sure that they’re not so cheap they would break on you. Unless you’re very heavy and/or are doing some big drops or anything that would put excessive force on them, you’d probably be OK with something cheap. I’d personally hate to spend any real money on something that you’d only use for a short time. I weigh 200 lbs, and I frequently hop and jump up and down on these and beat the hell out of 'em, even take 'em off road, and they’ve held up fine.

Good luck, and keep up the good work!

I’d offer another opinion and say try to get used to them. Focus to get better to the point where you can adjust foot while riding. It take a just little bit of time. Ive never had a problem of jumping out of them. Eventually you’ll want the stickiest out there. For me, it sucks big time to ride and slip in rain and mud in plastic pedals.

Today I removed all the pins, ground several down and took the burr off. I used 4 pins per pedal and took off to the park. I rode 4 Miles on mostly paved walking paths and some dirt paths. I could feel a little stickiness, but could still move my feet around as needed. And, if I needed to get off the unicycle in a hurry I could. Yesterday, the pins kept me from being able to get to the ground and caused my worst accident thus far. Of course in front of a mob of adolescent skate boarders. Ugh…I think it is right that I need some sticky shoes, and I need to eventually get used to the pins. But, for now I will work my way into them gradually and build more skills in the mean time.

Hi there

Pedals with metals pins are my favourites (like the ones that come with the nimbus munis etc). When riding a unicycle I found best to use walking boots that have been used for quite a while for walking etc… so they are just right: as the rubber sole has been worn they don’t grip too much to the metal pins, and also (again because the sole is worn/thinner) you can get a better feel of the pedal underneath. I don’t use cycling shoes or anything: just plain old cheap walking boots that have been used and they are approaching the end of their ‘walking’ life. They feel perfect when riding and they save me money (no need to buy fancy shoes for cycling) :slight_smile:

I’ve kind of experienced the same thing. The shoes I’m using to ride my muni with don’t have deep treads in them, are flat with no heel, and the rubber isn’t terribly sticky or bouncy. That seems to be a good match to use with the pins in the pedals. That could be part of the reason I had good success with those pedals on my first time out. There was enough tread and stickiness to grab and hold the pins, but not so much as to make it difficult to use.

After removing all the pins, then re-installing 4 shorter pins, I have started backing them out. Yesterday I had 2 successful sessions where I could feel them gripping a little, but not enough to hinder repositioning. Today, I’m going to replace these pins with the original pins, still only using 4, and I’m looking around my house for my smoothest Keens. That’s pretty much all I have. We’ll see what happens. I like the idea of not having to spend anymore money.

I swear by these, reasonably priced, light, attractive, good foot contact area and grippy. Good pedals will improve your riding.

Was thinking about this thread yesterday. And something occurred to me: it could very well be that the pedals feel too grippy… because you put too much weight on them.

OK, spikey pedals are pretty grippy, but on pavement, tarmac or flat/gentle track, you should have enough weight on the saddle that moving the feet is possible. They won’t slide on the pedals as with plastic pedals, but surely they can’t be moved to a better position (sometimes I “roll” my foot on the pedal a bit, I don’t slide it).

Just my 2cts on this saturday morning.

I think that’s the key too… in fact to a host of ills while riding. I have been adjusting to the pedals, though I haven’t put all the pins back in just yet. I’m learning to really pay attention to what is going on in my body while I’m riding. Rather than just heading off to rack up the miles everyday, I’m going back to the flat track and tennis courts to just wheel around and pay attention. I feel the best when my weight is evenly distributed between my butt and feet. I try to imagine myself as a tripod. When I hit this sweet spot, everything feels better and I can move my feet around as needed. I haven’t been able to bring this feeling out into the "real world, but I’m working on it. I have been reading and re-reading the thread on RIDING TWISTED…if that gives you any idea of what I struggle with off the flat surfaces.

So, all in all, I like these pedals. In fact the other day, I wore really old work shoes for a session. Big mistake. The rubber soles were so hardened that they just slipped all over the pedals. No grip at all. I experienced my first face plant since riding. I should have packed it in and gone home, but I was stubborn and tried to push through. It really effected my confidence as having the right shoes really do matter.

Anyway, all that to say, I totally agree :slight_smile:

This is very encouraging. Not sure if this was already covered, but you’re wearing wrist-guards, right?

Also encouraging is your willingness to “think” about what you’re doing. I tell others that unicycling is great exercise because it activates our mental (problem solving), physical (kicks my butt) and emotional (dealing with fear/intimidation) realms.

I will have to re-read the “riding twisted” thread. My advice to any beginner is to practice technique on both sides of the body. Practice mounts alternating starting with the right and left foot. Practice idling with either foot down. Etc. Judged by a “checklist” way of measuring progress, you will progress more slowly, but you’ll have a better technical foundation.

Some newcomers have come and went from the forum. I recall a couple of them, in particular, who focused on setting an arbitrary UPD-free distance goal, then achieved that goal as efficiently as possible. And then, what? Did they check it off their bucket list?

Slow and steady wins the race!

Yep, I am definitely wearing wrist guards…elbow and forearm, shin and knee, and of course a helmet I don’t know how I’m going to manage in the summer. I am not a fan of hot.

I haven’t started mounting from both sides, but I do practice the idling symmetry in mind…same number of reps on each side.