Proper technique for unicycling uphill?

As a beginner, I can unicycle on level ground and downhill for up to 15 meters (I hope to improve soon). But the one time I tried unicycling uphill, I ended up falling on my back and bruising my elbow. I realize that there must be a particular technique for unicycling uphill. Perhaps my body should be positioned more foreward, etc.?

since you have to accelerate the unicycle each time you pedal while riding up hill you will need to lean forward. Anytime you accelerate you have to lean forward, and I mean lean forward with your whole body not just upper body.

Beyond that just relax and don’t put a ton of effort into each pedal stroke. Also if your falling don’t take both feet off at the same time… rather just take on foot off and place it on the ground. If you take both feet off you loose all control of the unicycle!


Leaning forward is the key. The steeper the climb the more the lean. I also put more weight on the feet and less on the seat. I recommend wrist/elbow protection. I’m a wimp and don’t like to hurt.

You can check out this thread.

pull up on handle if necessary, take steps as far as gradation goes…

Why is everyone’s advice so advanced? If you can only ride 15m, my best advice is to stick with level ground until you can ride until you get tired. Then you’ll be much better equipped to ride on bumps and slopes. Also work on turns, stopping and mounting.

Never ever fall off the back. That’s how you get hurt: you can damage your lower back or even the back of your head.

You fall off the back by not leaning forward enough.

Going uphill, you have to lean into the hill. I could confuse you with diagrams, but just take my word for it for now.

But as the man said, you need to be riding further and better and more confidently on the flat before you worry about hills. (Later, I could describe at least four different techniques for different types of hill.)

Thanks everyone for the valuable advice.

Learn how to ride well enough that you can pedal smoothly, and uphills will not be an issue.

I never had any problems like this, and I learned in a gym.

I would be interested to hear about your different techniques.

I have only recently been able to ride whilst holding the handlebars with both hands without loosing balance. I can ride consistently this way on level road and slightly uphill - although downhills and road cambers scare me :astonished:

I am trying get up gradients whilst continuing to hold the handlebars with both hands but this is a learning curve at present. Going uphill I naturally slow down and have to ‘wobble’ the wheel more to keep balance as I go slower and slower. This causes me to have to let go of the handlebars with one hand and use an outstretched arm to maintain balance. I just can’t imagine maintaining balance when negotiating a hill whilst holding the handlebars with both hands and going very slow. There must be a minimum speed you have to maintain uphill whilst both hands are on the handlebars?

This video demonstrates what I mean.

On less steep parts of the hill, going quicker, I can hold the handlebars with both hands – but when the gradient gets steeper and slows me up I have to start flailing an arm for balance. As I reach the top of the hill I switch to holding the handlebars with both hands as the pressure eases off. I don’t know what the actual gradient is but at about 2.04 in the video there is a view that gives some idea of the slope at that point.

My thanks go to Into-the-Blue who clearly did a professional job of filming the video.

monocyclism, great job! I’m still just riding my 29, only ventured a few times on the coker, but really admire your progress. Have you ever found yourself kind of “pushing” your hips forward prior to each downstroke when the going gets steep? I stumbled into this technique and found it helpful, I’m sure it’s got a name but I never hear it discussed.

I Just think of it like a bike; i find it easier to stand up off the seat and hold it with one hand, lean forwards, and put all your weight on the forward pedal which will make it zigzag up the hill. I do this alot on my trials uni since the seat is low.

I think that I’d rather come off the back on a downhill, it keeps the body damage to a minimum :roll_eyes:

But yeah, he’s just beginning, so the hills he’s talking about are probably slight uphills on the road.

Just practice, it’ll come with time. If anything, you need to learn how to get up off the seat and use your grab handle to pull your feet into the pedals, this will give you more power and control.

Thrashing …

I find the seat handle to be of more value for hill climbing. Better leverage. Visualize the wild bull rider. Angle of hand hold and time holding with one hand. Bull riders only flail with one hand for balance and to make the ride more difficult.

If you continue to work at it, with adequate arm strength, along with leg strength and technic, you should some day be able to ride 20% plus inclines with both hands on the seat handle on a 36 with 125 cranks at about 2 or 3 miles an hour. On long steep inclines I need to go slow enough to keep my heart rate down low enough to be able to finish the climb. Longer cranks can help govern the speed and stay in control while limiting wobble and need to flail.

It took me a long time to get this one, but it’s so true. For a long time, my success in climbing was governed by what I call the “flail speed”, that is the speed at which you’re going so slow that you need to flail around with your arm(s) to maintain balance. This sucks up a LOT of energy, and because my flail speed was pretty high, I found myself always climbing fast to stay above it. So then I wouldn’t get tired from flailing, but I’d blow up from too much time at max heart rate.

After getting a master class on “pacing myself” from Andy_Cotter in Vietnam, I started spending more time working on lowering my flail speed. Now when I do training climbs, I set targets with my heart monitor…“I will not get above 165 bpm on this stretch”, then force myself to slow down when I approach my limit. It’s been really helpful, and I’m now finding that when I decide to just pound a hill, I can bring my heart rate down much faster if I need to, with just a short period of slow-down. Because I’ve lowered my flail speed, I’m able to climb slower while keeping both hands on the handle, minimal upper-body motion.

Even as the standard skills seem less a focus, seems like this is another area where the traditional elements like the “riding slow” competition cross over to help with other types of riding.

Hey Muni-mute I remember your earlier posts on the coker, but can understand the attraction of the 29 – light, versatile…and not far to fall. Get on that 36 more often though :slight_smile: Not sure what you mean about ‘hip-pushing’ as there are several subtle movements I am experiencing as I learn more.

Brill thanks to all for feedback and for giving me some parameters to work to.

(For climbing hills)

Ooer, Matron! :astonished:

The basic technique is of course to sit in the saddle as normal, hold the front , get your head down and keep pedalling, remembering to lean into the climb a bit. This is so obvious that it needs to be included in the list. The more experienced you get, the more hills this technique will work on. The poster who asked the question at the start of the thread would do well to remember that often the answer to the question is “just ride it!”:slight_smile:

Next, the “rush”: for very short little steep hills, rush the hill as fast as you can, then as the hill starts, you need to shift your weight back just a little bit to stop the uni tripping over, then shift your weight forwards again as you climb. Finally you find yourself standing up for the very last couple of pedal strokes. This will work for hills up to a metre or two in height with a gradient so steep that you would stall if you just plodded up. I use it on things like the dirt humps and hollows you find on BMX courses and artificial “mountainbike” tracks.

Then there is the high intensity type of short climb where you lift your weight out of the saddle, but then hold your body as still as you can, and spin as hard as you can. This is exhausting, but will get you up further, steeper and faster than staying in the saddle.

Then there is the slog: stand up out of the saddle, grip the seat, and keep the cadence going as fast and smooth as you reasonably can, transferring your weight heavily from pedal to pedal with each stroke. The important thing is not to lose momentum. It is similar to what you see road bicyclists doing “honking” up a long steep hill.

Then there is the trudge: one “step” at a time, pedal strokes separated by a slight pause as you regain your balance and lift your weight to throw it at the pedal on the down stroke, and you pull up hard on the front of the sadlle. This will get you up the nasty steep hills with uneven and unreliable surfaces. It is either too long and steep to keep moving smoothly, or the surface is so unreliable that you need the slight pause to pick your route between gravel, sand, roots and ruts.

I’m not writing as an expert, but as someone who does most of his riding cross country, and enjoys the uphills as much as the descents. I don’t really think in terms of these different techniques when I’m out on the uni, but when the question was asked, I realised there were several answers, depending on the type of hill: steep/shallow; long;short; rough;smooth, etc.

I am bothered by the fact that I am an awful climber on uni.
so I wondered that, may be, I am getting too old …
last sunday I tried to climb uphill on MTB without changing gears and at a uni cadence: no problem at all. My “mountainer” body (short muscular legs and big lungs) helped me climb even better than I did before.
so I suspect I have an awful technique on UNi and that I spare too many efforts trying to keep up with balance.
what are the recipes? may be training to climb slowly first … and then ?

Do lots of it!:slight_smile:

Start with short ones and work up to longer ones.

Start with easy ones and work up to difficult ones.

Strangely, one day you will realise that the long difficult ones are now short and easy.:wink: