Q on the subtleties of freemounting

I learned to ride last year, and this year wanted to work on mounting and perhaps idling. (I currently mount using the “Tire Grab” method, and want to switch to something more… uh, honorable.) We see a lot about learning to mount, but I don’t think the advice goes far enough; it seems to always come down to “this is what should happen, what the mount should look like,” and doesn’t specifically describe how to get there, how to make “it” happen. What about details on weight distribution, applying directional forces with feet/hands/body, and such? Surely that comes into play, right? Does anyone have advice on either of the two standard mounts (Static or Roll-back), specifically the subtleties of executing them?

Some background, for the interested:
I had first decided on learning the Roll-back Mount over the Static Mount, because I have a big fear of the potential Shin Smack which comes with a failed Static Mount, and because practicing the Roll-back is also good practice for Idling, which I intended to learn next. But my Roll-back isn’t going too well; I only hit it about 5% of the time, while usually the result is a 6-and-12 position and intentional dismount. Now I want to switch to trying the Static, and have even bought shin guards as a precaution.

Honestly, the first mount I learned was the suicide mount. It sounds worse than it really is. Given that the the unicycle, and therefore pedals, stay in one place it’s quite simple. Try jumping onto a step or raised surface with one foot forward landing both feet at the same time. After a few tries, you’ll see how simple it is. Once you’ve landed both feet on the pedals, you can sort out how to ride away.

My go-to mount is the static mount. I use, and have taught my boys to use, the rotational force of the wheel to counteract the weight of your first foot. You should have about 3/4 of a second to get your other foot into position.

I don’t think I spent any time on the roll-back mount because you can’t do it in a muni situation where the ground is un-even.

Good luck!

What wheel size are you using? I assume that it’s probably larger if you can mount now with a tire grab since it’s hard to grab a smaller tire. The roll back mount clicks for some people but it’s always seemed over complicated to me.
A rolling mount is actually pretty similar to a tire grab mount so it might not take much practice to switch. Just walk your unicycle forward to gain a little momentum and jump on when you are at a steady speed. It’s best if you land on the pedals when the cranks are parallel to the ground but for this mount it’s not as important since you are already moving forward.
The difference between tire grab and rolling is quite small. For a tire grab you stabilize the wheel by manually holding onto it while for a rolling mount you stabilize the wheel with a small amount of momentum.

Also, if you haven’t watched this video you should, it does a reasonable job of explaining what the best way to jump is.

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Roll-back is the more “educational” form of freemount, and I recommend it for beginners for the reason you stated. From your description, sounds like you’re getting stuck on the “back” part. But there’s a relatively easy way to get past that hurdle, by using the mounting technique for freemounting a giraffe unicycle.

Giraffe freemounts generally happen with pedals in the 6/12 o’clock positions. So once you get up on the seat, your second foot goes to the front of the top pedal and gives it a gentle push back. Just a quarter turn, to bring your pedals into the control (horiziontal) position. By doing that, you have pushed the wheel back behind your center of mass. You have to pedal forward! Repeat as necessary.

Pulling back that top pedal is also how you ride away from a Kick-Up Mount, which is always cool to learn because it looks so much amazingly harder than it actually is.

Most people get stuck in their freemount-learning by getting on and ending up perfectly balanced with the pedals vertical. Pulling the top pedal back gets you un-stuck and basically forces you to start going forward.

Static mount is the most elegant mount, because all the forces are balanced. Static mount was the 4th or 5th mount I learned, and I avoided it for a long time, because of my ineptness at it, and because I felt I was going to fall badly while practicing it. A couple things happened which helped me learn it, without really practicing it. First of all, my seat got progressively higher. Second, I practiced a lot of SIF stuff, involving putting both hands on the seat. Prior to learning the static mount, I learned to mount SIF with the pedals in the 6:00 and 12:00 position. Later on, I got better at applying the right amount of force, with both hands, onto the seat, and the pedal position moved from 6:00 and 12:00 up to 3:00 and 9:00 and beyond. Also, with the seat higher, I was able to combine the weight of my butt and the weight of my hands…while mounting.

If you’re interested in static mounts, you might try practicing one-footed still-stands. This will be awkward at first, and you might consider doing the one-footed still-stands with something to hold onto. I felt very weak when I first practiced them. Learning to pull the pedal in the backwards direction, with the toe pointing more toward the ground, helped me learn to static mount. In particular, it helped me learn that the static mount could be performed very slowly.

My advice to you is only based on the order in which I learned technique. That order varies from rider to rider. You can take it or leave it. In my case, learning any particular new technique is frequently contingent on finding a “bridge” technique to get me to the final technique. In the case of the static mount, the one-footed still-stands were a kind of “bridge”. Kind of off-topic, but the one-footed still-stands also helped me learn one-footed idling, which I use as a launch-pad for one-footed riding. Today I rode nine revolutions one-footed! So, IMHO, practice those one-footed still-stands, and a whole bunch of other technique will magically appear.

Like Shmolagin, I am wondering what wheel size you’re using. My first reliable mount was the tire grab, and that was on a 24". I can’t do the tire grab on a 20" with the seat high. If you’re ready to learn a bunch of technique, GET A 20!!!

Curious about Freemounting

The only freemount I can do is the static mount, but I can do it equally with either foot, which may be nothing, but I’m proud of it. I learned it on a 20’’, and when I upgraded to a 29’’, I discovered that there was absolutely nothing in common between doing the same mount on each of them.

On the 20, there is no real “jump” to jumping up into a static mount. It’s more a matter of leaning forward and then shifting your hips forward to bring the seat up. On the 29, there is a very definite jump component, along with a significant lean forward component and a hip-shift component, and then you have to actually ride away from it.

Obviously, I don’t have the static mount on the 29er down yet. I made 24 of 56 (I think…) attempts today during a 30 minute focused practice session just because I was so infuriated with it yesterday. The point I am trying to make is that I agree with the previously posted questions about the wheel size you’re using. I think it makes a difference.

If it doesn’t count as hijacking the thread, I think the static mount is an admirable match for a 20 inch unicycle for a person of average height. Is there a different mount recommended for a 29, one that seems more ideal for it, like the static for the 20? The static mount doesn’t seem exactly ideal for the 29 to me.

Sorry, I should’ve mentioned… my regular ride is a 24; I’m 6’0" and it’s all legs, so the saddle is really high and quite far from the pedals.

You’ve given me some things to think about trying. Maybe switch to a 20 while learning to Static? Maybe practice those “one-footed still-stands” (whatever that is!). “Pulling the pedal backwards,” with the toe pointed down, is what’s kept me from successful Roll-backs - if I could do it I’d be set, but the weight of my back foot brings the back pedal to 6 o’clock, I bring the other foot up to the 12 o’clock pedal, and I stall there… can’t seem to push the 12 o’clock pedal back, probably because I’ve got so much weight on the bottom pedal.

I’ve learned that I want a lot of weight on the saddle while doing a Static, but what about while doing a Roll-back? Still lots of weight on the saddle, or weight on the pedals (which I thought was necessary to get the whole process going), or does the weight move - on the back pedal to start the mount, but then on the saddle when trying to push the top pedal backwards?

Saw that YouTube clip above many times, but it seems to advocate developing a kind of weightlessness. Very hard! I was more interested in a clip shared in the Tutorial sub-forum, where the poster shows that the wheel/pedals can be made entirely static with the right amount of weight directed in the right directions. (And with his wheel truly “static,” he’s got all the time in the world to find his second pedal and start moving. A slowly-executed Static mount, no need to hurry it.)

I think it mostly depends on what you try.

My first mount attempt was a static mount and I stuck with it. At one point in my learning I focused on reliably balancing the weight and back pressure on the first pedal to mount into a momentary still stand to get a strong sense of dynamic balance. Then adding a forward thrust as a separate component to get moving.

I more or less systematically worked through the whole range of failure modes until I learnt what balanced against what. Thrust can come from a push or from a slight down grade and it can be useful to get the feel under different circumstances.

I didn’t really freemount reliably on the 20 until I had done it on the 24 probably because that is what I was riding most. I have really only been able to get it reliable on the 26. It helps that everything moves so much more slowly on the bigger wheel but I think it is mostly a matter of time.

Fiddling the dynamics made me aware that in some ways, Rolling, Static and Rollback are in a continuum of a single type of mount. The difference is the location of the resultant momentum. Static is just the neutral in between. No matter how you do it, in the end you have to have the wheel and pedals in the right place.

Ultimately, much of the mounting progress isn’t so much rote technique but comes from being able still stand long enough to move the body into position to ride away under any circumstances. This ability develops automatically with general riding experience where you continue to push your abilities by taking on terrain. That skill will be reflected in the mounts.

Lately I have been surprised how long I can have available to recover from botched mount attempts as staying up becomes increasingly instinctive. It is also remarkable how close the pedals can be to vertical and yet still manage to ride away.

One of the things I love about uni is that I learn on almost every ride and can see and appreciate the accumulated progress, yet never fear running out of new things to accomplish.

I actually can’t mount any other way except static. I can sort of roll-back on my 24" but it’s not something I can do comfortably, gracefully or 100% of the time.

I learned by putting my uni against a curb and jumping on - the curb helps stop the wheel rolling backwards when you put your back foot on. Eventually after practising you realise you can sort of jump on without any weight on your back foot (as noted in the video further up), and by that point you’re static mounting and you can move away from the curb :smiley:

I know people struggle static mounting larger wheels, but when I got my 29er I hopped right on, and same with the 36er. I guess when it’s all you know, it’s not really a trick :smiley:

I have no idea how people manage to roll-back 36" wheels. There’s just too much weight, and I tend to end up flicking it backwards if I try.

Did you see UniMyra’s video? It’s in a thread under tutorials. He shows how to static mount on a 24".

My first mount was a hybrid static mount on a 24". I started as if I was doing a static mount but let the wheel roll back a bit. A full rolling mount just didn’t feel right. Like you, I couldn’t get past the dead spot.

IMHO, free mounting is harder to learn than riding. Hang in there. With much practice you’ll get it.

Recently I mastered the rolling mount on my 20" and found starting with the first pedal at 4 or 5 o’clock helped. Not sure why.

For me, this is the single most important aspect of static mounting. The problem, at least for me, is that it’s difficult to apply pressure to the saddle until it’s directly over the tire. I overcome this by consciously pushing down with my lead hand on the handle before I begin the mount. I then bend my rear leg and push forward. If done correctly, this force alone is enough to carry me and the seat over the tire without any direct pressure being applied to the back peddle.

'Not sure if that helps, but I thought that I would put it out there. Good luck!

This all helps. Heck, I should print all this and keep re-reading it.

I saw UniMyra’s video; that’s the one I referenced above. It really got me believing a Static Mount can truly be STATIC, giving you as much time as you need to land your second foot on its pedal. But I’m still fearful of potential shin smacks, so haven’t tried it much.

Like PieceMaker, I learned to ride by putting something behind the wheel (in his case, a curb; in mine, a 2X4) to keep it from rolling back. It teaches you to VAULT forward and up, above the wheel. Having graduated to Tire Grab several months ago, I may now revisit the older cheat method, the 2X4, to get reacquainted with vaulting before I try to really Static Mount.

Agree: there’s always something else to learn with unicycling! Me and some fellow riders have been discussing this of late.

“When it’s all you know, it’s not a trick” reminds me of something from two nights ago. I went to a unicycle gathering and met this teenaged girl who could do it all - Static mount, Roll-back mount, idle, hop, ride backwards - but she was impressed by my Tire Grab mounting. She said she’d never seen it before; to her it was a cool and unique trick.

“Oh no no no,” I said. “This is easy. It’s just a chintzy way to mount.”

Her and her whole family (7 riders!) all rode extremely well, and none of them ever had a problem putting weight on the saddle or Static Mounting. It’s what they’ve always known. To me, what they’re doing requires a “trick”!

I’ve never had the pedal hit my shin. My foot either hits the pedal correctly or goes over. I practiced having my foot clear the pedal before trying to actually get my foot on it. Early on, I did however fall to the side while trying to static mount and bruised my knee. After that I got knee pads.

Yeah - what I’m busy trying to nail at the moment. Also how you ride away from a side mount which I can nail most of the time, and am using to try and sort out that bit of my kick-up as it’s where I’m mostly failing now. I actually hardly ever roll-back mount, side mount a lot more but mostly static mount (kind of - I tend to use a very slight forwards roll which allows you to put just a tiny amount of weight on the back pedal).

I also first learned to mount using a tyre grab - though not sure I could do that any more - and that was actually on a 20. Managed to move on to a static fairly quickly though. One of the exercises which helped me was I think from a video by Unigeezer - set up a block to jump up to, put the foot which is going on the back pedal in the air to the side of the block and jump up to the block with the other foot whilst keeping the in the air foot still. Much of the principles involved in a static mount, but no unicycle to think about.

In the UniGeezer 36" mounting video, the technique of jumping onto the block…takes about 1/3 second. I have practiced this technique before. The problem I have with it is: it is done quickly and may result in improper foot placement on the second pedal, which could result in a bad fall.

Contrast the above method with a very slow static mount. Near the end of UniGeezer’s tutorial, he is pictured mounting the 36" a number of times. Those mounts lasted longer, in time duration, than the 1/3 second demonstration with the paper plate.

I think everybody learning to static mount should practice UniGeezer’s technique. However, it seems like a “bridge” technique, rather than a real reflection of how static mounting is performed. Jumping onto the second pedal is a rather abrupt technique. As the rider learns to apply downward force on the seat, they will be able to slow down the static mount and make it safer and smoother.

Maybe a car backs up into your lane out of no where. Maybe you turn a blind corner and see a biker zooming towards you. These situations will help you enter the world of idling. I ride through college campus and face situations where I need idling or one back pedal all the time. Seeing these situations out in the real field will help you gauge where you are at in your idling journey. If you come across a time where you wish you knew how to idle (waiting for stop light), you should go to your practice grounds and trial and error for an hour or two. It will come naturally with time as all similar things do.

On mounting, static mounts are the most useful. I learned with a roll back and now only use it to spice things up when I am on flat lands. As for the physics of jumping up without applying pressure to the pedals, you just have to find the sweet spot where you mount and are sitting up there just waiting to learn forward and go. After a while, you won’t have to think about how much you push off with your grounded foot, you just know how to get on the uni without falling backwards or forwards. That’s a lot of rambling but I feel like I can relate because I just had to relearn this essentially to adjust to my 36er.

I end up with bad foot placement fairly often from static-mounting, I tend to just adjust as I’m riding. A bit scary when you’re in the middle of a main road setting off from a traffic light, but it’s easy enough once you’ve done it enough.

Holy Shiite! Just back from a very successful morning practice session, and I’m still high from the excitement of having learned a great new skill!

I covered myself in protective gear, and after a lot of “psyching myself up,” I really WENT FOR IT. I landed Static Mount after Static Mount, only missing 1 of about 40 attempts. (I got carried away, attempting it over and over, because I was so stoked with my repeated success!) Nothing but net! Can’t miss! It’s even more reliable than my Tire Grab “cheat.” I should’ve tried this last year, after learning to ride and before the snow began falling.

What worked? Three things, I think: learning to ride last year with the 2X4 behind the wheel, as it turned out, was also good Static Mount practice - I’m using the same motions really, but without the block of wood as a safety net; using the directional forces suggested in UniMyra’s video in another thread; and lastly, giving the wheel a bit of a forward roll while making my hop, to counteract any notion the wheel gets about wanting to roll back on me. ; )

Thanks for the help, everyone. I guess I just needed an encouraging push. I’m all set with Static Mounts; now it’s on to idling!

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You can definitely learn idling on a 24", but I think it’d be easier on a 20".

I started learning to idle holding onto a fence. The problem with that method was that it inhibited the wheel from pivoting. When you’re learning to idle, you have to let the wheel go left and right in a crazy, uncontrollable way. Later on you will learn to control it.

Probably my biggest breakthrough, regarding learning to idle, was when I rode forward,stopped suddenly into a momentary still-stand, pedaled back a half revolution, then rode forward. I had to practice that a ton to get it the first time.

Something which is unnatural about idling to the sensibilities of beginners: You have to get the unicycle in front of your center of mass, prior to the backwards pedaling. Beginners like to focus on keeping their mass “in front” of the unicycle, in order to keep from falling backward. So, your chances of falling backward increase while learning to idle, which is another reason I suggest learning on a 20". FYI, I never personally had a bad fall learning to idle; I’m not trying to scare you.

I am okay at idling, which means, with focus, I can idle 100+ times on either foot. However, I have not practiced idling enough to be able to “do it in my sleep”. My arms are still too involved in idling…for me to think about juggling or playing the guitar while idling. So, from a performer’s standpoint, there’s a huge difference between being okay and being truly good at idling.

Keep us posted on your continuing successes, GeddyRulz!