Racing - what's your technique?

I’ve always been pretty good at riding fast, however it’s not something I’ve ever trained for, and something I’ve never consciously aspired to be better at. Until now I guess.

With the announcement of the date for the 2022 UK National Unicycle Road Race (19th June 2022 as part of the Horwich Festival of Racing), I thought I’d pop out for a quick ride to see how I’m doing. Needless to say that barely riding in the last two years has not put me in good shape, but I’m doing better than I expected.

The good:

  • I did 8 (flat) miles about as fast as I could go and my legs are fine. There’s clearly some progress I can make here as going up hills slows me down more than I’d like, but I’m not too concerned.
  • I didn’t at any point feel unstable or out of control.

The bad:

  • When riding at speed my riding felt bouncier than I would like (110mm KH Spirit cranks).
  • It felt like I was compensating for the squirrelly nature of the wheel more than I’d like (NR Lite, Foss tube).
  • Breathing started to hurt a little a few miles in.
  • My right shoulder hurt.
  • My lower back hurt.
  • My neck hurt.

I don’t know whether the bounciness at speed is something that’s particularly resolvable without shorter cranks (getting some more holes drilled in these Spirits has been on my mind for a few years). I’ve always had this issue to an extent. My seat is maybe marginally lower than I’d have it for proper racing, but not much.

The squirrelly nature of the wheel feels like possibly the cause of much of my arm, back, and neck pain, as I’m having to compensate the movement with my arm(s) holding the bars, and I think I lock up a little when doing so, but with a future carbon rim it feels like this is only going to get worse.

Slight chest pains is always something I’ve experienced a little doing this kind of thing - I should probably talk to my GP about it, but I believe it’s at least partially down to my poor breathing technique.

Who else races? Anything sounding familiar? Any tips?


You should ask @toutestbon. He is probably the best racer over here… Maybe the best racer in the world as of now!

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I’m certainly no racer – but would straight cranks (eg VCX) make a difference to the squirlliness? (less Q) and you’d get them as short as you want.

So this isn’t an option at least at the moment as I’m riding a KH36 so I need the external disk on the crank.

Moving to a Nimbus Oracle would give me straight crank options, but the q-factor would be basically the same due to the 125mm hub, and although I’ve had no issues even with tiny flange spacing on a freewheel 32", I’m unconvinced that I want a 100mm internal disk hub 36er for racing and normal riding (especially with my sometimes very aggressive braking on a 203mm disk).

That makes sense, I didn’t consider your brake.

I could probably measure the distance over the cranks at the pedals hole for 125mm with VCX+ (32" Oracle) and 100mm with Spirits (KH26) – it is probably only a marginal difference. You’ve probably got similar setups you can measure yourself though.

You know my technique is to train. :sweat_smile:

If you practice unicycling as an endurance sport, you have to train as an endurance sport to improve.

If you bounce on the road, it’s probably a pressure problem. It might not be enough, but it might be too much too. I find that 3 bar pressure for 70 kg is optimal for 2.25" tyres.

For yours pains, it’s not easy to help you. You can do some stretching, maybe you need to go to an osteopath, maybe with practice it will get better or worse… When I have pain, I don’t hesitate to see an osteopath/etiopath.


You know my technique is to train.

I suspected as much!

If you practice unicycling as an endurance sport, you have to train as an endurance sport to improve.

Yeah, I’m not sure how seriously I’m going to end up going with this. My life’s pretty different these days from when I used to be able to go and unicycle 11 miles for breakfast.

So I weigh a little less than you, but that’s about the pressure I tend to aim for. Now you say it though I wonder if my pressure was too low, I’ve not checked it for a while.

However I also wonder whether there’s a limit as to how smooth you can pedal at close to 200RPM if cranks aren’t super short.

I’ve got 125mm cranks on my Club 24 and have had that thing to 17.5 mph which works out to 245 rpm and the pedaling felt smooth but those cranks have very little Q-factor. I have had my Nimbus 29 up to 20.4 mph which works out to 236 rpm and that felt smooth as well.That was also with 125mm cranks but those ones are Sun cranks which are very similar in terms of Q-factor to Kris Holm cranks from what I can tell in pictures, haven’t had the chance to ride KH cranks yet though.

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Crazy quick

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Of course short cranks help to turn your legs faster, but you can put less force on the pedals. Short cranks are not always the best option (hill climb, schlumpf).

Otherwise, I think you have to prioritize your problems to solve them one by one. That’s how I’m still progressing in unicycling.


This is how fast and smooth you can pedal with 165mm cranks. Its all about the practice.