Rail riding training...

I’ve decided that I want to become good at riding along narrow things. I made the first part of something today that will hopefully really help me improve. There are a few more bits and pieces to add to it but you can get the idea from these photos. I reckon if I spend about 30 minutes every second day on it for a while it should work well.

What I’ve built so far is a portable and strong (well it will eventually be strong) rail that will fit into the car and is quick to set up. All the bits of wood are 35mm x 70mm planks that somebody was throwing out and the screws are 60mm for those who are interested. I plan to make a support for the middle of the beam and add a couple of other little things and then make a second copy. I’ll end up with about a 4 or 5m long, 35mm wide rail to practise on. The supports are made so that they can be pressed right up against each other. I might even do what George B suggested and make them bolt togetherable.

35mm wide seems like the perfect width for this sort of thing. It’s not quite as challenging as a 2cm diameter round railing, but it’s narrow enough that I’ll have to focus on staying on top of the uni rather than moving the wheel side to side underneath me…more of a moving still stand if that makes any sense.

I’m going to practise by first riding along it, then going slower and slower. I’ll also try to work on still stands several times a week.

I just thought I’d tell you about it…maybe it will give you some ideas. I know other people posting photos of their structures have helped me a lot.

Here are some higher resolution photos - http://www.unicyclist.com/gallery/albup15


miscellaneous - practice rail compilation.jpg

Thanks Andrew, I also want to learn to ride along rails and stuff. I still got a long way to go though as I can only do thin walls, maybe 20cm wide? Yeah it’s pathetic, but I’m getting better. So I’m gonna have to practice on those for a while but once I’m better I’m gonna build one of these with my dad and this design you made looks pretty good although I would like one with say a rail to get up on. Just wondering how do you get up on that, when I’m doing walls there’s either a ramp leading to it or a person next to me because I can’t free mount them successfully everytime (only some of it) so are you just like hell good at free mounting? Hop up? Or do you have some other method?

Anyway thanks again and I hope to build one of these one day, might change it a bit here and there but yours looks quite good.

nice setup! is the grass portable too? :stuck_out_tongue:


20cm isn’t at all pathetic! I plan to mainly practise freemounting on the rail. On a lot of the railings I’ve ridden on lately I’ve had to freemount, so I thought I should work on it a bit more. I’d like to confidently go from a freemount straight into a stillstand. It’s not very difficult to make a little ramp for this sort of thing though. Thanks for reminding me…I’ll make a ramp for it so other people can get up there if they don’t want to try freemounting on it.

Good luck for when you end up building something similar. Those photos aren’t of the finished product…just today’s work. I’ve still got more supports and so on to build.


Well I built a simple rail for myself. Well I couldn’t really call it a rail. But it’s a something thin to ride on, about 20cm off the ground.

It’s 10cm thick and I can ride it successfully most of the time providing I don’t focus too hard or not focus at all, lol. It’s 2.1m long with a little ramp leading up to it, but it’s all a step for me. Only problem is it’s very unstable. Ride over to the edge and it starts to tip although it never tips over (unless hopping). Which brings me to this next part. I was gonna try and ride half way, hop 10 times, and then ride off the end. I gave up after everytime you went slightly out of the middle it would just tip.

Oh well, it’s a step for me and I’m getting better, I need some idead though. It’s short, I can’t make it longer, I need some new wood to make it thinner, got any suggestions to make it harder for me?

I made the same decision as did Andrew and wanted to become more proficient in riding narrow things. I made some simple rails, too. Here is a picture of my backyard play ground. Sorry for the lousy picture of the “rail” but I’m not a home currently. However, I have two rail set-ups. One is a 4” X 4” steel and the other is a very simple to make 2X4 rail. I just cut slots into 2X4s on the ground and then put in a couple of screws to hold two “rail” 2X4s in place. I also made them so that I can change to a single 2X4 set-up. However, tough I have made significant improvement in my “rail” riding I am not yet proficient enough to consistently ride a single 2X4 as pictured in Andrew’s set-up. I practice as Andrew suggested – about 30 min. a day. I limit myself to that amount of time so not to get frustrated.

backyard trials.2.jpg


Nice design. I like the way it sets up and can be broken down easily.

As an added feature, you could make it more versatile by making a rail out of a couple of 2 X 4snailed together into a T shape. The verticle part could set into the frames and you would have a 4" wide “rail” to ride on. So you would have two different rails to put onto the frames. One skinny and one skinniest!

Another idea, if you made a frame with a longer slot in it, you could use it as a support when you are joining 2 sections together for a longer rail.

Sorry I don’t have drawings or photos for these ideas. Hope my descriptions are clear.



Well done. I like your rail a lot. I may have to build one for King MUni-Man this summer and add it to his collection of trials obstacles. I’m curious to see how he does now that he’s graduated to a 20" Monty wheel.



i wish i didnt live in a dorm and had a yard…

That sounds great. Try to find some milk crates to use. I asked the neighbour’s milkman for some and found another in a pile of rubbish somewhere (that’s actually where I find most of my trials obstacles. :)) As you can see in this old photo, they’re great for resting planks on. Also, you can see how I nailed (but should have screwed) some little bits perpendicular to the planks for extra support to stop them from rolling. Have a look around at construction sites in the bins. If you ask, they usually don’t mind at all if you take some btis and pieces. Hardwares also sometimes give away free timber offcuts.

That little playground looks great! I love the ‘MUC’ on the sandwich boards. You mentioned cutting slots in the 2x4’s on the ground. How did you do that? I thought of that early on but decided I didn’t have the tools to do it. I have a jigsaw, 1/3 sheet power sander, and drill. I love my jigsaw. :slight_smile: I got it for Christmas and it’s a very welcome change from cutting everything by hand.

I love both those suggestions. How would I go about joining the two planks into a T-shape? I also wanted to make a 90 degree turn (which at 35mm wide is a real challenge for me!) in it some time in the future. Any suggestions on how I could do that while keeping it portable and stable? Maybe I’d have to make one support to hold both of the planks at the corner.

If you build something new for him, please tell us how he goes. We love hearing the King Muni Man stories.

If you make it portable you can move it into somebody else’s yard (or maybe just a park). :slight_smile:

Everyone (I think particularly the Americans),
Is 2x4" (50x100-ish mm) the standard plank size for buildings and things like that? I keep hearing ‘2x4’ a lot. It seems like over here it’s 35x70mm. It’s interesting that in both cases, one side is double the other. Just curious.



I have a table saw and I just made numerous cuts to make the slot just wide enough to wedge the “rail” 2X4 into the slot. The screws that actually hold it in are put in using an cordless drill so that we can quickly put this togher for demonstrations.


Thanks Tommy.

I built the three supports for the middle section of the rail today. As you can see, they are more shallow to allow the tyre to pass over them without hitting.

I have a 5m long rail to fit in there. Obviously it will be less portable but it will be good for practising out the front of the house.

One thing to note is that I think it’s a good idea to put the screws in on opposite diagonals and some above others when you’re joining things to several sides of a plank. That way they won’t hit each other nor compromise the strength of the structure by removing extra wood beside the screw. It seemed like a good idea anyay…I don’t know how neccessary it is.

There are three more photos in the gallery that I linked to before. Here are a couple.


Re: Rail riding training…

Cool ideas. When biketrials rider Ryan Leech was starting out, he built a cool network of narrow balance lines (mostly 2x4’s on the narrow axis) that covered much of his parents front yard. Everything was less than 30cm from the ground. I think this was one of the main reasons he got so good so fast at balance lines.


I think I am going to start making a play ground for my self.Not sure what yet but i am going to start with somthing to crank grab on. i am going to have to make it out of blagged wood so it may not be as good as some of your designs.
I think the width of a skinny is only half of the riding skinny’s skill, I think hight is most of it. I have a log and so wood out the front of the house.i did have a ramp from my skating days but when i chucked it i was not into trials i might still have a few coping rails so i should have some fun as i have no course work!!!
wondering what do you do with your stuff when it rains??
or have you varnished it?

The height is a big factor mentally, therefore if I get better skill-wise at low levels I will be more confident with higher things. Plus I don’t really intend to ride anything particularly skinny if it’s higher than about 1.5 metres. I like to be able to jump down if I lose my balance without worrying about the drop.

Well the supports and pretty much all of my bits and pieces stay under cover when I’m not using them but the 5m plank is too big to put undercover without it getting in the way so that gets rained on. Should I be worried about that?


That’s a really interesting little bit of information. It’s good to hear about this sort of thing making a big difference in someone’s skill level.


2X4’s are used for studs in walls in most housing construction. They are fairly common and easy to get scrap from scrap bins and burn piles at housing construcion sites.

2X4 are actually 1.75 X 3.5 inches wide. I guess this would be about 44.5 X 89 mm. I wish I would have grown up with metric, it makes so much more sense. I just have so little exposure to it, I can’t think in those measurements. If you tell me the length, weight or distance/speed in metric you will get a puzzled look as I spend time mentally converting. Tell me the same thing in inches, miles, pounds, yards, acres, square miles, pints, gallons etc… I immediately have an idea what you are trying to convey no matter that it is illogical.


Here is the final product. I went for my first test ride today. It feels like it’s solid enough to last for quite a while. I can only make it all the way along every now and then but it’s very fun. And I tried riding it backwards. That will take a while longer.


Sorry…I attached an image but realised it was too big then got confused. But here it is.

miscellaneous - practice rail 7.jpg

Nice Andrew! Your design has got me thinking on an idea using the T set up I mentioned earlier in this thread. I’m going to try to do a drawing of my ideas and post it.

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Being in the middle of winter here in Pennsylvania…it’s nice to see the sunshine and green grass in your photo. I’m jealous.


Please do.