Riding off the saddle, which technique?

So I’ve been trying to hop and ride off the saddle, but I’m not sure yet how to get the best control.
Am I supposed to pull the saddle (which creates tension between my legs and hands and in turn creates stability) or push the saddle down with my hands just as if my body weight would be seated?
Or am I supposed to just hold the saddle without any pressure?

I’ve tried all 3 options, but the first (pulling) seems to provide the most control and hopping goes pretty well, yet I still have the feeling that I’m not doing it correctly. I can continue to get used to it, but perhaps I’m not doing it right…

2nd clip shows me hopping with this technique:

When you ride with the seat out, most of your weight is on your legs. I think you just hold the seat without any pressure. When you get really good at it, you’ll be able to drop the seat and let it drag on the ground in front of you. This is a common freestyle trick, and it shows that you can maintain control with only your feet on the pedals.

Hopping with seat out is a little different. You have to pull on the seat in order to keep your feet on the pedals. For small hops that’s all you need. It feels awkward and takes some time to get right. Just keep your arm and body pretty rigid so that you don’t lose power. Your body and the unicycle should all jump together like one piece.

In the future, after you are comfortable with small hops and basic riding around with the seat out, you’ll want to learn how to tuck for maximum height. This means you hop and pull the unicycle up under you. You bend at the knees, and it feels like you are pulling the seat into your armpit. You land almost sitting on the wheel. I think you already do a version of this on trials bike, so the idea should be familiar.

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The only reason how I see that working (for now) is by keeping a continuous tension on both my hamstrings and quads at the same time while spinning the cranks. This is doable, but requires much more muscle usage and therefore is more exhausting than regular riding. Is that correct?

Hopping in once piece makes sense of course, but if I look at my bike I need to barely use any power to lift the bike up to keep my feet on the pedals. This uni is only half the weight of the bike, therefore it should take even less effort. Similar as to riding off a curb, which is pretty much effortless.
But in reality I need to pull much harder (I would estimate the same strength as it takes to lift 30kg) to maintain balance during the hops. At the same time I’m putting my thighs closer together for increased stability.

Yes, that’s exactly the reason why I want to learn this technique of riding and hopping with the seat out.
I did manage to get some higher (tucked in) hops last week already (the only time I tried), but still had some trouble maintaining balance during the regular hops. That’s a little better now, so I want to start hopping onto higher objects with the tucked in method.
I think it could help if I would slide my feet onto the cranks during this technique, but is it smart to practice, or is it a wasted effort?

Riding seat in front- pushing is easiest IMO. Most people don’t ride around seat in front for extended periods of time, only when setting up for a trick or jump that you want to be seat in front in. But it is good to practice seat in front with holding onto the seat less and less, it’s a prerequisite for dragseat tricks, and will teach you quite a bit on controlling the unicycle with your feet (which is universally helpful in trials and flatland riding).
As you noticed, riding seat in front requires pretty constant tension on your legs, and is therefore quite exhausting (especially at first).

Hopping seat in front- pulling is the way to go, although you’ll find that you’ll have to pull a lot less hard than you initially think. Just enough so that the unicycle stays on your feet is enough. It’s completely normal to feel like you have to pull really hard at first, but in reality you don’t have to- all the force you are using to pull is just working against your legs. Your legs and the pulling on the seat have to move at the same rate - and you will learn how to coordinate that over time.
I can only bunnyhop on a bike a little bit, but I expect that it’s the same there- I as a beginner feel like I have to pull on the bar at full strength to get myself 10cm of the ground, while in reality I’m just working against myself because my technique isn’t great.

Seat in front just feels weird in the beginning, but it looks like you are doing fine in the video. It takes quite a while to get used to it, but after a while it will feel very normal. For some tricks (legarounds, rollingwraps, etc.) you want you need your feet on the cranks. For trials you want them on the pedals, because that way you can adjust your balance more easily. Feet on the cranks may feel more stable initially, but especially for bigger sidehops etc. will prove a disadvantage later.

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Fit bike riders and even others that are quite strong and fit always find that unicycles do require much more leg strength. It simply takes time to gain leg strength/muscle to be proficient on the uni.
When I started riding three years ago I was in what I thought was good shape. On a uni I was good for a very short time till my legs gave out. Now three years later and thousands of miles, I have no problem riding for miles with very little weight on the saddle and have completed a one day 100 mile road ride with no problem. When I started road riding I was good for about a mile and my legs were shot. Some of this was due to poor technique and some from lack of strength.

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Just lightly hold the saddle. Close to the body at first. Then further away as you get better.

Here is a video I took showing how this old man does it…

bungeejoe is in his middle 60s


Does it make a huge difference which seat height you use? It’s quite low now, but I can imagine it’ll be easier with a higher seat setup…

I’ve felt my legs after 50m of a straight line only 4 days ago.
Yesterday and today I did a few rides of 150-200m and didnt feel anything. I could’ve easily gone further.
There’s no way my legs have gotten that much stronger in 3 days, but I’ve noticed that I don’t have to forcefully fight for balance anymore, it’s just like riding a bike now. Of course I do still need to work for my balance, but my body is much more relaxed and the balance comes more natural now…
So I guess (just as with any other sport) it’s a combination of building muscle and getting efficient / relaxed.
Since I already ride my bikes off seat 99% of the time, my legs are already used to most of these movements. But with the seat out I’m far from relaxed, so I definitely need to work on that :smiley:

For just learning I don’t think it matters that much. Seat out is awkward no matter what. It takes a while to get used to.

But later when you are trying to max out your height or distance, it does matter. It’s important to be able to extend your body fully during the jump – the classic triple extension that people talk about for athletic power moves in any sport. Your seat height should allow for full extension while holding the seat with a pretty straight arm.

For me I like it a little lower than you have in your video. It depends on how long your arms and legs and torso are. It takes some trial and error to figure it out.

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The seat height on my trials is high enough that, if I am in the 3:00/9:00 position and want to push the seat out back, I must prepare by moving my foot position on the pedals closer to the toes. I assume that is somewhere near freestyle seat height.

It may be a good idea, for more reasons, for you to keep your seat low-ish for the time being. What I can say, however, about performing seat-out with a high saddle, is that my handhold on the seat is more aligned with my abdominal core, giving me more strength to twist, push and pull the seat in a variety of ways. I recently rode on my neighbor’s 20" unicycle. It has a low seat, and I felt the only significant thing I was doing with my hand on the seat was pulling-up.

One of the good things about keeping your seat low, for the time being, is: You can stand on the pedals (no weight on the seat), hold the grab handle with one hand and feel the unicycle pushing/pulling your hand to the left/right. If you can minimize the feel of this push/pull, then you are applying even force to the pedals, and you can eventually learn things like ultimate wheel and seat drag.

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Low isn’t too good. It seems that every rider that gets better and better a riding any style of urban unicycling (trials, street, flat) start from low but seem to get the seat higher when they get better. Now need to start low. That being said don’t ride as high as a freestyle* rider would. They ride with just like a road cyclist would, so pretty much the seat as high as possible while still being comfy. For trials you want to have a bit more leeway since you need to bend your knees for jumping and absorbing.

*Freestyle unicycling is not what freestyle is in the rest of the world, in fact it’s one of the least “free” styles there is. It’s done on a 20" (as opposed to 19" for trials) and done indoors, mostly. It’s awesome though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOEjDctiW8E


For now, as you are learning, you can definitely experience with moving the seat around a bit as you ride seat out/seat in font (or SIF). It’ll make you better at riding SIF. As for the pressure in the hand, if you’re in balance, a little bit of your weight in the seat, but you should focus on your legs more. You pull and push to help you correct your balance mainly, but the neutral will be without too much pulling. That being said you still have to keep your fingers and arm active.


Before we talk about where the seat needs to be, we have to talk about where you hand needs to be on the seat. You should be holding the seat behind the seat post. I know it may seem weird at first, but as The Mandalorian says this is the way.


If you are doing just little hops or standing still a little bit before an actual hop, you’ll want to rest your seat and/or hand/write on your inner thigh. Which side rests most mainly depends if you’re backfoot or frontfoot.


So either you will jump towards your back foot, or towards your front foot, but you will always jump away from your hand holding the seat. Since you are learning you can always change from right foot front to left foot front, or left foot front to right foot front, or even change the hand you hold the seat with.

Jumping towards backfoot: better for high jump, over bar and precision jumping and tucking in general
Jumping towards frontfoot: better for pedal grabs

I’m over simplifying here, but I definitely recommend jumping towards your back foot. Front foot isn’t bad per say, there has been many world champs that are front footed, but since you’re starting from scratch and have free choice, I’d say go back foot.

Look at this video of Mike Taylor and Aidan Teleki, the only two people ever to jump over 150cm. You’ll be able to see both rider hold the seat well behind the seat post and they rest their wrist on their inner thigh as lot, since both jump towards their back foot,

There is so much more to say, but I think that will suffice for now. I’ll leave this link to Márk Fábián’s Instagram account, current Trials World Champion. https://www.instagram.com/MarkPFabz/



Haha, good to know! :slight_smile:

Well, not completely from scratch. I ride a bike a lot as well, and already have a stance there (right foot forward), which feels natural on the uni as well.
Strange thing is is that I’m actually left handed but tend to be better at jumping to the right (front foot) and rotating to the left (back foot).
That is true for the bike and at this moment also for the uni.
With practice I can change that of course, but I’d like to keep some consistency.
I don’t feel much difference in which hand holds the saddle when dropping, although the left hand is definitely holding the saddle most comfortably during SIF hops…

Anyway, I’ll keep the jumping towards back and front foot in mind and work on the jumping towards the free hand as well.
Thanks for your extensive reply, it’s a great help!

Just a +1 on the advice from @emile - I also came to unicycle from bike trials and mtb, and had some really strongly ingrained habits. Left foot forward, jump to the left (away from derailleur), hold saddle with the left hand (maybe because it’s the MTB front brake, or just because I’m right handed and do the clumsy grabby stuff with my left).

So something had to give, and eventually I ended up re-learning to jump to the right. Get it right the first time!

Yeah, I need to jump both ways with both arms anyway. Also on the bike, but my stance is something I would like to keep as much as possible (although I do practice the other way around as well since in reality you don’t always have the time or space to do a foot swap).

I always figured you use different leg muscles when unicycling than you would do with other sports. I think on a bike the position is slightly different.

I don’t get it, you are clumsy with your left hand, and use that to hold the seat. I throw my clumsy left hand in the air and hold the seat with my right hand. I am right-handed too.

Then just start using your right hand :wink:

I just remembered this very informative tutorial by Mike Taylor:


I use both hands at the moment. Trying to get as comfortable as possible with either hand, since in real life it’s very benificial if you can hop both ways :wink: