Riding with weights

So recently I’ve started riding with a light backback just for phone, keys, and snacks. It seems like a lot of pack for just the few items that I carry. My wife suggested (probably as a joke) putting weights in it. Weights eh?

Has anyone tried riding with weights before? Do you think there would be much benefit to riding with a heavy backpack? I’m thinking it would just hurt my back, but maybe some velcro leg weights or something. I really think riding a 36" up and down some hills is demanding enough, but I’m curious as to whether other people have tried adding weights to boost the strength and endurance training. Thoughts?

I’ve ridden with a full heavy backpack on my 36 and didn’t really notice too much of a difference. But I think adding leg weights might make a bit of a difference. But I’m thinking that when you have both feet on the pedals, the weights might just counter balance eachother and there wouldn’t be too much difference. The only real difference I could really see would be just mounting the uni.

I would think that having more weight down on the pedals would make you create more momentum, making you able to go faster without your feet slipping off out of controll, then again… crashing is another story.

I once carried a pallet while riding my unicycle down the block. It was a bit awkward holding it, but I managed.

I’ve also given piggy-back rides to various people, but that usually ends up in a fall. Painless and very funny.

I used to ride with leg weights, it was a way of training my legs specifically for riding.
Although it was good for this, I found the weight difference affected my balance and in the end, affected my tricks.

For someone like yourself, who seems to ride long distance or commuting, then it will probably be an affective training method.


I used to do everything with ankle weights on. Id wake up, put them on, then go throughout the day, and take them off for bed, or showers.

This was at a time when I was training on hills with my bike, but did ride my uni with them on too. At first they were kinda akward, but I got used to them, and it really made a difference for my endurance.

I have ridden with a Volkswagen strapped to my back. There weren’t any passengers in it so it didn’t weigh that much. I could hop up two stairs but couldn’t quite make three. I stopped soon after attempting three stairs a few times because the strap was chafing me.

i managed to strap a hummer onto my back, but i could only hop about 2 inches, so i took it off and now i can jump 12.4 feet again

My backpack for school weighs at least 15 pounds, and twice a week I ride it up and down a lot of hills for 5 miles to get to school, the trip takes a half hour and I really don’t notice much of a difference except maybe when I get near the end of the ride and I’m tired then the bag starts to shift and I’ll tend to lean to one side a bit more than I would like. Other than that weight doesn’t make too much of a difference for me on a short ride like that. Never tired ankle weights while riding though.

If you value your collarbone do not ride fast with excess weight in a backpack.

weights on the ankles is as interesting idea though

I hit 19mph once with my backpack on should I be worried?

I guess it depends on how likely you are to fall.

About a year ago I took a fall going around 30km/h (~18mph) with a school bag full of textbooks and my binder. I have taken falls at that speed before without incident but this time the bag threw me off on the landing and I ripped all the ligaments in my shoulder and my collarbone ended up lodged in the muscle at the top back of the shoulder.

My shoulder is mostly good now but my leg still has almost no feeling on most of my outer thigh where they took muscle casing to repair the damage.

Now if it doesn’t fit in my camelback I don’t ride with it.

owch, I’ll be more careful to spin within my limits with my bag on now, thanks for the warning.

I don’t intentionally ride with weights, but I often carry shopping. Sometimes I carry two or three unicycles while riding one and that gets pretty heavy after a while. Mounting a big wheel is the hardest part when carrying a lot of stuff.

JF used leg weights (10 lbs./pair?) for speed training when he was doing track racing. I read that at that time he could hit 18 mph on his 24 w/ I think 127 cranks.

He did most of this training on a 20 w/ I think 150’s.

I commute on my 27". On the way to work I’m carrying my laptop, change of clothes, a lunch etc. On the way home I may stop off at the grocery store and pick up dinner and a bottle of wine. Sometimes my pack gets up to about 35 pounds.
I’ve got a good hill at the end of my ride. The extra weight definitely helps get me in good shape. I usually go up the hill past my house just to get some more exercise. Get a good fitting pack with sternum strap and waist strap. Make sure your load is securely fastened and doesn’t slide around. Save the high speed for when you aren’t carrying the heavy load. Use the pack when you are going uphill and want to build some muscle.
Make it fun and practical at the same time.

Hey Naturequack

I haven’t heard of many other people running a 27" wheel. I was running one with 102mm cranks when I crashed last spring. It was sort of a fun wheel, really different feel from my other fat tired unis. Did you build the wheel yourself or did you buy the unicycle with a 27" wheel?

I like the suggestion of using weight for uphill training rides. Extra weight can make a seat uncomfortable after a while but with an uphill climb you don’t keep much weight in the saddle, or go to fast.

I always thought it would be funny to ride a unicycle while doing curls. I picture the old timey weightlifters from Family Guy riding off on their Penny Farthing bikes while doing curls with big hand weights.

I ride a 700 rim with a Continental Contact tire. On the side it says 28 x 1 1/4 x 1 3/4, so you could call it a 28" if you want to but if you take out the tape measure lo! it is in fact 27". The Continental Contact is a relatively skinny tire for a unicycle. Light, quick, very precise. No slop or bounce to it. I keep the pressure up at around 80 to 90 psi. For commuting, it’s great. Although in two or three months I think I’ll spring for a Nimbus 36".
20 years ago I got tired of riding a 24" Schwinn. Too slow. So I bought a fourth-hand 20" Schwinn, cut the forks, welded in some slats of steel that I bought for a dollar at a metal shop and built my first 27" wheel. I instantly realized that this was the perfect uni for me. I sold my 24" soon after and I haven’t pedalled one since. All this happened before Munis could be bought off the shelf, before the 36" wheel existed. Way, way back in the days when we had to get up off the couch and walk all the way to the TV to change channels. And then walk back! (And we did this bare foot in the snow, too.)
I’ve still got that modified 20" Schwinn frame in the basement, although it hasn’t had a wheel on it in about 5 years. About 15 years ago I got hit by a car while riding it through downtown Portland, I ended up on the hood which was great, but my uni got run over by the speeding BMW. The frame was seriously tweaked, but I took a small sledge hammer and an anvil and bent it back into shape and rode it for another ten years.
So the unicycle that I ride now is anything but exotic, all off-the-shelf parts. I didn’t build this wheel. Although I still use my 140 mm cranks from that 24" Schwinn. They’re the newfangled ones. You know Cotterless. My first 24" Schwinn actually did have cotter pins. Whew! My hair is getting grayer by the minute.
I think this is officially a thread jack now. I guess I just had to tell my story. TMI


Some of that is true. Yes, you can ride with a heavy backpack, but it could be a risk for “strap” injuries if you have a crash, and also your crotch probably won’t appreciate it. It will, however, teach you to ride without rotating your torso as much, as you’ll feel the weight moving from side to side.

This reminds me of riding behind Ryan Woessner in the America’s Most Beautiful Bike/Uni Ride (around Lake Tahoe) last June. He had a floppy backpack on him, that was plopping quickly from side to side as he pedaled. I remember thinking to myself how that was either going to drive him nuts, or chafe him to death as he was attempting the 100 miles. But he’s Ryan Woessner (many-time Individual and Pairs Freestyle World Champion) and he finished the 100 miles with no complaints I was aware of.

But I did use ankle weights back in my days of serious training for racing. Since racing on 24" unicycles was all about how fast you could get your legs to go without losing control, I figured training with ankle weights would allow me to go faster. They worked.

I think the main difficulty with ankle weights was getting them to stay snug while moving at 200+ rpm, while not cutting off circulation to the feet. It took some practice to figure out a way to get them tight without being too uncomfortable. But once I figured this out I rode with them on most of the time. I think my “main” pair was 5 pounds total (2.5 per leg). I had a heavier pair with removeable lead ingots, but I can’t remember if I was ever able to get them to fit right.

I would ride my whole race training regimen with the weights on. That is, riding to the local track, a few laps of warmup, stretches, 4 timed laps as fast as I could (the 1500/1600m race), cool-down laps, one lap backwards, one lap with my left foot, one lap with my right foot, then practicing the short races.

Then several runs of the 100 meter race, which was the one in the Guinness Book. After this, I’d take the weights off and do several more, timing each. There was obviously a speed difference without the weights, and they appear to have worked as a training method as I was the winner of the majority of races as Unicons I - IV, including the Guinness 100m race at Unicon III in Tokyo. I also set records for the 1600m, race (USA) and 1500 (IUF). All have since been broken though.

Here’s a picture of one of the Guinness 100m races from Unicon III. At the far left is Takayuki Koike, who set the as-yet-unbroken 100-mile record about a week later. Next to him is Daniel Dumeng from Puerto Rico, inventor of the kick-up mount. Others probably did it before, but he introduced it to our world of convention-goers. The guy in the middle (blue shirt), I think his name is Yoshiaki Handa, and he kept beating me in the races at Unicon XII (Tokyo again, 2004). Then there’s Shegiru Koike, Takayki’s little brother, who was my exact equal at top speed that day. It was all in the acceleration.

Notice this was before the IUF (or USA) had a kneepad and glove rule, but I had already learned the hard way. Also notice the popularity of the Miyata Deluxe in those days. Daniel Dumeng was on his trusty Schwinn.