Schlumpf learning journal

Schlumpf riding tips

I happened to notice this thread during a related search. Seemed like it died out early, and perhaps would benefit from reviving. It seems like there was a flurry of new Schlumpf riders at the time, and most of the previous posters were sharing their progress stories.
I was thinking it might be useful to use this thread for tips and technique suggestions, since there didn’t seem to be one like that.
So here’s one from me (actually, I’m just passing it along from someone else). I’ve been riding a G32 since earlier this year. It’s been kind of a struggle for me, and I’ve gone for some long stretches without riding it in overdrive at all (and periods of going back to my Coker 36"). One of the things I was struggling with was up-shifting “on the fly.” I was using the “heel click” technique, since it was pretty much the only technique that people were using. But it seemed problematic and inconsistent for me. To begin with, my cranks were too long (150mm), and my heel didn’t conveniently fall in the correct spot to shift, so that was a problem. So not long ago I put on a pair of M4O 3-hole cranks (110/130/150) and started riding on the 130 spot. My foot position was much better, and I liked the shorter length in general. But my shifting success was not much better, even though my foot was in a better position. Sometimes it worked great, other times I got thrown right off.
Then a rider over on the Facebook “Road and Distance Unicycling” page suggested shifting with the ankle. I hadn’t read anything about this technique, so I hadn’t tried it before. But I didn’t have anything to lose, so I gave it a shot. (My regular riding shoes are ankle boots with a collar around my ankles.) I’ve been practicing it for two days now, and I’m going to say it works way better for me. My shifts are consistently smooth and steady, and no more throwing me off. I was previously nervous whenever I went to shift, because I didn’t know if it was going to be a hit or a miss, but now I have a fair amount of confidence, and it’s growing.
So that’s the tip I’m passing along today. Probably won’t work for everyone, but if you’re having trouble with the heel technique, give it a try.
Perhaps a few more people will pass along their gems of wisdom, and eventually I’ll be half-decent at riding this thing. :slight_smile:

I mentioned a few posts up that’s the same technique I’m using. I keep trying to heel change as then I’ll be able to ditch the ankle protectors, but not really getting it, whilst I’m pretty consistent using my ankles now.

Unfortunately my riding hasn’t moved on a lot otherwise since my last post - not helped by having lots of time off the guni due to injury.

Hi aracer,

Sorry, I must have overlooked that mention. It seems like a good method to me, so I’m abandoning the “heel click” for now, anyway.

Mainly I was hoping to restart the thread with some new tips and techniques to help the newbies or (like me) slow learners.

Here’s another (really minor) tip I picked up just the other day: put more weight on the pedals. This is kind of a “crutch,” I know, but it helps the control when you’ve just shifted up, or going over uneven terrain. I think as leg strength increases and skill improves this can kind of go away, but for now it’s helpful (to me).

edit: sorry to hear about the injury! Hope you are able to get back to riding soon!

It’s good to see this thread revived.

Since my 2012 post I have found the Schlumpf to be quite a wonderful tool. I personally went for longer cranks (150s) than what mine came with (137s). I have size 12(US) shoes and don’t find it a problem to get to the shift buttons. I typically heel shift (always have), and don’t find it an issue for me. I found the 150s on the G36 offered me more control in 2nd gear, and a first gear that allows me to crank up pretty much anything. It makes the uni faster and more versatile than my ungeared 36. With that I could either go fairly fast with short cranks, or climb with longer ones. Sure- dual holes help with the ungeared situation, but the instantaneous change of the Schlumpf is very satisfying.

Some things I have discovered since the 2012 post:
For me it seems to be easier to get to the buttons with Moments, than with Spirits. I don’t have too much difficulty with either, but the edge goes to the Moments.

Cadence affects upshifting. Too slow and it takes a while to catch. It does require a commitment, but pedaling a bit faster and going for it seems to help with shifting speed.

Keep in mind, the hub does not like to shift under load. Anticipate the downshift and shift early. Using a rim brake, rather than a disc brake can take the load off the transmission when upshifting downhill.

A G26 is indeed a blast. A G36 is great for covering ground in a hurry and a very versatile machine, but a G26 is a ton of fun in the woods. I’ve had some pretty spectacular high speed G26 UPDs, but have always managed to run them out or tuck and roll. Having the virtual big wheel along with a regular muni wheel is awesome. It took a long time for me to get over the cost of the hub and purchase my first Schlumpf (36). It didn’t take nearly as long to get a G26 together. I had built an ungeared 36 for my wife to ride. She is concerned about a UPD from that height. So we built her a G26. She hasn’t used it a whole lot yet, but feels much better about the possibility of a UPD from that height. In the interim, I can borrow the uni with a simple seat post swap.

Some of the details that seem to be springing up here regarding shifting were addressed by Kris Holm in his book: The Essential Guide to Mountain and Trials Unicycling. It’s a fantastic read, even if you consider yourself just a Road rider.

Hi unigoat,
Great tip, thanks! I usually do a pretty long ride on Saturday mornings, like 20 or 30 miles, with lots of shifting opportunities, so I’ll work on that tomorrow. I tend to be a little timid and usually slow down when I shift, so I’ll try to concentrate on doing the opposite.

Just thought I’d post a progress report.
After a couple weeks of riding using the tips posted above, I found my overdrive riding technique has improved, but I still found my self being thrown off by seemingly small obstacles. So I recently tried another change – I put the pedals back out to the 150mm crank hole. Big difference! I’ve been riding (and struggling) in overdrive on the 130mm hole for quite some time, so now riding in overdrive on the 150mm spot seems easy by comparison. Way more control. So whereas before I rode 1:1 almost all the time, and only shifted up under ideal conditions, now I’m riding in overdrive for regular conditions and only shifting down to 1:1 when I get to unusually difficult conditions (steep hills, rough terrain, crowded people/traffic). Using the ankle shift technique really did the trick, because the 150mm length was too long (for me) to use the “heel click” technique effectively. Plus in general, I find the crank’s shift position with the ankle technique more forgiving. I rarely miss a shift now. My main issue now is down-shifting when I’m going too fast. That will throw me right off. (But I’ve gotten pretty good at running it out!)

Hi guys
My progress so far.
I’d originally bought my schlumpf hub so that I could keep up with the other guys on their 36"s.

Taken from another thread…
A final point, a geared 26" can go fast and if you need to hop off it at speed, it’s less far to fall than on a 36" !!

That sounds good enough for me :slight_smile:

I put my schlumpf hub in a 26" frame two weeks ago. My uni then sat there for days because I was too scared to try it out :roll_eyes: I knew I could freemount a 24" in second gear but was a bit chicken about a 26".
Originally had the hub in a 29" but couldn’t freemount at all ! Even in first gear.
Anyway, to cut a long story short I finally tried it. While hubbs was flying his RC planes I was practicing freemounting on a grass slope. After about an hour I got it ! :slight_smile: Lots and lots more practice needed but I’ve done it once so I can do it again. I have a touring bar on the front of my uni, so far all of my dismounts have been upd’s all off the front. I’m pleased to report that the touring bar doesn’t get in the way :slight_smile:
I’ve got 150’ cranks and size 7 feet so I guess the only way I’ll ever shift is if I get off my unicycle and push the button. That’s okay, I can cope with that.
My uni is for road use only. I’ve got a Big Apple tyre on it at the moment, may put a hookworm on it soon.

Slightly off topic…
I’d finished practicing, sat down, took off my uni shoes, knee pads, gloves and helmet. I sat watching hubbs fly his planes and after a while I thought " I’ll just give it another go" So I picked my uni up and attempted a freemount…so what happens when I’m not geared up…I fell off sideways, stuck my foot between the pedal and spokes, landed on my bum and hands ! :frowning:

Ooh, now why didn’t I think of that before? Just to go completely OT, I used to fly RC planes, but have pretty much given up since I took up uni (you can point out to your hubby that a uni is far more fun :wink: ) Now one thing I’ve never thought of until you posted is that I could fly planes and chase them from my uni, thus combining both hobbies. Just need a suitable venue. Oh and this won’t be from my Schlumpf!

I’m not the only one with that problem then. I’ve now got 140s instead and can shift from those, but it’s frustrating that crank size is limited by foot size.

I took my 26" out for a ride yesterday on smooth tarmac. :slight_smile:
I’ve found out that it is easier for me to do a static freemount to get going than it is to lean against an object and push off.
Doing a freemount gives me the momentum needed to charge away and hopefully keep on the pedals. I had way more sucessfull freemounts than pushing off from walls etc.
I’m having a hard time trying to keep my left foot on the pedal as the first wheel rev comes around. Good job I’ve got a few pins in my pedals otherwise I’d never stay on.
If anyone asked me what it feels like to freemount a schlumpf in second gear and pedal away, I’d liken it to riding with your brakes on :frowning:
Guess I need a lot, lot, lot more practice. Either that or it’s not meant to be :frowning:

I’ve actually tried freemounting in high a few times recently, and can do it, but it’s not great. Have you thought about slightly shorter cranks - as I suggest above my feet are the same size as yours and 140 works (137 is probably the closest in ISIS), but is still OK even for a novice like me in high on a 29er. With more practice I reckon I might even be able to go back to 150, which would make geared muni a lot more feasible.

Hi aracer :slight_smile:
I freemount in second cos that’s the only gear I’m really interested in.
I’ve got 125/150’ cranks and I’m using the 150’ peg at the moment as that gives me the most leverage to go forwards.
I might try the 125’ peg at some point but at the moment I’m staying with the 150’s.
I forgot to mention in my last post that I did a lot of bails because I was going too fast and it was scary. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to the high speeds. Also made an error with my shoe size, I’ve got size 6‘s.
I’ve got spirit cranks. If ever I do progress to shifting on the fly I think I’ll have to change for moments.

I think the main thing is to just have fun with your Schlumpf hub and not make it out to be something harder than it is. A bit of practice and you’ll be shifting back and forth no worries.

Use whatever technique works best for you - it’s not like there is a rule book. Here’s a video I made a while back of my CRAP Schlumpf technique

Hi digitalhippie :slight_smile:

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head !
It’s meant to be fun !
That’s where I’m going wrong. I think I’m trying too hard because I so want to be able to do this. I’m not enjoying it at all. :frowning:
I need to chill :roll_eyes:

I’ve watched your video a few times. It’s very good !

Cheers :slight_smile:

Really worth learning how to change gear, and using a crank length which lets you do that IMHO - why make starting so much more difficult for yourself? Also, surely you’re not going to be riding on the flat all the time. That and being able to change gear when you want is part of the challenge and what makes riding one fun.

I have to admit that at times I’m struggling to find riding my Schlumpf fun, which is probably one of the reasons I’m not progressing very fast. A lot of the time it just seems like a lot of hard work and not much progress, and it does also scare me as I’m typically averaging 13mph+ and peaking at over 16mph, which is faster than I can run, so any bail is going to result in hitting the ground.

I’ve come to realise that riding a Schlumpf is like starting all over again riding a uni in terms of the amount of learning involved, and so requires similar levels of dedication. Hence today is the third day in a row I’ve been out on it, which I think is the first time I’ve ever managed that. Most importantly I have no knee pain after that - given it was a guni ride just before I first had a problem with my knee back in March, following which I didn’t ride it at all for 4 or 5 months (I’ve also barely done any muni this summer and still haven’t run since March), that is a pretty big thing, and a real sign of progress.

Only a short session today before a muni ride, but it’s still keeping on training those neurons. Am doing a combination of riding in high and practicing changing gear - thought I was OK with the latter, but realised that I’m a long way from being able to change on demand. Also, whilst I’m doing some speed runs pushing myself I’m doing a lot of riding at slower speeds just trying to get the feeling, and it’s possible that I am now making progress.

I think you’re right, aracer. For me, it’s been just about like staring over. But it’s rewarding, too – like yesterday when I was able to keep up with a couple of bicycle riders on the bike path who were riding at a pretty good clip. They were impressed! But like you say, I got nervous after a while and slowed down again. Maybe over time I’ll get used to the speed and be able to keep it up.
Alucard, have you tried the ankle-shift method? If not, I recommend giving it a try. May not work for everyone, but it was a game-changer for me!
As aracer also suggests, I spend many lunchtimes riding around the parking lot at work, just up-shifting and down-shifting. It takes a lot of them to get good at it (at least for me it does).
Good luck!

A very good ride today. Rode from home, which is the first time in a long time I’ve done that on the Schlumpf. Riding from home involves going down a fairly big hill, quite a bit of tight, twisty or narrow stuff and back up the hill to finish (I’d need to be a lot, lot fitter to ride the last uphill in high). Fast easy riding interspersed with more tricky stuff, hence lots of gear changes required and lots of bits which can be done in high but are a lot harder. Recently I’ve just been riding flat easy stuff where I can stay in high and it’s not too challenging, so this was quite a step up.

It went really well. Not only was it feeling more comfortable riding in high on the easier stuff, I also found I’m getting a lot more competent at staying in high when it gets more tricky. Best of all was that my gear changing has improved a huge amount, which meant I could be in the right gear more. Still need to work on my downshifting which isn’t working first time every time, though I only completely missed one of those. Hit every single upshift first time though!

So to come back to the discussion above, it’s such fun when you can change gear at will and just pop into high for a short stretch then back down to low when you need it again shortly.

Good going, aracer!
I had a nice (although somewhat short, due to time constraints) ride yesterday. I did have one UPD where I got a little ahead of myself and went “over the falls.” Fortunately I ran it out, but those are the times that make me leery of keeping up a fast pace for very long. I don’t like to ride faster than I can run. (And I’m not a very fast runner, unfortunately.)
Do you have UPDs of that particular nature? Any tips for avoiding them?

Yes I sometimes have upd’s that I can’t run out. If those happen, I have to roll it out - mostly it works.

How to avoid? I’ve asked several seasoned fast riders how they dare to ride faster than they can run. The answer is “don’t fall”. Not sure if that helps, I don’t think it helped me really, but that was sincerely their view.

I’ve had a few of those, but none at all recently. I think it’s another of those things which just comes with saddle time - I mean most normal people are incredulous that we can ride unis at all, bear that in mind when you’re incredulous about people riding Schlumpfs. Certainly with all the time I’ve been getting on mine recently, my confidence has increased a huge amount - today I was riding at speed (13mph+) on a bumpy path I’ve never dared to pick the pace up on before for fear of falling forwards. Not something I was particularly planning on doing, it just happened.

One thing which has helped a lot has been the decision to back off a bit and not ride everywhere as fast as possible - it certainly helps a lot when you’ve got something in reserve so that you know you can accelerate out of a slight forwards fall. I’m mostly just trying to turn the pedals over at a comfortable pace which is still fast but not flat out.

I’m actually surprised by the amount of progress I’m making at the moment with a concerted effort to learn - far quicker improvement than I managed previously. The last couple of rides I’ve also been pretty much shifting at will, including a couple of times when I hadn’t planned to shift but just did it when I needed.

Long time since posting here, just felt like posting an update.

I have multiple-drilled cranks on my G32 – 110/130/150. While I’ve always felt most comfortable on the 130 setting for regular riding, I’ve left it mostly on the 150 spot for about the past year, because that was the only place I could ride geared up with any confidence. A week ago I decided the time had come to step up and move to the 130 setting, and just get used to it in high gear. I won’t say it’s like starting over, but it’s been another whole learning cycle. Riding in 1:1 is much more pleasant, but overdrive is hard. I have that tentative feeling again (like when I first started), and UPD at random times when I get a little ahead or behind my balance point. Still, I’ve been practicing at noon, and it’s getting better. I told myself a year ago that I wanted to be riding overdrive in the 130 position in a year, so it’s good to be finally doing it!

So, how’s everybody else doing these days?