Side Idling

I’m just curious, how many people that can side ride can do this?

I’ve gotten pretty good at doing this with my opposite foot touching the frame, and am getting better doing it leg extended. I can’t side ride yet, but also haven’t worked on it much. I can do a handful of similar skills though so it seems totally doable with practice.

Do you think side ride or side idling is harder? Side idling you don’t have to worry about getting over the top, but it seems like maintaining balance might be harder. Do people typically learn side ride or side idling first? Do you think it’s helpful to learn side idling first? Obviously the best practice for side ride is, well, practicing side ride and I know side idling definitely isn’t a prerequisite, but I would like to have both solid and be able to switch between idling and riding. Plus it’s convenient to practice in my room.

I was trying to learn side idling a while back, never really got it though. I haven’t been focusing on tricks much lately and have been just putting in the miles of road and muni, but I would like to try and figure out side idling again. I wouldn’t think of side riding until being able to side idle and get a feel for being on the side of a uni before trying to get over the top.

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I’ve really rarely seen anyone do side idling.

I struggle to see why you would not have to get over the top while idling. How else would you be in balance?

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I think a video, or a link to a video, may be a great idea right about now, @Discrete_Integral :slightly_smiling_face:

My request may be premature, though. I thought I read that you can currently side-idle. If not, that makes a video a little hard to accomplish.

However, I’ve seen you do some pretty hard things on a unicycle, so at this point I’ve come to expect just about anything!

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What I mean by “get over the top” is the pedal stroke, like when you ride one footed.

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I haven’t been able to find many videos on the internet so I made one. It wouldn’t let me send the videos individually so I just made a YouTube short.

First is side idling with my foot wrapped around the frame. Note that it is not touching the crown at all and not applying any downward weight. It is only helping keep the seat against my body.

Second is leg extended, which I am not as good at. Every time I add one back and forth idle to my record it’s considerable progress.

Third I haven’t tried much but gave it a shot today. Side idling leg extended with one hand on the seat.

I can’t transition into these yet, but I assume you could do it from cross hopping, cross riding, or maybe crank idling. I’m sure you could get very creative with it if you wanted to.

The only video I have ever seen it in was Ryan Woessner’s routine from Unicon 13 back in 2006. He does side idling for a couple seconds and then transitions to side ride. This was from the archives. There actually is a YouTube video but the video isn’t as good quality as the one in the archives.

If there’s anyone here that can do side idling and/or side ride, input would be appreciated. What I really want to be able to do is switch between SOS one foot extended and side ride. I can ride SOS one footed in a circle with my foot on the frame, and idle SOS one foot extended, but my record for riding leg extended is only 1 rev so far.

I also think being able to side ride to class with a backpack on riding my 32" would be pretty cool.


And, that’s the type of video I was hoping to prompt you to create.

Thank you! Some people may have wondered “What exactly are we talking about?”.

That last bit, about the 32”, and side-riding, all the way to class? Crazy talk (until it’s been dkne). :wink:

Thanks for posting the video! Your videos always inform, impress, and motivate.

Good job!

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Side idling is defeiitely easier!

You’ll find that your body position has to drastically change for side ride. In side idle all of your weight is on the down pedal (unless using other foot on the crown as show earlier), whereas in side riding, you’ll have to find a way to remove the weight from the foot on the pedal, which is usually done by putting weight on the seat.

Therefore you body position on the unicycle will have to switch quite drastically as you’ll have to put weight on the seat, usually with both hands to alleviate the downwards pressure that you’re putting on the pedal so it can actually go around.

Good luck!


That makes sense. I practiced some this morning and got my first rev of side ride!

Do you think idling is still helpful for learning side ride? Or not really since the body positioning is different?

Do you have any tips for seat on side one foot extended? Like you mentioned the body positioning for idling and riding is different due to where your weight is going. I’ve tried doing if from both SOS one foot idling extended and SOS one foot riding on frame. When I got 1 full rev I did it by removing my foot from the frame. I’ve gotten close a number of times from idling but shifting my weight is hard (but totally doable if you have riding solid).

Just wondering what you think the best way to learn it is.

Keep practicing, it’s not an easy trick. Sure knowing to side idle helps. Best way to learn is to keep practicing and notice what mistakes you make and why/where you’re falling, etc.

You mentioned having difficulty finding videos of side riding, you can check on youtube for an freestyle performances, and you’ll find plenty as it’s a common enough trick in freestyle routines.

Here’s are some


Thanks for sharing! I have noticed it is helpful to pay attention to why/where I am falling and then exaggerate the other way. Then I know the balance point is somewhere in the middle.

Side ride is a common trick in freestyle routines, but seat on side one foot extended I can’t find any videos of, other than Ryan Woessner’s routine at Unicon 13 in the archives. I am learning both of these concurrently (side ride left foot, SOS 1 ft ext right foot). I want to be able to switch between SOS one foot extended and side ride.

Are you familiar with this trick at all? I’m wondering what the best way to learn it is. With side ride you can start from the ground. That would be hard to do for SOS 1 ft ext, but I could see it. I haven’t had much luck getting into it from SOS 1 ft idling extended. I got one rev getting into it from SOS one foot on frame, but it’s still hard because the balance point appears to be a bit different. Maybe I could try starting from the ground and dangling my other leg back instead of forward.

Are you referring to this?

If so, it’s the same trick, just extend your leg.

Yes, exactly! This is a different video from the one in the archives, but same routine. But seeing it at a different angle gave me a better idea of how he performs some of these tricks.

For SIF one foot, most of your weight goes in the seat whether you’re doing it foot on frame or leg extended. Typically when people do SOS one foot on frame, they put all their weight in the frame. When I was learning it I put most of my weight in the seat and hardly any in the frame, but now I put most of my weight in the frame and only a little weight into the seat. For this reason I consider them to be different tricks.

It’s interesting how he does it with one hand on the seat. I hadn’t noticed that before. I thought you would learn this with two hands on the seat (though it is difficult at first not being able to use either hand for balance). Although he is obviously very proficient at it and very well could have learned it with two hands on the seat. What I may try is like you said, just extend my leg, but this time only have one hand on the seat and lean over the uni a little more to make sure my weight is going where I want it.

Hey Shaun,
So first I’ll give the technical answer and then add some more.
According to the IUF unicycle standard skills list
Side Ride (2 hands): 5.9
Side Ride, 1 hand: 6.2
Side Idle: 4.0
So Side Ride is rated way higher than Side Idle (for reference Wheel Walk Backwards is 4.4).

Side Ride:
Riding 1ft, next to the unicycle, with foot on the
non-corresponding pedal, holding on to the seat
with both hands. The seat or the hands holding
the seat may rest against the rider.

Side Idle: Idling with the seat out to the side of the rider.
idling with one foot on the non-corresponding
pedal with the seat on side, holding the seat
with both hands. The seat or the hands holding
the seat may rest against the rider.

2 hands is only 5.9 and one hand is 6.2, so in a competition you want to do one handed if you can.

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Today I was at the Freestyle competition in Illertissen Germany (I didn’t compete today although my club had 3 choreos but I will compete at the Southern German Freestyle in 2 weeks) and I asked a few riders better than me and they agreed that side idle is “easy” but side ride is hard. I tried out side idle personally holding onto the wall and I think I could learn side idle in the near future (Note: I’m a Muni rider and basically beginner freestyler) but side ride seems pretty hard.

As to the question of learning, not sure if I can help much as I just learned seat on side today (one of 3 new tricks I learned today including hop-on-wheel).

My guess would be that similar to one foot riding vs. one foot idling: they’re similar in some ways and doing one helps with the other, but knowing one doesn’t mean you can do the other: I can for example one foot idle left footed very very well (100+ revs) and right foot idle OK (sometimes maybe 50), but I cannot ride left one footed even though I can ride right one footed well (100+ revs). So…

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I don’t know if I’ve ever disagreed with Finn about unicycling because he knows so much, but here I have to disagree:
Although it’s not as prominent as side ride, I would guess because side ride is worth a lot of points and side idle much less, Side Idle is still a common freestyle trick and is used for quite a few transitions.

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Thank you for your response! Although I’m not sure looking at the standard skills list is the most accurate way to assess difficulty. For example, I find seat drag in back backwards way easier than side ride even though it’s worth more points. But I’ve improved at both side ride and side idle since the last post and I agree side idle is easier. Interestingly I find side idle way easier with one hand as opposed to two, as you get a hand for balance and the body positioning for one hand vs two is slightly different.

I agree, being able to do one doesn’t mean you get the other for free, but they do help each other.

If you want to learn side idling, it may be helpful to learn SIF 1 ft idling leg extended first, and then SOS 1 ft idling extended. That seemed to help me.

The only time I have ever seen side idling (other than when I’ve done it) was in that video of Ryan Woessner’s routine at Unicon 13. Just because it’s “easy” doesn’t mean it’s common. I do think you’re on to something though when you say it could be used for quite a few transitions. I plan to investigate that :slight_smile:.

Also, this is my first time using the reply option. I should really utilize this feature more often!

After all this talk about side riding and idling, I figured I’d post an update. Here’s a compilation of clips I got over the past several days of various transitions for different skills.

There’s a few SOS 1 ft ext/side ride/idling transitions in this video.

I have more ideas, but I didn’t want to go too crazy for this video, as I fell on my wrist last Thursday while unicycling on wet concrete and it was sore for a couple days. Doing much better now.


Hey, this is looking good. I will use your video to show my daughters new tricks I can’t demonstrate myself, as they went past my skill level last year. Thanks for this nice clip!

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