Slow learning progress + tibia pain

Yeah, I think so too. But the pavements in my neighborhood (especially in the nearby city forest) are pretty spacious and offer plenty of turns and hills for practice! :slightly_smiling_face: However they offer limited possibility for supported mounting, hence my desire to learn how to free mount.

Ambidexterity is not such a great thing if it means you’re clumsy with both sides of your body. :grimacing:

Thanks for your opinion. I think I’ll go with the static mount then and later with the rolling mount. I’ve seen a few videos and it looks less complex than the rollback. Besides I eventually want to get a 36"er and from what I’ve read, on those, the static mount is pretty much a necessity. I’ll get to the rollback mount when trying to learn to idle or something.

I didn’t just spend 6 weeks of my life to just cross it off some list. Harder stuff it is.

Yes, and I think the advice is not universally valid for everyone. For example, for now I find it ideal not to look straight while riding, but to look at a spot on the ground ca. 10 feet from me. I find either looking straight forward or straight down (or anywhere else for that matter) as pretty uncomfortable. Though I want eventually to be able to look forward, down and around while riding.

Well, I’m not getting a 20" just for learning how to free mount. 24" must do.

Actually, I find the static mount to be significantly harder on a 36er. It’s just such a big wheel to jump up on top of while keeping pressure off the rear pedal. Figure that the pedals on a 36er are 45cm high when the cranks are horizontal to the ground. The rolling mount works really well on it, as the big wheel has a lot of momentum and you can basically just step up on the rear pedal once the wheel is moving. A rollback mount is difficult on a 36er too. It’s not too hard to learn to do one, it’s just really hard to do one consistently. After months of practice, it would probably initially take me four attempts to successfully rollback mount on a 36er. After a few minutes of warming up I can do it about half the time.

That’s what I hoped you’d say!

Don’t want to get a 20" just to learn how to free mount?

That sounds familiar.
Yeah…that sounds familiar? It’s me…when I first wanted to learn to ride a unicycle.
Was on amazon dot com and there was a choice a 20"(stupid little one) vs. a 24"(cool bigger wheel).

Awesome, so I started with a 24". What happened?
After at least 40 hrs of falling, failures and injuries, I started perfecting my olympic hammer toss across baseball fields with my unicycle. Complete with rotation and screaming during release!

I called it quits for awhile, and somehow ended up on this website. I kept reading this…get a 20"…get a 20". STFU. It was annoying. However, I was still obsessed with the riding a unicycle. So, I finally gave in. There was a hope. Do what I avoided from the start. Get small wheel.

So, I did, and it felt easier to manipulate. Easier to get on and get off or fall off. It was quicker/more responsive when I tried any new movement. No fighting resistance or momentum like my original 24" unicycle. So, after “only” 30 hrs…bingo. HEY…I finally got it. I can ride.

So that’s my experience and unless anyone can correct me, I believe at 70 hrs I hold the record for the longest time required to learn how to ride a damn unicycle! Hmmm…do you think if I started with the 20" I could be like every “average” unicycle rider and learned in 15 hrs???

Now, of course, as soon as I learned how to ride. I’m going to get a big wheel and start showing off in the park or up the mountains. Bought a brand new nimbus muni(was actually eyeing the 27" hatchet…but good thing I didn’t). However, now I need to freemount without looking stupid holding up a tree…after falling a few times on the 24"…yup, I went back to my humble little 20" unicycle to learn how to freemount. I didn’t want to go through “my normal process” again.

That makes sense. I was basing my opinion of static mount on a 36" on seeing this:

She seems pretty tall, so I guess for her it’s easier to do the static mount, but I am definitely taller than she is. In any case, this is only a theoretical issue for me now. I am not buying a 36" before the pandemic is over and I figure out where will unicycling stand in the scheme of all my hobbies suspended by the pandemic.

Actually, I’ve read Klaas Bil’s report on this topic and he had there some outlier that took 150 hours to learn to ride 150 feet or so. :astonished: But it was some 8 year old kid. And one teen took 140 hours. So, I think 70 hours are not that bad.

In my defense, I originally got 20". I bought it for an equivalent of 15 USD from some bloke, but it broke after 1 week or so, because it turned out the left hub bolt for fastening the crank had its thread messed up badly. Not sure whether it was already like that when I bought it, or whether the fact that my weight was ca. 20 lbs above the stated weight limit of the uni was a contributing factor.

So, I decided to get a brand new uni. My choice of 24" was mostly influenced by this:

Most beginner adults with at least a 28 inch inseam, prefer the 24 inch unicycle because the larger wheel rolls slower and is easier to keep control of.

Source? Unicycle dot com Buying Guide. Plus, they claim there that the UDC Club 24" uni is designed for 31"-34" inseam.

Also, I’ve read somewhere (probably Reddit?) that for people above 6’, 24" is probably a better choice. I’m 6’2" (188 cm), with 36.5" inseam. So, there you go. I’m actually lucky not buying something even bigger.

My first thoughts on the 24" were:

  1. Ehmmm, the wheel is pretty big.
  2. Cool, finally I can set the seat post to some normal height.

I still have the 20" and I guess the crank could be welded to the hub or something, but that would cost money and additionally, I would have to buy a longer seat post.

I’m not sure that my learning process would be that much faster on a 20" - it’s hard to say. I didn’t get stuck anywhere; the progress was just very slow. But as I said above, I’m not generally renown for my athletic aptitude.

Not to be a downer, but I remember struggling a bit with free mounting. It didn’t take as long as learning to ride, but it wasn’t easy either. It looks like you have the patience to see it through.

I would recommend some kind of shin pads. Screwing up a free mount can leave big bruises on your shins. Soccer pads or something similar will save you some pain.

When I learned free mounting I started with a 2-3” curb behind the wheel (a small brick should work) to keep the wheel from rolling backwards when I got on. While the idea was to keep the first foot that is on the close pedal weightless, using a curb allows you to be a little sloppy in that aspect while still teaching the motion of the mount. It only took me a couple of the curb mounts before I was able to free mount on my 20” or 24”; I can’t remember which I did first as I had both. If you are using an actual curb to practice you may also be a little bit higher than you would be, which makes practicing easier.

The first day I was learning to unicycle was with my 24” sun (my first and at the time only uni) in the park and a pedal to the shin definitely hurts. Oh, and the previous owner had it set up as a muni, knobby tire and you may have guessed…studded pedals.

Speaking only from personal experience, I don’t really get the bigger rider, bigger wheel logic. Yes, the stock seat post is not going to be long enough on a 20". That can be remedied with a new, longer seat post. I am convinced I would have learned to ride and mount in less time on a 20" than I did on my beginner 24". Also, if you are a tall, heavy rider, on a larger wheel you have farther to fall before hitting the ground. I learned a few mounts on my 24". They were all kludges compared to the mounts I learned after getting my first 20". I started the process of learning idling and bw riding on the 24" and 26", but with the 20" it was so much less of a struggle, and it was safer. Sounds like you’re making progress on the 24", however. Keep up the good work!

1 Like

Good point. I think I have some Muay Thai shin pads from few years back catching dust in the cellar. Wonder whether they’re unicycle compatible. :thinking:

That would require more location scouting to find an appropriate training space with an appropriate curb. I’m too lazy to do that now, though I’ll keep it in mind in case I get stuck or something.

I can’t speak from personal experience yet, but I think I get the point behind this logic. I think it’s biomechanics with respect to the proportion of the rider to the unicycle, though please note that I have only a limited knowledge in this regard and lots of the points I will make are a mere guesswork. So take the following with a grain of salt. As an example, I’d use a couple of edge cases. Let’s consider two people:

  1. My wife who’s 5’1" (155 cm) tall.
  2. An acquaintance of mine (let’s call him Adam) who’s around 6’9" (205 cm) tall.

Now, the biomechanical system containing my wife seated on a 20" unicycle with 130 mm cranks will have certain features. The center of gravity of the system will be positioned not that far above the wheel. With properly adjusted seat height, during riding, the angle between her femurs and tibias will oscillate between a large obtuse angle (alpha) at 6 o’clock position and quite sharp acute angle (beta) at 12 o’clock position, with angle (gamma) at 9 o’clock position being quite sharp as well, resulting in wide range of available torque (relative to height and weight of the entire system), and, as a result, in a greater degree of control of the unicycle.

If you substitute Adam for my wife in the unicycle system, the features are going to change significantly. The center of gravity will be far above the wheel. With properly adjusted seat height, the alpha angle should be the same, but the beta and gamma angles are going to be much greater, resulting in quadriceps muscles being much less extended at the 9 o’clock position than in the case of my wife. This should, in my opinion, result in much smaller range of relative torque available to Adam at 9 o’clock position in comparison with my wife, resulting in relatively lesser degree of control over the unicycle.

In order for the rider-unicycle system to have the same features for my wife and Adam, you would have to seat Adam on a 26.5" uni with 170 mm cranks. In that case, the abovementioned factors would be the same, though Adam would have to deal with greater momentum of the wheel. This could, however, be offset with higher lateral stability associated with larger speeds associated with 26.5" in comparison with the 20". The only clear advantage I perceive for Adam in 20" wheel is the fact that it would be a lot safer for him than larger wheel, as the potential falls would be from a relatively small height.

So, based on this train of thought, I am positive that for taller riders, usage of larger wheels should produce similar results as smaller wheels do for smaller riders. Moreover, there could be some advantages taller rider could derive from learning on a larger wheel, namely being able to use longer cranks for better control of the unicycle. However, this is just my opinion, but I’d certainly like to see some academic study that explores links between relative height of the rider and the time needed for learning how to ride.

I could elaborate some more on this topic, I think, but I’m gonna leave it here and go practice. It is much more fun to learn unicycling than merely theorize about it. :wink:

So, after today’s session, where I’ve spent around 40 minutes horsing around attempting to free mount in different ways, I have the following observations:

I have a considerable problem with the “fear factor” of actually attempting to get on top of the unicycle, or merely to “jump over it”. Feeling that my balls are gonna get crushed in the attempt, does not help in the slightest. I feel that I have two different ways how to proceed:

  1. Learning the 12-6 rollback mount. I am doing this already during supported mounts. The problem is that with no support it’s extremely difficult to keep the proper balance with my right foot on the lower pedal for long enough time, so my left foot would be able to reach the upper pedal. Moreover, the idea of pedalling backwards just feels wrong with no support, at this point.

  2. Learning the static 3-9 mount. I feel like the movement there is simpler and faster, but since I am not used to it, I don’t have the courage to attempt it without the support. However, I have tried to do the supported static mount few times and that seems manageable for now.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that perhaps trying to learn the supported static mount (in order to learn how to do the sequence properly) and then gradually phase out the support could be the better choice. I have seen a YouTube video where one guy does exactly that - first learns to do the supported static mount and then just gradually lowers the amount of fingers he uses for support to zero.

What do you think, is that a viable option?

The supported mount seems possible. Give it a shot. :+1: I learned the static with a small curb (although a brick, wooden block, or a crappy book shouldn’t be much different) behind the wheel which kept the wheel from moving, allowing me to put some weight on the first pedal and be able to slow the mount down. I think that was a nice way to learn the motion. Go ahead and try the supported mount and if a good spot is convenient try a curb or block as a no hands option too. Good luck; the free mount changes everything.


Have you seen Unimyra’s video on how to mount?
I think it has the secret to freemounting.
Distributing weight on the seat and handle to counteract the wheel coming back to you.

You could try springing up 2-4" and then come back down to standing, then try springing up to 4-6" and again fall back to standing.
Now try launching yourself right up and over the wheel to experience too much power.
Last, try launching yourself up to balancing and just ride away.

I hope that makes sense.

1 Like

I found that having a hanging rope next to me helped immensely with the fear factor. I could hold it with one hand, letting it hang slack so that it wasn’t assisting me very much, but if I did fall I was holding on to it and could catch myself.

It doesn’t really help you learn to freemount, but it does help you to get used to the idea of suddenly getting up on top of that thing and balancing. It’s a confidence builder. Once you’ve “freemounted” a hundred times or so holding a rope it won’t seem so scary when you try it without one.

Quite a morbid form of motivation, but you can’t argue with results!

1 Like

you could tie the rope around ur neck. Then you won’t fall that hard either.

1 Like

I actually did try it wearing a safety harness. When I fell i was suspended a couple feet above the floor. I found that a rope by itself was better however.

Yeah, I’ll definitely continue with the supported static mount, trying to perfect the motion so it’s smooth, before attempting an unsupported mount or finding some place with a curb.

No, it’s the first time I’ve seen this one. I’ve watched his tutorial on free mounting 36". I’m sort of doing what he says there, though in my case it seems like my leg counteracts the pressure applied onto the seat and handle, not vice versa.

Damn, I wish I had learning conditions like that. Long, flat, wide open space with ropes and harnesses. Instead, I have either relatively flat surface which is tiled (not very smooth), narrow and sprinkled with gravel, or I have relatively wide, smooth tarmac pavement which is in most places sloped in some direction, with cracks and bumps being placed in strategic (read nasty and unexpected) places. Yesterday I tried to ride around the neighborhood for a while and experienced some rather uncomfortable UPDs over the bumps and cracks. I have a feeling that when I learn how to ride over them, I will soon need to buy a MUni or something, because my trainer Uni is gonna get destroyed pretty soon in such conditions.

Btw, this is also a significant reason for me to prefer learning the static mount and not the rollback. I have a feeling that the static (and later rolling) mount will be much easier to do on a slight slope.

Your trainer uni may be stronger than you think. So long as you avoid hops and drops. If the bumpiness of the pavement is a problem, maybe you could try lowering your tire pressure a bit. I remember how as a beginner the smallest bumps would send me flying off the uni. Sorry about your riding conditions. If you can learn to adapt to the bumpiness on your current setup, you will become a better rider. Buying a squishy tired muni just to ride over little bumps…may actually inhibit you from learning the skills necessary to handle bigger bumps in the future. Skills such as pulling on the grab handle or momentarily getting you weight behind the uni. It’s natural to be intimidated by mounting. The worst falls I’ve had were a result of failed mounts. Keep practicing, and keep us posted!

Well, I’m not sure about the strength of my trainer uni. It’s an Indy 24" Trainer (I am not sure about reputation of this brand) with max. load of 90 kg (198 lbs.). Me + the uni currently weigh in at roughly 190 lbs., so I am afraid that large bumps could wear down the uni pretty quickly. I wouldn’t be too worried about that if the unicycle market would be in some normal condition, but it currently seems that most stores in the EU have most of their unis sold out. So, in case of major breakage, I would be hard pressed to get some proper replacement. I have my eyes at Nimbus 24" MUni, but they are to be had only in the US (or some other non-European countries - but I don’t even want to investigate it there) from where I’ve received the reply that they don’t ship to Czechia and that their dealers in Europe will receive next shipment of unis in July. Or something like that; frankly speaking, I did not understand the reply too well. Regardless, I don’t want to face the situation where I have nothing to ride on.

In any case, I don’t want to get a MUni just because of wanting to ride over bumps, but because I have a couple of nice city forests in the vicinity that have many paths that could be unicycled on. These paths have sections containing roots, rocks, etc. on unpaved and sometimes muddy surface, so MUni will be the eventual necessity. Since I want to use the uni both to ride it around the city and on the forest paths, 24" MUni is the most obvious choice.

Btw, free mounting is hard, but after today, it seems much easier. My training session looked like this:

  1. First 30 minutes I have spent with fully supported mounting, until I was pretty confident with the movement.
  2. After that I have decided to mix things up a little and do sort of semi-supported mounting. For the next 20 minutes or so, I started unsupported, but had the support next to me to lean on it in case of emergency.
  3. Eventually, I started to be quite annoyed at the fact that I had to start so close to the support (it was psychologically uncomfortable) and moved into the open space to practice proper free mounts. In the remaining 22 minutes, I managed to do 2 free mounts (after which I managed to do the full length of the pavement - 50 meters) and 2 free mounts where I was forced to dismount after 15 meters or so, because of improperly placed foot on the pedal.

Most of my fear factor is gone by now and I think that after few more hours, static free mounting will be a breeze and I’ll be finally able to make some short trips around the neighborhood.

The only thing that bothers now me are my knees, as they started to hurt a bit, presumably from all the UPDs. It has started already last week, but after today it’s more significant. It seems to be located on the upper part of the patella and possibly in the lower quadriceps tendon. It does not bother me much, except it is little harder for me to sit down and I cannot get into squat-like positions without pain. I hope it will follow the same path as the tibia pain, which had gone away completely. I am considering making the next week a deload week, with no unicycling whatsoever.