Currently, I top out at a little more than 6 miles an hour and my average is about 4.7. I like my current setup and don’t plan on changing the cranks.

Does anyone have tips for developing speed?

coker, coker,coker. or you could get 89mm cranks on your uni. or on a coker, but then you might go too fast…

I should have clarified that I do not plan to change unicycles or components. I am looking for tips on how to make myself a faster rider.

What setup are you running?

One way to go faster is to pedal faster. :smiley:

For speed, try concentrate on spinning you feet in perfect circles. The prevents you from wasting energy when pedaling.


Let’s do some comparisons. Stick with it despite the maths:

My Coker has 150mm cranks (6 inches) and a 36 inch wheel. I have recorded 16 mph on it, and I can average 12 - 13 mph for up to an hour.

A 20 inch uni is 20/36 as big - that’s 55.6%.

So, all other things being equal, I should be able to ride at 55,6% of 16 mph on a 20 with 150mm cranks. That’s 8.9 mph.

But who rides a 20 with 150 mm cranks? My off the shelf 20 came with 5 inch (125 mm) cranks. That makes the cranks about 17% shorter, and adds a theoretical 20% to the potential speed. So I should be able to ride a 20 with 125s at a maximum speed of 10.7 mph.

But all other things aren’t equal. A Coker has the momentum and roll over to keep the speed up… but a 20 doesn’t have the fear factor. A high speed face plant from a Coker is a disaster; from a 20, it’s an embarrasment.

Let’s look at it another way. You are riding at a top speed of 6 mph. I assume on a 20, although you don’t say. A 20 has a circumference of 62.8 inches, or 1.74 yards. A mile is 1760 yards; there are 60 minutes in an hour.

On mile = 1011.5 wheel revolutions, and 1 mph is 16.9 rpm.
2 mph = 33 rpm
3 mph = 50 rpm
4 mph = 67 rpm
5 mph = 84 rpm
6 mph = 101 rpm
7 mph = 118 rpm
8 mph = 135 rpm

I don’t think 135 rpm is beyond you. Do you? ;0)

So, the answer is to ride and ride and ride and ride, on flat surfaces, rough surfaces, up hills, down hills, in circles, in a straight line, until you feel at home on the uni. Your speed will gradually increase. 8 - 10 mph should be possible on a 20 for short periods.

For a 24, add 20 % (multiply by 1.2) to the speeds per rpm, OR for a given speed, divide the rpm by 1.2 to find the necessary cadence.

Just practise a lot.


I find the desire for speed and unicycling to be an odd combination. But I agree with circular, steady pedalling. If I really focus I can get my 20" up to a decent clip, and still remain smooth. And of course the coker just flies, but that’s another story.

One-foot riding with each foot will really improve your spinning efficiency. It teaches your feet, and the rest of your body, not to resist one another. It also teaches you physically about the different parts of the pedal cycle.

Lance Armstrong trains by one-foot riding to do the same thing.

my road riding speed improved when I focused on my pedaling. I found that if I “thought my feet in circles” rather than “up, down,up, down”. it sounded werid when some one surgested it to me, but it worked and my riding speed picked up.

I’m still not a speed demon, but I’ve seen 16 mph on the coker speedo ( any faster and I’ve been to busy to look at the speedo!) my crusieing speed is not that fast, maybe only 9 mph.


daino149: What setup are you running?
Mikefule: I assume on a 20, although you don’t say.

>>> I’m on a 24" with 170mm cranks. I am not going to change this setup - especially since I see that everyone else has the speed that I am trying to reach on the same setup.

tortoise: I find the desire for speed and unicycling to be an odd combination

>>> I just want to be able to keep up with a jogger. Just a week or two ago, I had trouble outrunning an older couple walking. [Drew leaves the room, goes out with his municycle to measure speeds] My “fast walking” speed is about 3.8-4-5 miles an hour. My jogging speed is 6 mph.
My riding speed is 4.7 mph (on a 10 mile trip).
My “need for speed” ends at 6.1 mph average on 10 miles.

sarah.miller: I found that if I “thought my feet in circles” rather than “up, down,up, down”.

>>> I have been trying to do that, and I am successful for about 4 strokes - and then it simply gets too fast for me and I lose control. I will keep at it though especially on pavement.

U-Turn: One-foot riding with each foot will really improve your spinning efficiency.

>>>Oooooh. That makes sense, and was the type of answer I was looking for. I was looking for a “drill” that I could do to increase speed.

Since I have a mountain b*ke with clipless shoes and the same crank length, I can cross-train this skill without having to learn to ride 1 footed immediately.

Thank you all!

I find staying relaxed to be the single most important factor affecting speed.

Except for peddling up steep hills, most of the time a unicycle is undergeared- so the limiting factor is how fast you can pedal, not how hard you’re able to stomp on the pedal. If you tense up you’ll not be able to pedal at such high revolutions. Relax your upper body and let the unicyle spin under you. I like to keep just enough pressure on the pedals to make any corrections to my balance and control. And a bit more to crank up the momentum.

Think of it like letting your unicyle move you along, not the other way around.

In agreement, I’ve always heard to work on the “little circles”. And the littler the circle, the faster your feet can do it. Hence, smaller cranks. But I realize that’s not in the plans.

In addition, I believe it will help if you put the axis of the pedals under the balls of your feet. If your foot is way forward, so the pedal is under the arch, you will be more likely to think “push, push, push” only using the downstroke. With the pedal under the balls of your feet you get to use the calf muscles and the added lever of the flexing ankle.

When you approach the bottom of the downstroke, point your toes and you can apply a bit of backward stroke. And the rising foot can bring the toes up and benefit from some forward pushing.

It takes practice, practice, practice. But can be committed to muscle memory (not yet by me, mind you. I still have to remind myself to remember to think do it).

I think the term in the cycling community is “ankling”. It is a well respected technique. Not being the authority, I hope I’ve described it adequately.

Brainwork: It seems to me that with this technique, your ankle bone actually does make a smaller circle. When you point the toes, your ankle is positioned closer to the center of the circle because your toes are out their on the pedals circular path. Hmmm.:slight_smile:

not having the backround to get invovled in the ‘ankling’ debate (alltho i did use it while i was cycling - a very short period of time, a long time ago, it ended with a 70kph faceplant into the side of a mountain - and again when i started going to a ‘spinning’ class to improve my aerobic fitness alltho i seemed to overdo it there and had a nasty overflexing injury to my achilles tendon that took a couple of weeks to clear up), i thought i’d just link u to this thread
links to some interesting articles in there
these were the results of a search on ‘ankling’
some of those threads may make for some beneficial reading

One thing I found trying to “ankle” while one-foot riding is that it was not what I expected. Doing a bicycle ankling results in crashes because the trying to pull back at the bottom of the stroke results in too much back pressure, stopping the uni.

Another thing brought out in a Lance Armstrong book is that, despite all popular wisdom, there is very little power transferred to the pedals in anything but the downstroke. This was determined by scientifically instrumenting his pedals. So with that in mind, one concludes that true power comes from the downstroke, and that all the rest of the time, one’s legs must try to stay out of the way so that they don’t impede the pedals.

Riding one-footed, at least for me, has tended to reinforce this conclusion.

I think that this approach agrees with Ken Looi’s mind set of light pressure only.

Reference: The Lance Armstrong Performance Program, published by Rodale, ISBN 1-57954-270-0 (paperback)

Instrumenting? An egregious neologism if ever I heard one. :astonished:

I think the DM Unicycles website has some data from a similar study of a unicycle. I recall seeing it a couple of years ago.

You haven’t spoken to engineers, scientists, or programmers much have you? :slight_smile:

Engineers and scientists instrument things by putting sensors on them so they can take measurements. Programmers instrument their code so they can debug it. Using the word “instrumenting” like that is normal for those folks.

Webster’s 3rd New International:

instrument vt 3: to equip (as a process, machine, or vehicle) with instruments <an ~ed satellite>


Oh… thanks to JC for the simulpost.

Here’s some more approximated math to get 20mph:

Coker 36" wheel has a circumference of 226" (2 pi R).
There are 63,360" to the mile, so 1,267,200" in 20 miles.
Assuming 20 miles in 1 hour, that’s 21,120" in 1 minute.
So it would take 93.45 wheel revolutions in that minute.
= 93.45 r.p.m. at 20 mph regardless of crank length.

Cross-checking my math, at 226" for 1 wheel rev, that’s 280.354 revs to the mile, or 5607.08 revs to 20 miles. Again assuming 1 hour, dividing that by 60 minutes = 93.45 revs per minute.

Pedalling 93 rpm doesn’t sound too difficult…

Doublecheck again. The radius of a Coker wheel is 18". The diameter is 36".

CHANGINGlinks: two tips

Ride lots.

I know your wanting to improve your muni speed, but still …

Ride on different terrains - get on a level road and just practice going as fast as you can for 1/2 hour or so (hint get all your weight on the seat and think “feet in perfect circles” and do it with a light touch) - then practice again on rougher terrain - then road - etc

You are where I was a 3-4 months back; always lagging behind. Now I can generally keep up with the other guys we ride with, but if aj or eric or nate go fast (for them), they will leave me way behind. Keep at it - given the amount you are riding you will improve rapidly.

THANKS! That is a great idea (and I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even think of it). It is “my style” to get out there and “race myself.” I can pick a distance (around the block) and try to get better times on the speedometer.

So far, it doesn’t seem like a skill I can just dedicate 10 hours to learning.