I didn’t see where ChangingLinks identified what he’s riding. 6-10 mph is fairly slow for most wheels, and medium or better on a 20". Probably the best way to increase your speed is to practice riding as fast as you can. This will improve your “cruising” speed.

Also, work on riding real fast, but not at your limit, trying to make it as smooth a process as possible. If you find yourself bouncing in the seat, or having a foot that keeps losing pedal position, these are areas to concentrate on smoothing out. The whole circles thing, which the cyclists call “spinning.” Unicycling fast is all about good spinning.

A few people mentioned ankling. I think the benefits of ankling are reduced as your rpms go up. I think my feet do some natural amount of ankling (natural after lots of training), but when I go fast I believe it’s fairly negligible. But then again, if you’re going for racing, records, or personal bests, little things can make all the difference.

After reading all this Uni speed stuff, I decided to write a program to calculate it. I’m taking feedback for mods and reporting errors, etc. The code was pretty easy, so I’m pretty sure all is well.

I think the user interface is slick and easy to understand, but I would welcome comments.

Download it free from http://www.ironjungle.com/

Just click on the “IJ Software” link. The price is right ($0)!

While you are there, check out BeerCalc and our other software programs.

that’s why my math is “approximate”, John!

went back to this thread today… so a Coker wheel is turning 186 rpms at 20mph?? Hmmm.

Re: speed

Pedal faster.


I agree with most of what has been said already, especially by U-turn and Mikefule. Practising lots, and one footed riding could both help improve your speed. I think you should consider getting shorter cranks though. I find 170mm cranks to be exceedingly long and slow. They are fast going down steep hills, but anything less and they just tax your energy when you try to keep a high cadence. In the 400m race last year, I beat a couple of 29er riders on my 24x3" with 145mm cranks. I think the reason I was faster than them was that I ride everywhere for transport, and maybe other people use their cars and ride for recreational purposes. Also I have a Carbon fibre airseat with a reeder handle, which allowed me to pull up on it hard (without it flexing) while pushing down on the pedals. The big fat tire allows fast riding without too much threat of bumps throwing me off. Riding ability is one thing, but setup is another. I think you should seriously consider shorter cranks if you want to go faster. A coker would be cool too, but a fast MUni is a lot of fun if speedy offroad is your preference.

I’m very interested in finding out how someone can actually get a Coker going 24 MPH, which Kris Holm wrote me is the speed record. He also wrote that “If you work out the rpm’s it’s well over 200rpm- pretty quick pedalling!”

Shite! If I reved my Coker up to that kind of RPMS I couldn’t possibly control the wobble. Granted, I’m new to Cokering, but 200 RPMs seem unatainable.


Thanks everyone for your tips. I have not ridden with one foot yet, but I did make a discovery:

My problem is that I drift to the left and then force a correction to the right and that creates a wobble. If I “just ride” I will go in a nice big circle.

What’s more, is that when I want to go straight, I have to correct to the right, so much so that I have worn the tread off on the area right foot down.

Pedaling smooth circles does not help - I just end up going in a smooth circle. I have tried pedaling harder with the right foot, but I don’t think that worked either.

Has anyone else had this problem? Any suggestions for a QUICK solution?
I need this resolved in 10 days or less.

Something isn’t straight. Starting from the ground, it could be:

Your tyre (too soft, or too knobbly for tarmac use)
Your wheel - not straight. Measure the clearances.
Your frame. measure the clearances and put the wheel in the other way round and measure the clearances again.
Your seat. Line it up properly.
Your posterior. Not sitting straight.
Your body. Not sitting straight.
Your head. Not thinking straight.

Chances are, it’s the last one. ;0)

For the turning drift, here are the human factor things I’ve thought of. Basically they all come down to “Are you completely centered/straight/balanced?”.

  • Does the seat rest harder against one thigh than the other?

  • Are your hips level? (effects the above)

  • Are you distributing the weight evenly between left and right pedals?

  • Are your feet mirror images?
    – Do they both point straight?
    – Are they both centered on their pedals?

  • Is your body pointed straight forward? Arms not twisted or tilted? Head not twisted or tilted? Hips not twisted or tilted?

  • Is your body upright (not tipped to one side), and straight?

  • You are not pushing harder and/or faster with one foot than the other, right? (It’s real easy to “favor” the strong foot)

I AM CROOKED :frowning: !!!

I rode to Walmart today to see if they have any tires. In the trip there and back I wore off 25-33% of my tread (right foot down)! Sounds “doable” on pavement until we realize that I rode some on grass and the distance was 3 miles round trip.

I tried everything on the way back.
Different feet positions
Different foot pressure.
Holding the seat with different hands.
Putting all of the pressure on the pedals
Putting no pressure on the pedals
Riding on pavement
Riding on grass
Trying to pedal smoothly
Trying to pedal hard.

No matter what I did, I found that I still pull to the left.
It got very frustrating.

It was harder for me to ride if the ground is higher on the right side.
I noticed it was much easier to ride with the ground higher on the left.
I noticed that I ride with the municycle cocked to the right.
I put pressure on the outside of my right foot, and the inside of my left.
Methinks that I have adapted to always riding on the far edge of the road.

Then, I came home and did an experiment - I put the seat at a 5 degree angle to the left. That worked to an extent. I was riding a more straight wobble. I also raised the seat and that helped (unfortunately the seat post was cut too short when I ordered it - we didn’t account for “shoe thickness” etc.)

To make matters worse, one of my legs is shorter than the other, I wear inserts in my shoes because I am flatfooted and crooked. The experience was so frustrating that I still feel frustrated now - I my right arm is trying to spin my body to the left as I sit here - and I can’t figure out what to do to “fix it.”

The more I ride, the slower my average speed, and the more I twist. I can’t go to MOAB like this (but I really want to go). I know we will be riding counterclockwise, but the loop is not tight enough :slight_smile:

Is there anyone who has actually experienced this and successfully corrected it?

I still say learn to one-foot and do it a lot, equally on each side, on flat, not slanted, surfaces. If you have an obviously less-capable side, then practice that side much more, say 3x, than the more capable side. Do that until you can’t remember which side used to be better.

If you have to raise your seat to learn the 1-foot, do it.

Also, get a road tire for your uni. The knobbies are probably making your problem worse. Go back to the knobbies only when you’re balanced out.

And for a while, stay off crowned surfaces. Ride in parking lots rather than a crowned road.

Sounds like speed isn’t your problem at this point, straightness is.

Your sitting crooked on the seat, combined with uneven leg lengths, is probably the culprit.

When riding on the side of a road (not in the UK or Japan, etc.), normally your unicycle will tend to drift to the right. The crown of the road can be pretty annoying on some roads. To work on your straightness, try to avoid these areas and use a level surface, like a parking lot.

Sitting with the unicycle tilted will automatically make you drift in the direction opposite the tilt. Your weight is on the left side of the unicycle, hence you go left.

Sitting straight may not clear it up completely, because you have uneven leg geometry. You may have to tweak your position a bit to find the straightest ride. Right now it’s hard to figure it all out because I think you have several factors affecting your line, not just one.

My advice is to try to sit evenly on the seat, and try to use your feet evenly on the pedals. If your feet are pressing on “edges,” this could do all sorts of things to the way the uni curves with each pedal stroke. Back in the parking lot, practice following lines. Do it slow and fast.

Hold the front of the seat to help make the uni go straight. Holding the seat lets your legs concentrate on pedaling more. On rough terrain it will help you get more power, and if you’re trying to go fast it will also give you more stability.

Don’t let this temporary problem turn you off to unicycling. You’ll get past it. Come down to Moab and let a bunch of other unicyclists observe you. We’ll straighten you out. :slight_smile:

I have been riding since Christmas 2003 (approx. 8-10 hours) I am also having the problem of continually veering to the left. I am able to ride in a straight line but I can feel the pressure of wanting to turn towards the left. When I try to turn right, the feeling is very uncomfortable, and I usually UPD.
I have tried twisting the seat to the left or to the right, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. As soon as this snow storm in Boston MA stops and the roads clear, I will try the suggestions that were recommended, and report any successes to hopefully help anyone else with this problem.


After today’s session, I felt like I was worse off than before I knew how to ride. I really considered bailing on MOAB because I could not forsee a way I could correct the problem within 10 days.

Anyway, I found a solution!!! I turned the seat to the left (very little - you can’t tell by glancing) and now I ride straight again. I can now remember how good it feels to glide along on an municycle.

Also, I added a $10 innertube that I got from Walmart. It has thicker rubber AND contains slime to prevent flats. The tube is heavy and seems to add the rolling weight that I lost when I removed the Gazz. This coupled with 5 more pounds of air pressure, and the thing seems faster!

While someone mentioned changing the cranks - no one mentioned added air pressure or changing to a bigger tire (another way to get speed). In fact, I just measured and I go 3/4 of an inch farther in one rotation (at 35 pounds of pressure. Adding more pressure to a smaller tire for riding off-road is contrary to popular opinion - however, I am finding it to be better for me (at least for now).

It’s great that you’re riding straight again. It’s such a relief (been there too) to get that fixed.

However, I can’t imagine that changing the tube made all the difference. And I can only think that using a cheap Wal-Mart tire hurts your overall riding. Turning the seat slightly could have helped immensely. In addition, adding more pressure would as well, because it would change the characteristics of the tire.

Here’s a discussion of the air pressure thing. First, tires that are designed for top-quality bicycle riders don’t necessarily work well for unicyclists. We have different dynamic riding characteristics than bicyclists do. Second, some off-road tires perform poorly on hard surfaces. They are designed that way, in order to enhance some other riding characteristic, like traction/grip, or shock absorption, or cornering. For example, the Gazz Jr. that I have on my MUni is really hard to control on pavement, but eats trails amazingly well and sidehops very nicely. Third, tires are designed to perform at certain pressures, and do not necessarily do well at others, even though the sidewall says that they are rated for the entire range. For example, the excellent Big Apple tire likes to be at 65 psi, the top of its rated range. Below that, the tire just feels weird. Just to complicate matters, a given tire may have better characteristics for hopping with one pressure, and better characteristics for rolling and cornering with another pressure.

By adding pressure to your tire, you emphasize the center portion and deemphasize the knobby corner portion, so you automatically make the tire easier to use on hard surfaces. This doesn’t necessarily make it better for off-road, though. So experiment with different tire pressures on different surfaces before you make concrete conclusions. However, you may also have found that tire’s “sweet spot”, so remember 35 psi as a good starting point. Your weight will have something to do with it as well, so other people may get different results with the same tire.

Anyhow, I’m glad you are back on track and you can get to what’s really important, which is getting out and enjoying riding.

And, like John said, get to Moab and ride with the guys and also try out their unis. By the time you’re done you’ll have plenty of new things to think about. Since this comes only once a year, bring a couple of different tires and tubes if you can and swap them out if you need to.

I am glad to hear you have found a solution. I mentioned changing the cranks, and shadowuni suggested getting a coker (which has a bigger tire). The reason people didn’t keep suggesting for you to change your equipment is because you sounded convinced that you wanted to keep the same setup, and the thread seemed to change subjects from riding faster to riding straight. I think tire pressure depends on personal preference and tire selection. Fat tires don’t need much pressure, and narrow tires need plenty of psi. I don’t think removing the Gazzaloddi was a good idea, but whatever makes you happy is good. 24x3" tires need wide rims and good clearance, so perhaps it was not best for your unicycle. Have fun at Moab!