Spins: How do you avoid pedal-ground contact?

Any hints or things to think about to prevent the pedals from hitting the gound on spins (other than shorter cranks)?

I have been concentrating on holding my torso upright, in line with the spinning axis, but it doesn’t seem to be enough…



I have the very same question. Once my circles get fairly tight I get pedal/floor strikes every revolution. It’s not just wobble, my turn is pretty smooth; the uni just gets leaned over so far that the pedal reaches the floor. FYI: I’m on a 20" with 5" cranks.

pedal hit = to much lean. that probably goes without saying.

  1. try starting your spin by riding in a smooth even circle at least 8-10 ft in diameter.

  2. gradually spiral inward making your circle smaller. focus on smooth and upright. as in figure skating, lead with your eyes and head.

  3. as your circle gets smaller you should eventually get to a point when the circle you are riding is actually 1 ft in diameter or less.

  4. sometime in that final foot, with the pedals parallel to the ground, stop pedaling, pull your arms in tight and let your momentum carry you into a spin.

sometimes it’s possible to be riding in a circle so small that it is actually perceived by others to be a spin.

hope this helps

To do a spin, you don’t want to be leaning over loads and loads.

There’s a very good writeup on spins on unicycling.org, http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/skills/spin.html but it sounds like you’ve read that.

What to do depends on whether you’re wanting to do spins or pirouettes.

I think dustin is talking about pirouettes, where you do a tight turn and then spin on the spot without pedalling? If you want to do these, then he’s the man and follow those instructions to the letter.

For spins, you want to twist your body hard to start the spin and keep pedalling throughout.


  1. Do a leaning turn, about a metre in radius or so.
  2. Do a really hard action reaction turn in the same direction as your leaning turn.
  3. Pedal like mad.

If it just feels like you’re turning in a tight circle, then you’re not doing a spin. When you hit the spin, you’ll feel like you’re going round ten times as fast as normal and like you’re not really steering, just being magically spun round and round. You’ll totally know it.

I learnt to do spins using a hockey stick. If you’ve got one, try using this. First learn to turn 360 degrees using the stick to turn you, then try and get into a spin using the stick to do the action reaction turn.

Once you get good at spins, you can do them straight away, out of stillstands or whatever without the leaning turn into them. I like to stillstand, then lean a little bit and go into a spin.

By the way, Dustin, can you do a pirouette without doing a big spiral in? I can only do them at all either out of a spin, or with a spiral in. Any tips for doing them straight out of riding along?

Interestingly enough, the tighter the spin is, the more upright you are, because you’re balancing out the circle the wheel is doing, but on the opposite side of the circle.

Oh yeah, one other important thing, they’re really easy to learn on very very smooth ground, but hard on anything less smooth. If you can practice indoors, then hall floors are usually very good for it, otherwise, find somewhere that is really smooth. I’ve got an area near me with big smooth paving slabs that is very good for spins. Also, make sure your tire is pumped up as much as possible, I put 100psi in and it spins lovely. This also stops you wearing down the tyre so much.


I hit the spin!

Thank you guys for the spinning tips. I think I actually hit the spin today! I found my best success essentially starting from a pause (my version of a still stand) and then just slow smooth tight turns arms extended to the sides and torso upright. Somehow it happened.

I have two questions: What is meant by the “action-reaction” turn, that sounds to me like a front-spin or back-spin… Do you mean like a windup with your arms or something?

Also, granted I am new to this spinning thing, but how do you exit the spin? I find my mind goes blank, I stop pedaling, so then I start to piroutte, then I come to a stop and tip over. The same thing happens to me skating, I can’t seem to exit the spin. :slight_smile:

Thanks again!


action reaction turn is where you twist your body to do a turn, rather than by leaning.

The reason it’s called that is because you turn your upper body one way (the action) and your lower body the other way (the reaction).

I had exactly the same problem exiting the spin, the trick is just to keep practicing until you can do the spin really smoothly and then you can slow down and pedal out of it. Alternatively, do a pirouette out of it and then pedal off once you’ve slowed down a little, before you fall over.

In both cases, as you straighten up and ride out, your tyre will catch and you’ll be able to ride straight off, you don’t have to wait until the spin has fully stopped to ride off.