Stalling out

Hey guys,
I’m comming up on riding for three months. I have made the transition off the pavement and on to single track. I’m happy with my progress BUT,
I stall out on uphills. I have a Nimbus MUni 24 with 150 cranks. I feel that it is geared to hard for me. I am 5’5" and weigh 150#. I am tempted to get longer cranks or a 20" wheel. I dont want to jump to conclusions this early in my learning curve though. Do you get out of the saddle to produce more force? Should I keep on trying with my current setup or make changes? I do have a life time of BMX/MTB under my belt, so I know how to get power to the ground, I just simply feel its geared to hard for me. I feel if I could spin up the hills, I would make it. Any advise would be so appreciated.

well, as it’s not too difficult to obtain and switch out new cranks, i recommend you buy a second set. my 24 has 140 cranks, about 5.5", and i like it. my top speed is about 10mph, but my uni is not meant for …anything, really.

Uphill is hard. For the really steep parts, I am out of the saddle and working the handle. If you pull up on the handle as you stroke down with your foot, you get an extra burst that will help you through the dead zone when your crank is bottomed out. After a year and a half of muni, I am finding uphill to be getting easier. Some of it is skill and some is stamina and strength. I use 150s on my 24 and 29 munis. Keep at it.

There is a lot of skill that one develops climbing hills. I agree with the advice about pulling on the handle to develop more force. Another suggestion is learning to go uphill slowly–on a steep hill I take half-revolutions with stalls between each stroke to avoid burning out. After 1-1/2 years of riding I am much better riding up hills than I was at three months, with increases in both skill and strength. That being said, there are still hills that defeat me.

I am not convinced that cranks longer than 150 on a 24" are all that useful. I know it gives you more leverage, but I already have problems with pedal strikes on some trails.



I think this is a common problem. Going uphill is really hard and even more so when you add rough trails to the mix.

I ride a 24" muni with 145 mm cranks. I don’t have much in the way of advice because I am still really bad at hills, but two things come to mind: I’ve found that on really steep hills, standing up on the pedals and working the handle like Tuscon_Uni says above seems to help. Second of all, maybe practice developing the ability to smoothly power up steep hills by trying smooth dirt hills first for practice before you go onto the rough hills? Maybe you need to develop more leg power?

I agree with what scott_ttocs says about longer cranks; I can’t imagine them being much more useful and I would worry a lot about pedal strikes. I’ve been thrown from my uni because of a pedal strike going down a hill and ended up landing on my head. I apparently slid down the hill doing some kind of helmet-wheelie/hand-stand thing all the way down the hill before I flopped over on my side at the bottom (I have no idea really what it looked like – I blanked out most of it – but the people who saw the whole ordeal said it was impressive). To date, I still rate that as my worst fall yet (and I’ve had a lot of bad ones), so I would suggest being really careful if you get longer cranks.

Good luck and let us know if you discover anything that helps.

I also learned that my seat was too high. I lowered it about an inch and that helped with climbing off road. It also helped to lower my tire pressure. A lot of it is conditioning. Have you ridden uphill much on a bicycle? Are you new to hills? If climbing on a bike isn’t any problem then it’s unicycle technique. If climbing is new, it’s technique and conditioning. Practice climbing along with easier stuff to keep it fun. It only gets better.

Unireed, I don’t know how you do 10 mph on a 24". I can never go faster than about 7 mph, but I am pretty slow on all my unicycles.

I’m probably at about the same stage as unitrac and I also ride a 24, but the area I ride has loads of hills so I’ve been able to slowly get used to it. Normally I start fast and power up that first bit quite well, but keeping the momentum is hard! I find if I stop every half rev I can end up falling forward enough to power through the next half rev without going over backwards, if I can get through the dead zone. It’s not a gear ratio issue for me, it’s the dead zones. I’ve just found that the more I do it the more I can do it.

I still can’t ride up my driveway though, it’s about a 25 degree slope and way beyond me. I guess that’s the point where you have to side hop up.

My first MUni had 170 mm cranks which was the standard those days (2003 I think). There is a tendency to go to shorter cranks these days. The longest KH cranks are now 165 mm which is what I use (on a 24 x 3"). Most people probably use 150 mm nowadays. Crank length on a MUni is a compromise between speed and elegantly small leg motion on the one hand, and leverage and control on the other hand. Don’t be afraid to try longer. As someone said it’s not expensive, nor difficult.
Scott ttocs suggested taking half revolutions at a time. That is a good technique known as pecking (after George Peck). Just be sure that you take your ‘rest’ at the power position, i.e. cranks about horizontal. If your cranks are vertical you can’t get away. Also you will notice that with this technique, you need to concentrate a bit more on your balance, compared with riding continuously. This is because during the brief ‘rest’ you can’t correct sideways imbalance.
Standing on the pedals: yes, at times when you need a lot of power. Effective but more tiring.
Pulling on the seat handle: yes, in order to exert more force on the pedal than your own weight.
A few more tips:

  • consciously lift your rear leg. Not off the pedal of course, but don’t let your front leg waste energy by lifting your passive rear leg.
  • pedal in a conscious circle, i.e. apply force in the direction that the pedal moves as opposed to just down.
  • lean forward into the hill.
    Hope this helps.

answer: very carefully. i have 5.5" cranks. maybe that is why i am faster. i dunno.

Hey Guys,
Thanks for all of the replys. Once again my dumbass self didnt search for stuff on here before I posted. I have found more info after searching. No one commented on going to a 20" wheel. It wouldnt sacrafice pedal mechanics, but probably not worth it due to cruising speed huh? Do you find a handle bar more helpful than the grab on my Nimbus?
Thanks everyone.

dont go 20" unless you get it really cheap or you want to do trials and stuff.

20in for muni is no fun.

For MUni, a 20" wheel is usable but not optimal. It gets stuck in terrain features where a bigger wheel would roll over. Also the pedal strike issue is more severe for smaller wheels. For illustration purposes, imagine having a one inch wheel. It would even get stuck behind a pebble, and secondly even (theoretical) zero inch cranks would leave the pedals very close to the ground > plenty pedal strikes. 24" is usually regarded as the minimum for proper MUni riding.

Makes sence! Thanks.
OK, then its practice practice practice. Can I buy these practices at UDC?

Hi Natosha,

That sounds like a spectacular wipe-out! I suppose that no video is available?

All my best crashes are undocumented. I have not tried to recreate them for the camera. :thinking:


No, no video. I’ve had a lot of good ones, but I don’t ride with someone filming me, so they don’t get caught on camera. Probably better that way . . .

During NAUCC (U Games) this year I rode the Muni Uphill at the last minute, that is I wasn’t originally registered for it but figured it would be a good learning experience. Turns out you learn a lot when stuck on a particularly steep hill with several other riders in the same situation. Had to (slowly) hop up one section as did the vast majority of riders.

Uphill aint easy, but I’ve read several suggestions in this thread that I’ll have to try!

That’s one of the things I really love about unicycling, there is always something else to learn.