Teaching Unicycling

Having decided my first uni was too small I bought myself a Nimbus 24" muni. I love it and it’s much easier to ride since it actually fits me! Now my son, aged 10, has asked if he could try the original since I’m not using it. Of course, I agreed and have had him out a couple of times now.
I took him to the yard at work, a big flat cemented area with a fence, a gate and a shed with a flat wall for balance support. He’s quite a determined and independent kid, and when I offer help he’s said no, he doesn’t want to learn to ride holding on to something, he just wants to learn to ride “properly”. While I’m happy with that thinking, I’m not sure it’s the best way to learn. Will it help in the long run, or will it just make learning harder? I have no real personal experience to base my thinking on, since I only started a month ago myself!
Has anyone got advice on teaching their kids (or someone else’s kids!) to ride? Should I just stand back and watch or insist he lets me guide and support him?
Thanks in advance for any help with this.

My advice is to let him do it however he wants. With youth and determination, there’s hardly anything he can’t do. Just be there to lend moral support, and answer questions when he has them. Using a wall or fence for support is only a temporary help anyway. You don’t really learn until you launch.
Cheers for having your son learn! (Cheers to you as well for learning!) It’s a great family activity!

When the summer comes and she is off school, I’m going to try to get my kid unicycling. She finds jogging and calisthenics rather boring, and she is looking for an alternative. I told her, the other day, that unicycling is not only great physical exercise, but it’s great mental exercise. She told me that learning seemed like a lot of work. I agreed, but reminded her that some of the other things she’s learned, like playing the piano, also took work.

So, for me, the question is not how to get my kid to succeed, but rather how to get her started in the first place.

Let him learn the way he wants, but a railing can really help. Learning the nice steady motion useful for unicycling can be done this way. Most people are used to cycling which may only involve pushing on the down stroke. A bridge with a nice smooth railing might work well.

Kids I have worked with learn this way the best. I walk with them, giving them support, while they learn to keep upright on the forward/backward axis. Let that sink into there muscle memories first. Usually after 1 day/ 1 hour lesson they are ready for the next step. They can start letting go to let the side to side axis muscle memory set in. Most ride within a week. My son, 7 at the time, took about 1 week with 1 hour lessons a day.

I have seen other kids try, with a kids group I am involved with, to go it on there own by launching into the abyss and it takes alot longer. Of course, there are exceptions, but learning anything in component steps does help.

Taking him to some place with a long railing lets him do it without having use your direct assistance. Just make sure the railing is tall enough so he won’t go over the side.

Hi guys, sorry I’ve not been back sooner but I’ve been having issues with my internet. Thanks for the advice, I’ll get him out again at the weekend and try again, I’m sure with a bit of encouragement he’ll soon be teaching me things! And hopefully by then the internet will be back on and he can watch some YouTube videos too, which should also help. And it’s the half term break next week so he’ll have 5 days there to practice too if he wants. I think it’s really just a matter of not letting him get discouraged if it doesn’t click as quick as he wants, and he is still keen. Certainly my personal experience is it would have been easy to say I just can’t ride a unicycle after the 1st week, it took a bit of effort to focus on the successes and take something positive from each session.

Sounds like a good plan.

I like this idea … “Not Yet”.


:frowning: :astonished:
I was just wondering if there was anybody in or near Leeds who could help me with learning to ride a Unicycle.

I started at Christmas and can now get around 200’, my “teachers” were YouTube and this site. It seems to me it’s mainly a matter of trying it. Its a challenge but it’s achievable with perseverance!

Now you have reached that distance you will rapidly escalate and be riding miles before you know it.

Once you have the bug it is hard to stop. I did my biggest early learning session outside for hours on a rainy summer night when I first started to “get it” and worked up from a couple to to six or eight metres.

That was when I really started to get the magical feeling. After that there are still so many things to learn that the magic moments keep coming.

I just ordered this book because I plan on teaching my grandson. I don’t know if it is any good or not. Maybe some one on here can add some input.


I also ordered the Chris Holm book, from post on other threads It sounds like it is good reading. I like to read and thought they would both be good additions to the library.



Learning to unicycle happens differently for each person, but in my case, once I started launching myself out over open pavement and pedaling, I was riding a little bit within minutes. I was also un-learning all the fear I had built up while clinging to railings and walls. Your son’s approach is the one I recommend to everybody who asks me.

DaUniGuy, I’ve heard only good things about Kris’s book and plan to get it at some point. I didn’t know about the other one but soon you’ll be able to tell us about it. The one I have is Unicycling from Beginner to Expert, which is translated from German and a bit older, written before muni was even a thing. But I thought it had good ideas on how to learn skills at various levels and which ones would prepare you for which other ones, with some different takes on things than I’ve seen elsewhere. My used copy cost less for the book itself than the shipping, so it’s a good pick up if you still like having real books to read like I do.

Re song’s advice, yes that’s very good if it works. I was also launching myself away from walls and supports pretty much from the start, but while I don’t recall much anxiety or lack of belief, I needed lots of time and reps pedalling along the wall before I was able to ride even a little bit on my own. But I’m on the older side and was always one of slower people to pick up anything having to do with gymnastics or acrobatics or action sports. Someone more blessed with youth and aptitude and determination might get it right away that way.

I didn’t use a wall or fence at all after the first time I tried. It just gave me the impression of incredible instability.

That night I found a site that eschewed “clinging”, instead suggesting launching from a backstop and recommended using an aerobics step. The very next morning I was at a garage sale and there was a very solid aerobics step for $5.

When I taught my son he held onto a short piece of fence pedaling back and forwards for a couple of metres to get a feel for the machine for several minutes.

Then I got him onto taking off from the backstop after explaining and demonstrating the fundamentals. He almost immediately started on a progression of riding more and more cranks each time he tried. That very afternoon he rode the ten metres to the other side of the front yard.

Something not explained on any of the tutorials I found online is that the unicycle should be inclined backwards during riding. Indeed there are confusing explanations which claim the back should be considered as an extension of the frame and the whole system leaned forward.

This advice comes from not distinguishing between starting and riding.

During the start both the uni and the body should be inclined forwards but during riding the uni becomes unstable unless it is leaning back slightly. The body leans forwards bringing the centre of gravity over the contact point of the wheel.

This is how I explain it in this thread. It is the fundamental key to learning to unicycle via launch.

Standing still is an advanced riding skill just as it is on a bicycle. We learn to ride at speed first. Stationery is unstable so the goal for the learner is to get the rider and the cycle moving ASAP. Learners simply don’t have the skills to take off slowly.

Getting the entire system moving fast enough by simply pushing is impossible. The inertia of the rider is too great. You need to use gravity. Essentially takeoff is a matter of leaning forward more than you think to get your body moving quickly by falling then “flicking” the cycle under you with that first push on the pedal much like we flick the leg though when we run to prevent the completion of the “continuous fall”.

At takeoff the pedal rapidly accelerates the cycle from the forward lean to the raked position where the steering then becomes stable. The whole cycle rotates rather than moves forward so the seat and hence the rider don’t have to accelerate forwards so quickly but the wheel is suddenly moving very fast.

At this point the system has enough momentum and the intersection of forces create a rapid acceleration. As any new rider can attest, getting moving fast enough to get over the first top dead centre of the cranks needs some serious momentum.

I also advise learners to think of it like walking. Pedal and steer to put the wheel where you would put your advancing foot if you were walking.

If I only tried to learn by free mounting I think I would have never learned. If I’m not mistaken, sounds like the child wants to learn starting from a free mount. I’m amazed at people that can do that but IMHO it would be hard for most.

He is using a fence, wall or gate to get on the unicycle, then launching into open space. Personally I started using one hand on a wall, then progressed to using the wall only to mount. Now I’m able to mount with a stop block. His method is working in that he’s managing 2-3 crank revolutions, so I’m inclined to leave him to it & just encourage him as required. I’m sure he’ll get there and be showing me how it’s done soon!

That’s great. I did the same thing … didn’t spend much time hanging on to anything except to mount. He’ll be riding around in no time.

Kids will surprise you. I know I learned in the snow in detroit It was a christmas present 44years ago! ugh!) and mounted by hanging on to a fire hydrant. He will be riding in no time. THey tend to “fear less” than we parents do. I would encourage him to do it anyway he wants.

Learning is primarily motivation. So i wouldn’t discourage him from not using a rail if that keeps him practicing. Just a rail at first will greatly speed up his progress (a lot faster to grab a rail, regain composure than try to remount) Frequency is important, every day is best.

When you guys can ride around seriously consider riding all or some of your commute. My learning really improved when I started doing my 2.4 mile commute every day (I meander, finding challanges and take up to an hour)


I haven’t seen that book. I got this one http://www.unicycle.com/video-magazines-dvd/how-to-ride-your-unicycle-by-charlie-dancy.html everyone on this site was much more helpful.