The learning roadmap and upgrading my first uni

Hello everyone,

started learning a few weeks ago on a Torker LX (26") and making some progress - “rode” about 50-70 yards today. I feel like I’m starting to get it but the uni broke today again - the pedals’ thread is screwed and it happened third time. Two previous times I fixed it by inserting a thread couple inside the crank arm. Ordered a new arm today.

Given that its broken I’m considering potentially to upgrade it and have a few questions:

  1. My ultimate goal is to be able to ride a mountain uni, probably 29" (as I see a couple of guys on the trails). I hear that to have 26" as a first uni may not be the easiest path. Is it a good idea to buy a 24" or even 20" to accelerate learning new skills?

  2. What is the right way in my situation (given that I’m not really riding yet) to get to the mountain 29" uni?

  3. Is there a learning roadmap of skills? For example, riding for 1-2 minutes, turning, idling, free-mounting, etc.

Most common cause is having the cranks on the wrong side making them screw out as you ride.

When you fit the new cranks, ensure that right side had a right handed thread and the left side has a left handed thread.

Welcome to the forum. I suggest keeping your 26" working, then buying a decent 20" for practicing skills. You can take the 26" out on trails, satisfying your need for off-road riding. Then, perhaps get a nice muni as your 3rd unicycle. By that time, you’ll have a better idea of what muni to buy (a lot of riders wring their hands over which to buy: 26" or 27.5" or29").

Regarding learning-order, sounds like whatever you’re doing is working. Once you start riding more than 100 feet, it’s a pain to walk back to your assisted mounting location. So, you might want to practice mounting. Whatever works for your first mount…don’t worry about how wonky it is…you’ll get better. Check out the tire grab mount. Kind of a cheater trick, but gets the job done.

I say keep your 26er as well.
But save your money for a quality 29er.

You’re already riding a 26. It’s only going to get easier from here.
Get proficient on the 26 and then buy your 29.

If trials is on the menu then get a 20" for practice but if it’s all trails then get a big boy’s wheel and just learn how to ride it.

I’m different in the developing skills department. I let the skills come to me.
Sure practicing works but I would rather just go ride.
Then sooner or later when you do go to try the new skill it almost happens all by itself.
This takes longer but when the skill comes second nature on the first or second try it feels like you already knew how to do it because you are very comfortable on the uni already.

I like to learn the hard way so everything about is easy from then on.

26 is a perfectly sensible size for Muni. At one time, fat 24s were all the rage and that’s what I still ride. I also have 20, 28, 29 and 36 inch unis. All of them can be ridden off road. The bigger ones are faster and smoother on trails, and the smaller ones are easier when there are steep bits, tight turns and obstacles. There is no perfect size, and there is no reason why there should be, unless you choose to specialise in one very narrow area of riding.

The difference in wheel circumference between a 29 and a 26 is around 11%. If you typically ride at 6 miles and hour on the 26, you might average 7 mph on the 29. It’s not a huge difference. You can make more difference more cheaply by having a couple of different lengths of crank.

Also, get some decent grippy pedals. They make more difference than almost any other component except the tyre.

Ride lots, have fun on the uni you’ve got, upgrade it to suit, and then when you can ride well enough and far enough to make a sensible choice, treat yourself to another uni that really suits you, rather than one that, as a novice, you think MIGHT suit you.

A cheater trick that doesn’t work for me. It is too scary as I have to bend over too much. Never got the hang of it. Mhm maybe should try that again for my 36" mounts as they keep posing probs.

That is also the way I went. First learned on a cheap 50eur 20", then bought the 26" with which I could ride 6-ish kilometres and then got the 29", which makes distance a lot more fun and I could ride it in the forest too like I did with the KH26. The freestyle and trials 20"s I only got later after having watched some youtube vidz. Still the Nimbus 29" has become my go-to uni.

Folks, your input was very helpful. I’ve switched to a 20" for skills growing and after a few days the things clicked together - started riding consistently without too much falling. Ride now for 3-4 minutes pretty reliably. It’s amazing how all of a sudden the things came together and I “got it”.

I’m close to mastering a curb mount at the moment and started riding on grass as well for a change in conditions. Free mounting will be next because it’s pretty annoying to walk to a curb when you fall in the middle:-)

Have a couple of questions for the next steps:

  1. What is the point of holding the saddle at the front by a hand? More control? Speed?

  2. How to practice sitting on the saddle rather than standing on the pedals? I try to relax and distribute my weight although it’s tricky. However, once I started riding longer I almost don’t zigzag anymore.

Again thanks for the feedback. Started having real fun now!

Folks, thanks a lot for your input, very helpful. Just a couple of weeks after I bought a 20" to grow my skills all of a sudden everything “clicked”! It is amazing how the things came together and I started riding 3-5 minutes on pretty uneven surfaces.

Trying now to sit on the saddle more instead of standing on the pedals and although it’s pretty far from the ideal situation I already feel the progress: less zigzagging and less tired legs. Also Mastering curb mount which becomes more and more consistent.

One more question to you: why experienced riders grab the front of the handle with their hand? Is it something to start practicing?

Offroad and for trials using the saddle grip or a short handle helps keep the unicycle under you when you have your weight out of the saddle. It also adds additional twisting control when bouncing down a trail.

On road some use the saddle grip to relieve some pressure off the sit bones on long rides, and long handles change your seating position to more closely resemble a bike which is more streamlined and reduces twitchiness.

Using a handle removes some balance options as it takes much or your arms and upper body out of the balance equation. It also moves some of the directional control from your hips to your upper body. You are ready to use a handle when you can ride with your hands behind your back.

And in case you breezed past it, OneTrackMind had the advice for your existing 26", which is that it just needs new crank arms. Then just make sure they’re on the correct sides (right crank has normal thread; righty-tighty, and left crank threads backward). That means it matters which pedal goes on which side as well, but your pedals are probably fine; it’s almost always the cranks that get the thread damage.

I use handlebars for more control.

I like to keep both hands on the handlebars to reduce upper body movement which in turn saves me energy to put toward pedalling.

On tight or dicey corners I switch to use the inside corner hand to hold the bars.

Use what you got

You got it, so just keep at it.
Unless you “think” you are at a sticking point.
…or you find yourself “hurling” the unicycle from pure frustration/rage. Then buy another.
IMO…you may want to master what you got. Not just riding high tire pressure, asphalt, level condition.

A few ways to “vary” what you got, and add more challenge and skills:

1.) Play with air pressure.
a.) Low pressure = better grip, slower response, handles bumps/drops well, more physical, challenging
b.) High pressure = quick response, easier for mounting & idling, but instant UPD on bumps/drops.

2.) Seat position:
a.) Low seat = easier mounting, learning, balancing, more muscle,easier
UPD. Better for offroad.
b.) High seat = faster/efficient…but only after you’ve become proficient,
harder to learn, more devastating UPD. Not good for offroad.

3.) Crank Length:
a.) Short(100-125mm) = Faster response, more stability at fast cadence,
but not good climbing, absorbing offroad bumps/drops.
b.) Long(150…)=Slower response, less stable at fast cadence(side-side wobbling), better balance at slow speed and stalls at all pedal clock positions.

Anyways, you can see there are 3 main variables on one unicycle. Don’t just go out and buy a 2nd unicycle. (now you got 6 variables!!!). As you master or get bored, change it up.

IMO, it’s more important to keep using what you got and challenge it…vs. keep changing vehicles(without fully mastering each one).

Keep on!!

I learned to ride with handlebars before ever trying to ride with hands behind my back, but I have since tried riding like that on my 29" which doesn’t have handle bars and it was very relaxing actually.

Im not sure if handle bars save energy on my legs, but they help get the wheel more steady and not letting it sway so much from left to right.

For sharp turns, I let go of the handle bars to lean more in the direction I want to go. I can’t make sharp turns holding handle bars on the 32" and 36" unis.