The next best skill to practice over winter

I’ve been riding for six months, 24" UDC Club, mainly on curbed streets and sidewalks or big parking complexes. Very comfortable riding forward, turning, dismounting, hills that aren’t too steep. Because there are curbs everywhere, the curb mount is my #1 mount. I am working on free mounting. With winter coming, and we can get a lot of icy roads here, I’m wondering what is the skill(s) that I can work on inside that will most help me be a better overall unicyclist when spring returns. I’m old so no muni or big jumps on the horizon but I’d like to be super comfortable riding around town. I’m thinking idling might be a skill that would make it easier to improve overall. I feel I should at least be able to ride backwards for short distances, like to avoid children. Does this make sense to make idling my first priority after free mount? Or said another way, what’s the best way to improve over winter?

I use winter for weight training so overall fitness shouldn’t suffer too much… Thanks.

After a constant free mount I would suggest hopping. Hopping in place, turns/pivots, up low curbs and even a hop or two during free mounts can be most useful.

I agree with Jim, hopping is probably the most practical next skill after a freemount. Possibly also the easiest.
Idling isn’t all that “practical”, but still a good skill to learn to improve your overall control. Same with riding backwards. Barely anyone will actually idle at a streetlight, but while learning to idle, you will learn a lot about keeping balance at low speeds and tricky situations.
I’d say idling/backwards/hopping can all be practiced at the same time. I personally avoid practicing the same trick for more then 20 minutes at a time. When I am serious about practicing new tricks, I have 2 or 3 different ones I practice in a 90 minute training session.

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I’ll second hopping but I’m not sure doing it a lot on a Club is the way to go.
@Johnny_Droppalot, learning to hop is a lot easier than learning to idle, at least it was for me :). If you learn the rollback mount, it may help you get halfway to mastering idling.
Also learning backwards is a neat trick, I think having a long railing to assist is helpful. But in the scheme of things, learning to go backwards is not so necessary, if a kid is in your way, as long as you can stop on demand, it’s enough.

Don’t tell Terry the @UniGeezer Peterson.


Good point, a cotterless hub will not stand up the stress of hopping as well as an ISIS hub. I learned to hop on a cotterless 36er and had to be extra careful to check the torque of the crank bolts on a regular basis. That is one reason I upgraded to a 36" with an ISIS hub.

Depends on rider weight, but if you are under 75 kg or so (rough guess by me), it should be completely fine for hopping up and down curbs. Of course, heavy riders, or bigger drops will kill square taper hubs/cranks quickly, but I’ve seen good quality square taper hubs and cranks (like the UDC club has) last fine with adults learning hopping tricks on multiple occasions. Small hops don’t put that much more stress on a unicycle than hard accelerations.

Doesn’t mean that I can guarantee that it will be fine for everyone, but I’d personally lean towards taking the risk of bending a crank/hub and then upgrading at that point, vs. avoiding hopping on that unicycle.

Citation needed!

I find that people learning to hop are far more likely to bend pedal axles, hubs, and cranks than any other learning activity due to how much force people exert on the unicycle trying to do it.
Once you’ve learnt to hop correctly and perfected your skills you can absolutely do small hops on square taper cranks without too much worry, but I’d not recommend it for new riders.

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Freemount before every ride and ride a lot. No freemount, no ride.
Practice riding slowly and throw in a stillstand and then continue riding.
Once you get that then throw in a hop (or two), then continue riding.
Practice these basic skills ambidextrously all winter.

If you keep riding throughout the winter in all conditions, I will guarantee that your skill level will one (or two!) up as soon as your tire hits dirt again.

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Kamikaze - thanks, but Terry the @UniGeezer Peterson was 50 years old when he started unicycling. I was still in puberty at 50. I was 67 when I first touched a unicycle and now I’m 67 1/2. Nevertheless, I persist!

I think this is a good plan :slight_smile:

The wheel of my freestyle uni has sqare taper cranks, it’s over 20 years old now, I regularly use it for hopping or even rope skipping and I never had any single crank come loose. The first pair of cranks were on there about 15 years, then i switched to shorter ones but the old ones were still fine. I’m around 66kg.

The problem is not the square taper interface but some cheap unicycle having too soft material for cranks and hubs or riders riding with loose cranks for long time and wear them out.

A proper (steel) square taper crank on a good hub, installed with some hits with a mallet or hammer and then torqued properly can hold forever if you don’t use it for trials or are way over 100kg.

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Thank you all for the great advice!

I was wondering this a lot. My first uni is a club 24"-- but I weigh 240lbs (109 kg for the rest of the world). I still have a LOT to learn (I can barely ride 400m on smooth pavement), but wondering if learning to hop and go up/down curbs once i get the basics down would be too much for it, or if I would have to upgrade to an ISIS (ie muni) first. ( or lose some weight, i should really be around 200 lbs/91kg but haven’t seen that in 8 yrs. Probably would do wonders for my distance too)

I’d say: keep the club unicycle and check/tighten the cranks regularly and you should be fine. When you find out, that the cranks get more and more often loose or wobble even if tightened properly, you can still invest in a new uni and until this happens, you will have far more practice and fall less, so the new one won’t get this much abuse from falling.

I’m always a fan of starting with a cheaper uni to abuse in the fist part of the learning curve when it will really often hit the pavement. When you then buy a new and better one when you’re confident enough, there are two advantages: 1st: the shiny new on won’t get scratched up so fast and 2nd: you know far better which riding style you prefer and which kind of uni will fit your riding style best.


Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts and advice, I think I will do just that. I had problems with the pedals coming loose, and was keeping a keen eye on them, and listening for any rattling during falls or if bouncing the uni on its tire, which went away one i loctite’ed them, but no problems with anything else loosening, yet.
Hopefully of I do wear this one out, its after I have learned enough from it that I can feel more justified spending more $ on a stronger one more up for hops and drops. (I got the club because I didn’t want to drop big money on a high end uni that I may not even stick with or like, and would probably be dropping a lot)
I anticipate I will be sticking with this hobby for a while though now that I am basically riding one and enjoying it. A never ending challenge to learn to do more/better.


I would suggest learning different kinds of mounts. Each one will give you a specific skill to add to your toolkit and therefore make the unicycle that much closer to being just an extension of your body. Kick-up mount, leg wrap mount, jump mount are great starts.

Idling is a big one. I’ve seen some suggest that it isn’t that useful. (Then again, when is a unicycle ever really useful?) I think being able to idle on the unicycle helps hugely with all manner of other scenarios and tricks. And, if you get comfortable idling, you can always throw a foot up and practice idling with just one foot, which actually is a lot easier than it sounds once you’re comfortable rocking in place with two feet.

Lastly, if you have some stairs that aren’t slick with ice, it would be a huge confidence boost to learn how to ride down. 1, 2, 3, and the eventually 4 stairs. Today I successfully rode down 4 stairs without falling for the first time and it was huge for me!

Wheel walking also might be a skill to do inside depending on how much space you have. I hope to be adept at wheel walking before the end of January.

Good luck!

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Now that winter is over, I wanted to give thanks for the advice and an update. I spent most of my time practicing free mounting. As part of that I also learned to ride very slowly, come to a brief stop, ride forward again. And the only time I ever fell and hit my head (wearing a helmet fortunately), was when i was first trying a rear dismount. That was pretty scary so I stopped practicing that at all. Now it’s easy and super fun.

So long story short, over the winter I learned how to free mount, stop/start and rear dismount. For me, that’s a productive few months. Thanks for the encouragement.


Great! Cause this skill is needed for when you might ride then idle or hop and it’s also used in control for slow hill climbing. So keep working on this!