Tips on making turns.

Hi. I’m new to the forum. My current unis are… Nimbus II 26" and Nimbus 24" mountain. I’ve been riding for a few years and love it more than anything.:slight_smile: My question is… I’m still stressing out making turns. Am I leaning in too much? Too early? I’d love to just ride in a circle stress free. I seem to flail my arms about twisting my torso to make more abrupt turns and it doesn’t look very graceful. Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

Welcome to the forum. A video of your turning efforts would likely help folks make some positive suggestions in your case. Can you share a video of your riding? For general tips on turning some past threads should give you some ideas. Here is one thread with some ideas.

Speed up, keep your back straight, and ride more.
When you’re ready, shorter cranks.

I find that practicing on a basketball court is useful. The painted circles make a good reference to ride around. You’re making good progress! Just keep riding, and you’ll get better in no time! :slight_smile:

+1 on the painted circle – they are sometimes on playgrounds too.

Use string and chalk to make a figure eight, which will help you make smooth turns in both directions and improve your transitions in between. Then you can add another circle for variety.
Holding the seat handle with your inside arm will help with the flailing.
Then ride with both hands on head.
Start with big figure 8’s, then gradually make them smaller.
Might also help to make a video of yourself and then analyze it.

There are also small versions of traffic cones you can buy, in lots of different colors too. People set them up for dogs to run around, and various kids’ athletic events, too. You can set up as easy or complicated, tight or loose, a course as you like.

Others use things more like platters. My mother trains her dogs to run rally courses using the bright yellow plastic tops of potato chip cans.

Tips on Making turns.

Thank you all for these useful tips.

I practiced figure 8’s around 2 rocks. Start them real far apart and make huge figure 8’s and slowly move them together as you get better. It took me quite a while to get them consistent. It will force you to go both ways too.

I remember struggling with turns not too long ago. I got much better with turning after practicing lots of figure 8’s, and slowly making them smaller. It does help to lean a little in the direction you want to go in, however, you make the turning motion with your hips/abs more than anything.

I struggle to make the same smooth figure eights on my 24" and 26" muni…that I can on my 20". For the same diameter circle, 8’s seems to require greater speed as the wheel size gets larger. Add to this the longer cranks, making it harder to pedal faster.

When I practice figure eights, I realize why freestyle riders like high tire pressure. Tires under lower pressure will start to fold/pivot when the figure eight gets tighter. I pump my trials tire to 35 psi (I like a firm tire), but even this is not firm enough for practicing figure eights.

My advice (similar to others) is: Start with much larger diameter circles, look in the direction you’re turning, and increase the cadence slightly when starting the turn. Also, if it’s possible to initiate the turn by pushing your hip in the direction of the turn…this might be something to try. Good luck!

There are several ways to turn, depending on context.

A cycle, including a unicycle, that is moving at any substantial speed, turns by leaning. It is important to understand that the turn is caused by the lean, rather than the lean being an effect of the turn.

To turn tighter on a motorbike at any given speed, you need to lean further. However, on a unicycle, your maximum speed is fairly low, and you and your centre of mass is high. Therefore, you can’t simple lean the whole shebang — you and the unicycle — by the same amount. For a tight turn, you need to let the uni tip underneath you, while you bend at the hips keeping your torso nearer to vertical. This way, the uni can lean — and therefore steer — without the centre of mass coming so far inside the contact patch that you simply fall inwards.

However, there are other ways to turn, and very often you need to make a sharp turn, possibly even a 180 degree turn. The trick here is to turn the uni suddenly on the downstroke of the pedal. It is easier at first to do it on the downstroke of the inside pedal (right foot going down as you turn sharply right, left foot to turn left) but, with practice, you can do it the other way too.

Again, you need to be aware of what your mass is doing and make sure that it is not working against you. So, turn your head and torso in the direction that you want to turn, then turn the uni under neath you. Your legs and the uni will then catch up with your head and torso, which will allow a sharper turn than if you tried to turn all of your mass at once.

Another important thing is to look in the direction that you want to turn. Be specific; don’t just look in a general direction, but look at something in that direction. Relax and turn and the uni will follow your gaze.

Keep your head vertical even if your body is leaning. Your balance organs are in your ears and you also rely partly on visual feedback of your surroundings. If your head is upright, your brain has to make fewer adjustments to the data it is processing, so it is quicker and more confident.

Practise something other than just the turning. I taught a friend to ride and I set up six items like this:



We then raced around this circuit, like a pursuit, with me starting a the 1,4 end and him starting at the 3,6 end. In his determination to catch me, he stopped thinking about steering and just did it.

Then we moved to stage 2, which is where the race goes outside 1, 3, 6 and 4, but inside 2 and 5.

I used similar tricks on myself when learning to steer my ultimate wheel. Set a course and try to ride it fast, or “in one” and somehow the steering takes care of itself. Your brain works better when your mind doesn’t get in its way.

Tips on making turns

Mikefule, That’s pretty comprehensive and sounds like a great plan of attack. I’ll try this once I get to the ‘learning to turn’
phase of my training. Thanks for the tips.