Absolute beginner with a cheap crappy unicycle. Having trouble learning after just a few hours (I know it’s going to take longer than that). I ride bicycles a lot, but not sure how good my balance is. Is there anyone who just can’t learn to unicycle?
You will get there. Be patient.
What kind of learning arrangements are you using?
Many start out with the seat too low and that makes balance harder.
After riding for years on a unicycle with decent bearings, I tried a unicycle a friend had been given. The cheap unicycle merely had metal brackets where the cranks rotated. It was very hard for me to ride that unicycle.
Crappy, beat-up, ugly, etc will not effect your ability to learn to ride. Bent cranks, no bearings, loose parts… those could be a problem.
Perseverance is the most important factor though. Hang in there!
Thanks, I just put the seat up higher yesterday and that made things better. Unfortunately it is now as high as it will go and I think could do with a touch more. I’m just trying to get the hang of it while using a fence as support.
I’ll need to buy a better and larger unicycle, but I want to make sure I’m not going to give up in disgust first :).
Thanks, the unicycle is basically sound, just cheap and maybe a touch too small for me. Hopefully it will last long enough to find out if I can learn to ride.
You haven’t mentioned the wheel size. If it’s 20", then that’s the size most people learn on. If it’s smaller than that, it’s too small.
Assuming it’s a 20" (or larger), hang in there and keep at it. Here is the unicyclists mantra: “Hours in the saddle.” That’s what it’s all about. The more hours you spend in the saddle, the more you will learn, adjust, adapt, internalize, and pretty much everything else. Eventually you will be surprised at how far you’re going, and how much fun you’re having.
Thanks, mine is a 20 inch. I’m hanging in and can see a slight improvement today. I guess at 15 minutes practise a day it might take a few months.
And don’t forget to watch some tutorials, it helps. The main words are: weight in the saddle and looking in the distance, not 3ft away.
Don’t spend too much time clinging to the fence. It works for some learners but it doesn’t really give you the feeling of riding.
Get some kind of block as a backstop. An aerobics step is ideal. Back the uni up against it and try to ride away. The back stop takes away one of the ways to fall off.
Sit on the seat with your back foot on the pedal about 45 degrees below horizontal, pushing the wheel back against the step. Lean you and the uni forward a lot further than you would expect and step onto the top pedal.
The forward lean is important to help get you moving. You are basically starting to fall to get the momentum then quickly popping the uni under you when you step on the top pedal. A beginner doesn’t have the balance to get going from the push alone.
Try focusing on one the different aspects on each attempt. Focus on hitting the pedal. Focus on the sideways balance. Focus on the forwards balance. Occasionally you will get them all right and ride a couple of turns. Then you just build on that.
Experiment with the pedal angle. Higher front pedal gives you more time to get going before you get to the top dead centre, hopefully avoiding the stall. But at the cost of a higher step up which is harder to balance.
Experiment with the starting lean. If you fall forwards then reduce it. If the uni drives out from under you lean more.
Once you are moving, the uni seat post should become angled back while you lean slightly forward. This angle is vital for stability. Don’t believe what it says on the internet about making your back an extension of the seat post.
Don’t hold the seat. Your arms are more useful for balance when starting out and having both will help you develop symmetry. The real balance eventually comes from your hips but that is hard to manage at first.
I persisted on the little uni I started on until I proved I could ride. I struggled to get up to about 100 metres on my best runs. Then I bought a QA-AX 20 inch and in a very short time I was riding everywhere.
I ride that little uni now and wonder how I managed to learn on it at all.
I think you are in far more danger of giving up because your uni is too small for you.
Thanks for the encouragement and tips everyone. After a bit of a play today it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel (hope it’s not a train coming the other way). I seem to improve every time I practice, but still a long way to go. I will now have to work on a better uni, or at least a longer seat post for the one I’ve got.
Good to hear you haven’t given up yet! I’m on month three of unicycling…after about two months of (almost) daily practice, I could mount, ride, & turn pretty comfortably. As another poster said, “hours in the saddle.”
One thing that I noticed when I was starting out was that I almost learned more in between sessions than I did during sessions. After a practice session, I would think about what I did right, what I did wrong, what I’d change next time, etc., then I’d hop on next session and notice an improvement. Remember: you’re not going to get worse at unicycling by doing it. Even if you have a bad, discouraging session, you’re still spending time practicing, & will inevitably get better.
It’s all about attitude! If you focus and tell yourself that you can do it & that you’re not going to fall, you won’t.
I would suggest starting at a pole and then “floating” away. If you release while you are moving forward beside the pole the risk of falling over at very low speed is less. You will also start from a tension position. I remember doing this for the first time on a giraffe. I could hardly ride on a normal unicycle and the feeling was incredible. I did not dare to look down and could not see my legs but was way up there.
On seat height i can say that if you feel like sitting in an office chair with a wheel in front, the saddle is too low. One leg needs to be almost stretched at some point and the other one bent. Nevertheless make sure that the section of seat post in the tube is not too short. crank length may also be a factor. Learning with long cranks is easier.
As others have already mentioned, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Its nice to see the world shrink and reach goals that seemed to be impossible a day earlier.
I learned to ride on a cheap crappy unicycle about three months ago. You’ll get it!! I totally agree with the above advice. I spent so much mental time unicycling. I also read somewhere (likely here) that if you’re having a hard time on a trick or having a bad practice session, just stick with it for ten extra minutes before giving up and you’ll probably get it. This honestly was the best advice for me. Whenever I’m having a problem I tell myself to keep at it for ten more minutes. Usually I improve and figure it out. If I don’t then I declare it beer-thirty and call it a day.