Turning tips

I’m a newbie who can ride 50m pretty consistently (1 out of ~3 tries) in a straight line. I’d like to be able to practice laps around an inline hockey rink but the toughest thing right now is the 90 degree turn. The area has the space to round the turns so it doesn’t need to be a stop and pivot turn on a dime, but still tough for where I’m at skill wise.

If I try to lean into it, it’s seems to throw me too off balance. I can slow down and pivot a little, but not yet 90 degrees yet.

Any tips / things to practice / think about while trying to do these turns?

You might try riding big lazy "S"s some place where you have lots of room to either side. I found it better to do it freeform rather than trying to ride around obstacles or markers, making the turns as deep and round as I could instead of just enough to barely clear some mark.

The main thing: Don’t slow down! If you start feeling unsteady, widen out the turn but keep the pedals going. If you try to slow down to make a tight turn, you’ll UPD every time. And while the goal is to make nice round smooth curves, it’s ok to make stop signs with quick scrubby corners connected by straights for a while until you can.

To piggyback on what LargeEddie said.

I would try to learn controlled fluid turns rather than sharp turns. It seems like a lot of beginners (myself included at the time) turn by twisting the hips. If you look in the direction you wish to turn you will naturally introduce a subtle hip twist that will turn you more effectively than the abrupt hip snap (which also wears a spot on your tires pretty quickly).

If you are in an inline hockey rink try tracing the faceoff circle in either direction, and then maybe riding a figure 8 between two end zone face off circles.


It took me a while to figure out I needed to pedal faster as I turned. If your cadence is already approaching maximum (it is common for beginners to pedal rather fast), then it may be difficult to pedal faster. I suggest slowing down your pedal rpm (cadence) when approaching the tight turn in the skate rink, then starting your turn by simultaneously pedaling faster and thrusting your hip inwards in the direction of the turn.

Only lean the uni (by using your hips) and keep your body upright. This way it doesn’t matter so much how slow you are going. Pull the uni upright again when you want to come out of the turn.

If you lean your body it can be difficult to get back up again, particularly if you have slowed down, because there is insufficient centrifugal force to lift you. This skill comes later and eventually develops into the controlled high side where you can momentarily turn harder to get back upright.

I like the large “s” turns. Definitely practice each direction from the beginning. I went in the same counter clockwise direction for too long. It has taken a long time to get comfortable with right turns. I also just like to pick lines, or defects in the surface to go around, left and right over and over, paying attention to what body mechanics are producing the easiest turns. It’s in the hips.

Sukie, on “your” thread you talked about zig zagging around imaginary obstacles. I focused on that some more today. For some reason when I am riding in the forest, I easily steer to where I want to go, but riding eights or trying to make a circle of 5 metres, just doesn’t work for me. It ends up a circle of 15 metres :). This is with the 29". Maybe on sand it is easier to make the circle smaller than on asphalt, since my tires feel glued to it. With the 20" I cheated by stopping and start hopping end then point where you want to go and continue again (without touching the ground with my feet of course :P)

I just went back out and man, getting the hang of this sport is tough. Sometimes it feels like it clicks and I have great balance and then I’ll struggle the next few minutes. I guess if it was easy, it wouldn’t be as fun.

Anyway, I think practicing outside of the inline hockey rink is a good set up because I have a straight 6’ foot wide alley with fences on both sides. So it makes me focus more and correct anything that gets out of whack. I was able to make the left turns maybe 50% of the time, but struggled with the right.
As recommended, focussing on leaning my hips, keeping my body upright and slowing down then pedaling into the turn helped. But I’m less than 10 hours in so even things like slowing down is tricky.

Anyway, I’m definitely improving each time out, but I can’t wait until I can free mount and cruise around the block.

From everything I’ve read, and from my own experience it seems very normal to turn one direction better than the other. I also can turn left better than right. I am prone to getting into ruts, and it was very easy to just go in the same direction in the tennis courts that I learned in. I have to make myself go in the direction that is most difficult. I also know that the periods of clicking followed by the periods of not-clicking is normal. It is your brain’s way of working through all this new stuff you’re throwing at it. I am trying to really enjoy this process…one day, if we keep at it, a lot of this is going to seem easy and automatic. Try to just relax into it and have fun. I think a few people have had to remind me of that in this space.

setonix, I am so jealous! I am so excited to turn with a hop one day. I can hop in a full 360 now (to the left, of course)… perhaps some day soon on the trail.

bank5, have fun!

turn right to turn left

I find that if I want to turn left… I make a very quick turn to the right and the left turn takes care of itself. Same thing for turning right. It gets the wheel out from under you and causes your body to begin to “fall” in the direction that you want to turn. Then, pedal a bit faster while already leaning and you’ve made the turn.

Looks like you have discovered countersteering. It’s probably not very smooth yet, but you have figured out the concept. It’s especially important if you need to change direction quickly. Can’t turn left until the wheel gets over to your right.

With more practice, this will smooth out and you’ll be able to do it without a lot of effort. Basketball and hockey players (on unicycles) use this all the time. In fact, it’s the same thing a motorcyclist does when he “pushes on the right handlebar to go left”. Yes, that works.

I was totally not comfortable doing that when I had a motorcycle:)
Might give it a try with the unicycle:)

I don’t ride motorcycles anymore, but I made that connection the other day on the tennis court, zig zagging around. Very cool.

Countersteering is exactly the opposite. The wheel is briefly turned out of the intended turn so the rider pushes on the left bar to begin a left turn.

yes, on a motorcycle, or bike, to turn to the right using the method of counter steering, the rider pushes the right handle bar forward. This engages the smallest diameter of the wheel with the riding surface, creating an ability to turn with more control and at higher speeds. Seems to be working on the uni as well.

D’oh! I totally wrote that backward, by accident! sorry about the confusion. Yes, you push on the right handlebar to go to the right. The way I wrote it is the way that seems to make sense. For it to be “countersteering” is has to be the opposite of what you think! :stuck_out_tongue:

It doesn’t work the same way on a unicycle, especially if you have normal unicycle handlebars. :smiley: