Uni Trainer

Maybe I’m daft, but I’m not seeing how that’s a unicycle trainer. It looks like you can just sit there with 100% stability. Without having to balance, how is that helping you learn how to ride? I must be missing something.

That said, it would make an awesome base for a halloween costume. Think giant, mobile octopus costume. :slight_smile:

That fellow has had the video up for a while, along with his website. I think it is a useful mechanism for helping children (or others) get comfortable with the idea of unicycle riding. Since not all of the wheels touch the ground at once, it is kind of like training wheels on a bike. It may be a “crutch,” or maybe not. Eventually one still has to cut loose and ride by oneself. But meanwhile, the more people who get exposed to the “feel” of it, the better, in my opinion. So more power to him.

I can see how that would be helpful, but only for the first few minutes or so. It looks like it does all of the balancing for you.

Can’t see it frowork…but is it the one that has castor wheels on four sides mounted on a ring that circles the uni?

It is a good idea, I am going to build one when I get time.

I built an “outrigger” that mounts to the seatpost on a uni, makes the uni look like a penny farthing. It kinda worked, but I felt like it forced me forward, so I put it away.

It’s that one or very similar anyway.

I believe Aaron’s design allows you to raise the trainer gradually higher and higher, like training wheels, to make the rider more independent. It looks like a pretty valid method, especially for small kids, to get the basics of pedaling and sitting on the thing without the need for tons of spotting.

I imagine there’s still a “breakout”, both physically and mentally, when one first rides without the trainer on. But like everyone else, that’s the moment when you really start unicycling.

Ah, that makes sense. I was seeing in the video the kid who was just sitting there stationary and thought - “That’s not helping any balance skills if you can do that.” Makes sense if it can be raised though.

Wish I could ride backwards as easily as the kid in the video, though! :slight_smile:

Interesting coincidence to see a thread on this. Earlier this summer, I was looking for training aids that might help my wife learn to ride uni and came across Adam’s uni-trainer. I emailed him to see if he would sell me one, but he said that they are reserved for use in his training program. He did, however, offer to come out an put on a unicycle clinic if I could get enough participants together to make it economically feasible to fly him out to Utah. Adam is one of the 36" pioneers who famously rode his 36" in Manhattan in Brian McKenzie’s Inner Balance DVD.

I also came across David Kano’s unitrainer design. Unfortunately, he did not obtain his patent, so the design never made it into production. I was immediately enthralled with the design and especially with the concept of gradually adjusting the degree of balance augmentation over time, as the learner gradually acquires muscle memory. I was also enthralled by the idea that balance augmentation significantly increases the time in the saddle, which increases the rate at which the muscle memory is developed – as opposed to a one- or two-second ride, stopping, getting set up again, and then having another one- or two-second ride. After all, learning some basic muscle memory while leaning against the walls in a hallway or against a fence or other people is really just a different form of balance augmentation. None of this, of course, takes away from having to eventually launch into the abyss and try it unassisted, but I’m proceeding under the theory that launching into the abyss is easier if there’s already some muscle memory developed.

Similar to Nurse Ben, I thought about making my own unitrainer – either something like Adam’s or David’s. However, in the end, David graciously agreed to sell me one of his prototypes. It arrived last week, so we’re just in the early stages of trying it out to see if it will significantly speed up the learning process. My wife has ridden it in two different sessions for about 20 minutes or so total, trying to establish muscle memory for unicycle posture, specifically working on front-to-back balancing. I have been giving her realtime feedback on her posture, similar to the feedback David gives in the the video below. So instead of feeling what the proper posture feels like for a second or two at a time, she’s feeling it nearly continuously.

The next step will be for her to gradually lean against the handle bars less and less. When her front to back balance is pretty consistent, we’ll try an unassisted unicycle, which will still present a psychological barrier, as has been mentioned in a previous post, but I’m hopeful that she will have acquired enough front-to-back muscle memory to shorten the learning curve. Interestingly enough, my daughter’s friend, who can probably ride all of about 5 feet on a uni (using the “launch-into-the-abyss” method that my kids and I learned with), has also been riding the unitrainer around. It is going to be interesting to see whether her learning process is speeded up, as well. Having helped about ten people learn how to ride uni, I am looking forward to seeing how the process unfolds using a unitrainer. Kind of like a life-sized science experiment! Sounds fun!

Here’s David’s video showing how the balance augmentation can be gradually decreased as the learner’s balance improves. Also, here are a few pics of us and the prototype. I should note that we took these pics on the first day trying it out, before David told us the handlebars were adjusted too far forward, so we were all leaning a little too far forward with our upper bodies.

I forgot to mention that David proposes that his unitrainer can be used to help people who already ride uni acquire the muscle memory needed for one-footed riding and wheel walking. I have offered up myself as the guinea pig on this one. I can’t ride one-footed, so I thought I’d see if the unitrainer can help me learn. I rode the unitrainer one-footed for a few minutes over the weekend, just getting the feel of using one foot’s momentum to get all the way around. It actually felt kind of cool. I’ll try it a few more times and see if there’s any carry over.

Wheel walking sounds positively terrifying, even on the unitrainer, but perhaps I’ll give that a go, too. :slight_smile:

I believe Aaron’s design allows you to raise the trainer gradually higher and higher, like training wheels, to make the rider more independent. It looks like a pretty valid method, especially for small kids, to get the basics of pedaling and sitting on the thing without the need for tons of spotting./QUOTE]

In that case it seems like it would be a bit better. Although it looks very heavy.

I’ve mentioned in other threads the use of a shopping cart or baby buggy.
If you get past the silly looks it helps a lot. Nothing to build or buy. Within a week or two you won’t need it anyway. Once the rider is able to wobble off without assistance, they probably won’t ever use it again. People who can ride bikes don’t put training wheels back on to learn new tricks. I think in a group setting where a lot of people are able to use the same unit it’s great, but not practical for the average person. Just my opinion.

PS I guess a handcart (refrig dolly) wouldn’t be as silly looking. :D:D

It bolts to the bottom of the frame instead of bearing caps. I forget the max height it can be raised, but it wasn’t a lot, like 2" if I remember correctly.

… and stand up WW, gliding, coasting, crab walk, etc.

Using it to learn more advanced stuff seems like a great idea!

Just thought I’d give an update on my wife’s progress in learning uni with the unitrainer. She’s probably been on the unitrainer a total of about 20 minutes or so, in 3 or 4 different sessions. Her unicycle posture has been so consistent that I had her try a regular unicycle sans unitrainer (for consistency, we used a uni that is identical to the one that’s attached to the unitrainer). Fun to see how quickly her muscle memory has developed and to see it carry over. After a couple minutes on the unicycle, she locked in to perfect unicycle posture as if she was still riding the unitrainer. And a couple minutes after that, she was hardly leaning against the spotters for long stretches. This is a stark contrast to the time my wife got on a unicycle before trying the unitrainer. That time, she was leaning heavily on the spotters and was really struggling just to shift her weight through each revolution of the pedals. Night and day difference. I agree with a previous comment that a unitrainer might not be for everyone, but it’s been perfect for my wife, who has been a lot more apprehensive about learning than me and my kids were.

Good ideas. I will try coasting next time I ride the unitrainer, even though I know I won’t have the nerve to stand up WW or crab walk. What is gliding, as opposed to coasting?

Never mind, I found an answer.

That is 100% correct John. It’s a great tool but, in the effort to train a rider as quick as possible, get rid of everything other than a wall.

I don’t think kids really need a trainer.
They seem to learn naturally in a fraction of the time it takes an adult.
I think it’s a combination of no fear + excellent natural balance + they have a lower center of gravity than us tall people.

I work in a youth centre, and ride in on a 26" and the amount of kids who can free mount and ride it is getting silly, they are all picking it up really quick, and most of them can only just reach the pedals

Training wheels prevent learning!
The reason I invented and use this device is to introduce people to the sport, give them an opportunity to do something they would never have the chance to do and to build their self esteem and will to want to learn.
It has been an amazing tool.

Well using “training wheels” too much can slow learning, but if you are too scared to try and/or commit enough to get the approximate technique, then some help could be used.

IMO the uni trainer would be closer than holding a rail or wall, or constant failing w/ only getting a rev or less. Granted staying on the trainer too long or at too low of a setting for too long isn’t good.