So how do we measure the 75% and 25%?
First, get your seat height right. I basically agree with Greg: sit on the uni (against a wall or pole) with the pedal at its lowest point of travel. Now (wearing flat soled shoes/trainers) put your heel on the pedal. You should be sitting comfortably and evenly on the seat, with your other foot on the ‘top pedal’.
Now, when you’re in this position, your seat should be adjusted so that the leg which is on the same side as the ‘down’ pedal should be comfortably straight, but not locked rigid, or stretched. This means that when you put the ball of your foot on the pedal, your leg will be slightly bent.
That is the ‘official’ best seat height for a BIcycle.
On a UNIcycle, there is an argument for lowering the seat just a tiny bit - say half an inch/1 -2 centimetres. Certainly, it should be no higher.
Right, moving onto your stiff legs…
A common problem with beginners is this: they try to regain their balance at the end of every pedal stroke, or every couple of pedal strokes. This means that you pedal forwards, then as the back pedal rises, you put too much back pressure on it. The result feels a bit like this: step, pause, step, pause, step, pause. You’re fighting yourself, using precious energy to get rid of precious momentum!
What you need is to be relaxed. The way to achieve this relaxation is to concentrate on something other than just the riding.
I have spent a lot of time teaching/coaching a friend, who has only limited time to practise. For the first few rides out, he was bathed in sweat, and only able to ride 50 metres before he was too exhausted to stay on the uni. Now he’s comfortably riding half a mile at a time, and completing rides of 4 - 5 miles.
I think the breakthrough came when I challenged him to race me. I handicapped myself by choosing a slower uni, and I set up a course in which it was agreed that he could take a very specific short cut. This gave him the incentive to try to beat me, and he found himself racing around at a huge speed, spinning the wheel instead of going step by step.
So, set yourself a simple challenge - perhaps riding round 4 cones set in a square, or weaving between cones, or try to do a lap of the local lake. (Unless it is Lake Eerie, Lake Ontario, Windermere, the Red Sea, or Loch Ness, or something like that!)
Also, look a long way ahead - don’t look at the ground. Try turning gradually and ‘swooping’. Get the feel of the uni flowing from one place to another.
Two things will happen: you’ll need less energy, and you’ll develop more stamina, so your ability will develop exponentially. or something.