What is the most important thing to know when learning to IDLE?

I have been unicycling for about 8 months. I can go down stairs, hop up a curb, ride for miles etc, mount from both sides… but I can not idle!

Honestly, I haven’t spent a lot of time practicing, but I would say at least 5 hours intermitantly. I have moments were I can go 8-10 idles just before tipping over. I really want to get this skill down, and soon.

So, how many hours of practice should I expect to spend before I can idle? It’s Monday, could I do it by Saturday?

If you had any advice, what would you say was the single most helpful thing when learning how to idle?

I have read all previous posts on this, but I must be thick, I am just not getting it. Or maybe I’m not and everyone struggles learning this skill. I always think that now that I can ride, new skills should come easier. That is easier than they are coming to me.

In my experience idling is not a skill that you learn once it “clicks”. It is a gradual process of trial and error and accumulated experience and conditioning. I have been riding for about 5 years now and while I can idle, I am still shaky and inconsistent. I put enough practice into it to be able to do it, but not to be solid with it.

The more you practice the quicker you’ll learn, but it will still require patience. And I’d say that idling is one of the foundations for many more advanced trickery, so it is worth the effort.

I find it to be extremely boring, unfortunately, but need it in order to be able to accomplish some of the other tricks I’d like to be able to execute.

Most here will agree that it is an important skill and one that you ought to put the effort into. Don’t expect miracles by Saturday, but stick with it and you’ll get it.

Good luck,
Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ


Keep your weight on the seat. I expect to see a video of you idling by tonight. I know you still have that camera.

Spend 5-10 minutes every day just practicing idleing, it doesn’t take much space so it’s one of the things that can be practiced indoors.

Don’t use walls etc except at the beginning phase.

I don’t work on many skills other than riding/muni (eg I can’t ride stairs or hop onto things), but after spending a year with very intermittant idling practice against a wall and getting nowhere; I got it pretty solid in a few weeks with short daily sessions away from the wall.

Thanks JJuggle, I hope that it doesn’t take me 5 years though!!!

Harper my old friend(in respect to my time on a uni) I actually have upgraded my camera. I had it at the NAUCC. The other one mysteriously stopped working sometime after we rode together. I don’t think it had anything to do with me slamming into the tree with my handlebars will holding it though. Guess that is as good a reason to not have handlebars as any. I expect that by the next time we ride, not only will my Muni skills be improved, but my movie making skills as well.

Secondly, if I do invest the time to put on a Muni Weekend in the Atlanta vicinity your presence will be requesite. I promise I will wear one of the outstanding Tatoos I picked up at NAUCC. :smiley:

I was practicing my idling waiting for the magic response, and did about 10 idles just now. Who knows, maybe JJuggle it right it is gradual, and you don’t just get it. I know with riding and mounting, I finally understood how my body should feel when doing those things and now wonder why it was so hard back then.

It took me about 3 weeks of practice to get it down. I found it helpful to swing my arms in the opposite direction of the pedals, e.g. when the left pedal is back, my right arm is back and my left arm is forward. And practice using roll-back mounts, which is basically 1/2 cycle of an idle. My weak side idle is a lot smoother if I swing my arms that way too.

I learned to idle just by trying and trying and trying and trying…

…and trying. It took me some time. Maybe two months but I haven’t given it too much time. With right foot down I can idle almost as long as I want. I gave some of my first true attempts on left foot idling today too. I managed to do about 25 idles. Most of the time I ended up UPDing just before 20.

I didn’t use a wall to learn it. Since you can already do ten idles, just ride, come to a stop, do seven idles (or what ever feels comfortable), ride a bit forwards or backwards, stop again and do seven idles. When you can do this comfortably increase the number of idles. It should come with time. My idling isn’t too solid and I sometimes wobble a lot, sometimes I can idle without any problems.

Weight on the seat

Concentrate on the bottom foot

Look at an object in the middle distance

Take the timing from the unicycle - don’t try to force it to your rhythm

Practise practise practise

Sit upright

Head stays still, wheel passes beneath

Bottom pedal travels from about 4 to about 8 on the clock face, possibly slightly less.

I rode for 15 years without knowing how to idle. Once someone showed me, I learned in about 4 or 5 sessions of 1/2 to 1 hour. After that, it’s practise practise practise to make it natural.

Within a few months of learning, I could idle indefinitely on a normal sized uni (i.e. not the Coker!)

Good luck.

I been riding for about 1 year now. Some how I just can idle about 40 times naturally. It seems imposible to 1 foot idle though. 1 tip: don’t fall

I’ve found it helpful to work on idling in my basement while holding a piece of nylon climbing webbing (or a piece of rope) attached to the ceiling. I hold the webbing at about shoulder height, so the webbing gives me some help, but since it is able to swing around, I can’t rely on it as much as a wall or a pole. As I have gotten better, I hold my hand up a little higher and try to keep slack in the webbing, thus idling without the balance aid.

Doing it this way gave me more practice time in the idle and I spent less time falling and remounting. With the webbing, I could also do a full revolution forward and then backward (I think I’ve seen this called a super idle). This has helped me with both the idle and with backwards riding.

Once caution though, if you really get off balance, this moving balance aid can spin you around really quick. Make sure you have it anchored well to the ceiling joist.


The Uni is a pendulum, pivoting at your sternum.

Weight in seat.

I was told, and it seemed to help: Since idling with your arms all the way in (folded in front) is most difficult, the opposite must also be true…therefore stick them way out (like you’re a big T) until you get the hang of it.

Practice, practice, practice.

It uses different muscles. They tire out. Practice strengthens them.

After a while you’ll wonder why you thought it was so hard.

i think a lot of it has to do with how well you ride, in general, and your overall balance. i remember spending a long time trying to idle, unsuccessfully, so i quit trying for about a month, and then when i tried again, it came to me. since you can do it “8-10 times” it sounds like you have the technique, just not the balance.