What's the best way to learn to ride a unicycle if no friends are willing to help?

Hey all,

What’s the best way to learn to ride a unicycle if no friends are willing to help?

Thanks!

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For starters, there’s plenty to read in here. Doesn’t matter how old the info; learning to ride hasn’t changed. For more specific help, let us know about the rider. Age, fitness level, similar skills/experience, fear level, etc. The advice for a 6-year old is very different than for an 18-year old or a 50-year old.

Start by making sure the unicycle fits; that is, having the seat high enough that your legs are mostly straight when foot is at the bottom of the stroke. A decent amount of air in the tire; you don’t want it very squishy, yet you don’t want it super-hard, which will make it want to twist around too much. Correct pressure number depends on tire width. Don’t spend more time reading (about how to do it) than riding. Don’t blame the equipment; it’s going to seem impossible for a while.

Don’t give up.

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As a beginner myself (riding for a little over 2 months now) I can’t say those things worked for me.

  • I deliberately put the seat lower than above (maybe 1-1.5 inch) to make getting up it and controlling it easier.

  • a softer tire (keep in mind that I learned on a trial uni with very sturdy tires) gives a slower response, both in rolling and steering, making it more stable to learn on (My hallway has a very smooth surface, and higher pressure would make the tire slide easier)

  • I started learning in my hallway, which has 2 walls close enough to eachother that I could hold onto simultaniously for support, but also let go and roll without it.

  • I could make a total of 2 revolutions before I had to turn or roll backwards.

  • since it’s a trial uni it means that it has a lot of leverage due to crank / wheelsize ratio (140mm vs 19/20") making it easier to ride slower

The first day I got it I just sat on it in the hallway, put on some nice video on the laptop and simply rocked back and forth for maybe 5-6 sessions of 10 minutes each, just to get a feel for the uni. Of course both hands were supporting me.

The second day I slowly started to pedal back and forward throughout the hallway and since my hands were there for support, there was no risk involved other than the uni falling onto the floor :wink:
During this session I managed to ride the whole hallway (2 revolutions) without back and forward at least once.

The third day the weather was better (continous rain is not nice to learn to ride) so I went outside to an empty parking space, found a pole to mount the uni and took off.
At first it went even worse than in the hallway, but then I realized (and told myself) that I could do better in the hallway, and therefore it was only fear holding me back now.
Once I got over that, I managed to ride at least 50 meters before I had to corner (which I couldn’t do yet :stuck_out_tongue: So I had to walk back to the pole. Got sick of that quickly, so I tried my luck at mounting it freely.
Since I had the seat quite low, I could almost sit on it while my feet were still on the ground. This made mounting a lot easier and after a few attempts I could mount and ride back (still couldn’t corner, but ok, it was progression).

From there on it was simply building up on what I already knew. I could mount, I could ride small pieces, so I started to work on cornering. Took a few pylons and tried to slalom the uni through them. Once I figured out how to do that, I could make sharp turns, although it took a little longer before I figured out how to make mellow turns…

But now I’m doing ok on the uni… working on trial and street exercises now, rode a mountain unicycle offroad and trying to learn new stuff every day :wink:

watch youtube vidz, tutorials. I learned that way. first in the living room, then on an empty parking lot

Just try to ride the thing. You will know how to ride once you have found a thousand ways to fall off and avoided them. Don’t give up and you will get there.

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How I learned 40 years ago as a kid was to use 2 old broom handles to stabilize my self as I pedaled. I would put my tire against a curb to get on then start pedaling, eventually I started dropping the poles and would keep going on my own. At the time I didn’t know anyone else riding Unicycles so it was a guessing game for me, trial and error and lots of practice. Saddles didn’t have bumpers back then and my saddle got trashed from hitting the ground all the time.

I see JohnFoss advised you not to have the tire super hard. I’d add an addendum to that however. If you’re a big guy, like 220 lbs, 100 kg plus, then you actually do want the tire pretty hard. How soft is too soft largely depends on your weight. If it feels like it’s sticking to the ground when you ride then your tire is probably too soft. Another thing I notice if my tire is underinflated is that it feels like I’m riding crooked.

I’d advise you to find a long fence line in a church or school parking lot and ride using one hand for support. At first don’t be shy about clinging to the fence, but as you continue riding try and use it less and less, then start letting go a little bit at a time. And this will probably be over a period of a couple weeks so don’t get discouraged when you can’t do it right away.

I advise against using a fence for more than few minutes. Fences get in the way of the fundamental skill of steering the wheel under the fall and encourage the wrong reactions. Some people get so dependent on the fence they never progress beyond it. Part of this is they have learnt to cling rather than ride. Get a backstop and ride into the open.

Moreover the first and most important skill is the emergency dismount. Without a fence you will practice this many times.

I learned how to unicycle last March and to be truthful I am still learning but when I started I went to a local car park that had a few lamposts to which I held onto to to get started.
I was 50 years old and on a Unicycle.com 20" trainer with its standard tyre. I was only ever managing a few turns of the pedals at first with plenty of get offs, bloody shins and calves. Using the lampost to steady myself before heading into the car park and using the car bay lines as markers and targets to gauge my progress. Took me at least a week or more to make it over the car park with an hour of practice every other evening when I got the chance.
I changed the tyre to a fatter 2.4 and have the pressure at around 25psi I think it is.
The feeling was the fatter tyre gave me more confidence with the unicycle not reacting as quickly to my arm swinging etc to keep balanced which i feel helped me.

Still learning now on a 26" but still use the 20" to, now wanting a big fat tyred unicycle to add to the collection

Good luck and keep at it as it does get easier.

Cheers