What's the difference?...

i am new to unicycling. i want to ask, what is the difference between trials and freestyle? what is the difference between trials and freestyle?

Re: What’s the difference?..

freestyle unicycling is normally done on a smooth gym floor and mainly focuses on skills performed on the unicyle
one foot riding
backward riding
wheel walking
different mounts
and so forth

the 10 skill levels are examples of freestyle skills

trials is a unicycle version of what used to be known as ‘observed trials’ in off-road motorcycle riding
mountain b*ke riders started doing the same thing and eventually the unicycle riders followed
[TANGENT: who is seen as ‘the father’ of trials unicycling? i’m guessing kris holm but i thought i’d check]
trials riding involves trying to jump up, down and over a variety of obstacles
these may include A-frame sandwich boards, electrical cable spools and a variety of purpose-built obstacles
a natural progression was to take a lot of these skills to existing constructions (low walls, stairs - that kinda thing)
this has lead to some riders reffering to their style of riding as ‘street’
i’m not sure how widely ‘accepted’ that term is

i offer these as a basic answer to the question and not as exhaustive definitions of these disciplines

feel free to elaborate, add and mock at your leisure


I’d say one or more of the people behind the UNiVERsE video. I don’t know who got the idea in the first place.

Perhaps someone did trials before them, but as always, those who publish first gets the credit.

Think of freestyle as the unicycle equivalent of ice dance or figure skating. Trials is more like, er… trials: jumping on, over and off obstacles, riding narrow rails, that sort of thing.

A good freestyler can be happy unicycling on a flat piece of ground the size of a badminton court for hours; a trialsist can be happy unicycling on and off a picnic table and bench for hours.

May I ask a related question? What’s the difference between MUni and trials? I mean, at a gut-feeling level, I already know the answer. But…

The two seem to have a close relationship – obstacles. Picnic tables vs. boulders. Concrete walls vs. logs and tree stumps. Stairs vs. technical descents.

When you are on a MUni ride and you stop to play on obstacles, have you switched to trials with a mountain setting? Or is it still MUni? For example, what is a pedal grab to a tree stump? Trials? MUni? Does it depend where the stump is located? Say, a stump in a park that you drove your car to, vs. a stump in the woods that you got to by riding on a single-track? Or does the answer depend on the type of uni that you are using at the moment? (but what about the people who do trials with a freestyle uni?) Or does the answer depend on the mindset of the rider at that moment?

I don’t have enough experience or skill with either one to be able to answer these questions, but I’ll find out for myself eventually. In the mean time, I seldom hear people refer to the similarities between trials and MUni. Maybe it’s too obvious? Here’s the big question: Are they distinct categories or are they just different flavors – like vanilla and chocolate? Freestyle vs. trials? Distinct categories. But MUni vs. trials? …

Dave Lowell (uni57)

thanks for all the info!

I asked a similar ?? about a year ago. The best response IMHO came from rhysling:

The primary difference is how you imagine yourself when you perform the task. My MUni Persona is half Tarzan and half Mountain Goat. When drilling for Freestyle, I’m one of Degas’ Ballerina singing, ‘I feel pritty, oh so pritty’, and when going to stick a Trials move, I’m a cross between Star Trek William Shatner and Beatnick Shatner doing public jaz poetry… uh… only without the words.



Hope that crystalizes it for you. Tom.

I’d vote for the Vanilla vs. Chocolate. The skills required are a little different. People will get mad at me when I say this but I think MUniing requires more skill because of the rough terrain you have to deal with while trials is done mainly on flat land like parks and parking lots. Trials is mainly about jumping. At least I think that it’s harder to drive rough terrain than jumping and dribing down stairs.

Another difference between muni and trials is that there’s an aspect of muni that’s just about riding.

I think it’s usually called something like XC (cross country) and it’s about riding off road trails, some of them very challenging, but not like the boulder jumping stuff that’s essentialy trials in an out door setting.

I’m not particularly interested in learning freestyle moves or pedal grabbing picnic benches, but I do spend many happy hours on my muni just riding around.

I have heard the terms:
“Senic Trials” used for muni(ish) trials and/or Muni on an Onza,
& “Street Trials” or “Urban Trials” for the more flat-land concrete based stuff.


That was something I forgot. I like to ride around forest and trails too. If doing some trials stuff you don’t cover too much ground.

Re: What’s the difference?..

>beauster wrote:

>> i am new to unicycling. i want to ask, what is the difference between
>> trials and freestyle? [B]what is the difference between trials and
>> freestyle?

GILD <GILD.vfy12@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>freestyle unicycling is normally done on a smooth gym floor and mainly
>focuses on skills performed on the unicycle
>one foot riding
>backward riding
>wheel walking
>different mounts
>and so forth

>the 10 skill levels are examples of freestyle skills

This is actually closer to a description of standard skill than
freestyle. Freestyle allows any kind and number of unicycles and props,
including any props used in trials. Although freestyle allows the use
of trials props they are rarely used in freestyle.

Freestyle is scored subjectively 50% on difficulty and 50% on
presentation. Trials is objectively scored and in that sense it is like
standard skill which is also objectively scored, but standard skill has
no props allowed.


Ken Fuchs <kfuchs@winternet.com>