Where does Cross Country unicycling end and Municycling start ?

What is the fundamental difference between Muni and Cross Country unicycling, or is it just a matter of degree?

I like unicycling on single track and double track trails where there are a variety of surfaces, elevations, and strategies to get around or over obstacles - roots, rocks, mud, sand, gravel - on the trails. I am blessed with slow reflexes, questionable balance, and a variety of trails within 1/2 hour drive. I’m lucky that two minutes of cycling from home takes me into a ravine whose main trail has an easy surface in MOST spots but has a variety of inclines, and challenging short side trails. Rougher general conditions in Escarpment country are a 20 minute car ride away.

I am getting better at barreling through tougher conditions. I still don’t hop. I still can’t do a still stand, idle for more than a few “back and forth”s, or ride backwards more than about 30 feet. My dream and goal is to be able to hop onto a fallen tree trunk to cross the local creek. Now THAT would be muni cycling.

There is a local “mountain” bike set of trails that I like to ride on. Kelso conservation area. I can manage riding on 95% of the easy and medium trails. One of the most satisfying trails is an “easy” one with many, many tight turns with/without small elevation changes with the occasional rocks cropping out of the surface. I stay off the “expert” trails.

To be honest, I can’t say what I do is mountain unicycling. I’d call it cross country since I’m “barreling through” everything. Sure I read the trails, plan my route around the big rocks and ride over the rocks I think I can manage, but I need a change of technique to overcome the occasional obstacle.

So what is the demarcation point of cross country riding and Muni riding ? Is it hopping? Is it the advanced “balance of the still stand”? You come to a rock or a tree trunk or some other obstacle that you can’t “barrel over”. Is that a “muni” obstacle ? Can one say that if an off road route can only be completed using hopping and/or the “balance of the still stand” then and only then are you Municycling ?

Is there a consensus? What are your thoughts?

Thanks - Terry (Unicycle) O’Leary

It’s just terminology.

Most people like to keep it vague so they can evoke a “facebook” sensation that’s it’s more than it actually is. Look at me ride on dirt… I’m a muni monster!

Others like to spend hours invested to show their two minutes of “real” muni. Look what I can do and you can’t.

I think it’s like cycling.
Bike ride means pavement and mountain bike means dirt.
Unicycle ride means pavement and muni means dirt.

I use the word “muni” to explain the equipment needed for unicycling on the different terrains (bike trail, hiking trail, dirt roads, etc…)
Larger volume tire, knobbies, brakes, safety equipment are some of the things I feel are necessary.

If there’s no mountain involved then maybe you do xuni?

Where does XC end and Muni start?

…at the moment in Terry “Unigeezer” Peterson’s videos where the heavy metal music starts.

Perhaps the main distinction is in the setup. XC seems more suited to a 29" wheel with shorter cranks. An XC setup may have handlebars built further out front. Maybe there’s more focus on fast speeds. An all-purpose tire might be preferable to a heavy-side-wall downhill tire.

Muni, by contrast, may use a 26" or 27.5" wheel. Some technical riders still use 24" wheels for technical muni. The wheel/crank ratio of a muni setup typically provides more leverage.

When I see really awesome riders muni, I feel like I’m only doing XC by comparison. I asked one of these great riders if I was still doing muni. He said yes. Unicyclists are such nice people!

For my personal use of the words, it depends on what the goal of my ride is. If my goal is to ride challenging terrain, I’ll call it a Muni ride. If it’s to cover distance/physical exercise, and happens to be on dirt, it’s cross country.

I’m broadly with Finnspin on this.

Most mountain bikes never go up mountains. Most mountain “bikes” are only ridden on the road, and most “mountain biking” is done on prepared trails and obstacles.

Very few people worldwide actually ride unicycles on mountains.

If you are riding on unmade roads or trails with the emphasis on a combination of speed, distance, exercise, and enjoying the scenery, that is probably cross country.

If you are riding on unmade roads or trails with the emphasis on the challenging nature of the terrain, then that is probably muni.

Other than that, it’s down to each rider’s ability and preference. What I consider to be tough muni would be easy cross country for Kris Holm. I can remember cheering and punching the air in celebration at completing climbs or descents that I could now do without a second thought. The same hill was once muni (for me) and is now cross country (for me) or even “just unicycling”.

The thing is to enjoy what you are doing, and not to rely on other people to validate it with their approval or admiration. There will always be better riders than you, but there are around 7,000,000,000 people in the world who will never even see a unicycle, let alone try to ride one.

The term mountain unicycling is borrowed from mountain biking, so I would categorise them in the same way.

So Cross Country is a form of mountain-unicycling and mountain-biking, involving any type of terrain and riding both up/down hills. In contrast, Downhill Muni/Mountainbiking is where the primary objective is to ride down the hill as fast as possible, without being focused on the up (ie they can take chairlift/shuttle to the top of the course), generally on a more technically challenging course.

Mountains are not required for MUni anymore than they are for mountainbiking- it’s just a generic term for off-road cycling. Some of the hardest mountainbike races I’ve done have been on the flat.

It is subjective, call it anything you want

For 99% of the unicyclist on this forum anything but a gym floor is both muni AND xc.

For many of this same group the difference between muni and xc is based loosely on the perception of speed that a rider thinks they are traveling at.

Just remember to always be totally subjective and never objective, everything will be okay.

Call it anything you want…
…that’s what I do,


Before we called it Muni, George Peck was calling it Rough Terrain Unicycling (he made a video of the same name in the early 90s). Before that it was called UMX, borrowing from BMX, which was super-popular in the 80s. But we never did anything similar to BMX racing, with motos on short tracks; it was just a name for riding on dirt. I coined that name for an article on “dirt riding” for the Unicycling Society of America Newsletter in 1981 (which didn’t come out until '82). Our early Muni competition events were called UMX, and would mostly fit the category of XC races.

UMX, Rough Terrain Unicycling and Muni at their core all mean riding on dirt, or other natural, non-paved surfaces. I started riding offroad in Michigan, which doesn’t have mountains to speak of; mountains are definitely not required. Same for mountain biking, which is called that because it sounds cool. We call it Mountain Unicycling because that also sounds cool, though it confuses lots of people that live in flat places. Before the name Mountain Biking became popular, the bikes were also known as ATBs (All Terrain Bikes). Like George Peck’s name, it was a more accurate depiction of what the activity really was. But names are important. Try to get reporters to come out and cover your “Rough Terrain Unicycling” and it’s a tough sell. Mountain Unicycling, at the time, sounded absolutely ridiculous, and attracted much more attention!

It’s also the name of a competition event, more or less as he described, where neither up nor downhill is emphasized; rather just getting from A to B on dirt. The first such race we ever did at a Unicycling Society of America convention (1989, Mobile, Alabama) involved grass, dirt, going up and down a couple of curbs, and started and ended on the track. That was all the “country” we had available to cross. :slight_smile:

So I agree with others who say Muni and XC are basically interchangeable when considering them outside of competition events.

That’s a super-wide definition, but is essentially true.

I also think of XC as something that’s faster and less technical, though this is not always the case. Trails that don’t offer much technical challenge are boring to me, so I prefer to ride something harder. But the best trails may involve long stretches of “easy” to get you to the “fun”. In fact most of them seem to be like that. My favorite ride in my local area includes about 1.5 miles of riding a paved road uphill (out of a 7 mile loop), but it’s worth it. It also includes some great challenging areas and beautiful scenery, like the picture below. :slight_smile:

That would be very sad if it were true, but I think unicycles are not quite so rare. India has about 1 billion people, but they have some unicycles. China has about 1.3 billion, and a much better chance for people to see a live performance in a Chinese circus. Beyond that, there are probably large areas of the world where people are much less likely to ever see unicycles/unicycling in person…

I hadn’t realised there was a difference. I tend to call all my off road riding muni - on here at least, in the real world I tend to have conversations more often with non unicyclists and just describe it as off road to them.

With real muni I think of real technical offroad rides with drops and big rocks to navigate through. Maybe the chance of UPD-ing is bigger, unless you’re really good. With XC my first thoughs are a mixture of paved and offroad, but much easier and therefore you can get higher speeds. For XC you can prolly make more kilometres than with real municycling. Even though I tell passers by that my uni is a municycle for offroad, I only ride road and XC (wide dirtroads and some not too bumpy single trails)

I thought a MUni had some updated version of the ProFile “bombproof” hub & crank set, and a 3" Gazzolodi tire that was always very under inflated. (and stronger frame, etc.)

the first uni I had that was suitable for XC had a ballooned out 28" tire, kept fully inflated, and the hub/crankset didn’t have to be so special.

But I’m old, and times change.

Muni (or the earlier form, as seen in the Trivial Pursuit 20th Century edition, MUni), dates back before there was a Profile hub, or any splined unicycle hubs. Which means we broke lots of hubs. :slight_smile:

The 3" tires came after the first splined hubs were available, but they transformed what could easily be ridden. A super-technical piece of terrain for our old 24" “regular” unicycles, would be like riding down a sidewalk with a 3" tire.

Ain’t that the truth!