Learning to Ride (Part 6): Free Mounting

In the very first step you learned how to mount your unicycle next to a wall. This next bit is tricky and will take you some time to master.

Essentially, it’s the same as the mounting next to a wall:

  1. Place your uni in front of you, with the seat between your legs.
  2. Rotate your wheel so that the pedal on the side of your preferred foot is at the bottom.
  3. Place your preferred foot on the bottom pedal and keep yourself balanced.

This is where it’s different.

Now you want to put most of your weight on the bottom pedal and push yourself up on to the unicycle. As you do this, put your other foot on the top pedal and start pedalling straight away. Make sure that you transfer your weight from the pedals to the seat. See the blow diagram:




Some tips:

  • Pedal! You need to pedal as soon as you’re up. It’s the only way you’ll be able to stay on the unicycle at this point.
  • Lean forward! Most people tend to fall backwards because they try to balance before moving off. Lean forward and pedal to avoid this.

This is hard, so just keep up with it. Even now, I occasionally can’t free mount on my first try.

Once you can do it at least 1 in every 3 times, you can move on to the next step — a review of everything you’ve learnt!




Learning to Ride (Part 5): Pivot Turning

Once you’ve mastered basic turning, this step shouldn’t be too hard.

(Note: This type of turning is only for turning sharply – you shouldn’t use this for wide bends and corners.)

To start off, you want to be riding your unicycle. If you can’t do that yet, head back to the start!

Now, instead of leaning your body to turn like you learned before, you want to pivot your unicycle on the spot.

The trick to doing this is to make use of your body and pedals. As you’re approaching the turn, have your arms out wide. When you turn, simultaneously twist your upper body in the direction of the turn and quickly push the pedal down on inside of the turn (left pedal for left turn, right pedal for right turn).

The half pedal rotation helps to quickly accelerate you and the unicycle around the corner, which I think you’ll find is a big help. Twisting your upper body helps convert your unicycle’s momentum into the turn and quickly pivot it.

If you fell off, don’t worry. It may take a few shots, but you should master it in no time.

A few tips if you’re having trouble:

  • Arms, arms, arms! I can’t emphasise this enough. Wave your arms around, and really use them to quickly change your unicycle’s direction. Who cares if you look silly? You are riding a unicycle, after all. 😉
  • Keep pedalling! Another fundamental unicycle tip. Particularly important in this part of the guide, as that quick pedal rotation really helps to pivot the unicycle and keep your balance.
  • Don’t start off too sharp! Easy tiger. Don’t go trying to turn a full 180º right away. Start off small – I’m talking turns that you could more easily do with the basic turn. Really work on pivoting the uni. Slowly build up your turns to sharper and sharper.
  • Keep the speed up! A slow and sharp turn is fraught with disaster. By now you should hopefully know the ideal speed for unicycling. If you don’t, I don’t think you’re ready for this step yet. Head back a few. Apply that speed here – but the turn itself should be a bit faster again, due to that quick half pedal rotation.
  • Practice with a pole! If you’re struggling, try to find a pole that you can comfortably ride around without risking hurting yourself. Ride up to it, grab it with one arm, and use it to sharply turn the unicycle around it. This is great for getting the feel of really sharp pivot turns.

That’s all there is to it! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find the pivot turn is actually pretty easy and great for quickly avoiding an obstacle.

If you think you’ve mastered the first five parts of my learn to unicycle guide, you should test yourself with the skills review. Let’s see if you really know how to ride. 🙂

Once you’re confident you can do all that, we can start some of the fun stuff!



Learning to Ride (Part 4): Basic Turning

So you can now ride your unicycle. Sort of. You just can’t control it yet. Well, don’t worry. This small guide should get you turning your unicycle in no time!

Before doing anything, you want to be confident with just riding the unicycle. If you can’t ride 10-15 metres 9 times out of 10, go back a step.

Basic turning is really quite simple. It’s a matter of leaning your body slightly to the left or right, so that the unicycle wheel is also angled. By staying in this position while pedalling, the unicycle will turn. The further you lean, the sharper you’ll turn. If you’re confused, see the below diagram:

How to Turn on a Unicycle

Notice how your body has to stay upright and in line with the unicycle – everything leans together. As always, keep your focus point in the direction you’re travelling and keep pedalling. Around the turn itself, pedal faster. It will help keep you on your unicycle.

This way of turning won’t allow you to turn very sharply, but it’s the best way to start. You’ll be able to get more control and confidence once you can at least manoeuvre around a bit.

Some tips:

  • Use your arms! Turning will feel weird at first, so wave your arms around to stay balanced. It seriously helps!
  • Keep moving! This is a general unicycling rule. Always keep moving if you can!
  • Pedal faster! Around the turn, you’ll definitely want to speed up. It will help keep you on the unicycle and make the turn more stable.
  • Pull out of the turn if you think you’re going to fall inwards! If you turn too sharply, your pedals can hit the ground and you’ll hit the deck.
  • One direction may be harder to turn than the other! At least this is what I found. I’m a right-footed person, and turning to the left is much harder for me. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but if you’re experiencing this, don’t worry! After six years of riding, I still have trouble turning sharply to my left sometimes.

Once you have this down pat in both directions, try going in large circles or figure eights, gradually making them smaller with sharper turns. Another good activity is to rule a curly line on the ground in chalk for you to try and follow. It’s harder than it looks, but an excellent way of practicing!

Easy, huh! In the next step, we’ll be learning how to turn more sharply. Don’t worry, it’s not very hard!