How To Ride Unicycles: Tips on Riding a Unicycle

Unicycling Isn’t Just for Circus Folk

Boy riding a unicycle

You may have seen a lone unicyclist peddling down a city street recently, braving the stares and the laughter. Are these just exhibitionists, or is there something special about perching atop a single wheel? You may see more as the sport continues to grow in popularity, so why remain a startled spectator? It’s time to discover why one wheel is just as fun as two!

Here are some tips on learning to ride a unicycle. 

  1. Acquaint yourself with the unicycle. Yes, it has front and back orientation, like a horse or bicycle. The pedals should be marked “L” and”R” for the left and right foot, respectively. Your unicycle is at proper height if your leg is practically straight as its pedal reaches the lowest point in its trajectory.
  2. Where to begin your training. The best environment for learning to ride will be a large, flat and hard surface with a handrail or fence that you can grasp for quick support. You don't want to do any extreme cycling to start. Just begin getting acquainted with it in an easy setting.
  3. Half the battle is mental. You might think that riding a unicycle is more difficult than riding a bicycle. Your perception is due to how odd it looks in comparison to the more familiar two-wheeled form. But riding one requires no more practice or physical prowess. If you believe that the learning process will be far more physically challenging, it will be. But if you think positively, embrace the challenge, and remind yourself that anyone can learn to ride, you’ll succeed marvelously.
  4. Mounting the unicycle. Let's talk about how to how to ride a unicyclemount it. Contrary to what we learn when we ride a bicycle, the first pedal motion you make when mounting a unicycle is backwards! Place the unicycle seat beneath your crotch, with the wheel a pace in front of you and one arm steadying yourself on the handrail, which should be parallel to the direction of your wheel. If you were looking at your unicycle wheel from a position directly facing the wall, you could compare the wheel to a clock whose arms are pedals. The pedals should read approximately 10:20, meaning that you could lift up a foot and press down on it in the same way that you would step down on a gas pedal in your car. When you push in this backward fashion, the wheel will lift your body up onto the seat as it rolls backward beneath you. Now you’re upright on the unicycle! Your next challenge is to stay that way…
  5. Recruit a couple friends. A handrail isn’t the only thing you can lean on! Ask a couple friends to join you in learning to ride.  With the promise of fun and the exercising challenge you shouldn't have a hard time finding people to ride with you. With two others, there will always be support as the unicyclist learns to provide his or her own stability. Position one free person on each side. Gradually, the amount of support needed from those people will wane until the cyclist can move forward without aid.
  6. Steering. As you learn how to steer your unicycle, practice in small efforts somewhere empty and flat. Despite how worrisome the prospect of leaning is when you first begin, you steer by leaning!  But with several hours of practice, you’ll get the hang of it. Remember, if you feel yourself falling, simply let your feet fall to the ground and stand up. Your unicycle won’t get hurt, but you might if you follow it down.
  7. Safety. Generally you should give yourself at least two weeks of practice before you ride in a public area. But accidents can happen to any cyclist. Regardless of skill level, cycling requires that you wear a helmet and wrist guards for your safety. When you drive, you wear a seat belt, right? A helmet and wrist guards are just as important when you ride a unicycle.

Learning to ride is a truly rewarding and exciting experience as you gain confidence and enter a broader community of enthusiasts from whom you can pick up more tips and unicycle tricks.


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