Mountain Unicycling (known as MUni) is an awesome challenge of mastering the skills to maneuver, balance, and react to allow yourself to ride a unicycle over difficult terrain. Mountain unicycling terrain includes but is not limited to single track, rocky slopes, dirt, mud, sand, snow, ice, creeks, roots, logs, ledges, drops, bridges and even walls.
MUni is an incredible workout and a very enjoyable way to enjoy the great outdoors
Yes, absolutely! Anyone can learn to mountain unicycle. Many of the riders in this club were taught by other members and are now riding with the best of us. Any person can learn to ride a unicycle, the only thing that it truly required is the pure desire to ride one. It can seem very difficult when a person first tries it, but with some help, some practice and a few wipeouts and maybe scrapes, you will learn to ride. Some people take a couple of weeks to learn and others take a couple of hours. With some help from another experienced rider, you will learn much quicker and can prevent any bad habits from starting in the first place. It is not recommended to learn entirely on your own even if you already have your own unicycle. You will learn much faster by learning with an experienced unicyclist! Members here ride quite regularly and many of us would be very happy to teach you to ride, so contact one of us for help to start doing some of your own mountain unicycling!
Once you learn to ride a unicycle, don't stop learning. To master Mountain Unicycling you need many more skills than just being able to ride, and you should start learning them as soon as can turn that wheel! Your basic balance and steering skills will continue to develop as you learn new skills and its most effective to work on many skills at the same time than slave away learning one thing at a time. Every skill improves your other skills and its important to start learning the more difficult skills early so you can get to the trials and really enjoy the mountain unicycling aspects of the ride.
Some of the more advanced skills that you need to learn that are essential for Mountain Unicycling are:
Then combine all those things within 2 minutes on a tough mountain trail and repeat that for an hour long ride and you then know the definition of true mountain unicycling!
There are many different types of Unicycles and Mountain Unicycles available and they all somewhat vary in function, design, quality and strength. Strength is one of the most important aspects of a unicycle if you are going to use it for offroad riding.
There are probably around 20 different unicycles available and they cost anywhere from $100 Canadian to $2000. Good candidates for offroad riding include 24" and 26" wheeled unicycles with wide frames to allow room for a wide knobby tire (up to 3") and rocks and mud buildup. Most riders agree that the wider the tire the better (the 3" wide Gozzaloddi is most popular right now) but wider frames and bigger rim/wheels cost more and weigh more.
Another import aspect is the seat. This is a big concern for the majority of unicyclists (of whom are men) because it is critical to be comfortable in the seat department for obvious reasons. There are some absolutely horrible seats on the cheapest models and no one could ever be comfortable on them. There are much better seats available with good contoured saddles with smooth edges and a good layer of foam padding that can have an added layer of air cushioning by adding a partially inflated tire tube inside the seat or underneath and extra seat cover (Roach makes this extra seat cover for an air cushion)
Several riders here use an inexpensive model called the Bedford unicycle which comes with a reasonably wide frame that you can put a wider tire on, decent cotterless cranks, and a good seat with comfortable padding that can be converted to an air seat. If you are looking for an inexpensive uni that should hold up well through some rough terrain it is an excellent buy. The Bedford Unicycle only costs about $200 Canadian and can be ordered in Canada from Darren Bedford. He also sells Semcycles and lots of unicycle parts at reduced costs.
One of our members has also written a review of the 2001 Bedford. (Bedford has many newer and improved models since this review!)
We also recommend Semcycles as they are also well built and quite strong if you are willing to spend a little more. Of course, there are many more models available
Some cheaper (starter) unicycles are available from Bike shops here in Calgary, just call around. We have seen them at Bow Cycle, Cyclepath, Lifesport, and a few others. These are great to learn on but don't expect them to last once you get into more intense riding or if you're over 150lbs. Then you need something a little tougher.
The best place to buy unicycles though is from mail order either from Bedford unicycles or Unicycle.com.
Remember that a cheap unicycle will make it harder to learn and you will not enjoy it as much if you are not comfortable, so keep that in mind when you thinking of buying one.
The following questions were from a journast from the Mount Royal College Journal in an interview and most of the questions are somewhat common so that is why they are here in the FAQ now.
The are lots of events, if one is willing to travel, but it's fairly unlikely that there will be anything local unless there are local clubs. The big competition each year (UNICON) is in a different part of the world every time, but it includes a competition for pretty much everything you could possibly imagine you could do on a unicycle. There is also the odd competition in the states, or in the UK where there are simply many more unicyclists around to make it possible.
Mountain unicycling, and trials unicycling have grown substantially in the past few years, which have been a big help in making a higher demand to get better equipment more selection, and more people designing quality components. Since five or six years ago, there are probably 10 times the number of products and unicycle's to buy that were never available before. This has made the sport a lot more enjoyable because of better equipment and at the same time, a lot more accessible for new people getting into it.
Personally, I'm extremely happy with the sport right now, there is great equipment available, great inspiration from the huge unicycling community on the Internet, and there are already competitions held for people who are interested. I am personally not very interested in competitions, I've always learned every skill on my own and the sport is very much about self-motivation and dedication to push yourself further than ever before. As long as your approving your own skill set in trying new things, I don't think competition can make that any more enjoyable. Mountain unicycling, freestyle, or trials are all very different so it's also difficult to judge or compare riding abilities.
I really enjoy being able to ride with other people, helping people and learning from other people about the new skills with mountain unicycling so those are the things I hope keep improving for the sport. The Internet is a great resource for finding help and there are more and more people getting into the sport to ride with it. I've produced my own mountain unicycling video called, "Unipsycho Extreme" which includes narrated training clips to help people improve their skills. It's great to be able to learn skills from other riders and that is what I think the sport needs the most.
In order to join the Calgary Mountain Unipsychos, all you need to do is learned to ride a unicycle, and come riding with us sometime. Our club is quite informal, but it's a great way to learn new skills from other unicyclists and it's a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
There are too many places to name one as the best place to ride, but I personally most enjoy long steep rooted singletrack in the Rockies. There's a huge variety of riding in and around Calgary, and the nearby mountains make for some of the best scenic trails. I've riden Vancouver's Northshore and it is definitely one extremely challenging ride and I wish I had more opportunities to ride their, but I sure can't complain about the local scene.
I'm not sure if there are any specific training camps just for unicycling, I know unicycling is being used more regularly for sports training in the off-season for other sports that require excellent balance skills, and a number of those people end up becoming mountain unicyclists as well. As far as I know, there aren't any local such camps, but clubs are probably the best places to learn from anyway because unicycling is a way easier to learn with the help of another person. Holding onto someone's shoulder while they walk is the fastest method if you ask me, and I've taught a lot of people to ride.
There are two options, either buy a fairly inexpensive Norco unicycle which is available locally at a number of bike shops, or order a higher quality unicycle through the mail. The biggest shop anywhere is probably unicycle.com in the states or you can order from Bedford unicycle's in Ontario. It all depends on how much money you want to spend and how strong of a unicycle you need. He definitely get what you pay for with a unicycle, and they do need to take a lot of abuse if you plan on riding hard. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $2000, just like bikes, there's a big range.
Most people by a really cheap unicycle when they first learn and end up having to upgrade to something stronger once they've destroyed the first one. I usually don't recommend this, because the cheaper unicycle's are more difficult to learn, not as comfortable and very frustrating if parts are constantly breaking.
I know they won't be. They are harder to learn, not as fast, and require a lot more effort than a bike.
Maneuverability of a unicycle is a way better than any bike, which gives some definite advantages, especially on narrow beams, ledges and logs. You can turn on a dime, ride backwards, easily hop sideways, and you can do all this with both arms free. There a lot of freestyle skills similar to BMX freestyle skills and their are tons of trials skills on unicycles that are exactly the same as trials biking. Mountain unicyclists are doing 360° air spins, huge gaps and well over 6' drops, leaping over 2 foot logs while descending a brutal single track and skidding down skree slopes without brakes. It is all approached a bit differently and at different speeds and a unicyclist has to always be pedalling, so there is no easy coasting down a slope. As far as trails go, unicyclists are doing 6' gaps, riding up and down stairs, gliding without the pedals, doing 4' pedal and crack climbs over and onto huge obstacles and landing pinpoint drops and gaps on beams, ramps, and teeter totters. Many of the skills can be done in both sports, they're just done to different extremes.
Thanks for your time,
Aaron Dane Lutz
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