Are you an experienced one-wheel rider staring down the prospect of teaching a friend how to ride?
Does that friend know nothing about unicycling?
Worry not – here are a few tips we’ve compiled for introducing new riders to the sport (just don’t forget the helmet, knee, elbow, and wrist pads).
Getting In the Unicycle
The first thing you need to do before your friend can even get in the unicycle is to set the saddle height.
A quick shortcut is to set the top of the saddle level with the rider’s belly button. For most riders, this will work just fine. (You might need a few adjustments but it should work.)
Then, determine the dominant foot; whichever foot the rider goes to put on the unicycle first is probably the dominant foot.
Situate the rider between yourself and a wall. Take hold of the rider’s hand and with your other hand, support his or her elbow. The rider’s other hand should be used to stabilize him or her against the wall opposite.
The pedals in this orientation should be in the 12 and 6 o’clock positions (top dead center and bottom dead center for you car folks); from here, you can slowly “walk” your friend forward until the pedals are in the 3 and 9 o’clock positions.
That’s the basics of mounting.
The next thing you need to coach your friend on is finding his or her balance.
First and foremost – constantly remind your friend to sit in the saddle. Almost all new riders instinctually lift themselves out of the saddle but this is a bad habit.
Coach the rider to look where they’re going; not down at the ground.
Since your friend should have one hand pressed against a wall for support, coach him to rock back and forth slightly (with the weight in the saddle) to find a point of balance.
Give your friend a solid 10 to 20 minutes to get familiar with finding their balance before you try to move along.
Dismounting is actually a skill you should learn before trying how to learn to move in a unicycle.
What you want to teach your friend to do is to step forward, upright, off the unicycle, without getting preoccupied about holding onto it.
Trying to “catch” the unicycle can cause injuries.
Take hold of your friend’s hand and elbow, and help him or her step forward and off of the unicycle, letting it drop away.
Practice this a few times, helping your friend, before allowing him or her to try it alone, without your help or support.
Have your friend get back in the saddle and take hold of his arm and elbow for support. Find the center of balance, as you had done previously, and help your friend move forward along the wall.
Something you want to coach him or her to do is to pedal fluidly, not make jerky pedaling movements that will rapidly shift the center of gravity and which can cause unplanned dismounts.
Practice this for a good 30 to 60 minutes before attempting to “launch.”
Before launching off, make sure the rider is confident with mounting, dismounting, and finding his or her center of balance; also make sure there are no obstacles around that present a risk.
Start along the wall and bring the rider off the wall, riding forward until he or she feels the need to dismount.
Once the rider becomes proficient with this method of launching, you can have them attempt to launch from a position that starts with their back against the wall.
Regarding the Unicycle (and Unicycle Safety Gear)
That’s all you need to know (from a very high level, at least) about teaching a rider how to get into, get out of, and find their balance with a unicycle.
You’ll need a unicycle and safety gear like a helmet, and knee, elbow, and wrist pads, first, though.
For that, visit Unicycle.com. They carry a wide range of unicycles, parts, tools, and safety gear like elbow pads and wrist guards, and they’re also ready to help with questions – call them at 678-494-4962 if you need additional help.