How To Ride an Electric Unicycle

Of all the personal electric transports you can buy these days, the electric unicycle is probably the hardest one to learn to ride. The big difference between these unicycles and, for example, a hoverboard is that you can’t stand still on it. Like a shark that has to keep swimming, the unicyclist must always be moving, or a fall is the inevitable outcome.

This particular form of electric vehicle can be very rewarding to learn, though. It has great performance, handles urban terrain well, and yet is pretty compact. If you can master the electric unicycle then you will go where no hoverboard has gone before, but there’s a slightly bumpier-than-usual road ahead of you.

First Things First

I don’t care how much of a grownup you are, if you can get training wheels for your unicycle (or it comes with them) then use them. Obviously this limits how much you can lean side-to-side, but at this point it doesn’t matter. The training wheels only touch the ground if you lean over too far, and your first goal is to mount and dismount your unicycle safely.

Tethered

Chances are that your unicycle came with a strap that attaches to the handle at the top, or some other attachment point meant for this purpose. This is NOT something to hold on to while riding. This is a tether that helps you keep your unicycle from damaging itself, people, or property if it gets away from you. So don’t pull on it like it was a horse’s reins.

Getting Started

First, put on your helmet and pads. If you don’t have a helmet and pads, stop reading this and read my reviews and guide before buying your safety gear.

Also make sure that your unicycle is fully charged, since some of them get a little flakey at low battery levels.

Now that you’re back and properly protected, find a nice level piece of concrete with an adjacent wall. If things go really wrong you can use the wall to stabilize yourself.

OK, ready to go? Let’s look at mounting this puppy.

Mount Everest

You need to hold your unicycle by it’s handle and put it upright on the ground. Make sure your safety tether is properly fastened and fold the pedals out into their ready position.

Switch the unicycle on. While holding the handle, you may want to try rolling it forward and back to get an idea of how strongly the motor accelerates. This way you won’t be surprised the first time you get on.

While holding on to the handle, put your dominant foot on its correct pedal. Now here’s the tricky part – since the unicycle needs to be moving you have to step onto the other foot pedal and also begin moving off at low speed. Standing still is not an option or you’ll just fall over, or onto your training wheels, in this case. If you feel like you’re losing control, step off the unicycle backwards (unless you like metal pedals going for your ankles) and keep the unicycle upright with the safety tether.

This is the part you need to practice the most – mounting, rolling for a distance, and then coming to a safe stop.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Turning with an electric unicycle is basically the same as turning any other inline-wheeled vehicle like a bicycle. The faster you are going the more the wheel will resist being turned. Of course the wheel itself can only support so much lean; be careful not to overcook it.

It’s important to note that it’s generally a better technique to tilt the unicycle with your feet rather than leaning your whole body over.

Watch this video

Notice how the learning rider uses his hips to subtly steer the unicycle? That’s what you’re aiming for. You can also see many common mistakes in this clip, but his systematic approach to learning the vehicle is exactly what you should emulate.

On A Roll

It may not be as quick or as easy to learn, but electric unicycles turn heads and provide a fun and unique riding experience. Once you really get the hang of it you may even learn advanced techniques, like bunny-hopping up curbstones.

Just remember to keep your own safety and that of others as a top priority. Always ride within your ability and observe the local laws that apply to your unicycle.