Unicycles are not particularly expensive, seem to be light and portable, also fun. This gets me wondering if spending a couple of months to learn riding such a thing would boost a mountain biker's coordination, balance, timing, reaction, fall handling, etc. Or would just riding the intended type of trails be more educational?

To clarify, I am sure that doing something is the best way to get good at it. However, I am also aware of the law of diminishing returns. That is, if one's idea is to be good at mtb, maybe after a lot of riding, they should consider other activities, hat are only somewhat beneficial in the same direction.

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    My opinion (being neither a uni nor MB rider) is that it can't hurt. It's too easy to become "overtrained" in a particular specialty, and the result is that the body loses strengths and skills it would otherwise have. "Stretching" yourself is goodness, within reason. (And who knows, it may be a good way to meet girls.) Jan 10, 2014 at 18:29
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    @DanielRHicks, you were correct, as usual. A couple of chicks decided they want to talk to me after 30 seconds (!!) of learning to ride (it was a busy plase, but oh well).
    – Vorac
    Dec 15, 2014 at 11:12

4 Answers 4


Here's my contribution: There is one bicycling skill that improved a lot after I learned unicycling: Riding the bicycle with no hands. Before unicycling I could ride the bike with no hands in a straight line and do wide turns. After unicycling I was a lot more confident to go over obstacles and do narrow turns.

Now when riding some long distance biking, I often leave the handlebar for a while to straighten by back and relax. Even in uneven or difficult tracks.

Apart form that, it contributes to your leg strength and general balance.

  • I'm just starting out with a unicycle and have certainly found my no-hands balance has improved a lot (not that I get much chance to try it, and not that I'd take my hands far from the bars even now). I reckon the leg strength aspect may well be greater for novice unicyclists than those that have got the hang of it and relax, until you start doing tricks
    – Chris H
    Jan 17, 2022 at 14:49

I would think that riding the intended type of trails on a mountain bike would make you better at mountain biking. The following is a subjective argument based on my personal opinion. I'm sure some people will disagree with me.

Here is my argument:

Riding a unicycle will improve your coordinate and balance, sure, and are great for those two things.

However, there are a myriad of of mountain bike skills that you're going to miss out on, such as:

  1. Navigation of terrain including off-camber turns roots, dips, climbing, accelerating, etc.
  2. Important things like log-over technique, can only be learned on a mountain bike
  3. Cornering, counter-steering
  4. Maintenance of speed/conservation of energy.
  5. When to brake, how much to brake, when to stop breaking
  6. Limitation of grip, learning how to ride a slide, etc.

So while unicycle will improve your balance, actually mountain biking will improve your mountain biking.

If it were my money, I'd buy a unicycle and learn how to ride that too. Who knows, maybe you're on to something!


Unicycling is such a niche thing that I doubt you're going to get much in the way of scientific results saying any improvement in riding skills, but I'll give it a shot.

Since there are such things as mountain unicycles, you can certainly improve your skills! Balance, cornering, and trail sense (knowing what to do on what terrain) are common skills no matter how you ride. Things will be a little different in regards to bike handling, managing the front wheel, and jumps.

If you're looking to do it expressly to improve on your mountain bike skills, I would recommend sticking to the two-wheel variety. Now, if you've got an arm injury or something like that, then it would be a good alternative to at least do something.

*Personal note: most folks think unicycling/cyclists look ridiculous and you will get laughed at more often than not (if not always to your face). So if you can handle that too, then go for it!


spending a couple of months to learn riding such a thing ...

The average person can learn to ride it in just 4-16 hours.

It's a super fun and possibly mind expanding activity but it didn't improve me as a bicycle rider (bmx or mtb).

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