From my experience riding a bicycle the fact that a bicycle has two wheels makes it rather easy to ride over minor obstacles like minor cracks in the road. Segway also looks promising in this aspect although it's rider's guide is full of "don't do this [usually refers to trying to ride over an obstacle in wrong way] otherwise your Segway looses grip of the terrain and you fall big time" phrases.

Now a unicycle has only one very tiny spot of contact with the road. How does one ride over obstacles on a unicycle?

  • 1
    A pedestrian has only two tiny points of contact with the ground, how could one ever move over obstacles?
    – Мסž
    May 10, 2011 at 22:13
  • 2
    @moz: Well, a pedestrian can step over obstacles, while the unicycle has to roll over them.
    – sharptooth
    May 11, 2011 at 6:15
  • A better alternative to the segway exists in the self balancing unicycle. youtube.com/watch?v=Kzy1uqFDeqo&feature=related
    – Kibbee
    Nov 12, 2012 at 13:51

4 Answers 4


I suppose one could legitimately ask how "practical" a unicycle is, since only a very small number of people can be said to have actually mastered riding the things....

However, I have seen folks with amazing skill, and even off-road unicycles equipped with knobby tires...The riders negotiating rocks, logs, and typical off-road obstacles. So...Rider skill obviously a big part of this.

I think the unicycle in motion would be reasonably stable over most "pavement"-type obstacles; cracks, seams, that sort of thing.

  • 1
    Agreed, I've seen a few kids on mountain unicycles that are better riders than others with 2 wheels!
    – Aaron
    May 13, 2014 at 3:29

If the word "practical" ever enters your vocabulary, then you really have no business messing around with unicycles.

Unicycling over rough terrain can definitely be done, but it ain't easy.

  • 1
    Oi! Unicycles are eminently practical. For a fairly narrow range of tasks, but very suitable for those. Compared to similar-sized folding bikes (the Strida, say) they're more robust, at least as fast and can carry more weight.
    – Мסž
    May 10, 2011 at 23:17
  • How exactly do you propose unicycles can be faster than geared bikes? To hit 25 km/h on a large 28 inch wheel unicycle you'd have to pedal with cadence of about 180.
    – ttarchala
    May 11, 2011 at 12:44
  • 4
    A folding bike is, in fact, much slower than a unicycle. Unless you unfold it before riding. May 11, 2011 at 20:30
  • 1
    @ttarchala: a bike like the strida is definitely faster downhill, if you are a light person and the road is smooth. But the frame is very flexible and the gearing is very low, and it is almost impossible to ride one uphill. But it does fold to the size of a unicycle, where something more rideable does not. To hit 25km/h on a strida you'd need protective clothing and no sense of fear.
    – Мסž
    May 11, 2011 at 22:05
  • Of course, with a unicycle when you want to get on the bus you simply step off the uni and onto the bus, while the folding bike rider is still trying to untangle themselves from the bike prior to folding it.
    – Мסž
    May 11, 2011 at 22:07

Mountain Unicycling (MUni) has become increasingly popular since it came on the scene in the early 1990s. To cope with the terrain, MUni unicycles are better built than regular unicycles often with double-bolted seat-post clamps and a brake. Riders usually wear helmets and shin/wrist guards due to the high likelihood of a UPD (unplanned dismount).

The most famous MUni rider has to be Kris Holm who nowadays has his own range of unicycles and equipment.

Here is an example of what is possible.


Unicycling around town will encounter a lot of uneven surfaces or abrupt changes. Wheel size plays a big role in how much of a problem it is, depending on the bump or divot. For instance, I find it difficult to ride a 20 inch freestyle uni in the downhill to uphill transition from a road up to a sidewalk sometimes, especially if it's steep. Move that to a 36er and I barely notice (in part because inertia carries you through). I'd say little cracks are generally unnoticeable on either. Hurray pneumatic tires!

A lot of going over an obstacle (when you're not jumping), is anticipating it and getting the wheel just a little bit in front of you. Once you're comfortable riding a uni and the uni is a little bit ahead of you you'll notice that inertia will catch your back foot and pull you back up onto the uni, I find. So, if you hit an obstacle with some speed but preparing to brake it'll push the wheel up and amplify catching your back foot to pull you up and forward.

If you think about it, if you're ahead of the wheel and you hit an obstacle, you're either falling forward or your shoulder is going to have to pull the unicycle faster than you're going to fall (somehow). This could work if you're also jumping instead of just rolling over the obstacle, though, as you could swing your uni in the jump.

As for drops, you just need to see them and not pedal while you're falling. Again it's more difficult with smaller wheels (since you can hit the deadzone quickly if your wheel is free, and usually short cranks limit your torque), but it calls more for attention than skill. A random 1 inch divot is not hard to ride over, but you'll probably fall off if you don't see it coming and adjust your pedaling cadence (on a small wheel especially, but unexpected falls can make you fall off bigger wheels too). Dropping off a curb is not a big deal if you keep your feet on the pedals and somewhere near neutral or carry some speed.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.