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Show us your riding posture (Posture beginners vs experienced riders)

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  • Show us your riding posture (Posture beginners vs experienced riders)

    One thing that seems to come back all the time in the "learning to ride" discussions is advice about posture.
    Often there will eventually be a bit of discussion about the preferred posture being different during the early learning stages and the “more experienced” stage.
    Sitting with a slight forward lean (not hunched) vs trying to sit up very straight.

    I tend to agree that people that are still figuring out how to ride should not try to sit up very straight.
    In my humble opinion this increases the risk of falling backwards because you have not developed the correct reflexes yet.
    Once your body has figured out how to react properly (to bumps, speed changes, …) you can / will sit more upright.

    As I was thinking about this I wondered how I typically ride.
    Off-road I’ll ride with some forward lean.
    I know that on-road I can ride, at constant speed on level ground, with the frame leaning forward (and the body backward) but this was just a test, inspired by reading other threads.
    My normal posture? I’m not too sure.

    So I decided to look through my images to determine my posture.
    Feel free to share yours, perhaps mention your experience level too.

    To keep things comparable let’s stick to on-road riding (no freestyle tricks etc) as this is what beginners will relate to.

    Judging from my images I seem to sit up pretty straight.
    But I do see that there is still an angle between the frame and my upper body.

    Small Image:
    Apparently I’m very relaxed here.
    I'm a bit surprised by the relative "backward" lean since I'm actually riding uphill...

    Image 2 and 3 are taken within one second by automated roadside cameras of Sportograph (as they were still setting up the equipment)
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Quax1974; 2020-02-18, 12:20 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Quax1974 View Post
    I tend to agree that people that are still figuring out how to ride should not try to sit up very straight.
    In my humble opinion this increases the risk of falling backwards because you have not developed the correct reflexes yet.
    When upright, the rider is at the very edge of the window where they can stay balanced. Leaning froward a little puts the uni into a slight back lean which widens the window. Balance can be quickly adjusted by changing the angle between the body and the frame.

    It also makes it harder to knock the uni out from under the rider by putting some of any disturbing force along the frame where it can be resisted. If you are upright all you have to resist with is the pedalling and if that happens to be in the dead spot then the uni is going to be knocked out. If you have your weight on the seat the disturbance actually has to lift your weight.

    I know this from when I ride up kerb ramps between the road and footpath which I can hit at high speed provided I get the uni leaning well back. I ride a lot on cracked and displaced concrete paths. I'm constantly adjusting the angle as I approach the irregularities.

    Once your body has figured out how to react properly (to bumps, speed changes, …) you can / will sit more upright.
    The uni turns more easily and become far more responsive the closer it gets to upright. It is just like on a bicycle or motor cycle. More rake on the forks makes it more stable but less responsive. The other extreme is freestyle where they are vertical and can turn on zero radius.

    I know that on-road I can ride, at constant speed on level ground, with the frame leaning forward (and the body backward) but this was just a test, inspired by reading other threads.
    This is possible but impractical. Moreover I suspect the rider's impression when they think they are doing this is not the reality. I would love to see a photo if you can actually do it. Many quite experienced riders are surprised when they discover the uni is normally leaning back.

    I'm really pleased to see this being discussed. I have received some very disparaging responses from some riders when I contradict their advice to learners about being as upright as possible.

    I took ages to learn partly because I followed that advice but have taught others to ride in as little as twenty minutes. My advice included that they need to get the uni leaning back because they must first learn more precise wheel positioning before they can get upright and start sitting down.
    Triton 36" + 29" | KH 29" | KH 26" | KH 27.5" Muni | Nimbus eSport Race 24" | Torker LX 24" | Qu-Ax Luxus 20" | Qu-Ax Profi 20" | KH / Impact 19" hybrid

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    • #3
      I always lean forward, myself. Lots of reasons:

      - for riding offroad, it puts you in a more neutral position. You can absorb up and down changes in terrain more easily. Riding fully upright is like riding a mountain bike with the shock fully compressed, or fully extended. It's better to be in the middle somewhere.

      - it's more comfortable to ride in a "sitting" position, instead of standing over the saddle. Your weight is on your sit bones, instead of your crotch.

      - putting weight on the handle, or a handlebar, naturally puts you into a leaned-forward position.

      - as OneTrackMind points out, it's better for avoiding having the unicycle knocked out from under you. Chest forward => rear end backward => frame tilting backward => backward force from bumps going along the frame and into your body.

      Riding upright seems more like a style thing to me, than a practical thing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MrImpossible View Post
        Riding upright seems more like a style thing to me, than a practical thing.
        After my forest runs I have some paved cycle path at the end. Then I find it very comfortable sitting upright, either having my arms crossed on my chest or hanging beside me. Like yous say, when riding off-road, or even when I want to give it some speed, I would sit more bent over. It just gives more flexibility and control. Same as with a T-bar, you can't use if you have to sit upright.

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        • #5
          I think you would have to show a series of pictures to capture your complete range of body positions because of all of the micro-adjustments being made continuously.
          It looks like Q has used pictures from one side of his spectrum. (did you have others that contradicted these pics?)

          I think an upright riding position comes when you know how to position yourself and your uni before crossing any irregularities.
          If you don't have the experience (muscle memory) you do whatever it takes to stay upright (lean body forward with uni tilted backwards and push or pull till you recover).

          I compare riding to walking/running.
          When people are unsteady or unsure of an obstacle they put arms out, maybe bend over, and finally cross the obstacle like it's a biting dog. Same as on a uni.

          When people are steady and sure of an obstacle they barely break their stride, throw weight where needed to assist the crossing, and they stay upright and balanced and cross the obstacle like it's nothing. Same as on a uni.

          I'm not a fan of placing blame to a certain skill (or lack of) for the difficulty of learning to ride a single wheel.
          The body positioning is very counterintuitive to everything your body has learned up until then.
          The brain is the big hurdle.

          With much practice, your body will get as good as it's gonna get. Some will be good and some will be really good.

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          • #6
            This is my standard riding posture:
            Attached Files
            -Greg Harper

            Nipples...do you ever have enough?

            Change is good. Bills are better.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by OneTrackMind View Post
              The uni turns more easily and become far more responsive the closer it gets to upright. It is just like on a bicycle or motor cycle. More rake on the forks makes it more stable but less responsive. The other extreme is freestyle where they are vertical and can turn on zero radius.
              Surely the frame angle is irrelevant (from a steering point of view) on a unicycle since the frame isn't constrained to rotate about the head tube like on a bike.

              It's all dynamic and related to your lateral/longitudinal CG rather than the frame shape. For example, a Hatchet frame should handle no differently than an Oracle (other parameters like bearing spacing, weight etc notwithstanding).

              I do agree that tilting your frame back and your body forward can affect handling in different ways since you're changing your vertical CG, wind profile, shock absorption and probably other things.

              Anyway, I'm no expert rider but here is my posture (driven mainly by handlebar position): http://unicyclist.com/forums/showpos...ostcount=10862
              Unicycling is the fountain of youth.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Canoeheadted View Post
                I think you would have to show a series of pictures to capture your complete range of body positions because of all of the micro-adjustments being made continuously.
                I was thinking the same thing; that picture of Quax riding uphill indeed looks like he's off balance to the rear. If there were another photo 180-degrees of wheel rotation later, I imagine it would look very different. Sometimes, like when I'm trying to ride uphill in high gear on my 36" and have run out of momentum, my frame/body angle is all over the place. And it's not pretty.
                Originally posted by harper View Post
                This is my standard riding posture:
                I was thinking Eww, why show us that, when I noticed the beautiful Steve Howard frame! Is that a recent picture?
                John Foss
                www.unicycling.com

                "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by johnfoss View Post
                  Is that a recent picture?
                  No. It's about 15 years old. I had to search a while to find one of me falling. I usually don't keep those and pretend that they don't happen. It seemed appropriate for this thread.
                  -Greg Harper

                  Nipples...do you ever have enough?

                  Change is good. Bills are better.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lightbulbjim View Post
                    Surely the frame angle is irrelevant (from a steering point of view) on a unicycle since the frame isn't constrained to rotate about the head tube like on a bike.
                    On a unicycle, your body is the equivalent of frame of a bicycle and you are riding a set of front forks.

                    The unicycle is constrained by pressure from the inside of you thigh on the front of the saddle. This is like the top of a MacPherson Strut. The lower control arm is the pedal where the power is being applied. It gets weirder still when the other pedal and any retarding forces are considered.

                    As such the steering axis is not fixed and the geometry is all over the place throughout the cycle. However there is still rake and trail like any other steering system.

                    I once spent an evening discussing unicycle steering geometry at length with a family friend who has decades of experience in motorcycle racing and knows everything there is to know about the dynamics of motorcycles. The next morning he told me he had lain awake for hours after our discussion trying to get his head around the dynamics of a unicycle and it "did his head in".

                    The details are intractable but some of the fundamentals of steering geometry are certainly in there.
                    Triton 36" + 29" | KH 29" | KH 26" | KH 27.5" Muni | Nimbus eSport Race 24" | Torker LX 24" | Qu-Ax Luxus 20" | Qu-Ax Profi 20" | KH / Impact 19" hybrid

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                    • #11
                      What is the best posture for a sharp turn?

                      Once a week I get the chance to train in a MTB short track. It is muddy, with a lot of bumps and small drops/hills... I'm no good at Muni so I ride leaning forward a lot, bending forward when on bumps and pulling on the handle almost all the time. My main problems are about sharp turns on mud: if I lean the frame inside the turn I loose grip when pedalling at the end of the turn, I if try to stand I can make a sharper turn but I loose all the momentum I need not to UPD... providing I'll manage better the uni, what should be my body position?
                      The track is flat (no downhill helping to keep momentum)
                      Last edited by Vogelfrei80; 2020-02-19, 05:09 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Vogelfrei80 View Post
                        Once a week I get the chance to train in a MTB short track. It is muddy, with a lot of bumps and small drops/hills... I'm no good at Muni so I ride leaning forward a lot, bending forward when on bumps and pulling on the handle almost all the time. My main problems are about sharp turns on mud: if I lean the frame inside the turn I loose grip when pedalling at the end of the turn, I if try to stand I can make a sharper turn but I loose all the momentum I need not to UPD... providing I'll manage better the uni, what should be my body position?
                        The track is flat (no downhill helping to keep momentum)
                        Occasionally I also have to make sharp turns, like when I ride past a path I wanted to take, then when I don't think too much about the action, but more of where I want to go, I believe I turn with my hips. Naturally if you go too fast, a sharp turn will most likely throw you off, but that would be the same as when riding a car at higher speed, then you wouldn't make a 90º turn either.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Setonix View Post
                          Occasionally I also have to make sharp turns, like when I ride past a path I wanted to take, then when I don't think too much about the action, but more of where I want to go, I believe I turn with my hips. Naturally if you go too fast, a sharp turn will most likely throw you off, but that would be the same as when riding a car at higher speed, then you wouldn't make a 90º turn either.
                          I'm in trouble >90° something like 100°-135°

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Vogelfrei80 View Post
                            I'm in trouble >90° something like 100°-135°
                            Might be a stand and hop candidate if you can't turn that sharp as a pivot. I also have issues turning beyond 90° on a spot too. I'd like to hear other answers.
                            If you are female please join the “Female Unicyclists!” group on Facebook!

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                            • #15
                              I'm gonna say stay seated, look and turn with shoulders where you want to go, and accelerate through the corner.

                              I'm also a fan of having a straight body and unicycle. Just match the speed with the lean.

                              Try keeping your head still and arc the tire out, around, and back under you. Kinda like a lightbulb shape with the tire track. Maybe...

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