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John Eucist

How to ride an electric unicycle - understanding the dynamics

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, eddiemoy said:

when going slow, you cannot correct for the falling you do by leaning your wheel.  this is a big mistake.

That's funny because I do it all the time, down to super slow crawls.  If you are riding really slow and you find the only way to correct an imbalance is to twist the wheel then you are seriously off a neutral balance.  At close to stand still there is no reason not to be almost perfecftly balanced so that tiny shift of wheel angle bring things  into alignment; after all what else do you have to do? you're not exactly having to concentrate on where you are going, because you aren't going anywhere, so why would you be so far off balance?

And by "big mistake" do you mean a really nasty accident is on the cards, because at these speeds, nothing is a "big mistake".

Did you watch @mrelwood s hastily produced video?  Just what exactly is he doing that falls under " cannot correct for the falling"?  Not only is he performing small smooth circles but he is doing it over uneven terrain, with varying slopes and a drain cover.  Next you will be telling us the world is flat.

Edited by Smoother
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49 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

rotating the wheel like a bycicle front tire to be stable at low speed. Of course you do that by a subconsciously controlled combination of weight shifts between the legs and rotating (dare I say twisting) your body at the hip.

That's a very accurate description of what I do at very low speeds (as in when I get stuck behind a couple of 80-year-olds and can't be bothered to dismount). It's a combination of weight shifts & rotating the wheel on the vertical axis, which creates a swaying movement that the hip also plays a part in (as in salsa dancing) :efee612b4b:

 

22 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

There are 3 ways to ride a curve (as in change direction) - #1 leg weight shift, #2 upper body rotating, or #3 actually a strong in-place twist (this being more for trick riders and not so much happening during "normal" riding).

All 3 methods flow into each other (#1 and #2 as well as #2 and #3) and aren't perfectly separable. 

I completely agree with that, but didn't become aware of it until the upgraded from the V8 to the 18XL. What had worked so easily with the V8, just didn't work the same way with the 18XL (the addition of the XL pedals also changed the riding dynamics considerably). It initially felt much more mechanical (weight-shifting on the pedals), as I wasn't confident enough with the wheel to twist it or sway it around from side to side like I did with the V8, with no effort and without having to think about it.

This re-learning process on the 18XL made me much more conscious of exactly what I was doing to turn. After a ride on the XL, I'd think "I wouldn't have turned like this on the V8", but the next time I'd take the V8 for a spin, I'd realise I actually was doing some of the same things, but they were second nature and I didn't have to think about them. As you said, for me it's a combination of all of the above, and once they become second nature, they become a single flowing movement (upper body, lower body....and wheel, of course :)) that's hard to break up into separate movements/processes.

 

59 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

A learner wheel is going to be lighter and smaller (narrower!), and shifting weight between the legs is how you ride curves and fine control such a wheel. A bigger and especially wider stance forever wheel will be much more controlled by the upper body im comparison. 

It's interesting that you mention that, because for me it was the opposite. With the V8 (lighter, smaller and slimmer) I was never aware of the weight shifting (perhaps because, since it's lighter, it doesn't take much,  is more....subtle...And one isn't as aware of it?). It came quite naturally to me and I soon found myself flicking the wheel from side to side, using my upper body a lot (I guess smaller wheels are also very playful in that sense and give you a lot more margin to experiment and go with the flow, without having to compensate for/worry about the extra weight). With the 18XL, I initially found myself only shifting my weight (unless I very intentionally I threw all my weight into it to slalom), as if I were pressing one pedal to go right and one to go left. Now it's a natural flow (a combination of the aspects you mentioned above), but it comes to show that each of us has our own unique learning process. Although there are some universal aspects to riding, how these different methods/techniques come together, and in what order, depends on the person. IMHO, there's really no right order to learn them in. The rest is just a matter of times and miles, until they all fuse together, and then one gets that wonderfully liberating feeling of becoming one with the wheel :)

 

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18 minutes ago, Smoother said:

That's funny because I do it all the time, down to super slow crawls.  If you are riding really slow and you find the only way to correct an imbalance is to twist the wheel then you are seriously off a neutral balance.  At close to stand still there is no reason not to be almost perfecftly balanced so that tiny shift of wheel angle bring things  into alignment; after all what else do you have to do? you're not exactly having to concentrate on where you are going, because you aren't going anywhere, so why would you be so far off balance?

And by "big mistake" do you mean a really nasty accident is on the cards, because at these speeds, nothing is a "big mistake".

Did you watch @mrelwood s hastily produced video?  Just what exactly is he doing that falls under " cannot correct for the falling"?  Not only is he performing small smooth circles but he is doing it over uneven terrain, with varying slopes and a drain cover.  Next you will be telling us the world is flat.

Sorry to say it was a mistake, what I mean is that it uses a lot more effort to go straight if you lean left and right to correct for your falling. at some point you cannot do this without riding in the left or right direction.  when i switched to twisting and i was learning manual unicycle at the same time it became evident that twisting the wheel like the front of a bike is how you should correct for the falling.  you are in a perpetual state of falling and you correct or prevent yourself from falling by catching yourself, whether it is with the twisting of the wheel or leaning it.

For me, i just found twisting a lot easier to do using a lot less energy.  again, if you think about it from a bicycle and try to do the same leaning to catch yourself it doesn't work well.  It works better on a euc, but not by much.  on a bicycle, you twist the front wheel to stay upright.  

anyway, just trying to pass on what i've learned.  if it resonates, great, if it doesn't then stick with what you know.

 

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1 hour ago, meepmeepmayer said:

You guys are shitting on @erk1024 way too much by focusing on the word "twisting" like it had some super specific narrowly defined and only allowed meaning, and like it wasn't clear what exactly he meant in this EUC context - rotating the wheel like a bycicle front tire to be stable at low speed. Of course you do that by a subconsciously controlled combination of weight shifts between the legs and rotating (dare I say twisting) your body at the hip.

Yes, but he specifically references the Solowheel video as THE definitive example of what he is referring to, and if you watch that video, twisting IS twisting.  It's actually painful for me to watch, because as @Planemo said 

 

2 hours ago, Planemo said:

Don't think I have ever twisted during normal riding tbh! I thought the only way to ride really slow was by tilting. I can ride my Z6 with the wheel barely moving this way, I just thought it was how you were supposed to do it. I have only twisted when wanting to do say a 90deg turn on the spot, but find I rarely need to.

I will say this, again, knowing how to twist becomes part of your package of skills, as @edimoy accuratly said here

6 hours ago, eddiemoy said:

There is no secret to learning.  You just need to get on and ride.  The only secret is that anyone can learn, they just don't know it or it doesn't feel that way.

twisting is for going slow.  nothing more.  most folks start out learning going really slow, but what they fail to understand is that going slow requires advanced skills.  Just like in a bicycle.  is it easier to go really slow or fast?  so to learn quicker, you need to put aside your fear and go at a reasonable pace, fall, get back on and try again.  rinse and repeat until your brain has enough info to figure it out.

Your brain needs info to figure things out.  The balance algorithm that your brain comes up with requires data.  this means you need to get on the wheel and feed it or try.  doesn't matter what you try, the mere act of being on it for any time allows your brain to figure it out.  That is just how it works.  No way around it.  

 

I think the most significant statement above is ""doesn't matter what you try, the mere act of being on it for any time allows your brain to figure it out."

Twisting is also essential if you want to do a 180 on the spot, or switch from forwards to backwards riding while going in the same direction or twisting sideways to improve a rapid braking/avoidance maneuver, or to make a turn that you almost missed, but none of these skills is at the beginner level, thus my dislike of the Solowheel video, which state the only way to turn is to twist and then demonstrates twisting. I think, given @erk1024 s belief thast he had uncovered the answer, in the absence of other actual info on turning was reasonable for a beginner, but as Edimoy said (paraphrased) just get on and your brain will figure it out.

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5 minutes ago, Smoother said:

Yes, but he specifically references the Solowheel video as THE definitive example of what he is referring to, and if you watch that video, twisting IS twisting.  It's actually painful for me to watch, because as @Planemo said 

 

I will say this, again, knowing how to twist becomes part of your package of skills, as @edimoy accuratly said here

I think the most significant statement above is ""doesn't matter what you try, the mere act of being on it for any time allows your brain to figure it out."

Twisting is also essential if you want to do a 180 on the spot, or switch from forwards to backwards riding while going in the same direction or twisting sideways to improve a rapid braking/avoidance maneuver, or to make a turn that you almost missed, but none of these skills is at the beginner level, thus my dislike of the Solowheel video, which state the only way to turn is to twist and then demonstrates twisting. I think, given @erk1024 s belief thast he had uncovered the answer, in the absence of other actual info on turning was reasonable for a beginner, but as Edimoy said (paraphrased) just get on and your brain will figure it out.

The solowheel instruction video is an exaggerated twist.  In reality it is very minor.  just like when you are more skilled riding a bike and going slow, the twisting of the front wheel to go slow is really minor.  i think they exaggerated to show what it looks like.  

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, eddiemoy said:

Sorry to say it was a mistake, what I mean is that it uses a lot more effort to go straight if you lean left and right to correct for your falling. at some point you cannot do this without riding in the left or right direction.  when i switched to twisting and i was learning manual unicycle at the same time it became evident that twisting the wheel like the front of a bike is how you should correct for the falling.  you are in a perpetual state of falling and you correct or prevent yourself from falling by catching yourself, whether it is with the twisting of the wheel or leaning it.

For me, i just found twisting a lot easier to do using a lot less energy.  again, if you think about it from a bicycle and try to do the same leaning to catch yourself it doesn't work well.  It works better on a euc, but not by much.  on a bicycle, you twist the front wheel to stay upright.  

anyway, just trying to pass on what i've learned.  if it resonates, great, if it doesn't then stick with what you know.

 

Let me see if i understand you.

"what I mean is that it uses a lot more effort to go straight if you lean left and right to correct for your falling"

I find it the exact opposite.  switching my weight subtly from one foot to the other is the epitome of effortless. Where as, twisting the wheel takes more effort because one is having to overcome the resistance of the rubber on the ground, then use just the right additional force so that the wheel rotates the amount you intended, otherwise you have to correct the correction again; which is also true of tilting, except it is effortless.

" at some point you cannot do this without riding in the left or right direction"

so with the intention of changing the wheels orientation in order to move the center of force over the center of gravity it is BAD to change direction?  Isn't a change of direction exactly what you are trying to achieve?  Also, if this is a bad thing then how does it suddenly become a good thing because you are twisting?  A twist, also by definition, on a moving wheel will change direction.

"when i switched to twisting and i was learning manual unicycle at the same time it became evident that twisting the wheel like the front of a bike is how you should correct for the falling."

Yes, this is 100% accurate.....FOR A MANUAL UNICYCLE, because you have a dirty great saddle jammed up in your crotch.  Pretty hard to tilt the wheel sideways with that saddle preventing all independent wheel from rider) movement.

" again, if you think about it from a bicycle and try to do the same leaning to catch yourself it doesn't work well.  It works better on a euc, but not by much.  on a bicycle, you twist the front wheel to stay upright.  "

See note above about saddles.  Also on a bike you have handle bars and with your crotch as an fulcrum against said saddle turning the front wheel by simply moving ones arms is a lot easier that physically twisting your whole body on an EUC while the only fulcrum you have to push against is, no fulcrum at all.

I've read others trying to equate bike and unicycle dynamics to EUC dynamics before and I didn't see it then either, because the saddle makes a huge distinction.  The only thing bikes and unicycles have in common with EUCs is they use the same sorts of tyres,. Beyond that the similarities are circumstantial.

Edited by Smoother
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27 minutes ago, eddiemoy said:

at some point you cannot do this without riding in the left or right direction.

Very good point. That's the gist of it. At some kind you have to ride a (tiny) curve into the leaning direction. No matter which of the three techniques one uses. Simply tilting the wheel while trying to stay in a perfectly straight line just makes physics laugh at you.

Actually, what I see in the Solowheel video (a combination of #3 and #2 with some #1 thrown in) is not very exaggerated (given that they intentionally exaggerate) from "just looking where you want to go" aka upper body rotation/hip rotation (#2).

I guess it's a matter of definitions what is seen as what, and some people interpret things differently.

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18 minutes ago, eddiemoy said:

The solowheel instruction video is an exaggerated twist.  In reality it is very minor.  just like when you are more skilled riding a bike and going slow, the twisting of the front wheel to go slow is really minor.  i think they exaggerated to show what it looks like.  

That's a good point, but 1. how is a total novice to know that, and 2. at no point do they say" you can also turn like this (footage similar to @mrelwood flashes on screen).

I think several people have mentioned including you and me that it all just runs together and it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish just exactly what percentage of what technique is being deployed at any particular time.  As all us experienced rider know, it becomes a completely thoughtless process, by that I mean we wheel around ad infinitum barely giving control of the wheel a second or even a first thought.  It just happens.  Hard for a new rider to comprehend but, ride past the learning phase and you too will see what that statement feels like.

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15 minutes ago, Smoother said:

I think several people have mentioned including you and me that it all just runs together and it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish just exactly what percentage of what technique is being deployed at any particular time.

I think this is it, in a nutshell tbh.

The only thing I can add is that on some wheels (the Z specifically), high speed cornering probably isn't any of the above! 'Hanging off' is a 4th technique!

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54 minutes ago, Smoother said:

Let me see if i understand you.

"what I mean is that it uses a lot more effort to go straight if you lean left and right to correct for your falling"

I find it the exact opposite.  switching my weight subtly from one foot to the other is the epitome of effortless. Where as, twisting the wheel takes more effort because one is having to overcome the resistance of the rubber on the ground, then use just the right additional force so that the wheel rotates the amount you intended, otherwise you have to correct the correction again; which is also true of tilting, except it is effortless.

" at some point you cannot do this without riding in the left or right direction"

so with the intention of changing the wheels orientation in order to move the center of force under the center of grivity it is BAD to change direction?  Isn't a change of direction exactly what you are trying to achieve?  Also, if this is a bad thing then how does it suddenly become a good thing because you are twisting?  A twist, also by definition, on a moving wheel will change direction.

"when i switched to twisting and i was learning manual unicycle at the same time it became evident that twisting the wheel like the front of a bike is how you should correct for the falling."

Yes, this is 100% accurate.....FOR A MANUAL UNICYCLE, because you have a dirty great saddle jammed up in your crotch.  Pretty hard to tilt the wheel sideways with that saddle preventing all independent wheel from rider) movement.

" again, if you think about it from a bicycle and try to do the same leaning to catch yourself it doesn't work well.  It works better on a euc, but not by much.  on a bicycle, you twist the front wheel to stay upright.  "

See note above about saddles.  Also on a bike you have handle bars and with your crotch as an fulcrum against said saddle turning the front wheel by simply moving ones arms is a lot easier that physically twisting your whole body on an EUC while the only fulcrum you have to push against is, no fulcrum at all.

I've read others trying to equate bike and unicycle dynamics to EUC dynamics before and I didn't see it then either, because the saddle makes a huge distinction.  The only thing bikes and unicycles have in common with EUCs is they use the same sorts of tyres,. Beyond that the similarities are circumstantial.

Try the leaning technique while riding next to your friend for a mile.  Don’t go faster than him/her.  Ride next to them.  Don’t do any of those S curves that leaning requires you to do.  At some point you will get it. 

No, the saddle of the Manual unicycle doesn’t make any of the techniques no apply to EUC. They are all the same.  Only difference is learning EUC doesn’t help you learn a manual unicycle but if you manual unicycle you can pick up EUC.  

Bike dynamics are not that much different.  And you keep on bringing up the seat. Have you heard of BMX?  Do they use the seat and does the seat prevent t them from doing anything?

i can lean the bike all the way down until the pedal hits the ground while riding. It isn’t hard to do. At no point does the seat get in the way. 

Try the exercise of riding next to your walking friend for any extended period and see if your opinion changes.  

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@Smoother and anyone who want to try going slow challenge. 

Here is the challenge to anyone who world accept.  Setup two points, 20ft apart.  Ride your EUC as slow as you can between the two points and record your time in seconds.

Rules:

1) cannot go backwards during any time between the points

2) feet cannot touch the ground

3) try to stay within 1-2ft side to side  

FYI, normal waking speed is about 5.5 seconds to traverse the 20ft, or about 4kmph.

My best time was 14 seconds, or 1.5kmph.

Let the games begin!  A game where you shouldn’t get hurt.  LOL

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1 hour ago, eddiemoy said:

 Don’t do any of those S curves that leaning requires you to do.  At some point you will get it. 

Where did that come from? Stop making things up YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO "S" TURNS TO TIP THE WHEEL FROM SIDE TO SIDE.  You really need to think about what you write.  I can follow more or less withing an inch, a straight line at any speed while tilting the wheel subtly from side to side to correct my path.  At no time is anything like a "S" turn created.

You completely ignored all my unicycle saddle comments (i.e. no defense)  and then throw in BMX riders, who by default rarely use their saddles how does one equate to the other?

And you have completely ignored @mrelwood s video which he went outside and made just so you could understand what he was talking about.  One can't have a discussion with someone who ignore every piece of evidence that doesn't fit his position.

So you can lean a bike over and so do BMX riders, but these devices have two wheels so the rider has many different ways of maneuvering the bike.   how does that have anything to do with EUCs? I would like to see you lean your unicycle over on its side while your crotch is still directly above the contact patch, or there abouts.

I'm done with this stupid discussion. You keep telling me its impossible for me to do things I do all the time and every ride, including today.  I see no reason to listen to this senselessness any longer.  You keep twisting, and I'll keep tipping. 

BTW In the past, I have viewed your riding videos and something didn't look quite right.  Maybe it's this twisting you insist is the only thing that works.  I haven't seen it in anyone else's videos and I watch most of them, here and on YouTube.

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Posted (edited)

So I have to admit I felt a little blindsided by the response to my post. I deserved some of it for getting too far out over my skies (I hate that analogy, but I don't have a better one at the moment). But thanks @meepmeepmayer for balancing out the discussion. And I did learn something.

23 hours ago, eddiemoy said:

Your brain needs info to figure things out.  The balance algorithm that your brain comes up with requires data.  this means you need to get on the wheel and feed it or try.  doesn't matter what you try, the mere act of being on it for any time allows your brain to figure it out.  That is just how it works.  No way around it.  

I agree with this 100%, that the only way to learn how to ride is to ride.

23 hours ago, eddiemoy said:

You just need to get on and ride.

This is where I don't agree... 

I want to know what to try instead of just getting on and falling a lot. From my point of view, riders should be prompted to experiment with tilting and twisting. It would also help to exaggerate the tilting or twisting motions to see what they do. I saw a video of a woman learning to ride and she held her arms straight out and was only trying to balance, not trying either technique. To me that's a person who could use some instruction.

I realize there are people who just take an intuitive approach and let the process happen. Who if presented with too much information could be confused by it. 

 But that's not me, and just learning to ride is not enough.  ;) 

I want all the information up front. Maybe knowing the mechanics doesn't speed up the process at all. It doesn't matter. I still want to know what I'm doing, and why it works. Then I want steps to put it into practice. As I gain experience I can combine that data with the theory, and arrive at a deeper understanding. That's a big part of the fun. If I can't think my way through it, then I'm not interested. If it's all just reflexes and unconscious muscle twitches, that's really boring.

My issue is that basically all of the information I found took the approach of "just ride and you'll figure it out". To me that's like showing somebody a private plane and saying, "just go fly it. Ya, you may crash a few times... you'll figure it out!" I don't do anything that way.

What I'd like to do is at some point, maybe a few months from now, is put out a version 2 of that post that explains the process of balancing better. That way for those analytical types, who just have to know, they can at least find the information they want.

You all can review the post and help me fix inaccuracies. Because it's only worth the effort if it's actually going to help people. And I do want to contribute something positive to the forum.

Edited by erk1024
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Posted (edited)

 

Quote

I want to know what to try instead of just getting on and falling a lot.

Absolutely. One person considered himself a good teacher when his students got the hang of riding an EUC within a few hours. His method was exactly that, to just let them fly and figure it out themselves.

My method is different. The few people I’ve taught have gotten the hang of it in 15-30 minutes. I consider few hours to be a regular duration for learning by oneself.

Quote

From my point of view, riders should be prompted to experiment with tilting and twisting.

I agree 100%.

 

Quote

I still want to know what I'm doing, and why it works.

I’m exactly the same way. Already in school I had issues with just learning separated facts, while I had no issues learning the details if I understood the larger picture.

On to why I wanted to reply. While arguing about which method works or not, we have not yet discussed the mechanics, the ”why”:

 

Twisting is pretty obvious, the wheel gets a new direction and will continue it’s journey closer to the sideways CoG.

Tilting makes two things happen:

- Steering: As the diameter on the edge of the tire is smaller, a tilted tire rolls like a cone: It turns.

- Contact point: When the tire tilts, the ground contact point moves immediately towards the side of the tire. During balancing this brings the contact point closer to, or even reaching the CoG.

The second reason is also why wide tires are easier to balance at slow speed. Especially the Z10, as the contact point moves a lot further to the wanted direction than on any other tire. (Which I believe is also one of the reasons the Z10 doesn’t tilt at speed, as the contact point moves so much that the CoG is reached with a far lesser tilt. If you tilt the contact point past the CoG in a curve, the wheel will ”over-turn”, which will tilt both the wheel and the rider to the opposite direction, and so on, until the contact point and the CoG are the same.)

The contact point is also one of the main reasons one can balance a bit on a wheel even at zero speed. My brother has far greater balance than me, and after discussing this he tried: bested at about 10 seconds on a 2.125” tire. He didn’t try other wheels yet though.

 

Edit: Main reason for disagreeing on wether to tilt or twist could be that tilting works so much more efficiently on a wide tire. On a 1.9” tire, tilting can move the contact point only for perhaps 0.6” to each side, while on the Z10 I’d suspect almost three times as much. (The contact point center can’t be at the very edge of the tire, since the tire deforms under the rider’s weight.)

Edited by mrelwood
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13 hours ago, mrelwood said:

As the diameter on the edge of the tire is smaller, a tilted tire rolls like a cone: It turns.

I figured that's what was making it turn. 

13 hours ago, mrelwood said:

Contact point: When the tire tilts, the ground contact point moves immediately towards the side of the tire. During balancing this brings the contact point closer to, or even reaching the CoG.

Interesting! I didn't think about that, but it makes sense. And it happens immediately.

Thanks @mrelwood

Now I just need my ankle to mend to the point I can go out an try it...

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