There are many ways to learn to ride a unicycle. We decided to make a quick video highlighting what we've found to work over the past 5 years with over 100 successful learners.
Our 1,2,3 method errs on the side of safe and simple. Along those lines: always remember rule #1: Don't get hurt. It's much better to step off the front of the unicycle than it is to fall off the back. Humans move forwards much more naturally than backwards.
Regarding uni setup: make sure it's safe before you try to ride it. Check the bolts and pedals and tighten if necessary. On a 20" uni, start with the seat height 2-3" below your belly button. Wear closed toed shoes with the laces tucked in. A helmet is a fantastic idea too. Unicycling isn't inherently dangerous, but head injuries aren't forgiving.
When starting to ride, find a smooth, flat surface with a fence or wall to touch or to hold on to with one hand. Then 1,2,3. 1. Put the seat between your legs. 2. Put your foot on the pedal that is totally down (use your favorite foot). 3. Step up. You can use a friend's arm if you need to.
Once you're up, keep a lot of weight on the seat and get your pedals parallel to the ground- you have a lot more balance there than when they're straight up and down. Aim for taking 1/2 revolutions. Keep one hand out for balance. Relax, sit up, and lean a bit forward to go forward. Don't hunch over like you're riding a bike.
We've heard it takes, on average, about 10 yours to learn to ride. Be patient. We find most people learn in about 6 hours.
Once you progress beyond basic riding, it's time to learn to free mount. That's a topic for another day.
If you're buying a unicycle, remember: you get what you pay for. Good long-term unicycles cost $125 and up when new. A comfortable seat is critical.
Unicycling is a ton of fun. There's always something new to learn. May you have many years of happy riding!
Thanks to Jesse for demonstrating and Steve for filming.