Based on difficulty grading systems for bouldering, the U-system is NOT the same as the International Unicycling Federation (IUF) Artistic Skill Levels. It DOES NOT consider riding technique and is not a skills progression in itself; a rider does not "achieve" a particular U-level by riding a certain set of obstacles. The U-system is a way to communicate technical riding difficulty.
The U-system rates the difficulty of the obstacle itself, irrespective of the technique used to ride it. Since it is impossible to describe every obstacle that a rider may encounter, the U-system describes basic reference obstacles that most riders should gain from experience. By learning to feel the difficulty required to successfully ride these reference obstacles, the rider should understand the effort required to succeed at a particular level. This allows and unlimited number of problems to be graded for difficulty without having to describe each one. As an example, an obstacle might feel like a U3 in difficulty, compared to other established U3 obstacles the rider has done.
The reference obstacles are intended to feel equally challenging, on average, for a well-rounded rider. However, like rock climbing, individual riders typically have particular strengths and weaknesses. For example, a particular rider might find hopping easier than balance lines at a certain grade, if they were better at hopping than at balance lines. It is important to emphasize that harder grades DO NOT necessarily mean bigger moves - a 1/2 meter gap to a difficult surface might be harder than a 2 meter gap to easy terrain.
Below you will find descriptions of the reference obstacles for each level. By necessity, each obstacle is the simplest possible to describe. Despite the fact that the U-system rates obstacle difficulty, NOT the difficulty of moves, example techniques are provided to help give the rider a sense for the difficulty of these moves at different levels.
|180°||Technique 180° lateral rotation of the wheel.|
|Beam||Reference Obstacle A long, sturdy piece of squared timber or metal span varying in width in length. (~10cm width)|
|Clean(ing)||Riding from the start to the finish of a defined section of trail or trials obstacle without falling or touching the ground with one's body.|
|Concrete Parking Space Divider||Reference Obstacle Urban obstacle found in parking lots.|
|Course (Trials)||A collection of individual trials sections.|
|Curb||Reference Obstacle A stone or concrete edging to a street or path.|
|Dab||To place your foot, hand, or other body part on the ground to maintain balance.|
|Drop||Jumping from a higher to a lower point. Drops can be initiated from a static (stationary) stance or from rolling, with the saddle either between the rider's legs or held out in front.|
|Flow||Complete mental engagement in an activity.|
|Gap||Jumping from one point to another, where most of the travel is horizontal.|
|Going To Rubber||Moving up from a pedal grab to riding.|
|Hop||Technique A move by jumping.|
|Line||A particular route through a section of terrain|
|Mountain Unicycling (Muni)||Any type off-road riding on similar terrain to mountain bikes (including cross-country, freeride/dh or all mountain).|
|Obstacle||A thing that hinders or hurdles progress presenting a unique challenge to a unicyclist.|
|Pecking||Multiple static hops through a rough section of trail. This term is named after the mountain unicycling pioneer George Peck.|
|Pedal Grab||Technique Jump into hooking a pedal on an obstacle, and moving from that position to riding on the obstacle.|
|Picnic Table||Reference Obstacle A picnic table (or sometimes a picnic bench) is a modified table with attached benches, designed for eating a meal outdoors (picnicking) or trials riding.|
|Pre-hop||Technique Intermediate, second hop when hopping onto an obstacle, used to increase hopping height.|
|Railroad Track||Reference Obstacle|
|Section||An obstacle, or series of obstacles, with a defined start and finish, that forms one component of a course in a trials competition. Also refers to a short segment of a trail.|
|Sessioning||Process of practicing a line multiple times to achieve success.|
|Sidehop||Technique Lateral hop. Typically used to gap horizontally (e.g. gap). Often done with seat out in front.|
|Stillstand||Technique Balancing in place without moving.|
|Trials Unicycling||involves riding over obstacles of any sort, either in natural terrain or in an urban environment, where the challenge is purely a function of technical difficulty over short distances. Riding techniques are employed purely as a means to negotiate obstacles.|
|UPD||Unplanned Dismount (e.g. falling off).|
|U-system||An open-ended unicycle rating system for describing the difficulty of riding obstacles in trials competitions, recreational trials riding, or very short technical sections of trail when mountain unicycling developed by Kris Holm.|
Extracted from The Essential Guide to Muni & Trials Unicycling by Kris Holm The_Essential_Guide_To_Muni_and_Trials_Competition_Sidebar.pdf [164KB]
Extracted from The Essential Guide to Muni & Trials Unicycling by Kris Holm The_Essential_Guide_To_Muni_and_Trials_U-System_Sidebar.pdf [119KB]