There are some stray posts here and there relating to peg unicycling but I wanted to create a single thread to pull these together along the same lines as my Adventures in Freewheeling thread. Peg unicycling seems different enough to warrant its own thread and I feel it has a lot of potential. Just as with freewheel unicycling I don’t claim to be the first or the best but simply want to discuss the finer points with others who are interested.
First I should define what I mean when I say peg unicycle. A peg unicycle is a unicyle made from the front end of a BMX bike (or similar) with a seatpost and unicycle saddle attached. They are most similar to unbikes which is the front end of a BMX bike with a normal handlebar attached. They have similarities to both BC wheels and freewheel unicycles as well. Just as many people in the past have created freewheel unicycles there have been people making unbikes and peg unicycles. The only previous video I know of a peg unicycle was posted to the Unicycle Chat Facebook group:
I made a peg unicycle with standard components you can purchase:
It consists of a Huffy Pro drift trike wheel and fork which I purchased from Flatout Drift Trikes. This was relatively inexpensive (about $100 USD) but I don’t know if I’d recommend it because the inner diameter of the fork turned out to be 24mm which required some extra parts. I’ve turned three drift trike front ends to unicycles now (2 pedal, 1 peg) and probably the best, cheap method for attaching the seatpost is by filing off the lip of a Nimbus 25.4mm/28.6mm double clamp and using the bottom bolt on the fork and the top bolt on the seatpost with a 25.4mm/28.6mm shim. Usually you can saw the shim in half to get a second use out of it. Since the Huffy Pro fork had a 24mm inner diameter I couldn’t use a 25.4mm seatpost and instead I used a 22.2mm seatpost with an old 25.4mm/26.8mm shim I pounded into shape with a mallet. Then I had to use an extra 22.2mm/25.4mm handlebar shim on the seatpost.
An early video of my peg unicycle is:
Some natural questions are how it compares to riding a BC wheel and a freewheel unicycle. I’m a novice BC wheel rider but can get runs of a few hundred feet at a relatively low speed. I find the peg unicycle takes away the toughest part of BC wheel for me which is having my legs rub the tire. I still need to apply even pressure but the margin for error is larger. Carrying the BC wheel back up the hill always felt awkward to me and it’s easier to push the peg unicycle around. The frame also gives me a place to mount a disc brake which is useful for steeper hills.
Compared to a freewheel unicycle I find it has a more stable base which makes it likely that I will be able to get a better “pump” on it and may be better for jumping. I do end up walking back uphills where I could pedal back up on a freewheel unicycle. I find the more stable base actually makes it more dangerous as well. It’s easier for my foot to get stuck on the peg during a rear UPD or to be taken out resulting in a fall to the ground and sometimes propulsion of the peg unicycle in a forward direction. On a freewheel unicycle pressure to the rear pedal just pushes it out of the way and I almost always land with my feet on the ground. The peg unicycle is more difficult to get going since I can’t pedal and am reliant on gravity to get started. I’m working on a scoot-style of riding to get some initial speed. I’m able to use the brake to stop but I still need a lot of practice to use the brake to slow down and keep rolling. I’m maybe 90-95% proficient at this on a freewheel unicycle and about 15% proficient on a peg unicycle so far.
It’s already a lot of fun. Anyone who has or wants a BC wheel would probably enjoy it. I suggest trying to practice coasting on a regular unicycle. That’s what really hooked me first and is more accessible than many people think. I forgot to mention in my original post that it was Thim Kropivšek who linked to the video I posted above.
I spent a few hours in a local skatepark over the weekend, primarily riding my peg unicycle. I most practiced trying to increase my speed with a running start and rolling through the smallest curved transitions (1-2 feet). I was successful on these about half the time. I had a tiny bit of practice rolling into a bowl from a 2-3 foot roll-in (not the full height). I also tried several times rolling down a 4-5 foot bank and got it a couple times. It’s amazing how fast this can get me going (12-15 mph in a few seconds). I cannot do up transitions at all so that’s something to work on. I also need to practice the 3-4 foot curved transition into the shallow bowl. I tried my 20" freewheel to compare and while it’s much easier to get around on it’s harder to balance and hit transitions. I think the peg unicycle is a good stepping stone to working up to riding the freewheel unicycle in a skatepark because I can focus on the balance needed to ride through the transitions without having the balance required just to stay on get in the way. I didn’t record any video at the skatepark but here’s one with a couple clips (wheelwalk to pegs and a rolling mount):
Great stuff!! Good to see you’re still making progress. I think I’m going to try putting a saddle on mine and really start working with it, real soon now. My unbike fork is 25.4 ID and I have a spare post that fits perfectly in there so I should be set with a clamp and shim like you’ve got.
I could go back and look at older threads, but going by what you know now would you recommend learning/practicing any skills on a standard uni to build toward riding with pegs?
Did you ever get much practice on it as an unbike? Now that I have some decent practice with the saddle I was thinking of throwing handlebars on mine for a quick comparison. Two skills that transfer well to peg unicycling are coasting (one and two foot on frame) and BC wheel riding. However, if you don’t have experience with those it’s probably just best to practice on the peg unicycle. Starting is the most challenging part. The key is finding the right slight decline that will let you roll downhill but not pick up too much speed. Put the seat at a height where you can put a foot on one peg (wedge it against the frame) with the other foot on the ground. Scoot with the ground foot a couple/few times and then put your full weight on the saddle. I think it may be helpful at first to practice riding with one foot off the peg and used for balance. This is similar to coasting with one foot on the frame. If you can do that for just a few feet that will make it easier to get the foot up on the other peg. You’ll need to keep your head up and your core engaged. I usually have my hands out straight in front of me. I recommend a helmet and elbow pads at least and gloves if you have some. Good luck!
I kept trying for maybe a month or two and never got anywhere. I figured at the time that I was lacking too many basic one-wheeled skills and put it aside for a while. I have two years’ experience now, which is more than one, and I know I’m a lot better unicyclist but better enough or not is an open question. For physical stuff, I’m anything but a fast learner.
It’d be cool to see how you did with it.
Thanks for all the tips! I think I’ll at least start working towards coasting on a standard unicycle, if only because that would be a cool thing to know. And yes, safety gear most definitely.
I found that the balance for the unbike really has nothing in common with the peg unicycle. I’m not surprised because I also found that none of my unicycle balance was helpful in practicing manuals on my BMX bike. I practiced maybe 20 minutes total and could get some runs of 15-20 feet but I’m not planning to keep practicing. When I’m riding a lot I sometimes need to practice crotch-neutral activities but the unbike would be way down on my list behind BMX manuals, BC wheel, and ultimate wheel let alone my main practice with the peg unicycle, freewheel unicycle, muni, and road riding.
Good luck with it! The peg unicycle is a little easier than regular coasting because your legs aren’t scrunched as much, you have a nice wide place to put your feet, and you can get more leverage on the frame. However, it’s harder to get started on the peg unicycle.
Seems like peg unicycling might be a way to make learning to coast or glide a tiny bit more manageable on a regular uni. Or no?
Again, this is mostly an abstract question on my part, at least for now, though being able to take downhill runs at relatively high speed without pedaling… well, if any unicycling skill can be called useful, this would surely be it.
I think it’s fair to say that if I’d read about it and not seen videos I wouldn’t have believed it. Ignoring the obvious “How does anyone balance like that?” I just can’t get my head round how do you control your speed - and that’s the least of the questions…
Very, very impressive if not just proper scary, even to watch!
I’m somewhere in the 90th percentile for clumsiness and the 10th percentile (if that) for coordination. I can get good at proficiency skills by practicing them a lot even though most things take me a long time to learn. I can’t glide very well despite practicing it a good amount and I think the reason is that I find it difficult to coordinate the pressure on the tire with balancing. I found learning to coast much easier where I can concentrate just on balancing. I think if you can ride one footed (to get up to speed) and can do one foot wheel walk (to get the right body position and balance) you can practice coasting. To answer your question I find that riding the peg unicycle is easier than regular coasting because it’s a more natural foot position. However, as in all types of coasting it’s difficult at very slow speeds. You can get around this in regular coasting by pedaling up to speed. With the peg unicycle you roll down a hill to get up to speed or run and hop on it but both techniques are a little harder than starting at the right speed. So I guess what I’m saying is that starting may be harder to practice but once you get going it’s easier to ride. Less frequent, longer rides vs. more frequent, shorter rides.
It occurs to me that a benefit of the loop wheel suspension in a peg unicycle might be the ability to gain momentum on flats by bouncing or pumping rhythmically. Do you find that to be the case? (Sorry if this was mentioned earlier and I missed it.)