Advice for a returning unicyclist

I rode a unicycle quite a bit as a kid, oh several decades ago. Now I’ve decided to get a unicycle for my kids to try (heights 4’6" to 5’1") as well as a unicycle for myself. Any advice would be appreciated.

Steve

Welcome back, it’s good to have you.

I’m sure the people with the meaningfull advice will be along shortly, I’m just the welcoming committee.

I learned to ride forward when I was 12. After a few months I stopped. At 49 I bought a unicycle and within an hour I could again ride forward. Then I spent weeks learning to mount, turn, bunny-hop, and muni on non-technical trails. Now I am riding every other day (my knees suffer so I have to wait 48 hours between rides). My favorite is uphill trail riding. I now have four unicycles and trying to convince the others in our house that one more unicycle would be a perfect number.

You will probably have an easy time getting back on a uni yourself. I don’t know about unicycle sizes for small kids. The 5’1" kid would be fine on a 20" learner. How old are they?

Hey Steve. Welcome.

Unicycle.com is a great place to start for purchasing unis for you and your kids. There are very helpful.

mbalmer: I also learned at about the same age as you did, and am almost your age now. Our kids are 11-15.

Jethro: I looked there and also took the kids to a local bike shop to try on the ony uni they had, a 20" torker (sp?). It was slightly too big for my littlest.

If you want immediate gratification, buy whatever unicycle your local shop has. Usually you have a choice of 0, 1 or maybe 2. If you want choice and can wait a few days, start with Unicycle.com. They’ll have whatever your bike shop has (they might have gotten it from Unicycle.com), plus a ton of other choices.

So are the unicycles for you, the kids, or all? I recommend all. :slight_smile:
Don’t worry, if you rode quite a bit as a kid, you’ll be riding again within a few minutes.

John: My plan is to get one for the kids and one for me. Although I rode a lot as a kid (forward, backward, etc), when I tried again 6-7 years ago, it took me an hour to regain balance. I’m sure I can ride agian, but it wasn’t “like riding a bike”. I want the kid one to have a quick release height adjustment so they can easily share. If more than one digs it, I’ll get another.

The most obvious technological improvement is that seat guards are standard. We used to replace seats every six months.

Also, can anyone tell me the typical cruising speeds of a good rider on various size wheels? I have a fantasy of occasionally commuting to work (17 miles — I do a lot of biking now), but I suspect that’s unrealistic.

A 20" wheel is supposed to be the best size to learn on (although, I can’t confirm that with personal experience - I learned on a 16" and don’t know if it would have been easier on a 20"). Also, a 20" is probably the best all 'round size for your youngest - your older kid may prefer a 24" after he learns - but you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

If the Torker was slightly too big for the littlest kid, you can easily cut the seat post (take off an inch and see if that does the trick. If not, cut a little more). I have had to cut the seat post on almost all the unicycles my kids ride. If you ever need a taller seat post, they are very inexpensive to replace.

There are different models of Torkers. The LX is a good, reasonably priced, beginner unicycle. The other Torker models are not as good.

I am also a re-entry rider who taught two of my kids to ride (a third may get it by the end of summer). They started on 16" wheels, but they were younger and smaller than your kids. We have a 20" Torker LX in the collection, and it has held up fine (although we don’t abuse it. Big drops are done on our mountain unicycles).

I have a great time riding with the kids. Best of luck getting your kids enthused.

Like Kerv said, you can probably “customize” the 20" to fit your youngest. If cutting down the seat post isn’t enough, it’s also possible to cut down the seat tube, though this is more work. You have to then re-cut the slot so the frame can squeeze around the clamp, but I’ve done this with a hacksaw before. A 20" is a better investment than a 16" as it can be used by a wider range of rider sizes (including adults, for tricks & learning). A 16", which is the next size down, is kind of just a kid cycle which will be quickly outgrown.

You don’t need a 20" to learn on; they’re only marginally easier than a 24". But you could start with a 20" for the kids and a 24" for yourself.

For commuting, if your ride is 17 miles each way you’re going to want a Coker (or other 36" wheel). I used to ride 8.2 miles each way, which was a great wake-me-up on the mornings I did it, and a great sweat bath on the hot summer afternoons riding home. :slight_smile: If it’s only 17 miles total, you could also use a 29" wheel but I wouldn’t go any smaller than that for such a distance. Either way, I’d opt for the Coker for that ride.

Welcome back to riding Steve. I used to ride as a kid and started up again in April. I have enjoyed getting back into it and never want to give it up again. As John said you can cut the seat post. I’m 5’2" and have had to cut the seat post for all my unicycles.

John: Can you estimate some ridiing speeds from your commuting experience (include wheel size, please). Also, what’s with the brake? I’d not have thought of that.

John and others: Thanks for the other info!

If you haven’t thought of a brake, you probably don’t need one. Mainly it’s for going downhill, to save your knees or increase your control. Speeds? Maybe 6 mph for comfortable cruising on a 24", and 10 mph on a 36". Insert in-between numbers for in-between wheel sizes. My own cruising speed is 12-13 mph on the 36", a speed I can maintain more or less indefinitely (on level ground). If I were in better shape I could cruise at 14-15 mph for up to an hour. Also I used to be able to hit 17.5 on a 24" many years ago, when they were the only game in town for racing. Can I go faster on a 36"? Yes but I seldom do. Exceeding running speed is always risky!

John: Thanks … I’m getting psyched; I’m poking at Craig’s List and EBAY. I’ll start with a 20", methinks.

off brand unis

I see new 20" off-brand unis on ebay for $50. For example.

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-20-UNICYCLE-RED-CHROME-WHEEL-MOUNTAIN-CYCLING-BIKE_W0QQitemZ320404970817QQcategoryZ2904QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp4340.m215QQ_trkparmsZalgo%3DSICDD%26its%3DI%2BC%2BS%2BIA%26itu%3DUS-BWR%2BUCI%2BUCC%2BIT%2BUA%26otn%3D12%26ps%3D33

Opinions?

I would put my $50.00 towards something with a bit more quality. Have a look at the Torker LX.

The unicycle in the ad you linked, at my guess, is a Chinese copy of more common low-end unicycles. It looks fine, but there is much sketchiness in the ad:

  • Photos show two different unicycles, with totally different bearing attachments. Which one is the auction for?
  • The bearing attachment on the chrome uni is clearly intended to use two bolts on each side, but only one is in there. Very lame for purposes of advertising! (BTW, having a single bolt there was the main design flaw in my original unicycle, a cheapie)
  • The video depicts expert riders on Trials unicycles, which have nothing to do with either of the unicycles pictured in the ad. It makes me wonder if the guys in the video are aware their video is being used to sell super-cheap, possibly bendy no-name unicycles?
  • The provided riding instructions seem to have been inspired by someone watching the UDC Learning to Unicycle video, which shows a boy learning to ride on a wooden deck. Wood is no better than concrete.
  • But wood *or* concrete are much better than grass, which is also suggested.
  • The seat is a Chinese copy of the classic Miyata seat (now known around here as a Torker LX seat, I believe)
My recommendation is to steer clear, and do business with the people who make and promote the stuff that unicycle is copied from.

The unicycle in the ad you linked, at my guess, is a Chinese copy of more common low-end unicycles. It looks fine, but there is much sketchiness in the ad:

  • Photos show two different unicycles, with totally different bearing attachments. Which one is the auction for?
  • The bearing attachment on the chrome uni is clearly intended to use two bolts on each side, but only one is in there. Very lame for purposes of advertising! (BTW, having a single bolt there was the main design flaw in my original unicycle, a cheapie)
  • The video depicts expert riders on Trials unicycles, which have nothing to do with either of the unicycles pictured in the ad. It makes me wonder if the guys in the video are aware their video is being used to sell super-cheap, possibly bendy no-name unicycles?
  • The provided riding instructions seem to have been inspired by someone watching the UDC Learning to Unicycle video, which shows a boy learning to ride on a wooden deck. Wood is no better than concrete.
  • But wood *or* concrete are much better than grass, which is also suggested.
  • The seat is a Chinese copy of the classic Miyata seat (now known around here as a Torker LX seat, I believe)
My recommendation is to steer clear, and do business with the people who make and promote the stuff that unicycle is copied from. But if you do buy one, please take lots of close-up pictures and post them for us to see! It's a new brand that we know little about.

Thanks John. I’m of to buy a torker after work today.

My advice for a returning unicyclist is: do it, you wont regret it. But it seems that you’re already past that so enjoy, enjoy and welcome back to a fantastic obsession :smiley: