Antique Unicycle

I was super excited to find an antique unicycle on Craigslist last night that now can be an additional item to gather dust on my drafting table at the office! The seller couldn’t figure out why I was willing to drive a couple hours at 8 pm to get it. I can only think he must be b*ke guy.

The man said it was his grandfather’s but didn’t know anything else about it. It has a wooden rim and tubular tire. With three missing spokes the rim has a big wow in it but makes for a great conversation piece. It should have been thrown out years ago so therein lies the lesson…Don’t throw out your broken unicycles!!

Wow that’s cool! Wish you had more info on when it was made.

How big is the wheel?

I did a little research earlier this year on unicyclists from 1880’s - 1925 and found a few interesting photos and drawings.

Here’s one from Salt Lake City.

“United States Tire Company” 26"

Thank you for posting the article.

That is quite a unicycle. I saw that on CL also but the photos were not as good as yours and I did not realize that it had a wood rim. I bet there are not many of those that survived.

PS, I think you are too young to have actually used the slide rule in your photo. In my first couple years of college a slide rule was our only “calculator”.



I only missed the slide rule by a couple years but I attribute that rule for getting me a 4.0 in Engineering Statics. The professor emeritus, Billy Hartz, would always turn from the board as he was doing calculations and ask if anyone had a slide rule. After a trip to the second hand store, there was one student in the front row who had one indeed!


You call that a sliderule?


old unicycle

this is an old uni I found on Ebay several years ago. I have it hanging on the wall at work. Its interesting. Jeff C

Your unicycle makes a good wall hanger, there should be a story there.

Because of the curved shape of the fork and fender it is a tricycle wheel and fork that someone put a saddle on. Tricycle wheels are a little light weight for a unicycle but they can work for a while. My first unicycle that I learned to ride on nearly 60 years ago was one I made out of a tricycle wheel. I only used the wheel and not the fork, I made the fork out of some scrap metal and a pipe I found on the farm. It held together long enough for me to learn to ride it but I think the hard rubber tire was the first thing to fail.


old unicycle

Yes, Murray. I found similar style tricycles from Murray they claimed were from the 1950’s. I love that style of fender. I have no history on this build. Was a random ebay purchase. I would be curious when it would have been assembled as a uni, and Why. Makes Great Wall art. Gets plenty of attention. The seat is very interesting also. Fun to Look at. Jeff C


Thank you for that validation. I should print your quote and post it on the wall in the garage (where the 40+ unicycles are). Especially the piece-of-crap Troxel unicycle I started with in 1976, with stripped-out bearing screw, hard plastic tire and otherwise tricycle parts.

BTW I love your drafting table/work area. Very cool!

It’s very likely the only one, as it is most likely a one-off (hand made). I also love the look of that “decomposed” tire. Definitely makes it a cool piece of wall art. And the Messinger seat! Messinger made tons of unicycle seats over the years, including the ones on the older (1967-83) Schwinns.

True. My old Troxel’s weak spot was the stupid idea of a single bolt on each side to hold the “bearing holders” to the fork. In engineering speak, a single bolt = a hinge. The “bearing holder” (in quotes because the thing just had nylon bushings) would twist at the bolt, making the tire come to a dead stop against the side of the fork.

Probably any time after it finished its role as a tricycle; there were few if any unicycles on the market at the time. Why? Possibly just to make something funny out of some old bike/trike parts, but more likely someone wanted to try riding a unicycle. That seat may have been from the original trike, but would have been difficult for unicycling. The rest of it is pretty similar to my Troxel from the 70s, but I imagine it was more solidly built. You should be able to detect if someone tried to learn to ride on it; if they did, the pedals would show lots of wear on their ends, as would the seat.

Here is another old one found online. Apparently was/is(?) for sale at a Kansas City antique dealer. Don’t know if it sold. It doesn’t look too bad except the peddle cranks do not appear to be 180° apart. I’ve read that when old wood rims fail they break into a bunch of sharp slivers so trying to ride it may not paint a pretty picture.


Here is a better photo of this antique unicycle. I also found out it is still available and the cost is $1595.00. Considerably more then TMason paid for his fine antique but given how rare they are, maybe a fair price.


Wow, only $1595.00! Can’t believe it hasn’t been picked up already! I think I’d get a Schlumpf hub instead. But I do like red unicycles…

Misaligned cranks aren’t too uncommon on older, cotter pin unicycles. If you put both pins in facing the same direction, you tend to end up with a similar angle.

Looking at that uni, I get the impression that the fork may have originally been raked (some evidence of it being straightened). Also the seat looks like it may have been bent upward in front to create a little more control for the rider.

When I was a kid we all had ancient hand-me-down bicycles with cotter pins. They often developed several degrees of “slop”.

They were always a wholly inappropriate technology for the job of transferring torque from crank to axle. I think they originally came from holding on wagon wheels where the only forces were axial.

I remember the sense of relief first time I saw a cotterless crank on a bicycle.

Custom Unicycle

A couple years ago I saw a tricycle that was converted to a unicycle like the one above and it inspire to make my own.

I don’t know why the photo came out sideways.

If you used Firefox as your web browser, that might have caused your picture to display sideways. I’ve experienced that here. The solution for me was to use Internet Explorer if I wanted to upload a pic to this forum.

Thanks I’ll that next time.

These old-timey unicycles are awesome. JimT, any idea how big that wheel is? With the seatpost and tube so low it looks like an old 36er! :smiley:

I reckon the one with raked fork made from an old trike is my favourite though. It looks very… Utilitarian, a true commuter’s unicycle.

TMason’s is a 26" and I’d guess that the other wood rimed uni is a 28". It seems that 26" and 28" were common in the day.