Commuting: Can I do it?

I am contemplating getting a 36in uni, but before I do, I want to know that I will be able to commute the 7 miles to work (and back) in NYC. I have been practicing riding a 24in and 26in uni all summer and I can do about 5 miles in one go on the 24inch in 90-100 degree weather before I get tired. The problem is that I sweat like a pig. I don’t usually sweat that much and I’m trying to figure out what percentage of the sweat is unicycle induced and what is heat induced. So my questions for all you commuters are:

  1. If I can ride a 24 inch unicycle 5 miles comfortably, do you think I will be able to commute 7 miles to work comfortably on a 36in?

  2. If you commute to work about that distance or more on a 36in, how sweaty are you when you get there? Do you have to take a shower at a near by gym? Is this the case every season?

  3. What is your experience commuting in the snow?

I’m 40lbs oveweight and I’ve been riding a 36er 7+ miles 5 or 6 day’s a week all last month. I’ve ridden it less frequently for a few years.

I only sweat in warm weather. If it’s warm Hydrate.

To be safe plan on about an hour to finish 7 miles. You’ll be slow untill you get used to the big wheel.

In my experiance 5 miles on a 24 will make you more saddle sore than 7 on a 36er.

If you’re around traffic be carefull. It takes time to learn great control of a 36er.

My 36 is my favorite uni. I wish I lived in uni-commuting range of my work.

oh yeah, I forgot.

I’ve riden on light snow no problem but nothing deeper than a few inchesw.

I remember learning to ride and sweating a ton. From your post it’s not clear how long you’ve been riding. As you learn to relax you will be putting far less energy into the uni, and you will sweat less.

7 miles on a 36 is a nice little ride. If you give yourself an hour to do it I don’t think you should get too sweaty. 7mph on a coker is a bit on the slow side, and so it shouldn’t get the cardio going quite as much. I regularly ride 15+ miles, and my cruising speed is around 10mph, and still the cardio isn’t really that significant. Lately the temp around here has been 90 at 10:30 in the morning, and still not a crazy amount of sweat.

I commute 4 miles to work, and haven’t been so sweaty that I needed a shower before starting.

I can’t speak to the snow thing. I have commuted on a bike in very snowy conditions, and there were some close calls. At least in Chicago the snow sometimes covers up really slick ice patches. It’s a bit startling on a bike, but on a uni I think you’d be down.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a “fair weather unicyclist,” but in truth the weather is pretty fair most of the time in Boulder county.

I cycle a similar distance to work, and do it quite regularly by unicycle (once or twice a week at the moment). My usual route on a unicycle is a mix of road and cross-country, around 8 miles, with 1000ft descent on the way in and climb on the way back. May not be very comparable to your route except in distance, but it takes me about 45 minutes into work and 55 minutes home on the coker (and about the same on a 29er - I’m not a great coker speedster).

If you’re not a regular cyclist (as in cycle regularly, not the US meaning!) then an hour for 7 miles on road is probably a reasonable expectation, but you’ll get quicker, especially if it’s not a hilly route.

Yes, if it’s hot I get sweaty, if it’s raining I get wet and muddy. I ride in cycling kit and keep a change of clothes at work (whether I bike or unicycle). No shower, but a quick swill in the sink is good enough.

As for snow and ice, I actually find a unicycle feels much safer than a bike in those conditions, but I tend to use a muni rather than the 36er.

I haven’t done much unicycling in town, but with any town cycling you just need to be very definite about what you’re doing - being vague and indecisive is what gets you into trouble. When I have unicycled in town traffic I’ve found junctions a real pain, because I’m no good at idling the coker and not that good at still stands or hopping on the spot either. If you can lean against a lamp post or something it’s best, but that doesn’t work if you’re turning right (or left I suppose in your part of the world! - across the traffic, anyway)


You’ll want to do a practice ride to get an idea of what your commute will be like. We can’t estimate times for you since we have no other information about your commute than NYC. Could be 100 traffic lights and bike messengers terrorizing you all the way. :slight_smile:

I used to ride 8.2 miles to work (occasionally), which took 35-40 minutes. But I had very few traffic lights and I was riding fast on purpose, so don’t expect that kind of time. On warmer mornings, I’d give myself a wipe-down or hose-down in the bathroom, and bring a change of clothes (keep a bag in the office). Little spritz of deodorant and you’re good to go. My office also had a shower, which I never ended up using.

In the summer it was of course a lot warmer on the way home. It might be 70 in the morning (usually lower), but my ride-home record was 107!

For snow, it really depends on the conditions. In New York there are some days when you shouldn’t even drive (icy). If your commute is alongside cars, do you want to be on a unicycle when they’re sliding all over the place? So use caution. Also your riding conditions will be variable depending on areas that are plowed, not plowed, re-frozen, etc.

Thanks for your help.

Luckily I don’t need to get there quickly. I am willing to take up to 2 hours each way.

It sounds like I might end up a bit sweaty. I just can’t see myself rinsing off in the sink at work. I think I find a nearby gym that I can change/wash up at.

I am pretty much pants at idling–I have only been unicycling for two months, but I go out about 6/7 days a week for an hour or so. I have excellent control (I don’t think I will pose a danger to traffic). All the turns both ways are right hand turns which is nice. I am also not above getting off and using crosswalks if it gets tricky. I have unicycled in traffic before, just not 7 miles in traffic.

I don’t want to unicycle if it is icy… good point. I will rethink winter commuting.

Now all I have to do is decide if I am up for it.

I think your aspirations are entirely reasonable, but I would give 36" riding a couple of weeks before jumping into a trafficked commute. The large wheel is more difficult to maneuver and not as easy to step off of. Even though you’ll probably be up an riding quickly enough don’t give into the temptation to learn all the skills out on the road. I remember commuting a couple days after I got my Coker and looking back I think it was too soon. Riding in traffic is much safer and comfortable when you are only at a fraction of your ability.

Also if you don’t already, wear a helmet. Gloves and knee pads aren’t a bad idea either. Respect the 36.


Have you been to the New York Unicycle Club yet? We meet at Grant’s Tomb the first Sunday and 3rd Saturday of every month, 1PM-5PM.
Check out the website,, for info and pictures. You can get advice on skills and try out different unicycles. Sometimes there is a Coker available to try. I’d offer to bring mine but I won’t be at the next meeting. If you’re still on the fence about getting one come August 1st send me a message and you can ride mine.

ahh I remember those times : ) I didn’t ever wear gloves and knee pads, even when I was trying 36er muni (which was a mistake by the way, twisted my ankle pretty good 2 miles out)

helmet is always a good idea, call me stupid, but sometimes I even leave that at home if I’m going all bike trail, it’s just too hot sometimes, and the unicycle really doesn’t go that fast. Not saying it’s the right thing to do though. I never wear one around campus, which is probably where I ride the hardest for fun.

I do respect the 36, I worship it, but I think my confidence on it is a little too high for my own good ; P

None of the definitions for ‘pants’ that I’m aware of tell me what that means, but it’s probably not important for a 36". You don’t idle on those. Yes it’s possible, but it’s hard and it takes up a lot of space. Hold onto a pole, or do what I do; dismount and let the cars watch you get back on. They’re curious about such things…

That about sums it up. I wasn’t sure either about the 16-mile round trip at first. Rather than deciding (like most people decide they could never ride a unicycle), try it and see how you like it.

And do check out the New York Unicycle Club if you get a chance; great bunch of people!

Yes it is very rare that a careful rider will hit their head, but the speed and height of cokering makes me mindful of the force conspiring to whip my head to the ground should legs or arms get caught-up. Add traffic and the ways in which this could happen increase.

Though I did hit my helmet on a hefty branch during some coker muni last week.

Some expensive bike helmets have been shown transfer heat better than riding bareheaded. I don’t know if that holds for uni speeds.

My prefered commuter is the 29"


Try idle at 36 at a traffic light ?
Getting on a crowded elevator with coker in tow ?
29 is ideal size, manuverability, only slightly slower then coker.

enjoy the ride don’t try to be a speed daemon (cuts down on the sweating).

Just do it …

I have over a thousand commute trips both summer and winter on unicycles. My record is 2 years and 6 months straight unicycle commuting.

You will be surprised how good winter traction is on a unicycle. I usually just switch to a 24 or 29 on ice or snow if riding the side walk in snow and ice. If the streets are mostly clear and the side walks impassible I ride the 36 in the street. 36 mostly slips when mounting and dismounting. You get use to it.

I like to ride dressed on the hot side because of my size, age, etc. So I always shower or sink bath year around. Sink bath works fine. I always just wipe up the floor so no one gets upset. I include commuting to doctor’s appointments, errands, shopping. Only have been asked once in seven years to leave it outside next time (at the local library). For flats and break downs I carry change for the bus. The T/A Radial is almost flat proof (have never flatted the T/A). The Numbus tire likes to eats tiny broken glass.

“Rubbish”, “not good”. Although I don’t think I’ve heard an American use it that way before - I thought it was more of an English expression.


I learnt to ride a coker by doing a commute in London, which I am 100% sure has worse and more unpredictable traffic and junctions than New York (we don’t have grid systems or predictable wide roads, and we have loads of roundabouts and crazy junctions planned by some nutter in 1600). So it is possible.

I always washed in the bathroom sink until my current workplace which has a shower. A pack of deodorant wipes or baby wipes can be very handy for this.


Unicycle commuting will definitely leave you sweatier than bicycle commuting for two reasons: you need to wear a backpack (most likely) on the uni, and you are always spinning at a pretty fast rate and can’t coast and catch the breeze as easy.

Definitely look for a nearby gym if you are going to unicycle 7 miles in, it is pretty easy to make a habit of waking up and riding to the gym near your work to shower. Plus, you can always go to the gym during lunch or after work if you didnt cycle in that day.

If you are going to unicycle commute, the 36er is the best option. I guess it depends on your control though. I bike to work a lot more than I unicycle to work now, but in the winter I would unicycle to work if there was snow on the ground - the 36er has a surprising amount of control in the snow - much more so than a bike.

For what it’s worth, I used to commute first 8.5, then 12 (only once at that distance - ate up a little over an hour of my day each way) miles to work on a 29 when the weather was agreeable. I brought a change of clothes and a towel, and toweled and changed in one of the restrooms.

I occasionally commute to work on unicycle. It’s about 20 miles each way, and 2000’ of elevation gain (or loss). I’m definitely sweaty when I get to work, but they have showers available. It takes about 1:30 to get to work, and 1:45 to get home (when I’m riding fast).


Corbin, you are definitely a better athlete than I am. Impressive!

If I had a 20 mile commute to work, I would spend the entire day at work passed out.

He’s better than most of us. He won the Marathon race at Unicon XV, which was the hardest (and windiest) one ever so far. Also his team came in third in Ride the Lobster. :slight_smile: