Connecticut Uni.5 Review

Hey all; I had the chance to ride the Uni.5 when it came to the Unatics club in Brooklyn. Here are some comments. Harper – there are a couple of additions to the email you received.

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire opportunity. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. I’ve never had the chance to test someone else’s non-professional experiment before and I am/was thrilled.

  2. I was amazed at how smooth some of the Unatics were at riding it.

  3. I am amazed at the durability of this prototype hub. Considering all the abuse it has and is going through, it is incredible that it is still working, let alone well.

  4. It was scary to try. Only when I gave up on the silly fence and went cold turkey, did I have the courage to actually ride it. This makes sense when I look back at my uni development; a long while ago I went cold turkey on mounting to force myself to learn to freemount. I knew intellectually, though, that it should be easy to get up into position because I reasoned that the inertia of the pedals would help keep them in place for a standard, non-rollback mount. This proved to be correct in practice.

  5. Once up and riding, I was not nearly as smooth as the other riders I saw on Uni.5. This is reasonable when one considers that 99.9% of the riding I have done is either off-road on trails, grass, or rocks, or levels practice where I ride just a few revs in a direction to practice mounts, idling, etc. My current riding habits and needs depend on quick stops and changes in direction, which is antithetical to the nature of the Uni.5. Some more experience with long distance riding should help that.

  6. I had no trouble turning the Uni.5.

  7. Had I had more time, say another hour, I’m pretty sure I could have idled the Uni.5. I was making nice controlled stops, and my problem was that I hadn’t slowed my balance point velocity enough in the backwards direction. The slop was noticeable but not a factor in my slow progress in idling; the main difficulty was slowing down my technique from a 26" with 170mm cranks to a 36" with whatever the Uni.5’s cranks were. On my first Unatics trip I was able to idle a 29" Pashley with even shorter cranks, so I believe I could have done the deed given some more time.

  8. I have no real comment on the speed since I was still not real smooth on straight riding of the Uni.5, because of the reasons mentioned above.

  9. I didn’t notice the crank length much, which means that for me at the time they were out of the way. That is, they did not interfere with my riding. Since I normally ride with 170s I’m sure that the shorter throw was a relief. Having cranks the length that a skilled Coker rider would use, say 125s, would have been an impediment to learning to ride the Uni.5 for me. I know that putting 110s on my 26" took quite a while to get used to (still not used to it because I went back to other riding) and I had a LOT of failed mounts just because of the shorter cranks, and idling was difficult to learn, though I did eventually get it. So for a trial experimental ride, I believe the Uni.5’s cranks were, for me, exactly the right length.

  10. Before I went commando with the mounting, the Uni.5 felt heavy and scary. After I free-mounted, I felt much better. I imagine that with practice, a broader range of activity on the Uni.5 would take down the intimidation factor quite a bit.

  11. The seat, a Semcycle air seat, was close to useless for holding onto the front during mounts.

  12. All in all Harper is courageous to send his hub out in this way. What a marvelous bit of testing, if not marketing. I am very impressed.

  13. Would a Uni.5 sell? Hmmm limited market, but…

– commuters for whom Coker is too big for storage during the day or even at night;

– people who want a faster machine but want to build with normal-sized, hence cheaper, stronger, more selection, more replaceable parts (this is a BIG BIG BIG advantage of the Uni.5 over the Coker);

– people for whom the Coker size is intimidating or proscriptive. For example, my nephew’s inseam length is too short for riding a Coker, but he would fit a Uni.5. This is potentially a big market to which smaller riders previously had no access. Think that an additional long distance race could be opened up for younger riders. Or younger/smaller riders could go on longer tours with much less of a speed disadvantage.

  1. Much of the discussion of Uni.5 vs Coker online centers on the racing aspect (at least until David Stone’s posts), where expense and parts are not the issue. But for everyday (as everyday as unicycling ever gets) commuting etc., the Uni.5 has some very clear advantages.

  2. An ideal commuting machine might be a two-speed one – low (say 1.0) for maneuverability, hills, and frequent stops; and high (say 1.5) for the stretches. This option could increase the potential customer base quite a bit, I’d say, because the Uni.5’s principal disadvantage, unless that went away with practice, is its lack of low-speed maneuverability forward/back. The hub’s weight is not an issue because there is no hopping going on and large quick changes in direction are few and far between, so the wheel carries the weight of the hub.

Thanks again, all!

– Dave Stockton
Eastern Connecticut


Thanks for taking the time to make such a thorough review. Hope it was a quick train ride for you from CT and I hope it was worth the trouble. Thanks for testing it.

It was definitely worth the trouble and the Unatics are fantastic. I forgot to give credit – if it weren’t for the Pashley Princess pushing me, I might never have gotten fed up with the wall and gone cold turkey on the mount. Thanks very much, Anne!