copy of uni.5 review #1

If anyone didn’t eventually get this review (bc of the newsgroup problems
we had last week), here is a re-transmission of same. Enjoy. One
correction: The uni.5 cranks were 5.5" (140mm), NOT 6" (150mm).

I found out that the uni.5 had arrived at my mom’s apartment in Manhattan
(sent there because she has a doorman). So of course I had to ditch work
for the afternoon and get it right away. Greg Harper created a crate
nearly as wondrous as the uni, and in literally five minutes, it was ready
to go (after I’d found a screwdriver). Unforch, I had to get back to work,
so I had to postpone my initial ride for another hour.

Comparing UNI.5 (5.5" cranks) with a COKER (4.3" cranks)

Warned about the difficulty of getting on uni.5, I prepared mentally by
thinking of it as a Coker. My Coker has short cranks, so I really can’t
easily mount it as I would a regular uni – I pretty much HAVE to jump
mount it. I did the same with the uni.5. I stuck the mount, got my
balance, and was off. No problem; in fact, it was like mounting a Coker
from atop a curb, since it’s lots lower than a Coker. So no more
complaints about the mount.

It handles turns more easily than a Coker, probably because of the smaller
wheel size. In fact, I was also able to idle on the first try, and that’s
something I really can’t do on my Coker anymore (because of those tiny
cranks – I could when I had 6" cranks). Backwards is possible, tho scary,
and is pretty pointless anyhow. When I received it, it had a fairly saggy
tire, so I inflated it to 83psi (just under the limit) because that’s how
I ride my Coker (it makes turns easier and adds significantly to speed).

I rode my usual route from school to my mom’s in Manhattan. The Brooklyn
Bridge was the first real test of the uni.5. Because I have not yet put a
cycle meter on it, it’s hard for me to gauge my speed; I use known
distances and time them. Normally I can ‘do’ the Bridge from Brooklyn to
Manhattan in just under 7 minutes. With uni.5, it took 7:20. Once I got
onto the Bike Path I was able to get a good reading of my cadence on flat
ground. On my Coker, I recently measured myself going downhill at a 165
cadence and on flat ground at about 155rpm. With the uni.5, my maximum
cadence so far has been 135 (measured both downhill AND on flat ground).
On a Coker, I have found that I can maintain a cadence of 140 easily, but
uni.5 feels like it wants to go about 125. This leads me to speculate that
in its current setup (longer cranks, basically), it loses 10% of the speed
of my Coker. I suspect that with shorter cranks, it would ride as fast as
a Coker.

As others (including its inventer) have noted, uni.5 has a noticeable but
not annoying jiggle. If you shake a pedal with your hands, you can see it
(and the other one) move back and forth a millimeter or so while the rest
of the uni stays motionless. In this way, it’s like a giraffe, which
always has a certain amount of ‘give’ to the chain. When you pedal uni.5,
you feel the wobble as well. Others have mentioned that this is more
noticeable at lower speeds, but I am ever-aware of it, tho as I said, it’s
not a detriment – just something to get used to.

Uni.5 comes equipped with a special Vehicularly-Injured Sperm-Count seat;
the company is better known by it’s abbreviated name, Viscount. It’s a
little known fact that the president of this company is actually related
to the de Sade family. The complete name of the company is actually the
Viscount de Sade. There are two models currently produced by Viscount de
Sade for unicyclists, but because of wear, it is impossible to tell
whether the ones which came with uni.5 are the “Carrot Grater” or
“Fireballs” varieties. In fact, having tried both, I believe I have
received one of each. Padded seating is not optional with either model.
With an air seat (either by Miyata or Semcycle), I have ridden over 50
miles in a day with no soreness. As of this afternoon, I am still sore
from less than twenty miles of riding uni.5 Interestingly, some of the
blame is the long cranks, which force my legs to move more, including near
the crotch. I will try to attach an air seat to this uni in the next few

I didn’t change them because 1) I forgot to order smaller aluminum cranks
ahead of time, and 2) most Cokerheads are accustomed only to the 6" crank
size, and since many members of the Unatics will be riding uni.5, I didn’t
want to mess up their experience. If it were mine all mine, I’d put on
4.3" cranks and just get used to it.

I take it that these are splined cranks. I hope so, because what else
would explain the creakiness of the wheel during fast ac- or

Cokers win here because the flatter wheel covers divots in the road that a
smaller wheel falls into. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s definitely
noticeable and certainly accounted for at least two of my UPDs.

UPDs (UnPlanned Dismounts)
On a Coker, you have more time to react to a UPD at the same speed because
you are significantly higher off the ground than on the uni.5. I didn’t
have a UPD until I was heading home yesterday evening, and then it was
just a small, slow one – I hit a little bump at the wrong point in the
rotation and had the uni slip out from behind me, uncaught. Later, while
riding about 14 mph on the flat bike path, another UPD took me by
surprise, tho I caught the uni. I was not expecting to have a hard time
running out of a UPD on such a small unicycle (normally on a 24" uni, I
can jog out of a UPD), so this was a bit of a wake up call. On the way up
a hill several miles further on, I fell forward and failed to catch the
uni. Because of my lessened reaction time (due to the lower wheel), I
spilled, too – my first fall off of uni.5. Near home, a small gap in the
sidewalk caused another UPD at slow speed (10 mph?). Luckily, that’s been
it so far, and two things have come out of these experiences: 1) You need
to be careful to remember that you have less time to react from a UPD on
this uni, and 2) we need a good scale for UPDs. See my next note about
this subject (“S-levels for UPDs”).

In the crate were some oddball items (an Oscar Meyer Weiner car, condoms,
and cigarets). One envisions a quick trip to the supermarket for a
rendezvous with a check-out girl, followed by the customary smoke. I can
only speculate that these were added by our friend Adam Bourne, whose name
anagrams to BANED AMOUR (poisoned love) and whose last name alone mixes up
to spell UNROBE. Adam, my deepest apologies if I have unfairly nominated
you for the origin of these items. But of course, now you have some fun
anagrams. [note: Adam confessed later, having called the uni.5 “better
than sex.” Please see my comments on the SEAT, Adam!]

I will have more to report when others can try it on Saturday.
The uni.5 is the realization of a cool concept and has few and minor
flaws. I could see replacing a Coker with a uni.5-style unicycle for the
sheer fact that it handles better than a Coker and is much better for city
riding. For the longer rides (bike paths, safe roads, etc), a Coker has
the advantage…for now. It would also be helpful for comparison to try it
with shorter cranks.

Thanks, Greg, for lending this marvelous machine! And thanks, Adam, for
sending it just in time for my club. The Unatics are going to love it.

David Stone
Co-founder, Unatics of NY
1st Sunday / 3rd Saturday
@ Central Park Bandshell
1:30 start time after 11/1/01