Re: Custom Unicycles - Why?
JJuggle <JJuggle.firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>For those of you who spend hours, in some cases countless, is it the
>resulting unicycle, the process itself, or a combination of the two that
>is the motivating force?
For me, building custom unicycles is motivated by primarily by the total
lack of stock unicycles of the type I want. Reduced cost and knowing
exactly how the unicycle is constructed are also strong motivating
factors. The custom unicycles I built are 7 big wheels, 4 two wheelers,
2 ultimate wheels, a giraffe, a forward-only drive standard, a
tightwire standard and a BC wheel (only completed cycles are counted).
>1) What’s the longest amount of time and/or most money you ever spent on
>a custom job that was a complete flop? What general principles or
>specific facts did you learn from the experience?
I made a frame and rim for a 44x1 3/4" air tire big wheel. The next
step was making the tire and tube. The idea was to take two 24x1 3/4"
tires, cut them in half and solder the bead wires together at the proper
length, overlap the tire ends, glue them and stitch the sidewalls where
the two tires joined. I never got around to building the tire or tube.
The tube would have simply been two 24x1 3/4" tubes cut in half with one
half of each inserted into the other half of the other and patched.
When there is nothing more interesting to do, I will complete the
project, so its not a total flop yet. However, Greg Harper’s hub and a
Coker (54 gear inch) might make this project somewhat obsolete.
The tightwire unicycle wasn’t a total flop. It had a 27x1 1/4" rim
which should fit nicely over any tightwire up to 1" in diameter. Minor
problems were that the nipples became tiny bumps as they came into
contact with the wire and the steel (tightwire) against steel (rim)
coefficient of friction was less than ideal. I later heard that
professional tightwire unicycles were made with 2?x1 3/4" or 2?x1.75"
rims with some rubber-like compound applied which sets with perhaps a
half buried cable of the desired size all around to make the groove.
>2) Ditto 1, but for a machine that proved near or exactly what you’d
All my other custom unicycles were exactly what I hoped for except the
forward-only (coaster-no-brake) standard unicycle. The clutch bearing
would fail after a few months use, but otherwise it was what I hoped
For the big wheels, all the spokes were custom made from 36x3/32"
stainless steel welding rods. An old style S bend was used for the rim
end and the other end was cut to length and threads were cut with a 3-56
die. Old style S bend spoke end:
| ±---------------------------------------------- …
The S bend end of the spoke is inserted into the flange at a right angle
to the flange and thus is held securely in place by the spoke simply
remaining close to the plane defined by the wheel. A flat piece of
steel with 1/8" holes drilled into it become the tool to make the S
bend. Making the S bend took about 30 seconds or a total of 40 minutes
for 80 spokes. To simply cut 35-42 threads with the 3-56 die by hand
took about 7 1/2 minutes, so threading a set of 80 spokes for my 56" big
wheel took about 10 hours. I didn’t make a jig for cutting the spokes,
but simply made a benchmark spoke whose length was used to gauge each
cut as it was being made, so simply cutting a spoke took about 30
seconds. Thus total labor for making a spoke was 8 1/2 minutes or 11
hours and 20 minutes for a set of 80 spokes for my 56" big wheel.
>3) Was your first attempt at a custom unicycle motivated by a specific
>need or the general desire to tinker?
My first attempt at a custom unicycle, was to go faster. It was a short
giraffe with 16" wheel geared up to 40" initially. However, it was very
hard to ride, so I backed it down to a 29 gear inch. This demonstrated
(to me at least) that a big wheel was superior to a geared-up giraffe.
The custom unicycles I built most thereafter were big wheels, following
the faster and further!
>4) What do your spouse, partner, significant other, children, parents,
>guardian, etc have to say on the matter?
Generally, they think it is great. Occasionally, they might say I’m
spending a little too much time on the subject of unicycles and
Ken Fuchs <email@example.com>