Cycle Designs uni review

Well, Beirne has been asking for a while for more information on the Cycle
Designs unis ridden by many of us here at Harvey Mudd College. It’s spring
break, and I’ve got some free time, so here goes:

Cycle Designs is a part of a company named “Ridgeway Products” that sells bike
parts (not whole bikes). They also carry both a 24" and a 20" uni. I have heard
the name “Zephyr” when referring to these unis – I don’t know if that came from
the company or is a Muddism.

The unis are medium quality: they are definitely superior to the generic kind
that probably all come from the same factory in Taiwan. They have a tubular fork
with a sloping face where the Miatas have a flat one. The fork is very
lightweight, but very strong. It is chromed from top to bottom.

The seat is (in my opinion) very comfortable. It is made out of a hard plastic
frame with black foam molded around it. It is very easy to catch when
dismounting either forwards or backwards. This is a good thing, since there is
NO protection for the seat (like a metal bar, or a plastic piece). The first
damage that happens to them is that the foam cracks in the front as a result of
falling on the ground. The seat uses a standard Schwinn seat mount (the curved
piece of metal with four oval holes) so you can easily replace the seat. Seats
that fit this mounting style are easy to come by.

The seat post connects to the frame by a standard seat clamp. People have a lot
of trouble keeping these tight enough to resist rotation during tricks. One
solution is to put a machine screw through the fork and post just to hold the
alignment and keep the clamp to transfer the rider’s weight. The metal is almost
definitely too thin to handle system like Schwinn unis use.

There’s not much to be said about the wheel. It’s got a chromed rim and some
spokes. It seems to be well built. It comes with a black tire that looks sharp
with the black pedals and seat. The biggest problem in the design is in the
axle. The axles of the unis belonging to our two most demanding riders (hopping,
curbs, jump mounts, etc.) have been sheared off at the connection between the
crank arm and the axle. This does not bode well for long-term reliability. These
unis were less than six months old when they broke. The bike shop has been very
friendly about getting them repaired, though.

The bearing mounts are also only rank 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. They are mounted
directly at the end of the fork, providing a good metal to metal fit. From the
bottom, though, four small bolts hold a piece of metal over them to keep them
connected to the fork. This looks like an accident waiting to happen, since the
bolts are very small, but we have had no problems with it. I suppose I am
spoiled by what I consider a 10: the Schwinn method of surrounding the bearing
with 1/4 inch steel.

The pedals are standard bicycle types of some sort. They have reflectors and
little pegs to help keep your foot on. They work ok, but this is another place
where there is room for modification. The cranks connect to the axle just like a
Schwinn – no bolts to forever be tightening here! They are 180mm long, from end
to end (155mm from center to center).

All in all, I’d say that for the $100 we paid (I think we got a slight bulk
discount) these unis are good beginner models. If you buy one, and really get
into the sport, don’t expect it to last much more than a year or two. Use it to
learn on, then buy a real uni, like a Semcycle or a Miata.

The company can be reached at (US only, sorry) 800-869-9866. They only sell to
dealers, but they can probably find you a dealer in your area. The bike shop we
(the HMC uni club) does business with is Mulrooney’s Sea Schwinn in Newport
Beach. Their number is
(714) 646-7706.


Jeff R. Allen | Senior CS major | Support your local (fnord) | South 351d, x4940
| unicyclist!