Durable Flatland/Freestyle 20


A little while ago, I bought a Taiwanese Schwinn uni at a charity auction.
Now I’m able to ride it somewhat, and I’m starting to think about what I want
to do next and what unicycle to graduate to.

I think the styles that appeal to me the most are freestyle and flatland. Of
the vids I’ve seen on the net, the riders I like most are Spencer Hochberg and
Kaori Matsuzawa, both of whom have awesome flow. I like a lot of the
movements that trials riders make, like the hops and the balancing, but I’m
not drawn to the challenge of negotiating huge obstacles. I like the way
street and Muni riders interact with their surroundings, but not so much crazy
stuff like gapping stairwells or dropping six feet – it’s more the
improvisation and the zen awareness of place and harmony that appeals to me.

With that in mind, what unicycles should I consider buying?

While I’ve been getting up to speed on my Schwinn, it’s taken quite a beating.
The pedals and the seat are thrashed from skidding across the pavement after
getting kicked out from under me, and now that I’m working on rocking and
idling, the cranks are groaning under the strain. The next uni I buy has got
to be able to withstand that kind of punishment, because I’m going to keep
falling off and screwing up as I work up to wheel walks, one-foot pedaling,
spins, hopping and so on.

The best fit seems to be the flatland model Kris Holm, theoretically scheduled
for release in April according to this thread:

The Kris Holm reputation for durability is particularly appealing, since I’m
expecting to inflict some pretty severe abuse on this uni. However, that
model isn’t available yet, and I don’t want to wait.

Maybe I could go with the current KH20, or the double crown variant since that
seems like it would be helpful for the kind of riding I want to do. However,
both of those come with the Maxxis Creepy Crawler. I think a soft, grippy,
heavy trials tire is mostly going to get in my way when I’m trying to emulate
Kaori’s nimble transitions.

I think I’d also want shorter cranks than come on a stock KH20, since I don’t
need the same torque as a trials rider. That’s easy enough, since custom
cranks are a standard option from UDC. The wheelset’s another story, though.
I don’t see where I can pick up a freestyle wheelset, so I’m not sure how I
could put this together from parts.

Other UDC options include the Nimbus X, the Nimbus II, and the Nimbus X street
(out of stock). There are also models from Club, but those seem comparable to
my Schwinn and I’d like to move up. Browsing the archives, I don’t see much
about the Nimbus freestyle cycles – most of the chatter is abut the Nimbus
trials model. How would those work out for the kind of riding I’ve been

I would suggest waiting for the kh flat uni or putting together your own bmx uni with similar parts, as the only part specific to the flat uni is the rim which you could substitute pretty easily with a bmx rim, although it wouldn’t be as nice and wide.

Where do people order custom wheelsets? UDC has a pretty limited selection in the 20" department.

I’m of two minds as to whether that’s desirable. Right now I’d kind of like to have a higher pressure tire with less surface area contacting the ground for quick turns. But then maybe as I get better and start to try more rolling tricks that will cause problems… In any case, I’m not good enough yet to have formed a strong opinion, and either one would probably work.

wheelsets aren’t very hard to build, but you could always order the parts separately and take them to a bike shop to have them build it. I believe that most charge about $30 for that.
wide rims are really nice, especially when using skinny tires like the maxxis grifter. it makes the tires wider and a lot more stable.

That sounds like an interesting challenge. I’ve shied away from maintaining my bike because I don’t abuse enough that it needs regular tuning, so I’d never get good enough at maintaining it to justify the time invested in learning how. But the unicycle is a simpler machine. I feel like I could master that, and I’m pushing it a lot harder than I have any bike I’ve owned, so it will need regular tune ups.

That makes me lean towards buying one of the current KH20 models and planning to mod it at some point with a new wheelset. But where to buy the wheelset, since the pickings are so slim at UDC? Is there another vendor that people around here frequent?