Electronic devices for enhancing unicycling

  • [B]Mobile Telephone[/B]
I got a Windows Phone 8 (Nokia Lumia 920) which works in conjunction with my speaker to enhance my ride. I suffer the inadequacies of Microsoft to avoid being too mainstream. It serves as a communication device, a Bluetooth music player, and does a bunch of other stuff that modern devices can do like camera, internet, apps etc. It can operate as a GPS cycle computer but I don't like the battery draining too fast, I don't know how others seem to post such long rides on Strava using their phones. Phones are a very popular accessory it seems. My one has a wireless charging pad for less plugging in. Using the phone can have a detrimental effect on GPS recordings because average speed tends to drop down when messing with music or messages while riding.
  • [B]Portable Speaker[/B]
I purchased a UE Boom. It is water resistant- I've had it exposed to heavy rain with no problems- it has plugs that go in the holes that you don't want water in. It goes pretty loud, and the battery lasts a while if you go easy on the volume. Like other Li-Ion batteries, temperature effects the draining- hotter drains faster I think. It lasted me most of the way around the mountain on moderate volumes, occasionally turned up loud- about 8 hours worth or more. The manufacturer says it can last up to 15 hours but I imagine that is low volume and in a cool environment. At max it lasts only a couple of hours, but it is easily loud enough to compete with traffic noise and alert people you are coming without using a horn or bell.

I like that it functions with Bluetooth, because on previous speakers I’ve used (Philips Shoqbox and Moshi Bass burger) the cable and auxiliary 3.5mm socket would eventually wiggle too much and stop functioning. Hopefully this device will last as long as the battery keeps charging.

I haven’t got an ideal setup yet, often I have it dangling in front of me on a lanyard hooked under my bag strap, and it bangs against my elbow a little. Over the course of 9 hours 11 minutes riding around the mountain it gave me a bruised elbow. The apps for UE Boom are only for IPhone and Android, not yet Windows 8 Phone, but I don’t miss out on much except for the ability to use two of them in stereo.

Having music can inspire you to ride faster, and using a speaker means you can still hear outside sounds for safety. The weight of about 540g is worth it I reckon- the price may put some people off.

  • [B]Global Positioning System (GPS) Cycle Computer [/B]
After a year of deliberation, I finally got myself a Garmin Edge 500 cycle computer device. I had always intended to get one after investing in a Schlumpf, but lack of local sources and the fact it is excessive and indulgent put me off for a while. I ordered from Wiggle.co.uk and have not regretted it so far.

I got Edge 500 because it has the longest battery life of the Edge range (18 hours), and it is no way near as expensive as the Edge 810 which has touch screen and maps, but still has the altitude measuring feature. It is also smaller and lighter than the next models up. The expense bit is important because crashing is inevitable, and it is just a matter of time before the device gets a solid whack to the ground which I hope it can survive.

The cycle computer helps push me along faster when my speed drops down. The advantage of a cycle computer over a phone for GPS is that I can access it while riding with relatively little impact on my speed with it mounted on the handlebar. At night time it lights up with the press of a button, similar to a watch backlight, a feature I didn’t have on my old wired cycle computers.

The mapping happens when I upload my ride to Strava. It is quite interesting for me to see where I have been, and compare segments that bike riders have ridden with my times. There are leaderboards for segments that haven’t been flagged as dangerous, and I can improve my times as I get better at riding, or as I anticipate segments better and give it my best shot. Favourable conditions help such as tail winds and nice temperatures, and I can end up beating a lot of bike riders if I’m lucky. The Unicycle clubs are quite fun too- comparing with other riders data and seeing what sort of rides they do.

The temptation to become a StravAsshole is quite strong. It is not always a good thing. Instead of chilling out and riding patiently and relaxed, every ride can turn into a race against myself, as I stack up my statistics and try to keep the average speed up. There needs to be a balance between challenging myself and riding responsibly and courteously, and hopefully I will achieve that once the novelty wears off. It is like turning the world into a computer game- where red lights and pedestrians are obstacles in the way of personal best times. Luckily a unicycle is not a vehicle by law, but safety is very important for the future of happy riding.

The data isn’t always accurate but as long as you only think of it as fun you can’t go too far wrong. People can edit their rides to be faster than reality, or cheat using a vehicle. Cloud cover or tree cover with lots of switchbacks can reduce the accuracy. I’ve been warned not to use the Auto-pause feature because it has a tendency to reset the ride prematurely.

I’m interested to hear what other devices people use to enhance their unicycling enjoyment, or different experiences with similar devices.

I’m in my second year with a KH36, riding on paved paths. I rode 900 miles in 2013.

I’ve had a Garmin 200 for about two months. Previously, I used a standard magnet odometer to keep track of my miles. It tended to fail when the weather got colder.

The Garmin tolerates the cold much better. I also like the pretty maps and statistics it makes when I upload the data. I use the Garmin website.

I’ve poked around on Strava, but have not made the jump. I don’t know if my fragile self-esteem would like all the real or implied competition.

Strava is fun. I find it motivating! I use a Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. I’ve also got a very expensive Minimed Paradigm insulin pump…that I hope I never fall on:)

I have a personal vibrator.


For…cramp…right? :astonished:


A personal vibrator is a lot better than a public one. :astonished:

I’m enjoying the Garmin 405 wristwatch I’ve been using since Jacquie’s birthday in August. It’s supposed to be hers, but she’s been getting into using various GPS apps on her phone. She has a Samsung Galaxy S4 with an extended battery so it seems to hold up just fine. We still need to try Strava when we get back into the regular rides.

The 405 is not a new model but is sleeker than my old 305, and uploads semi-wirelessly. It comes with a USB stick that talks to the watch. Also the watch holds a charge longer than the old 305.

Always late to the game, probably been posted, probably not viable. Anyway:


I’ve been using a Garmin 305 for many years happily, but she’s on her last legs now. Is the 405 worth looking into if I’ve been happy with the 305? I’ve also been looking at the newer garmin models and the sunto ambit, but it just seems like too much money.

I really like the wristwatch gps unit. No wires, I can take it with me walking, biking, paddling, etc. It also doesn’t run my phone battery down to nothing.

I recently put a bike ‘computer’ on my 29 to keep track of speed and distance, but can’t get used to looking down at it while riding.

Anton, my training partner used a 305 for years (two of them in fact) and he was never happy with the 405 when he tried it, especially not with the bezel touch controls which were tough to use while on the move. Now he has a 310XT and he’s happy again. I have no first-hand experience with either but I’ll pass that along.

Last night I was outside and I heard what I thought might be some extremely large blowflies buzzing overhead, then I looked up and recognised it as a Phantom 2 quadcopter flying about. It made me wonder if Nathan has used his one to film unicycling activities.
Nathan’s flytrex profile

I hope you don’t mind me sharing your profile Nathan- this is an amazing combination of technology. The stats are impressive, for a little plastic battery powered toy thingy. It might be hard to control while riding, but that would look cool taking footage with it.

It might be off the topic of unicycling but it is an electronic device. Maybe I should have left the word electronic out of the thread title.

Not too late, might be posted somewhere else. I wonder if Justin’s geared 3 speed electric assist unicycle was a success… it looks the part, but I haven’t been able to find a video of it in action.

Don’t be too scared of the competition. 900 miles is an excellent total. Kris Holm’s club currently has 91 members and only a third of them have posted rides this week or last week, so even posting one ride would put you in the top third of the “competition”.

Thanks for the good info. I’ll check into the 310

The Garmin 405 is off the market. I got mine as a closeout-ish thing, for around $250. Though the bezel controls sometimes confuse me, they seem to work. While riding. Buttons would probably be better for bumpy offroading, but I am also able to operate it while riding trails. If you can find one, you might like it!

I can’t comment on newer models, as I ended up with that one. If I didn’t have either of my Garmins, I would probably be trying my luck with Strava or one of the other phone apps, to see how my iPhone 4s holds up.

You Garmin guys are bad. You convinced me to get a GPS wristwatch :wink:
I decided to go with Garmin ForeRunner 210. It is very simple one that I hope will be enough for me. I have tried it on bike only for now and it works much better than my Holux logger and mobile apps I used before. The drawback of having runners’ clock is that all activities are by default detected by both Garmin Connect and Strava as running, so I have to change that each time. Another one is that it turns out it does not work with speed/cadence ANT+ Garmin device. But I don’t need one for my uni and I have Sigma computer with both of features at my bike for now, so not big issue for me. But it would be if I wanted to replace the Sigma as well.

Good one. I recently read this in depth review of the Garmin Edge 500 which goes into great detail about the reasons I chose my one. Super lightweight, small form factor, and barometric altimeter. The review reminded me about the courses feature which I haven’t tried yet and should sometime. If someone is interested in getting one perhaps read it first- he doesn’t seem to miss much.
I haven’t had a problem with glare like the author of the review mentions.
The 310XT sounds pretty good with the waterproofing.

Garmin 310XT

I use the Garmin 310XT along with ConnectStats which synchronizes with my iPAd/iPhone. Garmin has their own mobile app which is quite good as well.
Then, whenever I want to, I upload select files to Strava.