Essential Tools, Mechanical and Maintenence skills

What are the Essential Tools, Mechanical and Maintenence skills that Unicyclists must have?

I want to build up a tool kit specific for unicycling, and learn how to do all aspects of taking care of my gear properly. Are there levels of importance?

Crank puller
Bearing puller
If you cut off a seatpost, save the cut off piece for installing a new bearing later
Several sets of Allen keys
And get into wheelbuilding sooner than later

Really important tools? These are the I think tools every unicyclist should own, and take with him for events.

-Allen Keys
-Pedal wrench (15mm wrench)

  • 10mm spanner/nut if you have a seat that still uses them
  • patch kit
    -(spoke key) //important if you are very heavy/do jumps, but for freestyle and long distance not really necessary.

Less important tools (buy when necessary):

  • (spoke key) //see above
  • bearing puller
  • crank puller

Unicycles require little maintenance, all you really need to be capable of is tightening loose bolts (don’t overtighten bearing caps btw), and pumping up your tire for the most part. Learning to true a wheel is kinda cool too, but I would not see it as essential.

I’m pretty sure 50% of unicycle world champions have not built their own wheel or even own a custom one, so I highly disagree about using wheelbuilding in the context of essential unicycle skills.

I have not seen this listed yet, especially for cotterless cranks a torque wrench is a required tool to set and maintain the crank bolts. They need to be set and checked frequently.

You can find smaller ones then the one in the photo but what ever has the correct range will work.


… hammer and wrench were always the most important :wink:

The #1 thing people screw up with unicycle maintenance is putting the wheel back in backwards (or the seat on backwards), which then destroys the cranks and/or pedals. Be aware of the marking on your left pedal (usually there’s a knurling or scoring on the left one), as well as the L/R markings on the cranks.

The second thing is that the bearing holders need to be snug but not tight; most people over-tighten them until they know better. I hand-tighten them, and then add another quarter or half-turn of the wrench.

The actual tools, others have covered; you don’t need much for a uni.

Don’t overthink it.

Buy good quality tools. They will last longer and do less damage to the unicycle and to your knuckles.

A good set of long Allen keys (hex keys/wrenches) with T handles.

A good 15 mm pedal spanner/wrench.

A small metric socket set. In the UK, 1/4" drive is a common size.

For square taper (“cotterless”) cranks, a crank extractor (puller). Some unis will need a 14mm socket to remove the central nut or bolt. In other cases, it requires an Allen key.

Personally, and it’s only me, I have never used or needed a torque wrench on a unicycle. I use the rule that the size of the nut gives you a fair idea how much they want you to tighten it, and I don’t overdo it. Works for me.

Any special equipment you might need if you have a hydraulic brake that needs bleeding.

In 30 years and many hundreds of miles of riding, in mud, dust, sand, rain, and sometimes on sandy/salty beaches, I have never needed to replace a bearing yet.

WD40, penetrating oil, and copper grease should be in any toolbox. Some people insist on Loctite for threads. I’ve never used it or suffered for not doing so.

The unicycle is essentially a very simple machine with few moving parts and few adjustments. You don’t need much.

If you have a knobby tyre with soft rubber or you practice idling, you might want to rotate the cranks now and then to get even wear around the tyre. You can get Nimbus cranks off without a crank puller, but not KH. Make sure you have the rotating tip (what do you call it?) on the crank puller, otherwise you’ll ruin ISIS cranks.

You might also want to loosen your seat clamp and move the seat post a little from time to time so it doesen’t get stuck. Especially if you ride where there is snow and road salt. Don’t lube the seat post.

I always use treadlocker on all the bolts, and nothing comes loose anymore (which it did before).

A pedal wrench is good to have, but you don’t have to carry it with you. Most pedals can be tightened with an allen key if they come loose (from the inside of the crank).

I recently, finally, replaced the bearings on my Wilder Muni, which I got in 2003. They were “crusty” for the last few years and by the time I got the new ones, I also went to Unicon and picked up my new Muni so the Wilder is essentially retired. That was a lot of years of riding Muni with no brake! :astonished:

No torque wrench needed unless you have a Schlumpf; don’t rush to get one of those unless you like complicated.

Learn to always be very careful putting on pedals; it’s easy to cross-thread them, especially if you have it on the wrong side. Easy does it! Once you know it’s screwing in on the threads, then it’s fine to make it good and tight at the end.

Don’t forget plastic tire irons! They cost about $1. Normally I use two, but sometimes a third one is helpful.

To remove or tighten crank bolts, I have never used anything but a standard-length 8mm hex wrench, nor have I used Loc-tite, but apparently some people have crank bolts that come loose all the time.

Tools needed for unicycling are essentially the same as those needed for biking, but far fewer. The only bike tool I know of that is potentially not compatible with a unicycle is the crank puller- the kind with an attached handle. This kind of crank puller will not work on short or medium unicycle cranks unless you unscrew the pedals every time you use it. So get one of those little crank puller nuts that looks a bit like a sparkplug, and make sure it is ISIS-compatible.

Wheelbuilding knowledge is definitely optional, and in any case it can be acquired from old threads on this forum when and if you need it.

This is all you’ll ever need for unicycle maintenance.

It might be a whole lot easier to deflate, rotate the tire and inflate, to even out the tire wear…

Who cares about tools. If you’ve got the money and something breaks, buy a new uni :slight_smile:


I disagree that a torque wrench is not a recommended tool for maintaining cotterless crank connections. This is especially true for novice mechanics. Most everyone that has any experience with the square tapered cotterless crank connection, including you recommends keeping the connection tight and checking it frequently. However for a novice mechanic, what is tight? A novice mechanic does not have a good feel for just how tight is tight. In general they do not have a good feel of how tight a threaded fastener should be based on the diameter and grade of the bolt. For most situations an experienced mechanic can get joints about right for the joint without damaging the connection. That is not the case for an inexperienced mechanic and especially not true for the loaded to the max cotterless crank connection on a unicycle.

Many people have reported problems with loose cotterless cranks and the first line of defense against problems is to install the crank correctly in the first place and maintain it as tight as possible. On my Coke the manufacturer recommends 20 ft-lbs on the cranks and for the 8mm grade 10.9 bolt that is very near then maximum recommended torque. Any more and you risk damaging the bolt or joint and any less you risk a loose and damaged crank.

I have decades of mechanic experience and almost never use a torque wrench but do use a one and recommend it for others that have unicycles with cotterless cranks. In use this joint is loaded to the very limit and anything other then the best maintenance practice is asking for trouble. I wish my Coker had newer, stronger and more reliable splined cranks. At least the cotterless joint is better then the cottered cranks that we started with.


I’m with John on this one. The correct torque for a cotterless crank arm is, “As tight as you can make it with a normal wrench when sitting on the wheel.”

Cheap unicycle cranks (which describes virtually all of the cotterless cranks available) are not manufactured to tolerances consistent enough to merit a specific installation torque spec.

Mate, that is GOLD! Only a Kiwi could demonstrate this important information so perfectly :stuck_out_tongue:

The tightening of the bearing holders is my biggest question. Can I do as this person says or is a torque wrench needed and if so what torque? Thanks

Torque Isis cranks

I hope this is not a dumb question, but how do you tighten an isis crank arm that is secured with an alllen bolt using a torque wrench?

I would not think you would need a torque wrench for bearing caps. The key is not to get them so tight that the wheel does not turn free. It is easy to spin the wheel to see if it is free and when tightening the bearing caps if it starts to drag, just back them off a little.

I’ve read that the torque spec is 45 in-lbs for bearing cap bolts. That is very low and many automotive type torque wrenches will not accurately measure it anyway.


You can get 3/8" Drive Allen Sockets. Do a google search to see photos.