Giraffe...8" wheel?

Not owning a giraffe, (read: Sofa must buy one giraffe)

I’m thinking that a crazy small wheel would be cool to use.

With the gearing set to however you want (speed-wise) and saying this is on pavement (parades, etc…) is there a limit, other than the sproket and chain size, on how small a girrafe wheel could be, and still be effective? Is an 8" wheel with the appropriate gears, just as effecient as a larger wheel? (again, purely on pavement)

With suitable gearing, any size wheel can be ‘converted’ to a ‘suitable’ size for a giraffe uni, but, whilst it might offer the advantage of faster steering, the smaller wheel would be more sensitive to any slight irregularities in the road surface. Compare to Moulton bicycles.

There seems to be no obvious reason why a wheel diameter of exactly (say) 20 inches is ideal for a giraffe.

Tyre choice would be limited on a much smaller wheel, and I guess you’d have to run the tyre at a higher pressure.

What would happen if you put a massive wheel (36?) on and geared it DOWN to 20? Now THAT would look splendid in a parade… sell mini giraffes with tiny tiny wheels for riding on very smooth surfaces.

There is a good range of 12 1/2" wheels available with pneumatic tyres. These are small enough to be different but still roll over small bumps.

I like the big wheel idea. It would look like a normal uni, but huge.

12" is a good size, as the tires are available and it can still handle bumps.

The little ones from should be great fun, but will wear you out in a parade.

Yes, there is a limit on useful wheel size. It depends on how hard you want to work, and how much discomfort you want during a parade.

My old unicycle club, Redford, had a couple of mini-giraffes. One had a 4" wheel, probably similar to the Fleet mini-giraffe. It was geared up to go at a decent speed, but of course you felt all the texture of the road. If you got this unicycle going in a spin, it was really hard to get out of it. The thing was spin-crazy. And bumpy. Watch out for cracks, potholes, rocks, and the ever-dangerous horse manure!

We also had a small giraffe with a wheel about 1.5" in diameter. This wheel was made of steel, and had to be ridden on smooth pavement only. You would never survive in a NYC parade, for instance, because there is too much variety in the riding surface. You’d have to stop for every seam in the pavement, and tiny rocks would lock you up. Definitely not recommended for parades.

As for a big wheel, it would be very visually interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a giraffe with a Coker-sized wheel or larger. The cycle would be very heavy and hard to steer. It would be unsafe to idle on, unless you lowered the gear ratio. It also might be a big pain to transport, as the wheel size plus frame sticking out will take up a lot of space. Minimum height for a Coker giraffe, without lots of engineering, will be close to 6’.

For very short parades, the Fleet giraffe will be fun. For anything longer, or if you want to worry less about seams & cracks, try a 12" wheel.

Here is mine:

It is about the same height as a normal uni and rides like a 24" although you still have to mount it like a giraffe. It was the first uni I made, many years ago. I’m quite tempted to make a taller one now.