GUNI update: Shifting on the new geared unicycle hubs

This is mainly for anyone who already has a Schlumpf guni OR who is interested in getting one:

I finally learned the best way to switch gears on my guni.

The revelation for me was that I could hit the button with my ankle bone rather than with the inside rear part of my sneaker. What I learned to do yesterday was to lean my foot inwards and to let the button smear my ankle as it passes. This turns out to be necessary only for downshifting because I can easily upshift the ‘old’ way. Also, I tried smearing into an upshift and fount that it was painful to my left ankle.

After the accidental discovery, I was able to shift on alternate half-turns and to downshift successfully about 90% or more with only one UPD.

Next, I worked on shifting at various speeds. Earlier, using my GPS watch, I had found that I could upshift at about 7-8 mph. Yesterday I was able to upshift at about that speed or just under, and I was also able to downshift at up to 6 mph, a huge change from earlier riding, where I almost had to stop in order to do so.

To me, this was huge. I can now look forward to shifting with ease in order to suit the conditions. It also means that I can shift rather than looking for something to hold onto or having to ride in a small, jerky circle in high gear.

For a version of this post that also includes background info about gunis and discusses the point of using pinned pedals, please check out my blog entry of 4.16.06.

Re: GUNI update: Shifting on the new geared unicycle hubs

On Mon, 17 Apr 2006 10:01:48 -0500, David_Stone wrote:

>I finally learned the best way to switch gears on my guni.

Thanks for the writeup David.

With my 170 mm cranks, my ankle does not really pass near the shift
button but my heel does. So indeed my attempts* at shifting on the fly
have been by dragging my heel over the button. My problem is that this
is not a very sure procedure in that it takes several tries before I
actually shift, so I don’t “know” what to anticipate. So when I
‘finally’ shift I am taken by surprise and upd.

I was thinking of buying a pair of these “Easy shift levers” .
(They’re made by Schlumpf but I couldn’t find them on their site.) But
ideally I’d want them to be wider and more rounded on the outside, so
that not only they make shifting possible anywhere on the crank, but
also they make dragging easier, i.e. giving you a much larger and
smoother target to aim for. Maybe I should try and make something

  • Attempts, yes. Yesterday I was almost successful at shifting up at
    low speed.

There’s an interesting thing I discovered when shifting up, which is that if you shift up, and keep constant forward pressure on the pedals, the unicycle remains in direct drive until you release the forwards pressure. So you can have kicked it good and hard to shift, and it won’t shift for a couple of pedal rotations. It might be that this is happening to you, particularly if you’ve got quite a smooth pedalling action. It also works with constant back pressure, so if you kick, then let the cranks push your legs round, it does the same thing. I found I could shift up most of the time once I worked out that it sometimes delayed like this. It may be that this is what is happening to you.

I found upshifting easy, and downshifting hard, simply because I usually hop right foot forwards, so I’m used to doing things with that foot at the front, whereas left foot forwards is a funny position to be in for me.

My replacement frame is in the process of being built now, so I guess I’ll get to play with this stuff some more soon.

The ez shift levers look okay, but given that loads of people can shift really reliably, buying them is only compensating for not learning to shift normally. I’d also be worried about accidental shifting, looking at my black Schlumpf cranks, the 5ish hours I rode them, the writing is already mostly worn off, so I guess I must ride pretty close to the cranks. Accidental shifting is probably most likely to happen at high speeds when your feet are less stable, exactly when you don’t want to get thrown off the unicycle suddenly.


That was the problem I had for a long time. It will virtually disappear with practice and confidence. You really need to smack that button! I managed it at about 8mph today, so keep at it!

It almost sounds like that could be a technique some riders would do on purpose; not me, tho: Like Klaas, I like shifting when I hit the button rather than hoping I time the release correctly and don’t accidentally release the pressure too soon.

But essentially, Joe has it right when he says that the thing to do is to practice shifting so that you don’t need EZ Shift cranks (and yes, I’d be afraid that I’d shift accidentally). Here is one more piece of advice: When you’re about to shift into high gear, lean back a bit. When the gear kicks in, you’re suddenly going to have to push harder, and if you’re leaning forward at all, you’ll lurch forward and UPD. If you are straight up, you might UPD. If you’re leaning back, you’re likely not to fall off at all. I haven’t figured out how to lean for downshifting, but so far it hasn’t been an issue thanks to that ankle technique I mentioned; it seems like I’m pretty straight up.

i don’t have a GUni myself, but it sounds complicated. is it worth it?

Not right now, but it will be in two years. Right now it’s too expensive for most normal people to consider it, but the same was true when the KH unis first came out, and now look at them.

Good question, really. And Steve is right that the price will go down and the technology will go up, so in a couple years, it’ll be even better.

But in the meantime, Florian guarantees his work for 5 years. And more importantly, we’re supporting that amazing work by getting these unis in their nascent state (right now, we’re already up to the 2nd generation of hubs). I can’t see Florian producing too many more generations of hubs unless the others are bought up (to some degree), so I’m glad I advanced the cause of unicycling by getting one of the first (and second) hubs.

Now, that doesn’t mean they’re without problems or expense. There is a possibility that the hub will shift unexpectedly (tho I’m not sure it’s happened with the 2nd group of hubs), and they ARE expensive. In my case, I had some money handy, and I also don’t commute other than by uni, so it was like taking the money that most ppl spend on buses and trains and putting it into a uni instead.

It’s definitely worth it.

yes, we are all ‘normal’… :stuck_out_tongue: