Durability was a prime consideration when I chose my first unicycle. As a student I had no idea when I might be able to afford another. That’s why I chose a DM Ringmaster as my 21st birthday present. 20 years on, I still play hockey on it every week.
Mind you, the only original parts are the frame and the rim. The hub and spokes have each been replaced once. The cranks have been replaced several times (mostly due to me moving to progressively shorter cranks). I replaced the q/r seatpost clamp with a 2-bolt non-q/r clamp to stop the saddle twisting when I drop it. I’m on the 5th or 6th saddle. The seatpost had to be changed when I replaced a 3-bolt saddle with a modern 4-bolt one. The tyres and pedals have been replaced many times, as and when they wear out.
Got my first 20" crome one around 1998 or so. After about 10 years I changed the original 1.5" tire for a 1.75" BMX tire (something like the schwalbe mad mike. oh, that looked fat:D). When I got my first 24" (Qu-Ax Cross) three years ago I changed the saddle and the pedals on the 24" and so my old 20" got theese pedals (the old ones were already broken) and the new saddle, because the old hard foam one was terrible. Last year I changed the old frame with the pressfit bearings for a new flatcrown freestyle frame and the cranks from 125ers to 100ers. Also I mounted a new white freestyle tire and white seatpost clamp and bumpers. Now it’s a really nice freestyle unicycle. The old frame should still be somewhere in our sports club as a spare part.
So the only original parts are rim, hub, spokes and seatpost.
Learned on my Uncle’s 1977? Schwinn in 1983. No idea where that thing is, but wouldn’t be surprised if it were in my Uncle’s garage somewhere. In 1985 someone got me a 24" Sem (cutting edge unicycles at the time). I still have it, and it’s in good shape. In fact just a few years ago I replaced the original tire, seat post, and seat. I never use it now though, but would never get rid of it.
Hey, is your Semcycle one of the early ones, with radial spokes? I’d think of those as collectors items as there are probably less of them than the later ones. Mine (a 20") was given to me by Al Hemminger in 1985. He later became Sem’s father in-law. I used the Semcycle as a back-up for my regular (Miyata) 20" for shows. I needed it every time I broke an axle and had to wait (and wait) for a new one. Later I was able to get the stronger Semcycle axles for the Miyata, which were harder to break.
I started on one of those Raleigh chrome 20" unicycles with lollipop bearings too. It did me well. I rode it for about a year before I upgraded to a 26" Nimbus muni. I still use the Raleigh for learning new stuff sometimes (idling now). I’ve had no problems with it. I just don’t do any hops or drops on it.
I asked for a unicycle for Christmas in the early 1970s. It was a 20" Sears unicycle with a red seat. I taught myself to ride using our mailbox for mounts and went round and round our cul-de-sac. In middle school and high school, I would utilize my skill for various publicity stunts at school. I once unicycled a 5K instead of running.
I wasn’t proficient – the boy across the street learned how to ride backwards, which I never did – but I have had a unicycle most of my life. Somewhere along the line my original unicycle was sold or lost.
In approximately 1995, I found another of those old Sears unis at an auction, and picked it up for $25. By then I had children. I would impress people at parties by riding the unicycle while largely pregnant and carrying a toddler in a baby sling. Probably not the best parenting choice I have ever made.
In the child-rearing years, I did not ride regularly, but any time I pumped up the tires, I could definitely still freemount and go. When any of my five sons failed to show respect, I would haul out the unicycle. I’d hop on and ride a couple of circles around the surly teen, then let them try it out. Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?
I’m 56 now, and recently had knee issues that forced me to stop running. I have been exploring low impact options and unicycling is perfect! Now there are all these bigger wheels and fatter tires! Handlebars and brakes! Holy cow. So I first got a myself a nicer used 20" Sun (because the Sears has bent or broken parts) to practice, and I’m currently awaiting delivery of a 26" Club. I’m not quite ready to invest in one of the Really Good ones until I’ve had a chance to do a little more exploration.
My second Sears got sold yesterday on Facebook Marketplace for $10. I told the buyer, this is the junky unicycle you let your kid play with until you’re sure they’re going to stick with it. Then upgrade.
Yeah, love these stories.
For me, I learnt to ride on a friend’s Aldi unicycle. It was not good, a crank would often loosen, but it got me riding. I ended up buying a couple of Aldi unicycles, mostly secondhand off Gumtree, plus another friend just gave me one that was doing nothing in her garage. I kept 1, gave some to my neighbours and another to a volleyballer who learnt as a child in Japan. She immediately got back on and was a good rider.
Currently my last low end Aldi uni is with a colleague who wanted to learn and I think he has made progress. I basically said he can keep it.
These low end Aldi unis can have crank issues and the seats are not super comfy, but they are fine for beginners.
I think my sons were not willing to spend the time learning because they were extremely active doing other things. The oldest three played football, baseball, basketball, and ran track. I eventually became a “coaches helper” for the high school varsity baseball & football teams. (My specialties are database and communications related.) This year, my middle son is in his last year of college football, and that will complete 20 years of football for me.
Now that I have discovered MUni, I may have to suggest to my 28-year-old rappelling Airborne/Ranger/Sapper Army engineer that he should give this a try. He is generally up for challenges. And … he can juggle.
My youngest two are special needs. I’m discussing with my autistic 20-year-old that he might really dig the unicycle. My youngest with Down syndrome requires a Tandem Trike for safety!
Everybody here has a beginning to their story and it’s so cool hearing how each of you got started! Nothing but respect for you that have been riding since the early days during a time when it seemed less popular and certainly more difficult with nothing but poorly designed/built equipment to learn on!!
Being that I have only been riding for 4 months, yes I still have my first uni
It was a fairly cheap FUN unicycle I got off Amazon. I’ve already added a 29er and a 36er to my collection in my short time riding but I look forward to many more years of riding all of them, as long as I still physically able to ride. I can’t see getting rid of my first one for a few reasons:
It’s a great learning tool to practice new skills or to let someone else learn on. If I can find someone who wants to learn I may finally have someone else to ride with!
It’s the only 20" I have so that makes it unique.
For me, learning to ride has been such an accomplishment and rewarding experience and since it was the gateway into a wonderful new world for me it will always carry sentimental value.
Reminds me of my first unicycle. It was a 24" handmade unicycle with brass bearings, cottered pedals that were very long, but the pièce de résistance was the seat a bent piece of pipe with padding wrapped around it, real crotch breaker. Yes I still have it and will post photo tomorrow. I may even prove it still rides. The bearing runs faster than any ball bearing one I have ever ridden.
I learnt one school holiday hanging onto a wash line on grass when I was 7 or 8 back in the 50/60’s
I first learned unicycling 5 years ago and still have my first 20" uni, which was a cheap 90 EUR Only-One unicycle. Occasionally I try riding it again, but the seat is too low. Compared to my 20" freestyle or 19" trials is a world of difference. My sis said she would try to learn to ride and I promised her she could give it a go with the Only One uni. She is also smaller than me.
That post was from 2014, but I have a similar (and true) version. My first Miyata unicycle, which was to become the most popular brand in the 80s, is not still around. It got stolen with my car, the UniBug, in 1983. But I replaced that one with another 24", which I still have. It went through my transition from 24" Freestyle to 20" (on a different unicycle), but continued to travel with me to all the uni conventions, and nearly every single Unicon since the first one. I rode it into the Guinness Book in 1987 with a 100m sprint record.
Pedals and cranks were swapped around often; the original pedals are long gone, but the IDOL 125mm cranks on there might be the original ones
Naturally, I went through lots of tires
There were also many generations of saddle on there, which probably meant multiple different seat posts
By 1987 I had drilled and tapped out bigger holes for the bearing holder bolts. Those older Miyatas had these skinny little things that would always end up stripping
In the late 80s or so, Tom Miller replaced the original seat tube with a much longer one, so only the fork legs and crown are original there
I went to a red rim probably by the mid-90s, and that probably came with new spokes, nipples, rim strip, etc.
Seat post clamp? That (those) went with the frame conversion
Uh, what's left? Oh yeah. At Unicon 18 in Spain, my axle broke while I was warming up for the IUF Slalom. :( It took me a while, but I finally found a replacement hub of the same vintage
I replaced the 1983 bearings when setting up with the new hub
So that old 24 has been through a lot! And lots of adventures, like a 100m, race on top of the Great Wall in China, TV appearances, and using it as my first Muni! And it still has its original bearing holders, and the original frame up to the crown! :D
Here it is in 1996, with red-on-red Miyata saddle, tall frame, the earlier red rim, ring reflector, round pedlas and a skinny Muni tire.