Help me pick a unicycle for a 9 yr old please!

Hello, I am 41 and my fiance’s 9 yr old very thin boy mentioned an interest in unicycling briefly and I SO want to encourage this inclination as a surprise for his 10th birthday and I don’t know what to get him but I’d LOVE to get him a unicycle that would last a few years like the best in his class until he wants to upgrade. He’s a tenacious dude, I know he’d put in some time and effort and I want to do his desire justice. Please advise as to what unicycle might be a good buy for a 9 yr old growing. Thanks!

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Anything with a 20" wheel would be perfect for him.
My the 6yo son learnt on an old Pashley 20", it really is the ideal size.

Same as @Dino get a decent entry level from (assuming you’re in the US) and it’ll be great. Avoid the really cheap ones on eBay/Amazon which are really shit. Have a look on craigslist too, there might be good second hand ones - just send us links, we’ll happily tell you!

And if he gets into it, you can splurge for a more fancy one later on!

A friend of mine found a 20" uni at a garage sale for $10. Many people buy them and never learn. Just a thought.

Kid needs a 16" size unicycle, but “more important” get yourself a 20".
So, you “too” can learn what it takes to: figure out, stick with and learn how to ride a unicycle.
Don’t just give it to the kid…“have fun”.
It’s not a dangerous toy, but it’s a toy “guaranteed to fail”.
Makes all that effort and hope feel like a waste of time. (as everyone laughs and snickers at you)

Most people(everybody) who tries a unicycle fails, immediately. It feels awkward, scary, outtafkn control. We look stupid trying and it’s an invitation for all “comments” from non-riders.
So, it’s just a question of how long before you call it quits. Hours, days, weeks?
Very few people stick with it and finally get it.
Main thing?
How do you even “believe” that you can do it? After trying it and it feels absolutely “impossible”?

Then there are the “rare” exceptions that get it right away. LIke same day? Like within an hour.
Possibly, from natural ability, but mostly from skills acquired from other activities like bmx or certain balance sports. These gifted/natural athletes however are the ones that spoil it for everyone. If you can’t get it right away and look cool. If you have to spend hours and hours, weeks and weeks, or even months and months…it’s not worth it.

So, what does a 9 yr old kid know about perseverance, goal setting and obsession? Probably, no experience with the first two. Probably, is obsessed with his cellphone, friends and cool stuff…as every kid should be. However, about riding a “weird” one wheel device? Maybe for a few seconds, and if it doesn’t work? Next.

That’s where you can really help. He see’s somebody else trying and not giving up. Somebody doing research and figuring out how to do the impossible. Then “maybe” it can happen.

Not discouraging, but preparing you for the “obsession/madness” that is needed to learn this weird, cool and impossible hobby…slam

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Thank you for the thoughtful responses, especially yours Slamdance. Very helpful and you’re right, doing it together would probably help. I hadn’t thought about how many people quit trying fast- I think I’ll get in a bit better shape and then get us both unicycles, AND give us a challenge goal too. He likes to do lemonade stand fundraisers for his dad’s volunteer fire dept so I’ll commit to a large donation to the firehouse when both of us can get all the way down the street together without falling. That will definitely make us work harder to do it. I like that idea. Thanks for the advice!

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I learned at 7 years old on a 20" (and I was a rather small kid). As long as they fit on it, it’s totally fine to learn on for kids, even if the proportions are different compared to an adult on a 20", and a much more future proof investment.

Yesterday I took some E-waste (a TV from the last century) to the local “recycling” center. They have a facility there called the “Green Shed”, where they sell cheap furniture, books, music, golf clubs, kitchen utensils, home gym equipment, toys, bicycles etc. that people have thrown out.

Wandering around, I saw THREE small unicycles. Because I have a 7 year old grandson, I decided to buy a 20in “Fishbone sport” in reasonable condition for the price of 2 cups of coffee. The seat looked comfortable and well protected, the cranks had no play, the tire looked ok, the seat post had enough length.

When I see him next month I will try to involve him in cutting the seat post to length, and possibly painting the frame. (I have very fond memories of my own grandmother, who refurbished and repainted a hand-me-down bicycle for me at that age).

If he is not much interested, so be it - easy come, easy go. I would not be at all surprised if he would rather have a scooter to ride around with his friends.

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Since I haven’t seen a super blunt answer yet I suppose I’ll give one. Club, Sun, and Trainer are all great budget friendly brands to start out on. Leaf (more popular in Europe) is also a pretty reputable brand. Nimbus is one of the best brands out there if budget isn’t as much of a constraint. If you’re looking at getting a decent quality unicycle expected to last at least a few years with moderate abuse, make sure your price range is set no lower than $100. Don’t buy any unicycle that’s $50 on Amazon. It will break before you can even finish learning how to unicycle.

Look around locally at bike shops. Some of them carry decent unicycles, and they will be cheaper than buying online. My first unicycle was a Sun Classic 20” that I bought for exactly $100 at the local bike shop. My sister’s learning on it now 3 years later and it still looks and acts brand new.

As for size, a 20” unicycle would be the only I would think I about buying. 20” is a standard wheel size (measured in wheel diameter). I’d look and make sure that you can get a shorter seat post so that the unicycle can properly fit his leg length (inseam) as well. This is because you want to make sure that when his foot is on the bottom pedal, his knee is only slightly bent when sitting. It makes the unicycle easier to ride when it’s fitted to the correct seat post height.

As for purchasing unicycles online, I wouldn’t recommend any other website than Unicyclists seemingly worship the website for good reason. Good customer service, it’s run by professionals, and they have a wide variety of unicycles.

I’d also purchase some shin guards and hand/wrist guards with the unicycle if I were you. The shins and hands are gonna be what get beat up the most when learning. I also recommend learning to ride alongside a chain link fence to hold onto. Empty tennis courts work really well to learn in. Also know that it takes an average of about 20 hours of practice to get the hang of unicycling (according to Google anyway). Make sure he’s prepared for 20 hours of falling.

Best of luck to you.

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+1 for your advice. Also, if you are a good enough rider, you can qualify for the downhill muni elite Unicon event even riding on a brakeless Club, going faster than 100+ other male riders, it happened just a week ago.
I think Clubs are bulletproof for any beginner.

I was just looking at the 20" unicycle I got for my grandson, and imagining what it would be like to learn on, and a few thoughts came to me…

I think it is important that no time is wasted in the learning process by having to adjust and re-tighten a twisted seat, so make sure it is the right height and clamp it really tight. (I prefer a seat clamp with a hex tightener rather than a fiddly “quick release” clamp).

Also reasonably wide, flattish tires, not pumped up too high, make learning easier, especially as learning is on flat areas (so no camber issues).

And if you are getting a quality unicycle, it might have metal spiked pedals - I would suggest these should be replaced by plastic pedals.

By the way, yes, fences and walls are handy for learning, but I suggest you should soon progress to launching from a pole (unused basketball courts are the perfect learning area, I reckon).

Finally, I was amazed at how large the pedal to pedal distance (full axle length) was on the unicycle I had picked up. Kids seem to manage ok on these things, but would have thought narrower would be better if you are not an adult. But I suppose @idiot57 you have already bought or ordered one by now - I hope you and the boy have lots of fun!

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