How can I explain?

My communication skills are not outstanding, but I’m usually getting my point through. Not in this case though, so I need help.

The situation was this:
Inspired by George Barnes’ ultimate wheel I got the idea of building a new ultimate wheel around a fat cruiser bike tire. So off I go to a semi local bike store that sells cruisers to hear about components and prices.
A few minutes later I left the store in lowered spirit, leaving a frustrated and confused man in the store to tend to more normal customers.
I don’t think he ever understood what I wanted and why, and I’m not sure how I could have explained it.

When he had asked me what kind of bike I had
the conversation went along these lines:

ME: The thing I want to build is called an ultimate wheel. It’s like a unicycle without the frame. Like this one (showing him the wheel that I currently ride), I ride it as it is here, without the frame.

:slight_smile: : I think you should buy a whole new unicycle, then you’d get a frame too.

ME: I could but it’d cost me more and I have a unicycle with a frame already. That’s where this wheel came from.
I think the big 24" tyres would be good 'cause they’ll give a smoother ride.

:thinking: : But they won’t fit (pointing at my wheel which is picked off my 20" uni)

ME: No I’m going to build a whole new wheel

:roll_eyes: : But it won’t fit the frame

ME: I know, I just want to build an other wheel to ride without a frame. That way this one can go back in the frame I already have.

:thinking: : So you want a wheel for another unicycle?

ME: No … I …

:frowning: : Sorry we don’t sell unicycles.

After that I stuck to simple questions
(how much for the Thick Brick tire, what kind of rim does that bike use etc.)

How do you explain what an ultimate wheel is?
I couldn’t show him how I ride it because I didn’t have a tire on it at the time, and I can’t rely on having the thing with me next time I try to explain what it is.
I probably should have started out with making it crystal clear what kind of device I was talking about and how it works.

What would you have said?


OK I’ll try to help but I am not sure I understand what you want. You want a 24" wheel for the ultimate frame from your 20" unicycle? I indeed think that it doesn’t fit, the bike store man is right. :stuck_out_tongue:

Klaas Bil

You’re wrong Klaas, that’s not what he needs. He wants a brand new unicycle so he can have an extra frame

Find a picture, or diagram if possible, of an ultimate wheel. This site Looks helpful. Also, pick when you go to the shop. This particular encounter wouldn’t have been just before closing on a friday or saturday, would it?

That, or find a shop assistant who’s a bit slow at that time coz both of their brain cells are busy with the whole complex breathing and talking thing.


edit: Or, more helpful, possible, find a shop assistant who isn’t a bit slow. Its up to you, really.

From your post, I’m not even sure what you wanted. Why try to explain to a bike shop guy what an ultimate wheel is, if you aren’t trying to order one from him? The bike shop sells the bike parts you need. Not ultimate wheels, so why confuse him with something he can’t help you with?

I’m not sure what the George Barnes ultimate wheel is. The three basic types are wheel-without-frame, insert, and crossbars.

For the wheel kind, you need a whole wheel, with a unicycle hub. There’s a good chance it’s cheaper to buy a whole unicycle for this. By the time you part everything together, including labor, you may spend the same or greater amount.

For the insert or bar type, the only “bike shop” parts you need are rim, tire (tube, rim strip), and pedals. The rest is “custom.”

In any case, I’m getting the feeling your local bike shop guy is not too bright. But I wasn’t there to hear the conversation, so I’m reserving judgement. If you were showing him a whole unicycle, and wanted one with a spoked wheel, his answer then was not too far off from my first one… :slight_smile:

Would this gallery be useful? It’s MoJoe’s UW with a big fat ‘n’ round Fireball tyre on it…


Thanks for your posts!
I’ll try diagrams and pictures next time and see how that works.

The main reason was that he asked what bike I was looking for, and I naively thought he’d be interested. For some odd reason not everybody is as interested in unicycling as I am.

It’s the one phil posted a link to. What got me interested was the Fireball tire

The cheapest option I found so far was to order a spare wheel from and a tire through the LBS. A new uni is cheapest if you can use the some spare parts.

I think he’s bright enough, but that I screwed up the communication. I haven’t told the whole story. Just the parts where it seemed to go wrong, so don’t judge the bike shop guy.

I showed him the wheel (no frame & no tire) from my freestyle uni.
It’s ok as an UW but it would be nicer not to have to take the wheel off all the time.


I think the Fireball would make an excellent UW tire, except for the weight. You’ll have a heavy UW. Heavy is fine when riding, but a pain to carry around. My 24" is heavy enough, due to the 3/4" plywood.

So you need a tire. Fireball will be hard (or expensive) to get. Or decide on another size, and get appropriate rim to go with it. The rest, other than pedals, is not bike parts.

Someday I will probably get a new UW. If I do, it will be the crossbar type, which is much lighter. And looks nicer!

I think the crossbar style is the George Barnes ultimate wheel.

That would be nice if offered a Fireball 24x3 ultimate wheel. That would be the ultimate wheel I would want if I wanted an ultimate wheel. Eventually I want one, but coker comes first.

You mean it would be the Ultimate Ultimate Wheel?

What would happen if they ceased production? Someone would end up with the Penultimate Ultimate Ultimate Wheel!



well done:D

Borges, where I work we are always having to fight to be understood because we frequently are ordering supplies that we don’t understand well, or are modifying things to be used differently than intended. Sometimes it is just purchasing that is weird since we are a university. Anyway, I have learned to just be really persistant. People will get pissed, but you have to just stay on them. You will get where you need to eventually. A lot of times in the end they will even laugh with you about how difficult it was to convey. Once a store clerk who didn’t understand how a purchase order works threatened to call store security on me. “You can’t just walk in here with a piece of paper and expect to leave with merchandise!” I stuck with it though, and after numerous calls to to their offices and ours got everything straightened out and got what I needed. They remember me and are always very helpful now when I go there.

Aside from that, in your case, I would not tell the guy any more than he needs to know to get you an answer. What was the point? get prices? Then just ask prices. If you wanted design help or parts that are a certain way, ask if they exist. If he asks why then describe what you are up to. He probably didn’t realize you were doing something bizarre. He probably thought you didn’t know what you were talking about, as 99.999 percent of people who go into a shop don’t. Those situations are always funny though.

From what I hear the fireball is the perfect UW tire. It’s big fat heavy and stable (sort of the Helmut Kohl* of tires).

*)For those who are not into German politics Helmut Kohl was chancellor 1982 -1998.