How many 36er "Purists" on this forum?

Purists’ just another word for nothing left to lose

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@Siddhartha_Valmont Interesting to know. I enjoy hearing about your set-up and unicycle preferences. I have never ridden a fat tire unicycle. I would like to try one sometime.

@UniMyra You are right - nothing left to lose… and nothing more can be removed (except for possibly the seat bumper and the tube valve cap, if we want to be obsessively accurate)! That is the essence of a unicycle purist, or minimalist.

What about the pedals and cranks? You can always wheel walk or glide :smirk:

@Maxence You need pedals and cranks to ride a unicycle in the way that it was originally designed to be operated. Wheel walking and gliding are additional, specialized skills that enable highly skilled riders to operate the unicycle in other ways, so that’s not a valid argument. Your example is analogous to telling a bicyclist that he (or she) doesn’t need his (or her) front wheel because he (or she) can always do a wheelie.

Based on Wikipedia:

A unicycle is a vehicle that touches the ground with only one wheel. The most common variation has a frame with a saddle, and has a pedal-driven direct-drive.

So, my definition for a unicycle is valid. And so are ultimate wheels which only offer a wheel and pedals directly attached to it.
So, if you want to consider yourself as a purist, you should maybe remove your saddle, seat post and frame :slight_smile:
Does it sound strange to you? That’s how I perceive the term “purist”. Why would you be a purist when you can add more confort to your uni? A saddle is amazing to ride long distances. And so are handles and brakes. Those are evolutions of an acoustic unicycle. I, personally, consider myself as a unicycle purist because I don’t ride an electric unicycle. Unicycles weren’t designed to be electric in the first place, right?

To sum up: if you want to consider yourself as a purist, then you should remove everything that is not required to ride a unicycle. Otherwise, that’s just playing with the meaning of the word.

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It depends how you define a ‘handlebar’. Most unicyclists would, at very least, have the plastic KH style handle. While not an extended ‘handlebar’, it is a very stable platform to rest your hands on.

Then there are various hybrid extension bar/handles- for instance the long, medium and short Mad4One handle-saddles. At what point is it a handlebar and not just a ‘handle’?

I used a GB4 handle for many years, which is only marginally longer than the plastic KH handle.

Some of my fastest 36 rides were either on the plastic handle or the GB4. These days, I prefer a KH T-bar for longer distance or the Mad4One handle saddle.

The only time I’ve felt I definitely needed a brake and extended handlebar was when riding a geared 36".

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Minimalist is a far less divisive word to describe what you’re getting at.

There’s enough division and discord in this world and we certainly don’t need any of it bringing into our already tiny unicycling community.


@Maxence Since you are offering the same logically fallacious argument that was already presented and debunked earlier in this thread, I will paste my previous response below for your convenience (since you obviously missed it):

With regard to your other arguments, they are quite weak. First, you selectively quote a small part of the Wikipedia article that supports your position while ignoring the second part of your quote (“The most common variation has a frame with a saddle, and has a pedal-driven direct-drive.”) that contradicts your claim that an ultimate wheel is a valid definition of a unicycle. Clearly, based on the context of my posting, it is quite evident that I have always been referring to the original, most common type of unicycle throughout this discussion, so you seem to be debating with yourself, rather than the point I made. That is called a strawman argument, which is another type of logical fallacy. Lastly, had you been more fair in your analysis, you would have pointed out that according to the ‘Construction’ section of the Wikipedia article you quoted, “Unicycles have a few key parts:”


A unicycle hub

Unicycles have a few key parts:

  • The wheel (which includes the tire, tube, rim, spokes, hub and axle)
  • The cranks (which attach the pedals to the wheel hub)
  • The hub (connects the spokes to a central point and also transfers pedaling power to the wheel)
  • Pedals
  • Fork-style frame
  • Seatpost
  • Saddle (the seat of the unicycle)

In any case, as mentioned several times, my goal in posting was to get some idea how many 36er riders don’t utilize handlebars or brakes. I have no interest in debating the definition of a unicycle, as I find such a discussion incredibly boring.

@GizmoDuck It seems we can add another purist (or minimalist to those who are easily offended) to the list of 36er riders (at least of the not geared variety)!

I think a handle that comes with a seat from the manufacturer and is bolted on to the seat in standard fashion as a main component of the seat is simply a seat bumper with a handle. Anything beyond that, which doesn’t come from the manufacturer as part of the original product is an add-on handle, in my view.

Great to see you on the forum and posting again!

Uh oh, here comes the word police, lol. I grew up in a world where people were not so easily and readily offended. The only snowflakes we had back then fell from the sky. If someone is truly offended by use of the word ‘purist’ to refer to a person who rides a unicycle as it was originally conceived and built (and to this day the way it is most widely utilized), then I reckon that person has much bigger issues to resolve. In any case, this conversation has once again descended into a nonsensical debate about semantics. I am only interested in knowing how many 36er owners ride without handlebars or brakes, regardless of what you want to call such riders.

When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.

Yes, silly, I know! Perhaps Ludwig Wittgenstein with his idea of a “language game” would help us get closer to the meaning of “unicycle” and “36er” in this forum.

Anyway, looking at the UDC site, there are four 36ers: the two that are in stock have disc brakes (and probably constitute the majority of sales?), of the others: the Nightfox has provision for a disc brake, and I guess the budget Titan only has the possibility of rim brakes (but who in our community would buy one? it has cotterless cranks!). And who would bother removing the disc brake - it adds little to the weight and even if rarely used, it is handy for smoothly going down long descents (or avoiding being launched off if overdoing things on a steep descent).

Only the Nightfox is pictured with a handle (apart from the normal seat front grab handle), but I assume a lot of riders choose to add a handle. The real problem here is that it is very hard to find the “perfect” handle which attaches rigidly, takes a brake lever mount (for those who choose to use brakes), is comfortable and crash resistant, lightweight, good for enabling pushing the unicycle up steep sections, unlikely to jam your hand or catch your legs in a UPD, and suitable for both road cruising and easy (dirt) trail riding.

Another problem with handles is that when the rider wishes to “un-crunch”, relax, and ride freely moving the upper body for a change, it is nice if the handle motion when “sitting up” is not disconcerting, and also nice if the design of the seat and handle doesn’t mean the rider is forced forward onto the front of the seat. So, the whole seat plus handle thing is a bit of a Goldilocks problem - there is no “just perfect” and certainly nothing is perfect for ALL of us!

I reckon nearly all of us have brakes, and most with geared or 36er wheels either have some kind of handlebar or are thinking about it.

Maybe @rogeratunicycledotcom could throw some light on the original question in this topic from sales statistics.


I think you perfectly described exactly what you were looking for in your initial post. I think maybe the demographic of unicycling attorneys on this forum has suddenly increased dramatically.


Thanks, Greg. I was thinking the exact same thing! It seems like there used to be a lot of unicyclist engineers and tech/computer people. I guess maybe the one-wheeling attorneys have overtaken them!

I had attempted to avoid the discussion going off topic as it has at times on this thread by including the statements below, quoted from my original post.

A couple days late, but I need to shout it from the proverbial rooftop. I’m a 36er purist! I ride a minimalist unicycle. No brakes, and only the little plastic handle that came on my seat.

To those who “need” a huge two-handed touring handle and brakes, why not just add a second wheel? That’ll make your life a lot easier. I bet you could go further and faster like that. (Is that the logical fallacy of extremes that was mentioned?)

The beauty of the unicycle is its simplicity. I’ve got a seat, pedals, and one point of connection for a single hand. That leaves the other free to wave and return thumbs up.

I usually only ride 20-30km on my 36er at a time and I ride hard. I’ve been called out in a local online community for riding “dangerously.” It’s possible to boogie without brakes and a touring handle.

I have competed in two national 100km uni races, once winning the no-gear category and once placing second. The first time I showed up, people didn’t think I had a chance without a touring handle and a lycra body suit.

I honestly can’t believe that so many people think you need all those accessories for a simple ungeared 36er. I thought we were a group who valued the challenge of mastering a minimalist machine.


@unisteve Great to hear from another 36er purist to add to the small list! I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment. I am very open to hearing about unicycling in all its forms and all the different kinds of unicycle set-ups and I don’t claim any one type is better or worse than another, but of course everyone has their own preferences. However, like you, I am pretty surprised at how many people who are drawn to minimalist vehicles like unicycles are so readily inclined to add additional parts. The simplicity and lack of those extra parts is what is alluring to me, as well.

Those are some impressive accomplishments on your 36er! If you ever visit NYC, it would be great to go for a ride with you (for no more than around 16km since I’m not a distance rider). Thanks for your post to this thread.

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I honestly can’t believe that it’s so hard to understand that there’s a huge variety of unicycles and unicyclists. From reading this forum I’m pretty sure that most riders went the big wheel route to be able to ride faster. The thread opener is different in that he wants to ride in skate parks and the like - an environment where you’d rather expect unis with smaller wheels.
While unicyclists have their means of transportation in common, they all didn‘t choose it for the same considerations. Why assume that they all got into or keep unicycling because they were just looking for „mastering a minimalist machine“? While I do like the minimalist nature of unicycling it was not a reason for me to get into this hobby. It‘s just the icing on the cake.
People have different things that keep them rolling. You seem to highly value the minimalist part, others may strive to push their ride to the limits and came to the conclusion that handle bars and brakes help them to get there (e.g. less wobbling and better aerodynamics thanks to handle bars). Some may get the brake for safety reasons. Others may install handle bars because they look for a less uncomfortable ride… There are multiple valid reasons reasons for those add-ons. I will eventually put a brake on my 29er to minimise the knee pain when riding down a descent. Will make my uni heavier and less minimalist, but it helps me to indulge in my hobby the next day instead of waiting for the knee pain to go away.
At the moment I don‘t have a unicycle with a handle bar (though I‘m working on a handle saddle for my muni) and when on a road I usually even ride without touching the saddle with my hand(s) because that feels a bit awkward to me. But I‘m open minded enough to try it again every now and then, and if some day I will come to the conclusion that I probably would benefit from riding with a handle bar I will not hesitate to equip my unicycle with it.

Different strokes for different folks.

Edited for small clarifications.


Although the original aim of this topic was to list minimalist 36” unicyclists, it was to be expected that it would evolve in this way.

Speaking of purists rather than minimalists can be perceived as a provocation to those who are not minimalists. I don’t think I’m cheating when I ride my 36" with handlebars, brake and magnetic pedals. :magnet:

Now there are minimalists who tell non-minimalists to put on a 2nd wheel for greater comfort… I think it’s crazy to divide ourselves when there aren’t that many of us already.

I’d find it more interesting to discuss everyone’s motivations for practicing 36” (and what kind of practice). We could identify the different motivations (and associated practices).

Personally, I started unicycling to add fun to my commute around town.
In fact, I started on a 29“, then a G29, before moving up to a 36”. I like the unusual object, but I think what I like most is learning new skills.
For me, a unicycle is a non-motorized machine with a single wheel. It is interesting to know that its common origin with the bicycle is the penny farthing, but it’s not a nineteenth-century machine.

Technological innovations enable us to learn new skills.
I think unicyclists have, or have had, an attraction to learning new skills.


If people were really happy with their choices and preferences, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

No one can stop anyone from being a unicycle “maximalist,” or agnostic, or however you’d like to be described. In spite of my colourful comments, I personally don’t care what you do. I’ve ridden with and have respect for people who ride 36ers with touring handles and brakes. Bolt whatever you want to your uni. I’ll do what I want with mine.

I know people like different things. I know preferences can’t be wrong. That’s why it’s hypocritical of people to say others should consider putting on a big handle or using a brake. I understand why people put those things on their unicycles. It makes things easier and more comfortable.

But in this thread, started to see who else out there is a purist, I shared that I am one. And I explained why. Maybe, to protect the egos of the be-handled and -braked, we others can be called “masochists” or “self-flagellists.”

Although my intent of this post was simply to get some idea as to how many 36er owners rode without handlebars or brakes (and I clearly stated that I had no objection to or judgement about riding other ways), I now feel compelled to respond to the side discussion that has emerged regarding the meaning of the word “purist” because of the statement quoted below.

I’m sorry but using words correctly according to their meaning is not offensive or a provocation.

If you Google, “Purist”, their definition is:




  1. a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style.

“the production has yet to offend Gilbert and Sullivan purists”

  1. an adherent of Purism.

“Purist painters”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

According to the Cambridge dictionary:

According to the Britannica dictionary:

According to the definitions above (or the definitions from nearly every other legitimate source), a unicycle purist could surely be defined as someone who prefers (and perhaps even advocates for) riding a unicycle as it was originally conceived and configured (which is sans handlebars and brakes). I know some of the “lawyers” on the forum will ask: Well then why don’t you go back to riding with a hard rubber wheel since that’s the type of wheel that was on the original unicycle? And my response to that question is: I previously stated on this thread that I am not a Luddite, so in my view, embracing technological improvements to the original components of a unicycle does not make one less of a purist. The question (“Well then why don’t you go back to riding with a hard rubber wheel since that’s the type of wheel that was on the original unicycle?”) is also a fallacious argument (known as “an Appeal to Extremes”), as previously discussed.

Lastly, for anyone who knows, or has now read, the actual definition of a purist, it describes a person who is stuck in their old-fashioned ways in a certain regard, so calling ourselves purists could easily be interpreted as self-deprecating. Thus if anyone should be insulted, it’s us “purists,” but we don’t get offended so easily (especially by our our own designations, lol). It takes a lot to ruffle our feathers!

If you are referring to my previous statement by any chance, this is what I said:

As you can see, my use of the word “cheating” was to describe non-riders who I believe INCORRECTLY assume that handlebars make riding a unicycle easier, as they do on a bicycle.