Info on a Miyata Long Flamingo giraffe

I have a group of unicyclists that I am meeting with once a week in a church multi-purpose room. To keep the church informed of what we are doing and to create a little uni PR, I wrote a short article for the December church newsletter. A few days after the newsletter came out, I got a call from a church member who wanted to donate a like new, “big” unicycle to the group. This person used to own a bike shop and had sold a few unis. He still had this one in the basement. When I went to pick it up, I found out it was a Miyata Long Flamingo, 5 foot giraffe! :smiley: Boy was I surprised and excited! This unicycle is in prime condition and has hardly been used. It still has the extra pieces of rubber from the tire production on the center ridge of the tire.

Along with the giraffe I was given a copy of “Anyone Can ride A Unicycle” by Jack Halpern. It’s an IUF booklet, copyright 1988, published by Miyata Industry Co. It’s a fun read once you get past seeing all those guys in those short gym shorts! Just like the ones I used to wear. And yes, I even had the high top socks with the matching stripes. :o Reading this booklet was a little like looking at the ol’ college yearbook. Back to the subject of this thread…

Info on the uni:
Miyata Long Flamingo with blue paint
Miyata Flamingo whitewall tire, 20 X 1.75, by Shinko Rubber Ind, Co, LTD
Rim is marked 20 X 1.75HE Stainless (I assume it’s stainless steel)
Hub is marked S.I.W. and is a 28 hole hub
Miyata seat, blue

The person who donated this uni does not recall much about it and I am looking for some info/history on it.

  1. I see that Miyata’s giraffe is now called the Skycycle. When did Miyata start making the Skycycle and when was the Long Flamingo last produced?

  2. What was it sold for when new?

  3. What is the value of it now? Does it have any value as a collector’s item?

  4. Does it use a standard tire? (Unlike the old Schwinns)

  5. Does the serial number on the uni (1091) tell when it was made?

  6. Any other interesting history on this model?



Wow! What a find.

I’ll beat Harper to the punch and say “Pictures please?”.

Is it old enough to have the old style Miyata saddle with no front handle? The old saddles also have a slightly different shape than the current Miyata saddle.

It may also have the weird tire valve that is common in Japan. It’s not a Schrader or Presta valve that are common over here. If it has the Japanese valve you’ll want to replace the tube with a normal tube that has a Schrader valve.

I hadn’t heard the term “Long Flamingo” before, but we bought what was labeled as a “5’ Miyata Skycycle” from just a year ago, and when it arrived the graphics on the frame said “Flamingo”. It’s the one pictured at the link below, and if you look close, you can see the “Flamingo” graphic on the front of the seatpost tube.

So it sounds like they’re still using the term, even though it sounds like you came across a vintage donation. I’m curious as to how much the design has changed from the newer model in the above link.

JC - The tube has a Schrader valve. Yes, the seat is without handle.

Tom - Looks very similar except I believe yours has an alloy rim instead of the stainless steel. How many spokes on yours?

One thing I noticed as unique on the cranks was they had a rough finish on all of the cranks except for a polished flat surface on the portion closest to the ankle.

What was I thinking… no pics? Shame on me. Try these…


You have yourself a sweet giraffe there. Not sure I’ve ever seen one of those old-style Miyata seats without the front handle.

The only thing I haven’t liked about my son’s (since I get to ride it too) is that the cranks feel just a bit too short. I may try increasing by 10 or 20 in length to see what it feels like.

Thanks to this donation to the uni group, 3 of us (me included) rode a giraffe for the first time. It certainly is a unique ride. It feels like you do a lot of pedaling but don’t go very fast. It is surprisingly easier than I expected, at least to do the basics like riding and turning. Idling was weird for the first few attempts. Each time I started to idle I had to go backwards a few feet to get centered over the wheel for the idle.

I think I need to try a few freemounts at next week’s practice.

Several other less experienced riders in our group are being motivated to practice harder to get proficient enough to ride it. It’s going to add a lot to our practices.



One last effort to get some historical info on this giraffe.


Nice find, though I’m a little dissapointed that the “Long Flamingo” isn’t pink. What’s up with that?


Miyatas were never pink. It would have looked better than the puke green color they always used to ship us over here…

I don’t know much detail on the Miyata giraffes. I don’t think they started making them until about the mid-80s. Having a seat with no front handle is an indicator of age, but I’m not sure what year they started with the handles. That was some time in the early to mid 90s.

I have plenty of old Miyata seats without the handles. They’re better for freestyle because the handle can get in the way. The number of bolts on that front bumper will give a further clue to the cycle’s age. If it only has one bolt it’s really old, but it probably has two. Or maybe three. I have all three kinds in the garage.

Did you guys know that before Miyata had plastic bumpers on the seats they had the metal bars like the Savage seats? The Savage ones are copies of the old Miyatas. But Savage never wanted to spend any money and go to the next step.

The early versions of the Miyata giraffe I remember were called Long Flamingo. This may have been more a translation of the Japanese name of the product, and the Skycycle may have been coined by Miyata USA for sales over here. I don’t think the design of the giraffes changed much over the years, other than some component changes.

They are good quality giraffes except for one kind of glaring weak point, which is also shared by some other brands. Where the seat post extension enters the painted frame, there’s only maybe 1.5" of tube to grip it. Then it flares out to a wider tubing size. Stronger frame, but a weak spot around the clamp. I know Bill Gilbertson killed at least one Miyata giraffe from doing hardcore tricks on it, like unispins or something. But it’s a fine giraffe for elementary school-aged kids, which is what it’s made for.

Your rim is chromed steel, similar to the standard Miyatas of at least a few years ago. Same type of cranks as well, not counting any necessary differences for the chain. Not the strongest cranks.

All in all a really high quality giraffe for the kids, but don’t beat on it like you would a Trials unicycle, and it should last indefinitely.

The book that came with your giraffe is another indication of its age, as those books ran out many, many years ago. Most of the photos of non-Japanese riders in there are mine. Yup, that’s the kind of gear we wore for unicycling in 1980-84, when those pictures were taken! :astonished:

Nice, I want to see the book now. If you don’t already you should put it on you site John.

For a tall unicycle Flamingo would seem a better name the Giraffe. Flamingo has long legs then a body on top of them looking more like was a unicyclist does when s/he is riding a tall unicycle. I guess more people know about the giraffe as being tall then a flamingo though so they went with the more obvious name.

Thanks everyone, helpful and interesting info.

We had another fun night riding it tonight. Did my first freemounts on it. I was completing about 50% of my freemount attempts. I’m happy with that, especially since I expected it would take me longer to learn. I think I freemounted it on my 5th or 6th try.

John Foss - It must be fun to have so many of your photos in a booklet like that. Good job! I do enjoy your photography.


Which way do you mount it? Running mount or climbing mount? The rolling mount is pretty easy on a “short” one like that… the climbing one, well, I don’t do that one anymore… broke my arm trying.

Thanks. These days the ones I enjoy the most are the ones with a paycheck attached. But I really like the English-language Miyata books because I also had a bit of editorial input.

Anyway, check this out:
A panoramic, multi-shot photo sequence of Mike Leebolt doing a running mount onto a Miyata giraffe! Who is Mike Leebolt? He used to hang out with Steve Gordon down in Southern CA, and I found out from him that he had my license plate before I got it in 1995 (UNICYCL).

The book is copyrighted, but you may still be able to get a copy from Jack Halpern (who wrote the book).

Giraffe is the name that schwinn gave it and is the most common calling for all tall chain driven unicycles today. Long flamingo never stuck. I think that the schwinn 6" came out before the Miyatas, but that’s before my time.

Schwinn Giraffes came out in 1977. I don’t think there were Miyata giraffes until at least the 80s. But I think Schwinn used the name that was already commonly used for chain-drive unicycles. I think. A look at some old issues of the USA Newsletter should answer that…

I was doing the climbing mount, starting with my left foot on the pedal. I am 6 ft tall, so i was easy to reach the pedal, I didn’t bother stepping on the tire first.

Broken arm! No thanks, don’t want that! How did that happen? Did you get tangled up in the uni on the way down?