Hi there! I’m a granddaughter of the late Bernard Crandall and I know that his hand built unicycles are still out there. If anyone is looking to sell in and around Michigan, let me know. I’d love to have one of his pieces and give some back to my dad.
Hello Snowwicked, are you a daughter of Clyde or Floyd? I don’t know if they had other brothers or sisters… Floyd was a man I looked up to in my early years of unicycling, and I considered him a role model in my approach to sports.
One of the things that attracted me to unicycling “back in the day” was watching a guy from the Pontiac Unicyclists perform in the talent show at my Jr. High School (Bryant, Livonia) when I was in 8th grade. This would be approximately 1975 or 76. I can’t remember the guy’s name any more, but when he rode his 7 or 8-footer over a jump ramp, I was convinced that he-was-going-to-die. When he didn’t, I was blown away!
Anyway, to try to track down Crandall giraffes, try contacting people who might know older people who may still have one. I would start with the Redford Unicycle Club:
There were probably a few Crandalls around when I was riding with the club (1980-84) but those things don’t die. They’re heavy, but very sturdy! Putting the word out to the older club members might get you a contact or two.
If you do get your hands on one, if it’s built around a Schwinn wheel, it may be hard to find tires that fit. I would consider it “acceptable” to upgrade the rim and tire (or whole wheel) if people intend to ride it. The important part of those is really the frames; the rest were the ordinary bike parts (and uni or Track hubs) of the time.
I am Clyde’s daughter. The eight footer may actually have been him- he rode up to 16 ft and Floyd rode up to 20. It’s awesome to hear stories from back in their prime- ive always been fascinated by it all. I actually found a video on YouTube of their last big parade after my grandpa passed and I spotted my dad and my uncle in it. I actually still talk to Penny Elliott as well- she was one of the riders too. It’s a small world. I went to school (and church for a while) with a boy with the same last name as yours- his name was John Michael.
Hi Snowwicked! This isn’t a unicycle but… back in about the same day John refers to, in early 1975, I wrote a letter to your grandfather asking some advice on building unicycles. He replied with a handwritten note and drawings, answering my questions and explaining how he built them. I’ve kept that in my unicycle archives, and I’ll be glad to send you a copy of it as soon as I figure out how to reply directly.
IIRC your dad and uncle were setting the speed standards back then, and a friend of mine and I followed them in the USA Newsletter. We went as far as marking off a 100 yards on the neighborhood street to see if we could come close to their times.
I’ll keep poking around the new interface here. I bet your dad would enjoy seeing this letter. Good luck on the uni search!
I think you have to post a few times before you’re allowed to PM someone. Maybe @Canapin can change that for your account so you can PM already.
Yes, new users can’t send direct messages to prevent spam, but their account is upgraded very quickly as soon as they start using the forum. I can manually upgrade accounts too, so you should now be able to send direct messages, @morgan_griffith
Thank you so much! This is really awesome! I can’t wait to show it to my dad. I never got to meet my grandfather but it’s wonderful to find little pieces of him scattered all over this way. It’s like a treasure hunt! Thank you for sharing!
Starr Crandall Yarbrough
You have unicycle archives? There must be more of us than I imagined! What other kinds of unicycle archives do you have, if you don’t mind my asking? I get the impression you around my age, are not from Michigan or Ohio (or you would have gone to those early National Unicycle Meets, and are still interested in unicycling, which is pretty rare for people who rode as kids/teenagers.
BTW, I have archives of the early days of the IUF, including all the judges sheets from Unicon IX (I was the Chief Judge) and lots of other paper stuff that should one day be scanned and made available to the world of unicycle nerds like us.
Hi John, I have a few things, the first 8 years of the Newsletter, the first few years of Uni magazine, some other old letters & notes, one from Emmet Carpenter that came with an 8-footer his shop built for me, lots of random stuff, and an RTL folder. We’ve met before - I was part of the Surly Speedgoats with Dave and Dan at RTL. I didn’t get to too many NUMs, though I still have a t-shirt from the 1980 one in Kokomo. I think I was at one in Minnesota in the 80’s where I met Tommy Miller and first rode one of his big wheels, and I think Bowling Green in 2005 and Saline in 2007. Seems like every decade or so I get the unicycles out and start riding regularly again.
I’m from Indiana, the South Bend (northern Indiana) area when I was growing up, and now living in southeastern Indiana on a farm we’ve had for about 30 years. The roads are pretty quiet out here, and hilly, so there are lots of nice rides to be had.
Post-COVID we should get together and compare notes. Long ago I started to index the newsletters, but now they could probably be scanned, put through OCR (if it hasn’t been done already) and made available for searching.
Hi There! I picked up two giraffe unis in Warren, MI today and I have a feeling they were made by Bernard Crandall. They were given to me by an 89 year old man whose son rode them (probably in the 70’s or early 80’s).
If they are Crandall made unis…I’d love you to have them. Here is a link to some pics. Let me know. I’d love to repatriate these cycles! If you need additional pics, let me know.
Hi David! I know that he used to put labels on them but because of the age they may have come off by now. The color and design look like his work from the photos and the kids having rode them in the 70s is definitely the right timeframe for when the Pontiac Unicyclists were active. What was the last name? I could ask my dad if it’s not one I know- he remembers most of the members pretty well. I’d love to check them out if you’re interested in bringing them full circle.
Hi There! The last name of the guy who gave them to me is Maurer. He said his son was in a uni club in Royal Oak (possibly part of the Boys Club?) and would ride in a Royal Oak parade.I pressed him ‘cause I knew about the Pontiac club and RTUC, but not Royal Oak. Anyway, I contacted a friend who was in RTUC starting in the early 80’s. She thought their giraffes from that era were made by Bernard Crandall. Can you show the pics to your Dad? My friend also said that someone in the Brichford family could likely identify them. John Foss….if you’re out there can you chime in? You must know the provenance of these relics. Anyway, I’m happy for you to come check them out and if they are indeed your grandfather’s work, I’d love you to have them. I’m out of town but back on Sunday night. Phone is 248-686-9801.
Oh….I don’t see a label. They are the same color blue that Tom Miller used to use on Unicycle Factory unis…but they don’t have the telltale signs of TUF cycles.
I know of John Foss- I went to school with one of his sons. They used to live downtown from where i am now but not sure if the family is still in the area. I’ll try to send them to my dad and see what he says. Thank you!
I’m not an expert (I moved out of Michigan in 1984), but they don’t look like Crandall’s work. His builds used two pieces of 1" square tubing, that ran from the axle up to the bottom bracket (cranks). But that was for taller unis. He may have made shorter ones out of less bulky materials, but those don’t look like his style, other than the seat tube, and the long cranks. A Royal Oak uni club/group doesn’t ring a bell for me; probably a less formal group, or at least not associated with the USA Inc., and not attending the annual Redford “Mini Meets” of the early 80s to my knowledge. So I’m not very helpful on that.
One of my strongest influences to get into unicycling came from a Pontiac rider whose name I can’t seem to remember. I mentioned him above in an earlier post. Unfortunately he was not Clyde Crandall; I would have remembered that! He was a grade ahead of me, which would make him about 61 now.
Who is your “source” from the Redford club? It’s fun to talk about old times. She may have seen more of Pontiac than I ever did. Crandall definitely did make a lot of giraffes, though I don’t know if he made any/many for non-club members. He famously charged $10 per foot, at least for the taller ones. Certainly a loss leader.
The blue color definitely matches, or is very close to, the TUF blue of the 80s-and-later. I remember Tom telling me he chose that color because it was the cheapest (from Schwinn I think), and he probably bought a large quantity of it. It’s a nice metallic blue, but if you use it on everything, it gets old. Though it does keep the costs down. Then, many years later, Kris Holm somehow ended up settling on almost the exact same shade of blue.
Hi my name is Brian Moore and I have a 6’ Crandall unicycle your Grand father built, and would like to sell it.please message me at email@example.com