My 12 year-old daughter has been fascinated with getting a unicycle ever since seeing a juggler doing various tricks using a unicycle at a kids party she went to. We’ve caved in and have said we’ll purchase one for her birthday coming up towards the end of next month. Neither me, and especially my partner, were too happy about the idea of her riding one as it seems a bit unsafe and I can imagine a few accidents occurring but from what I read, as long as you get the protective gear, it should be pretty safe. i just know what she’s like, she’s fearless, so its going to be when it comes to trying tricks that i’ll have my heart in my mouth. I’ve had a browse around the web to find out what types they do for beginners. The 16" Hoppley beginner unicycle has been suggested as a good beginners unicycle for an affordable price. I’m not sure what price I was expecting considering a unicycle is less than half of a standard bicycle but the $80 ish that the Hoppley comes in at, seems pretty reasonable and the specs, to my untrained eye, seem ok. Is there another unicycle that is cheaper and as good or is this a safe bet? Thanks.
I am sure the Hoppley is good, but 16" is a bit small for a 12 year old. My kids both learned on a 16" at the age of 7 and 8. As soon as they had learned to ride they moved on to a 20". They wear helmets, and never had any injuries. The speed is low, so it is quite save to ride in a place where there’s no cars.
I’m a woman, quite fit but with no background of any sport faster than hiking, learning at the age of 60, and it really isn’t a dangerous process. Most of the times you come off, you simply end up standing on the ground quite safely and the unicycle just drops to the ground. Very occasionally, you fall over which is why the wrist guards etc are a good idea, but much less so than the other things that kids ride. Unlike falling off a bike, there is no frame to get caught up in or handlebars to go over. And unlike a bike, a skateboard or a scooter, your speed is always limited to the speed of pedalling - a unicycle doesn’t ‘coast’ so when riding a 20" you are never going much faster than a fast walk. I really wish I had learned at her age - she will learn a lot quicker than me, and it is such a great, quirky, thing to be able to do. Many schools now teach it because it is such a great life lesson in persistence.
Edited to say, I’m 5 ft tall, almost exactly the height I was at the age of 12, and I’ve been learning both on a 16" and a 20". Although some things are initially easier on the smaller wheel, if she is tall enough to ride the 20", go for that. She won’t have any problem with it and otherwise you will be needing to buy her a bigger one quite soon.
Nearly all kids in our club learn on 20" unicycles. We have two 18" unicycles for the really short-legged kids (age 6 to 8 or so) but for all others 20" is the better choice.
You can shorten the seat post of any unicycle to make it fit to her inseam. When she grows up and needs a longer seat post, you can get a new one for less than 10 bucks.
Ditto to the 20". I learned when I was about your daughter’s age, and I was short for my age. My trusty old 20" Schwinn was more than short enough with room to spare, and it fit me well into adulthood.
You face the same dilemma that a lot of people face when trying to buy your kid’s first unicycle. You don’t want to spend too much money in case they don’t ever learn to ride or don’t continue on with it, but at the same time, you don’t want something so cheap that it’s not really good for serious riding.
I think the best compromise is to find a good used one, possibly on Craigslist. Most of the posts I see in my area are for the exact same old Schwinn I learned on, but I wouldn’t recommend that one. They’re likely very old and mostly sold for nostalgia purposes (and they’re almost always asking much more than they’re worth).
You probably want something closer to the Club 20" Freestyle unicycle (or better) shown on the unicycle.com website. Also, the Hoppleys like the one you showed in your post don’t have a front saddle handle. I would recommend a unicycle with a saddle handle. It not only protects the front of the saddle better (it will be falling to the ground a lot during the learning process), but it gives you something to hang into while mounting, riding, and other uses. I didn’t learn with one, but I can’t imagine not having one now.
If you’re not sure about a used one, post it here and we’ll give you our two cents. There are some great deals to be found on used unicycles, but there are also some terrible ones as well.
The Hoppley is a respectable beginners uni, and she would learn on it fine, but it occurs to me that if you think your daughter is going to be interested in ‘tricks’ then you might be better choosing a trials type of frame. You see where the ‘shoulders’ of the frame come together at the top of the wheel? Some of the clever things people do on unis depend on being able to rest one foot on that ledge, so a design that has a flat ‘shoulder’ rather than a rounded one like that would work better. A trials type uni would also be designed to stand up to being bounced around on a bit more, doing hops like a pogo stick etc. I’m no expert as I’m just learning to do the riding forwards bit at the moment, but I think that is something I would look for for a kid of that age. They are bound to want to try everything. I don’t think anyone has yet mentioned the website unicycle.com - they are really helpful if you talk to them in my experience.
If she can find a trials/street unicycle in her price range, sure. There’s nothing intrinsically difficult about riding one, and they would certainly stand up to any abuse she could throw at it, but they are usually very expensive compared to beginner unicycles. You might find a used one for a good price, but trials/street unicycles take a lot of abuse, and the ones I’ve seen going for really cheap are old, heavy, beat up, in some cases have bent cranks and pedals, and the saddle will almost certainly be pretty ragged. Given the expense of a good one, it’s not normally suggested as a beginner unicycle, unless money’s not an issue. If it’s not, or if you can find a miraculously good deal, sure. Why not?
Yes, you’re probably right. On the UK store there is a ‘Club’ trials but you are right, it is almost twice the price. I’m too good at arguing myself into upscaling purchases like this. She will love the Hoppley, I’m sure - it is a better uni than the one I’m learning on.
Sorry guys, I’ve been a little busy the last week or so and haven’t had chance to check the replies. Thanks ever so much for all the responses, there’s a lot to consider. Definitely feel a bit more at ease about the safety aspect. Will lt you know how I get on.
I think the fact that she’s quite petite means that she may well get away with the smaller 16" model but i’ll get some measurements done to make sure. Also, it looks as though I need to consider whether she will need a different style if she’s serious about learning some tricks anytime soon. I’ll have a proper look through all the replies at the suggestions given and then I can make a more informed choice.
My son learned at 11 on a bog standard £25 eBay uni, though I had to cut the seatpost to get the saddle low enough for him to reach the pedals. A year on he’s still riding the same uni, he’s not managed to bend or break anything yet, and the only change I’ve made is putting a proper adult saddle on it. He may get something better for Christmas, if he can decide between a bmx, a uni and a guitar, but he’s happy with what he has for now and regularly does off road riding without any problems.
As a parent of 4 kids I tend to go for the minimum spend until I’m sure they will stick with a sport or hobby and then put more cash towards it.
Thanks OorWullie for the reply. That seems like a very sensible approach and may be the route I go down too to be honest. Knowing how fickle kids can be sometimes, its probably the wise choice. I’ll have another look around for some bargains online like at that Easy Prices website I found. I’ll just find any old uni that’s cheap and then maybe I can do something similar to yourself by adjusting the seat post accordingly and adapting it for my daughter to use. That’s probably something my husband can play about with, he’s pretty good with that sort of thing.
I’ve been away for the last week or so and haven’t looked at them for a bit so I’ll put a fresh pair of eyes on it now and see what I can some up with. It would certainly save some money this way and would give my daughter a chance to try it out and see how she fairs.