Learning Unicycle for Big Guy

I’m 6’5" guy that is pretty fat. I’m 320 and slowly decreasing. We recently bought a cheap Sun unicycle for testing some pedal to electrical power measurement. I couldn’t help but try it out.

What I learned is that Sun makes a nice firm freewheel hub. Which isn’t helpful on a unicycle as you commit forward and pedal without moving the wheel. :astonished: Landed on my feet, but barely. This was after an hour of so of messing around. I just almost started to get it.

It is weird that working on non-solar power generation for rain forest folks would turn into a desire to learn how to ride a unicycle. :slight_smile:

I took a job at a non-profit to work on projects that can help people, but it has made money very tight. So I don’t want to spend tons of money without knowing that I’ll enjoy it. But I don’t want to by something that I’ll break. So I’ve been reading a bunch of Uni stuff over a week.

Here is where I need advice. The problem I had with the Sun is just a completely cheap, poorly built hub that seems to be pressed in, not the cotterless cranks. While I know that non-ISIS cranks might not last as long with my weight, I don’t know how long.

I’ve been debating the 20" vs 24". From what I’ve been reading, 20" is easier to learn on. And I would think that I would eventually want 26" for road and trail riding, so a 24" seems like a waste. Also, we have some warehouse space where I could ride inside in winter at lunch. It seems like a 20" would be more maneuverable inside.

So I’m browsing all around UDC and narrowed down to a few.

Club 20" Freestyle (will I break this?) $135
Torker LX 20" (seems like it isn’t worth it to go CX, but out of stock) $156
Nimbus II 20" (most expensive, but ISIS) $250
Nimbus II 24" (only $20 more) $270

I’d love to have the Club work for me for a few months. If so, I could see getting a 26" Nimbus Mountain and slick tire for both grass and dirt trail and road. However, if I go with Nimbus II now, I probably need to go 24", because I’m not going to be able to free up enough for another expensive wheel.

Any advice?

a lot of us learned on junk unicycles.
… and a lot of us moved on to something better once it broke.

If a 26" MUni is what you are working towards,
then my advice would be:

Ride your junk Uni till it breaks.
Then buy a 26" (bomb-proof) MUni when it does.

Your weight isn’t likely to make 'em any less bomb-proof… as your skills progress (and you start doing crazier stuff with your MUni) your weight is sure to go down. :sunglasses:

(also: depending on your location: you can find a plethora of junk Unis on craigslist, so maybe go through 2 junkers before forking out the $ for a decent one, your call)

I agree with Joshpit2003, as long as your only riding on the road, no hopping or jumping, a cheap one off craigslist is the way to go even at your size it should do fine as a learner.

Has the Sun uni been repurposed into the power project yet? if not just ride it until you get the hang of it and then move up, probably only take a couple/few weeks.

Welcome to the forum.


The Sun is broken. The pedals freewheel with a little bit of force around the wheel. So when I try to ride it, I either get motion of the wheel with pedal movement or not. It chooses when. From reading about the Suns, this is a common problem due to cheap pressed fit manufacturing of the hubs.

I learned on a 24" Sun Classic five months ago. It wasn’t expensive but it’s held up fine. Lately I’ve been riding between 4 - 8 miles daily. Soon I’ll be moving up to a 29" wheel not because there is anything wrong with the Sun, I just want to go a bit faster.

I think with your height a 24" or even a 26" would be fine for learning. I’m only 5’5".

Good luck.

PS, I did buy a KH seat for the Sun once I could stay on and ride around.

Wow was it an older model? I bought a new one and it’s fine. I’ve ridden a Club and also have an old 20" Torker LX. The Club didn’t seem much different than the Sun (just the seat and flat crown). I don’t ride the Torker much because I like to ride for distance.

Sounds like you need a uni with an ISIS hub. The Sun probably wasn’t made to accommodate people in your weight range.

Brand new Sun Classic 20".

I’m thinking that I might just bite the bullet and go 26" ISIS and deal with the extra learning curve. I’ve always been annoyed by cheap tools that make you spend more money in the end when you buy the good tool anyway.

I don’t think anyone needs a splined hub on a learner regardless of weight. This sounds like poor quality control on the part of whoever made the hub. I built a wheel on a Sun hub for a student who is about the same weight as the OP, and he destroyed the rim, but the hub was fine. That was a 20", but I’m pretty sure they don’t have different hubs unless you get one of the top end Suns with ISIS.

All things being equal having had suns, and a club in my hands and riding both I would say they are both decent learners, but that the UDC Club is a better built uni. The hub is better, and the saddle is much more comfortable. Those two things are worth the price bump.

As for size, unless you want to learn tricks I would say a 24 would be a good learner. In the beginning any unicycle will seem next to impossible to ride, and so 20 or 24 won’t make a difference. You’re tall so the 24 may be a little less squirly for you. 20 is good for inside mostly because it won’t go as fast, or as far in a limited space. If your indoor space is decently big you might do as well with a 24.

As my grand mother used to say: “I can’t afford to buy cheap stuff”.

“That’s easy. Take it back and get a more expensive one. The expensive ones always fit better, honey.” --Julie’s dad in Valley Girl.

I’ve ridden around a lot on a 24" Sun Classic, although not as far as Vertigo has on hers I’m sure! Mine was used and broken when I got it but I fixed it and have had no trouble since. Pierrox rode it for a couple of hours back in August and I’ll bet he put more strain on it than the OP did on his as we raced up hills, me on a home-built wheel with an even cheaper eBay hub.

Look around this site and you’ll find lots of reports of Schlumpf and Kris Holm products breaking. It’s easy to grab the “cheap crap broke” narrative and not look any further when you didn’t pay a huge amount. Usually that’s not it.

Get something you’ll like and want to ride and take care of, pay what you can afford and feel like you want to invest. Manufacturing defects, assembly mistakes, etc, can happen at any price point, and a Sun ought to be up to the task notwithstanding failures that can happen with any brand, but it’s your money.

I looked closer at the Sun to see if the hub is fixable. The flanges are both sheared off at the welds that attach to the middle of the hub. Looks like the welds were laid 80-90% on the center portion of the hub and barely captured the flanges.

I understand that cost doesn’t always equate to value, but it usually does to a certain extent. While it is possible to find defects at every level of manufacturing (unless they take 100% testing seriously), there are generally fewer with a brand that takes pride in their reputation for a solid product. So you pay partially for a name and partially for their extra effort to not tarnish that name.

Just as often the premium brands use exotic materials and novel construction methods. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Generic products are conservative and tend to have fewer problems in that area. Anyone can get hit with bad welds, defective materials, user negligence, etc. Problems with parts from high-end unicycle brands are far from uncommon.

But like I said it’s your money. Spend it how you want to.

Sorry you got a bad one. Seems like you haven’t had it long. Can you take it back? I got mine at my LBS and would certainly take it back if I had the same problems you did. He use to carry Torkers but said they’re harder to get in stock.

Hopefully you’ll have a better experience with your next one. If you plan on continuing to learn and ride then go ahead and buy a Nimbus II. I think UDC will stand behind their products. I hope so because my next one is a Nimbus.

Vertigo is a nicer person than I am. :slight_smile: But +1 for what she said, and just as nicely too.

Sounds like you might be able to fix it if you know how to weld.

A new Nimbus (or used, but they’re hard to find) would be better, though. That’s Unicycle.com’s brand. I don’t work for UDC, and in fact have posted at length about a defective component they sold me, but it was a different brand (Kris Holm). I did meet a girl once who said her trials Nimbus had a creaky hub, but only after two years of hopping, and I know a big guy who has a new Nimbus Oracle 36 that makes noise, but in general my experience has been that Nimbus unicycles are extremely strong, comfortable and high-quality. Apparently they are not the choice of world champions, but for anyone else, including advanced riders, they are more than adequate.

The Sun belongs to my company, and I’m trying to get the employee that purchased it to do an exchange. But I have no control over that. It wouldn’t be something I could take around with me, so I’ll need to get one anyway.

It sounds like the Club is definitely an improvement over the Sun for similar money. I’m going to keep a look out for a 20" beater as well.

I really like the idea of getting a 20" inexpensive one, as I think I will move on from it rapidly and I think this would be right up my nephew’s alley. He could use it when I move on.

I appreciate all the information. Time for me to look at what money I can put into this and look for used as well.

If I can’t get them to exchange it, I think I could possibly braze it. I don’t know that my MIG skills would be sufficient. Although at that point, I would have had to re-lace the wheel, so it would make sense to get a compatible new hub.

Relacing a wheel is pretty feasible. I just did it for the first time the other day, removing my Kris Holm hub and replacing it with a Nimbus hub that UDC finally agreed to give me. Now at last I ride in silence.

Having a cheap 20" around to learn on and then pass to your nephew is a good idea. If you do learn to ride, people around you are going to want to give it a try, and it’s nice if you have a small cheap unicycle you can lend out or use for teaching. I still wish I hadn’t sold my cheap 20."

If you do go for a Craigslist or Ebay special, this thread is one of many that pretty much go through all the pros and cons. It also tells the really obvious things to avoid. Avenir, in my experience, makes a decent cheap uni. Club is a step or two above it.

Relacing doesn’t worry me. I’ve build a few wheel sets for bikes in the past.

Thanks for the thread link on used unis. Good information.

Oh- one last thing: You may have figured this out already, but in your case, one danger of buying a cheap unicycle is that the seatpost will be too short. That has even been a problem for me, and I’m not even particularly tall. When you buy one of the better unicycles, or from a specialized unicycle website like Goudurix, Hayneedle or Unicycle.com rather than Ebay or Amazon, you can usually select seatpost length. Unicycle.com has an especially good system for figuring out what length you need, and you can always give them a call. Anyway, good luck!