More wheels than skills

I am probably going to get some ridicule about this ‘luxury’ question but want to ask you experts, teachers and seasoned uniriders on the forum: is it better to ride one size/style unicycle until you ‘own it’ - like someone said on here - or to swap between unis in order to get more practice in?

The background to my question is that I am a bit of a n+1 cycle collector, have had many with two, some with three and as of last summer trying those with just one wheel. :smiley:
Where I live (Glasgow in Scotland) there is very little cycling infrastructure or quiet roads, and it takes me about 20-30 mins in a car to get somewhere safely to practice a road unicycle. My long term ambition is to commute by uni- instead of bi-cycle; it is only 8 km but through the thick of Glasgow, so I need to get much better on the unicycle. The days are getting shorter and before long there won’t be much chance of mid-week practice on roads. However, I have a (very wet, grassy, and hilly) country park pretty much next to my front door. As a self-confessed tinkerer, I enjoy building and playing with the hardware as much as riding it, and I built a Hatchet with extra fat 4.8 Schwalbes that allows me to wallow through the country park, as well as a 32” that I might take to commute one day (or maybe the 29er first to be safe).

My riding skills are improving but lacking behind my enthusiasm to collect wheels: I am OK with the 2-step freemount (6/10 success or thereabouts) on the bigger wheels, can ride about 5k without stop and 20k in total on the larger wheels, and am getting better off-road, but sharp turns, hopping, idling and reverse dismount are escaping me for now.

So, I can get short bursts on the fat muni in the park before or after work, I am searching for some quiet pavements in town so that I can leave the 24” at work and try to get some lunch-time practice in, and I can take the 29er or 32" out onto cycle paths on the weekends.

Hence my question: I am currently thinking that any practice is good, but I keep changing wheel sizes and unis. Am I right? Is any riding better than dedicated (but less) riding on the uni that I need to ‘own’ in order to brave the commute at some point in time?

I have been reading conflicting messages in various threads here, and thought I post a question to access the collective wisdom (and opinion ;)).


Of course it’s up to you.

If you have skill requirements that demand the best, then you better become one with one uni. (mountain riding, heavy traffic riding, long distance on dirt or pavement, performer, etc…)

If you just want to have everything then keep on buying and ride what you buy. You will quickly find things that you can’t do on your unicycle and will buy another to try and fix it.

You asked.

Anecdotal piece from me: I’m not a long distance rider. In fact, I hate it. But for various reasons I decided to ride a marathon, and as someone who only rides Trials, Street, Flat and Muni, I beat a lot of people who mostly ride long distance. My practice was riding ~10km once. So yes, any practice (on any wheel) helps. But at some point, you’ll just have to commit to your goals and start doing it. I’m a firm believer of throwing myself into “sink or swim” situations, it’s often the quickest way to progress. Might not be the most efficient, but as someone who overthinks, it’s often the best.

I don’t believe in n+1 btw. I spend a lot of time (8+ years) happy with just one or two unicycles, and now at 3 I have no desire to add, only to replace.

For learning these skills (and others) nothing beats a 19- or 20-inch wheel. You say you have a huge collection of unicycles and like to keep buying new ones, but apparently you are missing this size. Almost anything you learn to do on a 20 will transfer to a much larger wheel in minutes.

I do most of my riding on a 20, but have a 29 for the occasional distance ride. I am much more interested in acquiring more skills than in getting more unicycles.

You are probably going to get some 20".

Thanks for the quick feedback all.

I learned on a 24" because that I picked up used as my first and “threw myself into it”. Then I read about the benefits of learning stuff on 20" and got one 2nd hand but have to say that it does not agree with me. Far too fiddly, I just don’t enjoy the feeling. I must be the only one.
But hence the thought of keeping the 24" at work and practicing the stuff I can’t do, so that maybe I can transfer onto the road and mountain uni.

BTW: I am not silly enough to try and buy myself out of a situation where I can’t do something instead of practicing, but find that some things are better for certain environments than others, whether that be cycles, running shoes, surfboards or most other pursuits that involve some gear. My riding environments are very different, hence the different unis, not to mask a skills shortage. I fall off the d@*n things either which way, and I reckon I could just as well enjoy the different ‘personalities’ of the unis in the process. :wink:

I’ve also asked that question a few times. In practice I just get bored riding the same uni and get some tingling that I want to ride another. I would say that out of the 10 unis I have I ride at least 5 different unis every month.

Hi Tinkerbeau

From previous conversations on here I think you and I are pretty similar in our outlook on, and progression through, bi/tri/uni cycles (both upright and recumbent where applicable :slight_smile: ) Likewise getting opportunity for practice is a similar problem – although I live in a semi-rural location that has its own challenges as you become pretty conspicuous on a unicycle…

Anyway, my solution was a 20/19" trials uni and thought it would be for you too until I saw your last post. My motivation was that you don’t need much space and I can use it around the back of the house. My back yard is a bit rough so the trials tyre helps with that. The motivation was really for skills development which would be transferable to other sorts of riding – cross-country/trail riding is what I mostly aspire to. To that end it has been pretty useful for learning to hop, slow speed riding, riding smaller circles etc – nothing fancy just generally getting better skills and control on an uneven surface, and I just need to go out the back door.

I found the 20" a bit strange too, my progression was 24", 32", 29" then 20" and it felt pretty twitchy. I naively thought I’d just step onto it and be away, alas that was not to be – but I persevered with it and I really like it now and I think the things I have learned have all been useful on the bigger wheels.

It feels a bit strange switching between that sizes but I think I will learn to get better at making the transition between them.

Maybe try a trials tyre on your 20" if you haven’t got that already, you can maybe make it feel a bit more like your other wheels.

BTW, I take my hat off to you Sir for wanting to commute through Glasgow traffic on a unicycle – at least you can’t go on the M8 with it :slight_smile:

Yeah definitely go for a trials with wider tire. My first 20" was a freestyle, because I signed up for a unicycle club who trained indoors in the gym. Outside though, I found that the freestyle easily locks up when I want to ride over a bump and gave me my first face-plant. The 19" trials I have, I can more easily ride for a few kms on bumpy roads as well. Of course it isn’t meant as a distance uni, but it is very easy to mount and take along with you.

Great to know that it is not just me then. :slight_smile:
I (obviously) haven’t mastered either size but enjoy the different feelings.

Thanks for the various suggestions to go with a smaller wheel. Maybe I sold mine too hastily. It was a 19" trials with 2.5" tyre on. I now have a 2.5" Hookworm on the 24"; hopefully that will be OK as a skills learning basis and it still fits in a big bag for public transport.

Very similar for me, my route was 24-19(very briefly)-32-29-26(fat). Maybe I am not at the end of that journey yet. :smiley:
It still is fun and I am looking forward to every ride, and that must be the most important thing.
Whether it stays that way if I ever brave Glasgow remains to be seen. :astonished:

I started with a 20" fat tire, and moved to a 26 mountain. and 32 and 36, 27.5 The 20" didn’t challenge me enough, so I never looked back. I’ve been on all other sizes, but the 26 is my favorite. Sometimes I want to mix it up with a larger tire. One thing is, the more you ride, the more every size gets easier.

Just ride whatever you have, or get, and you’ll end up wanting another, probably. But I could be wrong, cause everyone is different.

Can’t have it be said that I don’t listen to the advice that is so generously and freely offered by you experts on here; especially since it fed into my natural N+1 propensity. :stuck_out_tongue:
This little beauty popped up and I am going to give it a try.

I feel like no matter where we ride, we unicyclists tend to be a bit conspicuous, am I right? :wink:

But to me that’s part of the fun! I actually like the attention. Not in a “look at me/show offy” way. But more like this quote I ran across somewhere (I think perhaps on this forum) “When I ride my unicycle, it suddenly makes everybody’s day better. It’s something memorable and impressionable that’s been added to their lives. It’s encouraging, and can liven up even the most sour of days otherwise.”

No judgement btw about your question Tinkerbeau! I think it’s safe to say there’s a few more out there who, like you, would be looking to add to their collection if they had the resources available. I for one would definitely be!! :smiley: But for now I appreciate, enjoy, and get the most use I can out of the ones I have.

Yes you are right – however living in the country / pretty small village there’s not a heck of a lot of people around and they generally know who you are (or know someone who knows you) so it doesn’t have the same anonymity as being in a built up area.

I’m not a big fan of attention to be honest, I’ve ridden recumbent bikes and trikes for years and that is one aspect of that I don’t really like. You are right though, it may brighten someone’s day – I’ve always really thought of it as them thinking “what’s this idiot up to now.” :wink:

Generally I noticed when riding in the forest why I do most my riding, that mountainbikers and racebike riders I positive more often than not. Got a “wow very cool” last Saturday.
But when riding near schools kids often come with negative remarks, thinking like you say “what’s this idiot up to now”. Also I like to wear colourful socks which in my mind shows I don’t take myself too seriously. That clearly also stimulated kids to make remarks, like a clown on a uni - I guess I asked for that. I found a nice big asphalt square in the town where I live with white lines on it for I think runners, but great to make circles with a 20 and 24 inch uni. Many kids live in that area. I just ignore them and focus on my uni trainings.

@Saintbroken, do you only have road unis? I always choose municycles, because they have thicker tires and in my mind they are stronger and less prone to get punctures. (Also think municycles look cooler) If not for IUF regulation, the 24" I bought would have been a muni also, but then I couldn’t participate in next-years Dutch Championships, which I intend to.
My wife is Thai and so far we have been going on holiday to Thailand each year. I think for next year I will get a 24" muni to have something to do there when staying at her family. Don’t understand them and staying in one place for one month gets really boring.

I can relate to this. Yesterday, out in the park, folk stopped and smiled. A little girl: “How is this possible!?”
I sort of thought, yep, how could you possibly think that about my wobbly attempts to stay on top of the thing. But then, folk smile, and make the world a marginally better place. So, yes, I am with on that, Saintbroken. :):):slight_smile:

Whatever it takes. :wink:
I’ve sort of given up worrying about the level of idiot I make of me. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve done it again…

Agreed :sunglasses:

Well, ahem, whilst I was looking for that training wheel I came across this small but somewhat tall wheel - and couldn’t resist. It was only a 20 minutes drive from me, for offer at next to no money, and I guess I can try this in 5 years when I master the park and get bored with the big city. :smiley:

BTW: if anybody local wants to try out a uni before enlarging their stable, get in touch; I have collected a few by now. Muni 19, 24, 26 (Hatchet); Road 29, 32, 36; and that Giraffe (Getting to the stage where DavidHood’s signature line is relevant to me.) :astonished:

Sometimes, I wish I had another 24" MUNI

My current 24" is set-up for grass/off roading with:
-150mm cranks(VCS plus w/holes at 3 positions)
-15 psi
-seat low

I wish I had another 24" which I would set-up for road/flat streets:
-125mm cranks
-35 psi
-seat high

The convenience of just grabbing and going might be worth it.
So, if you got the money and space…you can never have enough unicycles!!!