Mudular Unicycle System


First just a quick introduction: My name is Luke and I hardly ride unicycles at all. To be honest, I just gave away my unicycle to a small child who performs for scraps of food outside a local fish mongers. The only time I ever ride a uni is whenever there is a gladiators game happening, when I generally borrow someone elses and enter with bare feet.

I’ve decided to post a message here for just one reason, to share with you an idea I ha a short while ago concerning a new design of unicycle. Last week I was chatting to a good friend of mine, Roger*, who knows a little about unicycles, about things never before tried in modifying them.

[* creator of the Nimbus™ frame and “Technical Advisor” on the monocycle episode of Scrapheap Challenge]

After a few suggestions, including unicycles powered by solar panels and heat generated inside of built-in dungarees, I went home pondering new innovations in uni-technology. I’m quite pleased with the results of my brainstorming.

The Modular Giraffe Unicycle System is based around a few vital components:

  1. The Seat
  2. The pedals, cranks and gearing
  3. The Wheel

The first item is just an adjustable height seat. Very basic.

The second item is a set of pedals and cranks but instead of any chain being used a set of cogs turns a prop shaft inside the hollow shaft of the unicycle frame.

The third item includes the forks and another set of gears and a chain to get the power back out of the shaft again makes sure the wheel turns.

These two lower sections fit together with a narrow, strong, yet easily releasable connection. The ends of the rotating shafts slot together nicely too.

Advantages so far: no long chain down the whole length of the shaft so you can hold onto it while mounting without removing fingers, a giraffe unicycle you can break into two or three parts for transporting without having to mess about with removing chains.

Now it starts to get interesting:

  1. A simple length of shaft with the rotating core inserted between parts 2 and 3 to heighten the unicycle.

  2. Just like part 4 but with a drinks holder.

  3. just like part 5 but with rungs and another shaft to make a ladder up the side of your uni.

  4. Just like 4 but with a brake.

  5. Just like 4 but with handle bars extending out the front.

  6. Again just like part 4 but with a gear reversing the drive shaft to make a backwards pedalling unicycle.

I like the soun of this already… lets see what fun we can have…

“I want to connect the pedals section to the wheel section at 90 degrees so that I pedal forwards but travel sideways”

“I want to have the wheel unit much more simply made with the wheel offset and driven directly from the drive shaft.”

“I want a unicycle that can be any height for any venue I perform in and I want to walk on stage with it in a suitcase.”

“I want to take my friend’s uni apart and steal his pedals so I have two sets on mine.”

“I want to have a unicycle that has wheel at the top and a wheel on the floor that is powered by spinning the wheel at the top.”

Anyway, I’m sure you get the idea. I know it would cost lots and would have to be very very strong but I don’t see why it couldn’t work. Maybe some enguineering types would like to play around with it.

How many exciting new modules can you think of to go in this, as yet fanatsy, Modular Unicycle System? Have fun.

Luke Burrage

That should probably read “Modular” in the thread title.



You are the future, reckless youth. Someday you will be a reckless old foegy like Mr. Harper. Stand tall, be proud, stay away from my pedals.


Talk to Tommi at the unicycle factory, he must have something to say about your ideas.
-David Kaplan

Re: Mudular Unicycle System

When designing my pull apart mini giraffe I seriously considered using a
gear system that ran a drive shaft housed within the unicycle frame. I
decided to go with the conventional chain for these reasons (that are all
based on my total lack of engineering knowledge)

  1. it would cost a lot
  2. the play that you would get within gears would be more significant than
    that of a chain.
  3. it would be expensive
  4. it would be heavier and less comfortable to carry around
  5. building the mechanism would place a lot of fiscal strain on the rider

Wayne van Wijk

RE: Mudular Unicycle System

Why “Mudular”? I thought this was for MUni in really wet areas :slight_smile:

It’s a cool idea for propelling a unicycle, but nothing new. Bikes had shaft
drives over 100 years ago. For some reason they no longer do, so my general
assumption is that chain drive turned out to be simpler/cheaper/easier to
maintain. I’m not sure which. I do remember hearing that it was much harder
to change a tire on a shaft-drive bike.

The main problem with a shaft-drive unicycle, at the moment, is that someone
would have to engineer and build one. This would likely involve lots of
prototypes and do-overs, to get something that would function well and hold
up to regular use.

So we need a Greg Harper who’s interested in shaft drive. He would get the
credit if one were built. Thinking up the idea seldom leads to fame and

After the prototype were worked out, for others to have them they would have
to be manufactured. These would be a lot more expensive than regular
unicycles (even custom-made), because of the many unique parts that would
have to be machined. When we put chains on unicycles we’re using almost all
pre-existing bike parts, which are made by the zillions so they’re cheap.

I like the modular idea of a shaft unicycle, though much of what was
proposed would be similar, if not easier to do, on a chain one. To do
reverse or sideways drive, you’d probably have to build separate unicycles
or parts, for it to work. To make the unicycle extendable, surely it would
be easier to work out on a chain unicycle (as DM and others have already
done). Cup holder? Now that’s the one that might make somebody rich! :slight_smile:

Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone

“If people want to truly understand mountain biking, they have to do two
other things: ride a unicycle, and master the trampoline.” – Joe Breeze,
one of the originators of mountain biking, in a conversation with Tim Bustos

Re: RE: Mudular Unicycle System

Judging by the size of his brood, I’d say Greg is already well aquanted with the concept.


Re: Mudular Unicycle System

How would the wheel on top be spun, with your hands? How
about designing a regular chain-driven giraffe unicycle where
the “pedals” are up near the rider’s chest so they can be
turned with the hands? The feet would rest on pegs
welded to the frame.

Then you could open up unicycling to a whole new field of
riders – those with weak knees, small children who couldn’t
reach the pedals of a larger Uni, parapalegics or those with
amputated legs, and trained parrots who push the pedals
around with their beaks.

Or how about a tandem giraffe with stacked riders where the
bottom rider pedals using normal cranks, and the top rider
pedals using hand cranks?

why is the greasy chain still around after nearly a century and the shaft drive not?

easy,because the chain drive is 98.6% efficient when it comes to power transfer.

also shaft drives do not favor well in crashes,if the shaft or the framework around it gets only slightly bent (1mm) it can render it unridable or it will grind itself to death.