I had to do a report on an invention for my sience class and I chose to do it on Greg Harper and the Uni.5. I’m in 7th grade at Rochelle Middle Scool. Here is my report.
Unicycle point 5
Uni.5 is unique name for a 24” unicycle in which the hub of the unicycle is geared to make it ride like a unicycle with a 36” wheel. The unicycle looks like a normal unicycle but if you look closely at the wheel’s hub, you’ll notice that the hub is quite a bit larger than the hubs that you will find on other 24” unicycles. This is because the hub has to have room for all the gears that make the Uni.5 work. When you see people ride this unicycle, you’ll notice that the wheel spins somewhat faster than the rider is pedaling. That is what makes this unicycle go as fast as a 36” unicycle.
The inventor of the Uni.5 is a man named Greg Harper. Mr. Harper is a scientist at University of Washington in Seattle and works in the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics. His department does research and experiments in nuclear physics using particle accelerators. Mr. Harper rides unicycles and is a member of the Unicycling Society of America. Because of his interest in unicycling, Mr. Harper decided to make a unicycle that was different from any other unicycle. There were many other people with similar ideas of making a unicycle wheel go faster than the rider is pedaling but a lot of the other designs had problems. Mr. Harper intended to fix them. So, after much thinking and planning, he started to design the Uni.5. It probably made designing the Uni.5 a lot easier with the machinery at his work place. It also probably helps that Mr. Harper is obviously a very intelligent man.
As I said before, the Uni.5 hub spins the wheel one and a half times for every time the rider pedals one revolution as compared to a regular unicycle that has no geared hub. On a regular unicycle, one revolution of the cranks and pedals make the wheel spin one revolution itself. Mr. Harper designed the Uni.5 hub with internal gears to get his results.
There are a lot of people in the world that are in to unicycling. We call this big group the unicycling community. There is an online forum called rec.sport.unicycling where these people can come and share ideas about unicycling. Mr. Harper started posting his Uni.5 ideas on the forum and people were very interested in his work. They wanted to try his new invention so, when he finished building the Uni.5, Mr. Harper decided to start sending the new unicycle to other unicycle clubs around the United States. He built a crate to put the Uni.5 in and started it on a route around the country. Many people posted their reactions to riding the Uni.5 back on the forum. Here are copies of a couple of the posts:
Kevin Gilbertson of Minneapolis says, “Overall, I’d trade one of my cokers for a uni.5 as it provides a good cruising machine like a coker does, can fit into a car easier, has more options for choice of tires and rims, and can easily be brought inside with you in a store/office/wherever.”
Jeff Lutkus of New York says, “This unicycle definitely felt like it had a 24” and not a 36” wheel. Yeah, there was some play in the gears… it’s a little annoying, but not a problem. The 6” cranks feel very natural. Maybe part of that is since my 24” muni also has 6” cranks.
Mr. Harper wanted the unicycle back in time for UNICON, which is an event where the best unicyclists from all over the world come to compete. I went to UNICON and competed. While I was there I got to meet Greg Harper and take a ride on the Uni.5. Remember, this unicycle is supposed to ride like a 36” wheel unicycle. I’ve ridden both 24” and 36” wheel unicycles before and when I first got on the Uni.5, I was expecting it to ride like a 24” and I fell flat on my face. It was very awkward at first but with some support, I got used to it. Finally I got brave enough to try it on my own. I eventually learned how to ride it and I thought it was one of the coolest unicycles ever.
Greg Harper and I are now friends. He is very funny and I like him a lot. In the future, he says he wants to put the Uni.5 hub in a bigger wheel and I look forward to trying it.