newb unicyclist questions

I bought a cheap learning unicycle a few years ago and have ridden it off and on. I can ride forwards on flat ground until my legs fall off. I can idle a little bit, go backwards a little bit, ride off a curb.

A few questions. What is “trials?” “freestyle?”

I would like to get a decent unicycle. I have a Savage right now. I am thinking a 24." Maybe another 20". I am still definately learning. But I don’t know what the difference between the different style are. I won’t be riding offroad too much so I don’t want a Muni. yet.

You could hardly do worse than a Savage, a name which describes the saddle better than anything. The Torker line of unicycles seems to be the best of the entry level types. The standard Torkers have a flat crown for one-footed skills important in freestyle unicycling. A 20" is recommended for freestyle skill development. Check out the 10 skill levels on the USA or IUF websites. Freestyle unicycling is generally done on a gymnasium floor and involves performing progressively more difficult “tricks” referred to as “skills” by the hypersensitive.

There are some cheapo Torkers good for intro trials riding, too. Trials riding is hopping onto and off of objects in your path or running stairs, riding along elevated and skinny things, using your pedals and cranks to land on or grind on, and crazy stuff like that. The galleries here have loads of short videos of people doing trials riding that is exceptional. If you watch some of them you will quickly see that trials unicycles are asked to endure tremendous forces. The Torkers that are OK for intro trials stuff are the UniStar and some other one that even has a splined axle/crank set. A 20" wheel is also recommended for trials riding.

For general, all around riding, just get a Torker standard 24" or the more rugged UniStar 24". Be warned that the standard Torker line used to come (and may still come) with a child size saddle that is completely useless for adult sized tushes. A saddle upgrade to a Viscount or, better, a Velo would be in order in this case.

Welcome to the forum. You will find a lot of good information from some incredible unicyclists. Some you will find to be very helpful.

I think we all go through the questions you are asking. Ultimately you will end up buying a unicycle to fit your mood it seems. I just got my 4th and I have only been unicycling less than a year. All the different styles are fun and challenging in its own way. I am not really the best qualified to answer your questions, but I am sure one of the more experienced and verbose will chime in.

Edit: Well there you go, Harper already jumped in.:slight_smile:

The best entry level unicycles are the Torker Unistart LX models.
Torker Unistar LX 20-inch
Torker Unistar LX 24-inch
They’re solid unicycles and at under $100 they are a great deal. They do come with short seatposts so you may have to spend an additional $22 for a GB4 Universal 400mm Seat Post.

this has helped. i know a bit more.

So what are the differences in these unicycles?

Torker Unistar LX $99

Nimbus II $144

Nimbus Trials $169

Yuni Journeyman $171

Semcycle LX Standard $165

Miyata Standard $198

Or any unicycle I missed in that pricerange.
Basically I’m asking what makes one different than another and what do I get from spending more?

What do you get for the extra money? Well, it varies depending on how much extra money, but let’s work up from the ground:

Tyre. The fatter the tyre, the better, for most applications. Good quality tyres will improve the steering of the unicycle. Fat tyres will aid hopping, bouncing and dropping. There are different qualities of inner tube, too.

Rim. A cheap rim will be heavy and not very strong. Or it will be steel which will be pretty strong, but usually badly made and prone to rust. An aluminium alloy rim will be lighter by comparison. The strongest rims have a box section. Rims can be pierced for different numbers of spokes. 36 is standard, but some have fewer and some have more.

Spokes. Yes, it does make a difference to the weight and strength as well as the cosmetic appearance.

Hub. There are different qualities as well as weights. The most obvious difference is that very good hubs are usually splined, which means that the ends of the axle are shaped like cogs, so that the cranks are held in line more securely, and the hub is less likely to be damaged by sudden applications of extreme force - maybe by a drop.

Wheel build. Most cheap wheels are factory built by machine. better ones are hand finished. the really good ones are hand built which is labour intensive. A well built wheel will be stronger and more durable. It will stay straight (‘true’) for longer,and absorb greater forces without breaking a spoke.

Cranks. At the very cheap end you get cottered cranks, which have an unsightly and vulnerable soft steel cotter pin holding them on. Most mid range cranks are fitted with a cotterless system with a concealed nut or bolt. The best are splined, but need to go with a splined hub.

And the cranks can be steel or aluminium alloy, solid or hollow, heavy or light, nicely finished or crude. Some designs are available in a range of lengths, whereas the cheap ones only come in one or two lengths. The length of the cranks is the single easiest thing to change if you ‘tune’ your unicycle to optimise it for a particular style of riding.

Pedals. Good pedals give good grip for your feet and make a huge diffeence to your power and control.

Bearing holders. These are at the very bottom of the forks. The cheapest are so-called ‘lollipop’ holders with a short stick which pokes up the hollow end of the fork. They are held in place with two screws or bolts each. They can be wobbly, and can damage the forks.

Pashley unicycles use something similar to a lollipop, but better designed. They can be difficult to remove if you need to change the tyre.

Most good quality unicycles have ‘main cap’ bearing holders. these look like a C lying on its back and they are held in place with two bolts. These holders or ‘clamps’ can be pressed steel or (better) machined. Machined ones are stronger. This style of bearing holder makes changing the tyre easy, and the bolts are easy to adjust.

The bearings. Can be sealed, semi sealed, or not sealed at all.

The frame. Different qualities and diameters of tube. Some are nicely shaped. Others are just cut from cylindrical tube. The fork can have a lugged crown or a lugless crown. There are cosmetic and practical differences to the various shapes of crown.

Seat clamp. The cheapest can be a hazard. They have sharp bits that gash your leg. The best sort has 2 Allen bolts and looks smart whilst being very secure. Some need an Allen key to adjust. Others have a cam action lever for quick adjustment.

Seat post. Different diameters (must be compatable with the frame) give different weights and different strengths. Different types have different tops allowing more or less adjustment of the position and angle of the seat.

Seat. Lots of different qualities and styles. Comfort is the biggest factor. Good seats have bumpers which can be replaced when they get badly battered by repeated falls. Some bumpers are held in place with screws; others use nuts and bolts - much better. Some seats have carbon fibre bases and are lighter and stronger. Some have removable covers, allowing for customisation, such as putting an air pillow underneath.

Handle. When you get good enough to hold a handle when riding, a handle can give you greater torque, and greater control on difficult terrain. Some handles are moulded into the seat; some are plastic extensions to the seat; others are metal items, strong but crude, which are great for MUni.

I don’t suppose that’s everything, and some people will disagree with some of the details of what I’ve said. However, a quick tour of the unicycle from the ground up shows that there can be significant differences between every component on two superficially similar unicycles.

But how does this affect you? Well, it really depends how far you want to push your riding. For comparison, I ride on and off road, sometimes 30 or 40 miles in a day (although usually nearer to 10 - 15 miles), and I make sure that all my unicycles have the right length of cranks, and good seats and pedals. I have a good metal handle on my MUni, and a Miyata plastic handle on my road machine. I’ve fitted a good fattish tyre to my MUni. All my main machines have speed/trip computers. I’ve never spent the extra for a splined hub, but I don’t do big jumps and drops and I’ve never broken a crank or hub.

So don’t automatically assume that you need the best of everything. In fact, I think it’s better to buy a reasonable machine, upgrade and customise it, and find out what style suits you best. Then you can design the perfect machine for your preferred use.

Or buy several. ;0)

Re: newb unicyclist questions

On Mon, 5 Jan 2004 19:32:41 -0600, Rayden
<> wrote:

>A few questions. What is “trials?” “freestyle?”

(Excerpts from Andrew Carter’s “Learning to Unicycle” document)

Freestyle is the oldest specific style of unicycling which involves
performing a variety of skills and tricks on a unicycle. Freestyle
unicycles, generally 20", have relatively slick tyres and often short
cranks and a flat crown. The crown is where the frame splits into the
two fork legs and many freestyle riders prefer this to be flat for
more advanced skills. Artistic freestyle routines are a key element
of many unicycling competitions.

Trials unicycling, another reasonably new style, involves a lot of
hopping up onto, between, and down from objects and riding in
situations where there is very little room for error such as on a
narrow beam. Trials unicycles generally have very strong wheels and
wide tyres that can be run at a very low pressure for extra bounce.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

You have to keep in mind that those of us who post on RSU are not normal. - John Childs

The Torker LX is a great unicycle for the money, but not what you want if you are going to do any serious muning or trials, but good enough for anything you are likely to do at this point. For trials and muning you need a wide bouncy tire and this frame isn’t wide enough to accomodate a wide tire. I recommend this unicycle to anyone who asks me what unicycle to buy for general use. This uni has a miyata style seat which is the best general seat in my opinion and good for doing freestyle. I recommend going for a seat with a handle–although it can get in the way for a few tricks. It’s only drawback is that there isn’t a whole lot of padding, but you can convert it to a air seat if you need a really comfy seat. Personally I don’t like the painted black frame because paint scratches easier than chrome and can fade under strong sun. If you are going to leave your uni outside in the rain, a chrome frame is better.

The Nimbus Freestyle has a better tire and a stronger wheel than the Torker LX which is important if you want to do drops of more than 2 feet and don’t want your wheel to taco. This uni has a Kris Holm style seat which many people regard as the best seat on the market because it has a lot more padding than a miyata style seat and is a lot more comfortable for riding long distances (although you can’t convert this to an air seat). Personally, KH style seats cause me to have crotch pain, because they have too much of a curve so they crunch my genitalia. Most people rave about this seat however so I don’t think that many people have my problem with this seat. Wide frame on this unicycle will accomodate a wider tire if you decide to get serious about muni or trials, but people who are really into freestyle say that the wide frame is annoying because you knock your knees on the crown when trying to do tricks.

The nimbus trials has stronger cranks, and a wider tire for trials and muning, but basically the same as the freestyle model.

The Yuni uses the same frame as the nimbus, but has a cheaper seat (although still very good) and weaker rims (although being built by Kovachi means it will be a quality built wheel). The Nimbus is a better deal than the Yuni in my opinion. Since I have never ridden a Nimbus or a Yuni, take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The Miyata and semcycle XL are great freestyle unicycles and they were what everyone was riding 8 years ago when I learned to unicycle, but they are pricey nowadays when compared to the mass-produced Torkers made in China. Like the Torker, you can’t put a wide tire on them because their frame is too narrow and none of these unicycle where designed for the abuse of serious trials. I own a Torker, learned to ride on a semcycle XL and have ridden a Miyata. For freestyle all 3 are fine. If I had the choice between the semcycle XL and the Torker, I would go with the Torker because the Torker is just as sturdy but has a better seat. However, if you like a chrome frame, go with the semcycle XL.

The miyata is unavailable right now, but is considered slightly better than the semcycle XL and the Torker. It has a stronger hub than the semcycle XL and Torker. Its frame is made of molybdendum steel, so I would guess that it is also probably stronger. The complaints that I have heard about Miyatas is that the wheels aren’t built to stand up to serious abuse and my friend broke the cranks on his miyata from just doing hopping.

I’m not sure that all of this answers your question very clearly. Basically what you buy depends on what you want to use your unicycle for. All of these unicycles are fine for most general use. If you are thinking about doing abusive things like riding your uni down 3 foot drops, then sturdiness becomes really important. Here is how I would rank them in terms of sturdiness going from weakest to strongest:

  1. Torker LX, Semcycle XL
  2. Miyata
  3. Yuni Journeyman
  4. Nimbus Freestyle
  5. Nimbus Trials

Hope that helps clarify things. It sounds like you really can’t go wrong with any of these unicycles since you aren’t looking to do trials or muni right now.

Also I just noticed that the picture at for Torker Unistar LX 24-inch is wrong–I think they are showing the DX model, not the LX model. Which is another thing that you need to think about. Don’t buy the Torker LX if you want to practice one-foot or zero feet riding skills. The rounded crown on the LX doesn’t give you a place to rest your feet. Also you need to think about whether other people will want to ride your uni. If you are going to let other people try out your uni, a quick release for the seat post is really handy to readjust the seat height. Although quickreleases don’t hold the seat post as tightly, I find them to be essential because people are constantly asking to give my uni a whirl.

The new 2004 Torker LX has a flat crown. Torker did quite a redesign on their 2004 unicycle line.

You’d have a hard time finding something better than the new Torkers for under $200. As far as I’m concerned, the new Torkers are the best choice for a beginner or intermediate rider for basic freestyle or for just riding around. For serious freestyle and serious riding around there are better choices, but those choices are all much more expensive than the Torkers.

The nimbus looks nice. :slight_smile: But I don’t know that I should spend that much right now. I’ll have to think about the Torker.

That’s what I was looking for Amos, thanks.