[newbie] City commuting: is unicycle really efficient


I’m new to unicycling, in fact i’m really interested about it.
The truth is that i’m a longboard skateboarder, not a one wheel rider.

My question is in the title: is unicycle really efficient for city commuting?

When i ride my longboard on the city, i always have to stop, take my board on my hands just to cross the road (because of car traffic or high sidewalks curbs) or when there are too much pedestrians on sidewalks.

How often do you have to get off your unicycle when commuting? For what reasons?

Hi mate, welcome to the forums!
Once you’ve got idling sorted you shouldn’t have to come off at all.
Personally i don’t idle…If there’s anywhere i have to stop i just hop on the spot till it’s cool to move again.
Hope you join us on the unicycling as it’s great fun! :slight_smile:

more efficient that a longbord mate :wink:
but yeah i ride my unicycle everywhere and i would say that it is efficient just because its easer to power yourself along (e.g. uphill ) also there safer on roads than longbords ( safety is comparitive on unicycles )

It also depends on your skills. I hold on to poles at lights, I rarely stop at stop signs unless there is traffic, uphill is great, downhills are slow (relative to a bicycle) but faster than up, and you get a lot of people looking at you with awe (maybe confusion). I can’t hop up a curb so that limits me at times. If you learn to jump (and most do) you have more freedom to travel without dismounting. If you idle, you don’t need a pole. It is a lot of fun and it’s unique.

What are the benefit/cons of unicycling?

For example i imagine that a unicycle might be heavy and big, so there might be some problems for storage.

Also what is the average speed of a 24" unicycle?
Here with longboards we can go really fast.

When you aren’t stopping every minute and carrying it :roll_eyes:

TBH, a bike is always more efficient. When you unicycle you waste a lot of energy through balancing, by producing small impulses to the pedals to keep balance. You also waste a lot of energy by having to resist your motion down a hill and not being in the correct gear for the gradient.

smaller and lighter than a bike my friend

In my experience the unicycle is highly efficient. The only times I will not commute with the unicycle is when I know I am going to purchase more than 25 lbs of groceries. Anything more than 25 lbs gives me arm cramps by the time I have gone more than 2 miles, and seriously makes it strenous for me to free mount. I ride a 29".

At crosswalks and stop signs I never dismount. I prefer to hop at the signs or signals, really it’s not hopping, more like vibrating up and down a 1/4 of an inch. With a really heavy load an idle works best for me. Pedestrian traffic not a problem either, sidewalk works best, when there are pedestrians I jump off the curb into the street and then get back onto the sidewalk at the next driveway. With pedestrians I do one of several things, I practice still standing until they go by, ride off the sidewalk curb into the street, or calculate my space and go through the pedestrian traffic. I rarely dismount, and use my unicycle to go to the stores, library, post office, DMV, wherever.

Get on the unicycle, learn it and you will like it. Buy a cycle computer and at the end of the year you can talk about all the gas you saved for the environment, etc. To begin with hang on the stop signs, consider idleing and hopping at the stop signs a challenge, turn every street into your own personal challenge course.

Gotta say, the 36er has been the most perfect campus cruiser I ever could have asked for.

Had a longboard before that, then a b*ke. The uni just never gets boring, it’s easy enough to get around without getting out of breath and still fast enough. . . the only downside is THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE }:-E

it’s often funny how people respond. They tend to think you can’t stop and you need the right-of-way, and look completely puzzled when you idle to let a car pass or crazier, cut across GASP! grass (on a UNICYCLE you say?! Bonkers!) [yes, yes on a unicycle :sigh:]

I have often consider commuting on a uni. I bike 6 miles at a fast pace 17-20mph ~avg. At the best I understand a 36incher will cruise at 15mph.

A 15 mph average is really pushing it on a single speed 36". I find 11-12 mph more typical. Six miles would be very doable, it just would not be as fast.


Same here, the shops, Subway, work…EVERYWHERE!!
I love it in really heavy crowns (like trhe seafront on a bank holiday) It’s good practice for going slow and tight turns and preplanning a route :sunglasses:

Don’t listen to this no nothing.

He’s off topic, since no one asked about b*kes.

Other efficient things about unicycles is that you can bring it into shops, so it is less likely to get robbed.

Much more efficient than a long board.

Wow my spelling is bad today…i like uni in crowds and also along the seafront…also i agree, i take mine into the workplace instead of leaving it in the b*ke shed and also into every shop and pretty much anywhere else i go.

His point is valid, a lot of energy is wasted through balancing on a uni. My first long 36er ride I got tired pretty quick because of these small pedal pulses to keep balanced at speed. Ive got about 150 odd miles on my coker now and I don’t notice it.

That being said my 36er is a great commuter. I rode to class in the rain/snow/sun. Its so simple and easy to maintain which is nice for a broke ass college kid. With 125 cranks I average 12mph which is plenty fast. I also don’t mind leaving it outside in the bike rack as only like 3 people know how to ride it on campus. The 36er is a little big to bring inside, but a 29er is much more portable. A 29er with some short cranks can cruise above 10mph.

Both the 36er and the 29er are great commuters.

I always dismount to cross roads unless it is totally clear. Its easy to hop off then dash across the road and then do a running mount and keep on riding.

I agree! The one thing I will say is I have a 20" trials uni and it is NOT meant for commuting! Because of it’s small tire I’m limited to how fast I can go; after a mile my legs feel like they’re about to explode. HOWEVER I can still pedal faster than most people walk. I LOVE the fact that it’s as portable as a long board but a lot more fun (tricks etc.). DRAW BACK: you can’t go as fast as a bike; coasting CAN be done but requires more skill. FLIPSIDE: you get one heck of a work out that only a uni can provide.

I may get a larger uni in the future (either 24, 26, or a 29r) but for now I’ve got plenty of stuff to learn on my 20". Give it a try. I passed some long boarders who were sitting around and they were all like “Woah! Far out!”.

Efficient? Absolutely not, but that is not the point. I think most of us unicyclists are proud of the extra effort we expend to enjoy riding our uni’s. They are efficient for storage and travel however, I take my 29" to classes, in shops etc, no problem. Also unicycles are much lighter than you think, but what is the issue with weight? Most likely your uni will be under 20lbs. When you do need to get off and walk with it, you don’t pick it up, you roll it along just like a bicycle.

I have a friend who longboards everywhere when he visits. He likes to say, “On a longboard, I achieve the speed of a running man with the effort of a walking man.”

On my (29") unicycle, I’d say that I achieve the speed of a running man, with the effort of a man running more slowly.

I basically only dismount at traffic lights (I can’t idle, nor hop for long enough), but if I’m stopping anyway, I don’t really find remounting to be any additional bother.

I just leave mine in the bike rack at work - I could bring it inside (one of my coworkers has a tendency to bring his bike inside), but there’s not much point.

I agree with Dane and the others that the big advantage of commuting on a unicycle is FUN!

Oh also, it should be noted that as a beginning rider you will use a lot of excess energy. I have noticed that as my form has improved, I use less energy. I actually find that I use about the same energy riding around town on my 29 as I would if I were doing the same distance at a very slow jog.