Most of what I’ve read on the forums is about fancy new stuff (which is really great), but I wondered if anyone rides older uni’s and wanted to share a bit about them.
I still frequently ride a Schwinn 20" that looks to be from about 1963. It appears to have all the original parts (aside from the inner tube and tire). My 1st unicycle (also a Schwinn 20" from 1985-86) was borrowed by a friend who moved out of state and never returned it. A short time later, probably around 1994-95, I found this older one at a garage sale for $25. It’s held up surprisingly well over the years. I was even using the original tire until a few months ago, but the sides finally split, and before it failed I broke down and ordered a new one.
It was a bit tough finding a replacement tire. It uses that old Schwinn proprietary S7 tire sizing. The size is a 20 x 1 3/4, not 20 x 1.75. Back in the stone ages, Schwinn measured their rims differently than most do now, and while 20 x 1 3/4 and 20 x 1.75 are the same mathematically, they are not the same in tire sizes.
Thankfully, there is quite an interest and nostalgia for the old Schwinn bikes, and some companies still make tires for them. After a little searching, I was able to find an on-line store that sold the size I needed for about what I would have paid at Wal-Mart for a 20 x 1.75 BMX tire.
A couple of weeks ago, I was curious to know how old this unicycle was, so I started looking for any kind of date or other info for clues. The only thing I found was the US patent number. According to related info we found on the internet, the patent application was from 1961, and it seems to have been made around 1963. A close friend still has his Schwinn 20" unicycle from the mid 1980’s (which he still rides frequently), and it’s obvious from comparing them that mine is considerably older.
One of the things that I really like about this old unicycle is the seat post. The fork on this unicycle is split. The seat post has holes drilled at different increments for seat height adjustment. A single bolt goes sideways through both forks and through the seat post. The saddle can’t be rotated right or left, and it can’t sink, even if the bolt is a little loose (which has never happened, BTW). I’m sort of a perfectionist when it comes to lining things up, and with a conventional bike or unicycle seat post and seat post clamp, I always wonder if it’s aligned as good as it could be, and if the clamp isn’t tight, or if the clamp isn’t very good, the saddle can rotate or sink on you. There’s also an infinite amount of adjustment you can do with a modern seat post clamp, which seems to be a good idea, but that also drives me crazy. I’m always wondering if I could adjust the saddle height just a little better, but with this old seat post, holes are drilled about an inch apart, and it’s very obvious if it’s an inch too high or too low. There’s only one hole that feels just right, and once it’s there, I just forget about it and ride.
The other thing that’s amazing is that the saddle has held up so well. The cover seems to be some kind of bullet-proof plastic or rubber. It has no guards, and even though it’s been dropped dozens or maybe hundreds of times, the saddle cover has never split or torn. I noticed the other day that I had tiny foam bits on my shoes from it leaking out of the bottom of the cover, so it will eventually need to be replaced, but who makes saddles that last 5 decades these days? It is a little uncomfortable to ride long distance on it, but for casual riding it’s still not bad.
Sadly, I’ll probably retire this old guy this week when my new Nimbus Gel saddle (yippee!) comes in. I have a new unicycle, but I stopped using it because the saddle is terrible and bruises the heck out of my inner thighs. After one ride, I had a dark bruise the size of my fist on my right inner thigh, and not a small bruise on my left, and that was the last time I rode it. I would have used the saddle from my old Schwinn until the new one comes in, but it has incompatible parts. I will keep this old Schwinn as a backup and for anyone that wants to learn to ride, but today and tomorrow will probably see it’s last serious usage.
So what old stuff are you still riding?