Ranking Unicycling For Weirdness/Uniqueness

Hello all. This is my first crack at making a topic, and I thought it would be fun to start a lighthearted topic that compared the sport of unicycling to other sports. Ed Pratt really got me thinking about the diversity of pedal sports when he and his friend swapped their unicycle and penny farthing during Ed’s world tour, and were both dumbfounded by the other’s esoteric ride. So, my question to all of you unicyclists is: How would you rank unicycling for weirdness and/or uniqueness compared to other transportation sports? Certainly, most upright two-wheel cycles are generally considered “normal” compared to unicycles, but how about quadracycles, low racer recumbent bikes, velomobiles, penny farthings, tandems, triplets, elliptical bikes, etc? This is not meant to be a serious quantitative measure, but I wonder what all your thoughts are on how this sport compares to other sports that similarly-inclined individuals might enjoy. I for one would like to know: If anyone has experienced riding a wide variety of these vehicles, how often and what kinds of reactions are you likely to get from non-riders, as compared to the other manual-powered vehicles you have ridden? Please share your thoughts and stories about the most unique members of the pedal sports community.
As I final note, I would like to clarify that this is not meant to be derogatory to any pedal sport; they are all interesting and fun in their own way, and if anything, the weirdness or uniqueness of a sport just makes it cooler, at least in my opinion.

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I’d say that unicycling is less odd than riding a penny farthing, I’ve seen a penny farthing only once, but I guess there are some people when I ride which act like it’s the first time they’ve seen a uni, don’t know if it is though, I don’t ask.

Well, I’ve got road bikes, mountain bikes, a gravel bike, folding bikes, a tandem, a short wheelbase recumbent bike, a recumbent trike – and a bunch of unicycles, and without a shadow of a doubt the unicycles are perceived as the most eccentric, so-much-so that I don’t take unicycles anywhere there will be lots of people since I don’t want the attention.

As you’d expect folk tend to ignore the bikes, apart from people who are ‘into’ bikes and know what they are looking at. Some are interested a bit with the tandem but folk get their interest piqued by the recumbent bike and seem to be quite interested in the trike, more so that the bike I think (I think because you can basically just sit on I and go, so there isn’t a big learning curve for normal riding, so they may be able to relate to riding it more).

The strangest that I have had with the trike is someone who basically ignored me on it and spoke to the person I was with, I can’t remember if they spoke about me in the third-person, but basically they thought there was something wrong with me (maybe they were just perceptive ;o) That actually made me think about how wheelchair users are treated by people.

Unicycles – well – I have never actually seen anyone else ride a unicycle in person – I’ve seen other recumbents and trikes but never a unicycle, so I think the rarity makes people think it is weird rather than cool.

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That reminds me of a kid I heard ask his friend „tu crois qu‘ c‘est pour les invalides?“ (do you think it’s for handicapped people?) after I passed on my recumbent b!ke. He wasn‘t joking, by the way.

I did! And I nearly freaked out when I saw a guy crossing my path some 50 meters in front of me before he disappeared behind a building. He prolly thought my reaction to be that of a non-rider, since I didn‘t ride at that moment - I took the uni to a short vacation in the Alps and was on my way to the apartment, dragging my luggage behind me. I go there like 3-4 times a year, but it was the first time it occurred to me to take the uni with me. In my defense, it was the first time I went there after buying a sturdy 20er with a knobby tire.

To the original question: From your examples I have ridden on tr!kes (owned an upright one for a short time and tried a recumbent one, and even a recumbent tandem, for an hour or so), a recumbent long b!ke, a Brompton folding b!ke, upright tandems (not my cup of tea), and obviously unicycles. The recumbent tandem and the uni are in my perception the weirdest ones. The former for its sheer dimensions, and the latter because, seriously, who in their right mind would ride on one wheel only? It‘s difficult, it‘s uncomfortable, it‘s not as versatile nor as fast as a two wheeled cycle, and you can be thrown off at any moment… Going by the reactions of passersby my recumbent long b!ke isn‘t as fancy as my unicycles (particularly the 26er fatty).

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Absolutely, this guy was a bit like that, just not explicitly. To give context this was on the far west coast of a west coast Scottish island, next inhabitation Canada, so pretty deserted; the trike (which is fairly old now) is a Trice XLNT – XLNT stands for eXtra Low Narrow Track, 20" wheels front and back, 81 gears (3 x 9 and onto a 3 speed hub), Ultegra and Dura-Ace components etc, so it is pretty low and reasonably sporty for its age. I’m sitting on it all lycra’d up, clipped in with some posey Sidi shoes and Rudi Project glasses on – but the guy thinks there was something wrong with me and the person I’m with on a mountain bike was there to make sure I was alright :slight_smile: Maybe he was right enough!

Recumbent tandem trikes are a thing to behold – that is getting kinda niche! I did suggest one of those at one point but that didn’t attract much enthusiasm at the time from MrsD-to-be. That is probably just as well given the price of the thing (and the practicalities of transporting it).

It seems like we’ve been on a similar path. I’ve resisted Schlumph hubs, primarily due to the cost, and not really being good enough to justify one, but the engineering appeals so much – that is what lead to my Rolhoff SpeedHub many years ago. To be honest I am probably more into cycles and the technology than cycling itself.

I know exactly what you mean. It is so easy to get engrossed in the technical details of the equipment, and there are so many neat inventions to learn about. My favorite one in recent memory was the Ceramicspeed Driven concept drivetrain that led to the Driven startup and the prototype bikes that got stolen back in 2022. It is amazing to see some of the innovations that people can come up with, even for relatively simple things like bikes and unicycles.

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Ah… CeramicSpeed… to be fair to them my enduring memory is actually Hambini roasting them (as he does on the tube-of-you, who’s channel I do find an guilty indulgence) which somewhat colours my view – you can see why marketing budgets get directed into YouTube/social-media!! – but I digress from your original topic.

I used to be fairly into the whole HPV scene; unicycles are kind of orthogonal to that in the aerodynamic sense, and perhaps counterintuitively in the strangeness sense as they both depart from the ‘socially accepted norm’, as in my world view at least, the ‘man-on-the-street’ “gets” why you’d want to ride a recumbent but not why you’d want to be upright on one wheel struggling to balance :smiley:

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Like I said tandems aren‘t my cup of tea, but fooling around with that recumbent tr!ke (somethin along those lines) sure was a lot of fun. Now add a Bob Yak, or two, and you‘re good for touring :joy:.
While looking for a picture or so I stumbled over a video of a couple riding such a beast. They were riding on the shoulder while cars and trucks overtook them way too close. They even got pulled over by the police, since other road users complained about them. It saddens me that so many people seem to have such a hard time to imagine let alone accept or even embrace the fact that there are other ways to get from A to B than sitting in a car. Many of us unicyclists are not foreign to this experience. The choice of the means of transport is only an example, though. The same applies for so many other things that deviate from the main stream.

Schlumpfs are so overkill. They add additional weight, complexity and potential source of failure to the unicycle. And you pay a fortune to acquire all those questionable attributes. They really are hard to justify. That‘s why I never wanted one. Yet, I just ordered one a couple days ago… :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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When I told someone at work that I had got a recumbent trike (close on 20 years ago, so there was maybe a bit less traffic), his immediate response was, “Those things are dangerous.” That kind of summed it up for me – obviously I knew what he meant, as in “those things are vulnerable,” but it is the general attitude that prevails.

Most excellent… :grinning: When it arrives you can stroke it, and polish it, and generally look in awe at it, then put it back to sleep in its box for a while until you get round to building up… Enjoy!

I‘m actually considering to give it a quick and dirty paint job in black to make it less interesting for potential thieves. While the market for stolen unis or uni parts may be pretty small, the „swiss made“ tag does certainly draw a bit of attention. And for those in the know the „Kris Holm“ tag draws additional attention.
The fear of it getting stolen is in fact a bit of a bummer. So far I just left my unis in front of a store etc. when I didn‘t feel like taking them inside. Not anymore with a Schlumpf, I guess. Hm, I think I absolutely need a V-frame for the Schlumpf wheel, so I can lock everything up properly :smart face:

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Not sure on the uniqueness scale, but I’m sure unicycling ranks very high up in the “impressiveness compared to actual difficulty” scale. For example, the one time I rode in a unicycle marathon, there were a bunch of impressed comments from some quite fast (guessing sub 3h) runners.
In reality, the amount of training required to run a marathon with that finish time is likely much more than you need to go from beginner to finishing a marathon on a unicycle, but people don’t have much of a frame of reference. (To finish in a competitive time on a unicycle of course then requires a fair amount of training again.)

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@finnspin I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a unicycle marathon! That sounds like SO much fun! I will have to look that up now.

The marathon is a quite common event at most nationals and international events.

It is probably my favourite road event since it gives time to appreciate the race, and is a bit less intense and painful than the 10k.

I would like to participate in a 100k, but it is (apparently) hard to run for such a small amount of competitors willing to ride more than 3 hours (for the world’s best riders) and up to 6-7 hours (for the more normal riders).

I find unicycling less weird than synchronized pogo-sticking or turtle-back riding.

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Is turtle back riding less weird when you ride your uni on the turtle back? (which is perfectly doable for some of us :wink:)

@harper I never got into synchronized pogo jumping. I wasn’t even aware it was a thing. I do own a Vurtego, however.

We all ride on the back of a turtle (on a disc held by four elephants, themselves supported by a turtle).

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How could I forget about that? :upside_down_face:

:uni: :uni2: :uni: :uni2:
………:turtle: ………
:elephant: :elephant: :elephant: :elephant:
………:turtle: ………

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I started riding when I was 15. I still ride regularly at 61. It has always been such an integral part of my life that I think of it as normal. People living in my sphere have seen me so much that they know me and my various unis. I still get comments from folks when I go to areas I ride through less frequently, but they are more fascinated by the sight than anything else.

So, weird? No, I prefer to go with uncommon. I plan to ride until nature prevents me from balancing. To some, that might be weird.

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