FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON UNICYCLING
November 11, 1995
*: Means the item is new or recently changed.
1. Why ride a unicycle? 2. Who invented the unicycle? 3. How long does it take to learn? 4. How do you learn to ride? 5. Is unicycling dangerous? 6. How do unicycles work? 7. How much should I inflate the tires? 8. Where can I get more information on unicycling? 9. *Where can I get a unicycle? 10. Where can I get parts for my unicycle? 11. What makes a good unicycle? 12. What are the 10 skill levels? 13. What are some different mounts? 14. Where can I find a unicycle club or organization? 15. What are the different types of unicycles? 16. What size wheel should I get? 17. Why don't you get a unicycle with multiple speeds? 18. What unicycling events can I attend? 19. Which end is the front? 20. Where's the other wheel? 21. What is a unicycle under the law? 22. What are some names for unicycles? 23. How do you say unicycle in different languages? 24. Why ride a unicycle? The first and most important reason is that it is fun. It's neat being up on one wheel, in control. There are other good reasons, though: Exercise You are always pedaling a unicycle, so riding is a good workout. Riding is a low-impact activity, so it is good for people like me with legs wrecked by jogging. Transportation Cruising speed is 8-9 miles an hour on a standard 24" unicycle, fast enough to use an alternative to a car for local trips. I have commuted 3 miles to work up to 5 days a week, and I use it to run errands. I am not going to pick on bicycles, but I feel safer commuting with the unicycle than with a bike. I can ride the unicycle on the sidewalk, out of the way of traffic, without affecting my speed. Challenges You never run out of unicycling challenges. After you learn to ride forward, you can learn to ride backwards. When you have done that you can learn to ride one-footed. You can enjoy what you know, but you can always learn more. 25. Who invented the unicycle? No one knows. The accepted theory is that in the days of the penny-farthing bicycle people found they could ride with the small back wheel up in the air. Soon the back wheel was removed. 26. How long does it take to learn? There is a wide variation in athletic fitness, balance perception, and reaction time among those learning to ride a unicycle. So it is difficult to predict roughly how many hours it will take to learn certain unicycling skills. An experienced unicycling instructor may be able to make a good guess after watching someone ride, but it is impossible without first seeing the rider in action. It has taken people as short as 15 min. and as long as 6 months to learn to ride. However, it generally takes 2-6 weeks of regular practice to learn to ride and a few more weeks to learn to do turns. Ken Fuchs <firstname.lastname@example.org> A good rule of thumb is that it will take about one week for every day it took you to learn to ride a bike. Ed Falk<Ed.Falk@Eng.Sun.COM> 27. How do you learn to ride? This comes from a posting by Robert Bernstein(email@example.com): I am a big proponent of the getting friends to help school. I do not like falling down! I learned by the MIT Unicycle Club method:
Get two friends to stand on either side of you and get up on the unicycle with your arms around their shoulders. 29. Sit up straight; look straight ahead; weight on seat, not on pedals. Rock the pedals to get a sense of balance. Get the pedals level; this is when you are in control. 30. Pedal half turns then stop. Then full turns, two turns, etc. Doing multiples of half turns (from pedals level to pedals level again) is harder than continuously pedaling, but keeps you in control. 31. Switch to holding on to your friends' wrists. 32. Switch to holding on to one friend's wrist. 33. Go off and use a wall instead of your one friend. (If you can't find a wall and a flat surface to ride on then continue with one friend, but let go as much as you can. Ed.)
Steps 1-5 should not take more than an hour (perhaps in 10 minute sessions).
The thing I liked about learning this way is that I never hurt myself in the
process. I have used this technique to teach a couple of dozen people.
For some people, the get on, fall off do-it-yourself cycle works best. It's a matter of personality! 34. Is unicycling dangerous? As dangerous as you want it to be. The vast majority of falls leave the rider on their feet, as dismounting is a skill learned while learning to ride. Most falls occur for just a few reasons: excessive speed, exhaustion, lack of attention to the road, and learning new tricks. The rider can control all of these factors to their desired comfort and safety level. 35. How do unicycles work? The key is to keep the center of gravity over the axle. If you start to fall forward, you will pedal faster, bringing the wheel back under the seat. If you start to fall backward you will slow down, allowing the seat to catch up with the wheel. 36. How much should I inflate the tires? Generally, unicyclists overinflate their tires by as much as 50% and sometimes even more. However, if one is learning to ride on a slippery surface (gym floor) and wheel twisting becomes difficult to control, the tires can be underinflated to increase the tire area that comes in contact with the floor. This will make wheel twisting easier to control. Once one has learned to ride, the tire should be inflated to at least the recommended pressure. Try to get 40-50 psi or more rated tires and you may overinflate these as well if you like. However, a 32psi tire will work fine, too. Ken Fuchs <firstname.lastname@example.org> 37. Where can I get more information on unicycling? + Books I only know of one book that has been available outside of unicycling circles, and that is "The Unicycle Book" by Jack Wiley. Fortunately many libraries bought it; I discovered it at my high school library in the Dominican Republic. Even though the book was written in the early 70's most of the information is still current. It tells how the unicycle works, how to learn to ride (the author has since promoted simpler methods), how to do some tricks, organize a club, build a unicycle, and includes other features as well. The book also features a variety of unicyclists, many of whom you can meet at the National Unicycle Meet today. This book is out of print and replaced by "The Complete Book of Unicycling". o From Solipaz Publishing and the Unicycling Society of America, all by Jack Wiley # How to Ride a Unicycle: This book covers unicycle physics, how to ride, and how to do some basic tricks. Its method is simpler than that of "The Unicycle Book". It is basically several chapters extracted from "The Complete Book of Unicycling". # Novelty Unicycling The Ultimate Wheel Book The Complete # Book of Unicycling: This book replaces "The Unicycle Book". Much of the content will look familiar if you have seen "The Unicycle Book", but it goes into a lot more detail on tricks and history. The book is slightly out of date but it is still worth getting, because you will find more unicycling information here than anywhere else. It covers solo tricks, group tricks, clubs, history, records, and props, among other things. # Basic Circus Skills How to Build Unicycles and Artistic # Bicycles The Whole Unicycle Catalog Inside the Wheel: The # Complete Guide to Monocycles Solipaz Publishing Company P.O. Box 366 Lodi, CA 95241 o From the Unicycling Society of America # Tidbits for Beginners. This contains a variety of articles from "One One Wheel", the newsletter of the Unicycling Society of America. # Complete set of all Unicycling Society of America Newsletters since 1974 # Official Competition Rulebook "On One Wheel" is the # newsletter of the Unicycling Society of America. You need to be a member to receive it but it is worth the price. Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240. o From Semcycle # Learning to Ride by Teresa and Sem Abrahams This is really a pamphlet rather than a book. It has no big secrets, but it does contain a good method for learning to ride. o From the New Zealand Juggling Association & Unicycling New Zealand Uni News is the newsletter for NZ unicyclists. It is published in conjunction with the Flying Kiwi the magazine produced quarterly by the NZ Juggling Association. Uni News provides information on the National and International scene, featuring articles on technique, construction and events. Road tests, Buy, sell & Swap. etc. For suscription information call, fax or write the Unicycle Hotline Phone: +64 (07) 839 9005 or 025 761 141 Fax: +64 (07) 839 9006 PO Box 776 Hamilton New Zealand o From IUF and Miyata # Anyone Can Ride a Unicycle by Jack Halpern For the material it covers this is the best book on unicycling. In particular, book tells how to learn to ride, as well as a variety of beginning and intermediate skills. It also covers practical issues like unicycling attire, adjusting the unicycle, and theory. The book is based on what are considered the most effective ways of learning. John Foss helped a lot with reviewing the manuscript and by providing excellent photographs. Much credit is also due to Bill Jenack,the founder of modern unicycling, who has developed most of the techniques introduced in the book. The book comes with Miyata unicycles, and you can also get it from Jack Halpern while supplies last. Miyata is out of stock at the moment, and has no definite plans at this time to reprint it. In the meantime, he will be glad to send you photocopies for $15, including airmail. The amount you send need not be $15 exactly if you send it in another currency. You should send this in cash form, not a check, since it is very difficult to cash a check in dollars in Japan. Supplies are short, so you may want to send e-mail to Jack before sending cash to verify availability. His address is: Jack Halpern 1-3-502 3-Chome Niiza Niiza-shi Saitama 352 JAPAN E-mail: email@example.com Beirne Konarski firstname.lastname@example.org o From Dube and probably elsewhere # Unicycling From Beginner to Expert I think Mr. Hoehr's book is pretty good. It's a translation from German, with some resultant oddities, but on the whole I think it is comprehensive, and provides good learning progressions. The book covers learning steps, and some more advanced riding. It also has sections on specialty cycles (mainly giraffes), and a brief history section. I think that this is now one of the better books out on the subject, but could still be improved upon. Jasan Catan CATANZ47@snycorva.cortland.edu + Videos From the Unicycling Society of America o I.U.F. Achievement Skill Levels. This is the easiest way for most people to see what the 10 skill levels look like. It was filmed at a past National Unicycle Meet and has a different person do each skill level, and then give some hints. o Rough Terrain Unicycling by George Peck. This is a good tape to get even if you don't want to ride over boulders or picnic tables, as George does in this tape. It is good to see even if you just want to do better on rough roads, trails, and curbs. o Unicycle by Cory Riback Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240. If you live in the UK be careful when ordering Video's from the states (or anywhere abroad), as the NTSC video system used there is not compatible with your UK PAL video. If you do order specify a PAL version of the tape, which ther may or may not be able to provide ! A good video specialist could convert an NTSC video to PAL format, but this is going to cost you ! + The Internet Newsgroup There is a newsgroup, rec.sport.unicycling, for discussing all aspects of unicycling. Mailing list The mailing list is a bi-directional mirror of the group rec.sport.unicycling. You can subscribe to the Unicycling mailing list by sending the message "subscribe unicycling" to email@example.com. You can un-subscribe to the same address. FTP You can get files on unicycling topics from <a href="ftp://ftp.mcs.kent.edu">ftp.mcs.kent.edu</a> in directory pub/Unicycling. The same directory is available via mosaic at URL <a href="ftp://ftp.mcs.kent.edu/pub/Unicycling">ftp://ftp.mcs.kent.edu/pub/Unicycling</a> World Wide Web Unicycling Home Page This is the original unicyling page. It has hypertext access to various unicycling topics, and includes two movies. The URL is <a href="http://nimitz.mcs.kent.edu/~bkonarsk/">http://nimitz.mcs.kent.edu/~bkonarsk/</a> Unicycling NZ This covers unicycling in New Zealand, the home of unigrid, and includes lots of material of general interest as well. The URL is <a href="http://central.co.nz/~hjarvie/nzuni.html">http://central.co.nz/~hjarvie/nzuni.html</a> Quebec Unicycle Association This page covers various topics, including unicycle history, unicycle basketball, and the health benefits of unicycling. URLS: <a href="http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/">http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/</a> (French) <a href="http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/homean">http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/homean</a> gl.html (English) The German Unicycle Hockey League This page contains information on unicycle hockey in Germany. Most of it is in English, some of it is in German. URL: <a href="http://roma.dbis.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/">http://roma.dbis.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/</a> ~lauteman/unicycling/index_e.html 9. Where can I get a unicycle?
Miyata This is a popular Japanese brand that recently quit selling in the US due to the cheap dollar. You may be able to find some leftover in the retail channels in the US. You may also be able to get them in Canada, and you can of course get them in Japan. There are rumors that they will be imported into the US from Canada. I don't know about availability in countries other than Japan. The Standard and Deluxe Miyata both have an extremely loyal following, and have been used by nearly every world champion unicyclist thus far. They also make a 5' blue painted giraffe unicycle. Semcycle Run by Sem and Theresa Abrahams, who were actually married on unicycles. There are two regular models, and a giraffe. The Semcycle, though relatively expensive, has extremely strong axle and crank arms, and is intended for heavy use by the most demanding of riders. The XL models are much less expensive, and built more along the lines of many other brands of Taiwanese origin, but with an above-average saddle. Both regular wheel models come in 26" wheel size, as well as the usual 24" and 20". The 6' giraffe is a chrome A-frame, available with either one or two chains. John Foss (Unicycle@aol.com). DM DMs are very sturdy and look good. The contour saddles are matched only by Semcycles for comfort, though DM straight saddles are an instrument of torture (some people apparently prefer them, it takes all sorts...). DM contour saddles also have front and back grab rails which do duty for holding on to, wheeling, catching while dismounting, but mostly taking all the knocks when dropped; my saddle is unscathed after a year's abuse, though there's no chrome left on the grab rails. DM's giraffes are works of art with twin chains for real durability and no twist. The only complaint is that they're a bit heavy, but they're built to last. DM's classic design is the 5' to 8' convertible, where the frame has a 3' extension tube and a long set of chains. Peter Lister (firstname.lastname@example.org). Unicycle Factory The Unicycle Factory is your one stop source for custom cycles, parts, and expert information about unicycles. If you can't find it anywhere else, it's because Tom Miller has it. Some of his custom models are big wheels (up to 56"), multi-wheels, tennis shoe wheels, ultimate wheel kits, giraffes up to 24', basketball-wheeled unicycles, etc. John Foss (Unicycle@aol.com). Pashley Pashley is a British unicycle that has gone from making junky beginner's unicycles to be the first company to make production mountain unicycles. The older Pashley's have one screw holding each bearing to the fork. Once these get stripped (it won't take long), you are out of luck. The new mountain Pashley is sold by the Ugly Juggling Co, of Newcastle on Tyne, UK. It was built by Pashley, to Ugly's design they say. Pashley have been actively involved in developing a specific machine for mountain unicyling. Their products are the most cost effective way of riding uni's off-road and new products are in the pipeline. The bearings are double bolted into the forks, and show no trace of looseness. The saddle is contoured, completely resilient to hitting the concrete (still looks like new), and comfortable. The weight is about 6Kg, which is not excessively heavy. After a year of use (by Chris Hughes) the whole thing is like new except for tyre wear and bashed pedals. Chris Hughes email@example.com Duncan Castling c/o Roger.Davies@octacon.co.uk Beirne Konarski firstname.lastname@example.org Cyclepro Another decent value for the price. Made in Taiwan, steel fork with bearing holders as described in Pashley/Absolute. Different colors. Taiwan steel countour seat with chrome bumpers. Available in 20", 24", and sometimes 16". John Foss (Unicycle@aol.com). Bogglefingers Butterfingers and Boggle, juggling shops based in Bristol and Bath respectively import these. Can't really comment on the quality, but they look a better "budget" option than Pashley, for those people who can't afford DMs or Sems. Peter Lister (email@example.com). Oddcycle Oddball's own uni, built by Sem, looks much like a rebadged Sem trainer. Emory Frames are made in USA! They are the only ones left! Steel with split block bearing holder (similar to Pashley). John Foss (Unicycle@aol.com) Osells Custom Frames The fork comes together in a curve, the wheel is held in place by vertical screws connecting two metal parts arround the bearing on each side. Bolts hold the pedals on. Quick release seat adjust. Plastic protectors are on the seat but the bolts underneath make the seat a little hard to catch. We bought a 20" for around $135 I have heard some people refer to it as a Landis, but I am pretty sure that Osell's built it. Jan Stefan (JStefan@aol.com) Cycle Designs Cycle Designs is a part of a company named "Ridgeway Products" that sells bike parts (not whole bikes). They also carry both a 24" and a 20" uni. I have heard the name "Zephyr" when referring to these unis -- I don't know if that came from the company or is a Muddism. The unis are medium quality: they are definitely superior to the generic kind that probably all come from the same factory in Taiwan. They have a tubular fork with a sloping face where the Miatas have a flat one. The fork is very lightweight, but very strong. It is chromed from top to bottom. The seat is (in my opinion) very comfortable. It is made out of a hard plastic frame with black foam molded around it. It is very easy to catch when dismounting either forwards or backwards. This is a good thing, since there is NO protection for the seat (like a metal bar, or a plastic piece). The first damage that happens to them is that the foam cracks in the front as a result of falling on the ground. The seat uses a standard Schwinn seat mount (the curved piece of metal with four oval holes) so you can easily replace the seat. Seats that fit this mounting style are easy to come by. The seat post connects to the frame by a standard seat clamp. People have a lot of trouble keeping these tight enough to resist rotation during tricks. One solution is to put a machine screw through the fork and post just to hold the alignment and keep the clamp to transfer the rider's weight. The metal is almost definitely too thin to handle system like Schwinn unis use. There's not much to be said about the wheel. It's got a chromed rim and some spokes. It seems to be well built. It comes with a black tire that looks sharp with the black pedals and seat. The biggest problem in the design is in the axle. The axles of the unis belonging to our two most demanding riders (hopping, curbs, jump mounts, etc.) have been sheared off at the connection between the crank arm and the axle. This does not bode well for long-term reliability. These unis were less than six months old when they broke. The bike shop has been very friendly about getting them repaired, though. The bearing mounts are also only rank 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. They are mounted directly at the end of the fork, providing a good metal to metal fit. From the bottom, though, four small bolts hold a piece of metal over them to keep them connected to the fork. This looks like an accident waiting to happen, since the bolts are very small, but we have had no problems with it. I suppose I am spoiled by what I consider a 10: the Schwinn method of surrounding the bearing with 1/4 inch steel. The pedals are standard bicycle types of some sort. They have reflectors and little pegs to help keep your foot on. They work ok, but this is another place where there is room for modification. The cranks connect to the axle just like a Schwinn -- no bolts to forever be tightening here! They are 180mm long, from end to end (155mm from center to center). All in all, I'd say that for the $100 we paid (I think we got a slight bulk discount) these unis are good beginner models. If you buy one, and really get into the sport, don't expect it to last much more than a year or two. Use it to learn on, then buy a real uni, like a Semcycle or a Miyata. The company can be reached at (US only, sorry) 800-869-9866. They only sell to dealers, but they can probably find you a dealer in your area. The bike shop we (the HMC uni club) does business with is Mulrooney's Sea Schwinn in Newport Beach. Their number is (714) 646-7706. Jeff R. Allen firstname.lastname@example.org
Schwinn Schwinn has been out of the unicycle business for several years now, due to problems like near-bankruptcy. If you call bike shops you may still find some around, though. Schwinn may reenter this market when they are in better shape with their new management. Matthews Matthews has recently withdrawn from the unicycle market.
+ Canada Darren Bedford 71 Jasper Ave. Toronto, Ontario M6N 2N2 (416) 767-6074 Sells Miyatas (while available) and Semcycles. + France Unicycle 3 Impass Jules Dalou 9100 Evry France phone number is: (33-1)60 77 37 36 fax number : (33-1)60 78 09 88 Sells Miyatas and Semcycles, including giraffes and models with wheels of 26", 28", and 30". + Germany Siegmono-Cycle Siegmono-Cycle D. & G. Siegmon Schreberweg 4 D - 24119 Kronshagen b. Kiel Tel: +49 431 541441 Fax: +49 431 549099 E-mail: email@example.com They sell lots of parts for Uni's and Giraffe, and 20 to 26" (28" perhaps) Unicycles including a 48 spoke 26" one. + Holland Semcycle Box 1675 3600 Br Maarssen Holland Tel: 03465-7 05 63 Fax: 03465-7 60 07 + New Zealand Ross Mackintosh Ross sells Taiwanese unicycles. They have fully welded frames, 36 spokes, cotterless cranks and seats with crash bars Ross Mackintosh firstname.lastname@example.org * Phone: (07) 839 9005 * Shoe: (025) 761 141 * Fax: (07) 839 9006 * Snail mail: Box 776, Hamilton, New Zealand + United Kingdom DM Unicycles DM Unicycles 59 Fairmile Rd, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 2LA Tel: 0202 471943 The Ugly Juggling Company For anyone who wants to know (or for the FAQ), the address of Ugly Juggling for callers and mail order is The Ugly Juggling Company 73 Westgate Road Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 1SG UK Phone: +44 191 232 0297 They also have a callers-only shop at Durham Indoor Market Market Place Durham UK They sell both their own unis (made by Pashley) and DM ones, as well as a wide variety of other circus kit, books, etc. The 1995 catalogue (free, I think) lists the Ugly 20" mountain uni (mk 3) mentioned in previous emails by Duncan (95 gbp), plus a 5' giraffe (195 gbp); it also says that 24" and 28" 1994 (mk 2) models (narrow wheel) are still available while stocks last (85-90gbp) (has anyone tried either of these? I'm tempted by a 28", then I might be able to keep up with the kids on bikes ...). The 95 catalogue also lists DMs from 12" to 28" (95-128 gbp), chrome DMs with square frame (up to 175 gbp) and DM giraffes (265-449 gbp). They don't keep all of these in stock all the time, however. Chris Hughs Zero G Juggling Co. Zero G Juggling Co. The Victoria Centre Mostyn Street Llandudno Gwnedd Tel: 0492-514039 Freaks Unlimited Freaks Unlimited Park Street Bristol, UK Retail and Mail Order equipment, supplies and Unicycles. Send SAE for price list. + United States Dube Juggling Equipment Dube Juggling Equipment 520 Broadway 3rd. Floor New York, NY 10012 Voice: 212-941-0060 Fax: 212-941-0793 WWW: <a href="http://www.panix.com/dube">http://www.panix.com/dube</a> E-mail: email@example.com This company sells 24" and 20" Semcycles. Most of their business is mail order, but you can stop in at their showroom as well. Semcycle Semcycle P.O. Box 40353 Redford, MI 48240 (313) 537-8175 SEMCYCLE@aol.com Serious Juggling Serious Juggling P.P. Box 55276 Portland, OR 97238 Tel./Fax: (800) JUGGLE-0 <- zero or (503) 771-0824 firstname.lastname@example.org Carries the Semcycle XL, as well as a full line of juggling equipment. The Unicycle Factory The Unicycle Factory 2711 N. Apperson Kokomo, IN 46901 (317) 452-2692 Tom Miller sells custom built unicycles and resells some other brands, such as Semcycles, Zephyrs and Miyatas (He currently only has the 16" model in stock). You should call with inquiries rather than writing. He does not have business hours per-se, since he works out of his house. His waking hours are between 9am and 1am Eastern time. Infinite Illusions E-mail: email@example.com WWW: <a href="http://pd.net/catalog">http://pd.net/catalog</a> Phone: 1-800-54-TORCH This juggling supply business has recently started selling the Emory unicycle. Emory started making unicycles since the early seventies, and stopped in the late eighties. They are making them again for Infinite Illusions. Osell's Custom Frames Osell's Custom Frames 2908 Pentagon Drive NE St. Anthony, MN 55418 (318) 788-5200 (ask for Terry) They sell their own brand, called the Landis. They also sometimes get Miyatas from Canada. Call for availability.
- Where can I get parts for my unicycle?
Depending on what you are looking for, you might find the parts at a bike shop. If not, though, Tom Miller at the Unicycle Factory probably has it. You can call him in Indiana at (317) 452-2692 to place your order.
- What makes a good unicycle?
Each set of part types [a-d] are listed in increasing order of quality or beauty [chrome types]. Anyone in a bike shop should be able to explain the following terminology. ) Type of tire - One can always buy a better tire, although quality unicycle should come with a unicycle tire (round cross-section; relatively flat or smooth tread for flat surfaces [mountain unicycles should come with knobbies :^] 321.1 Type of rim a) chromed steel b) chromed tubular steel c) alloy d) chromed alloy 1.2 Type of spoke holes in rim a) simple straight radial hole b) simple straight radial hole with recess for spoke's nipple c) angle of holes matches angle of spokes d) angle of holes matches angle of spokes; recess for nipple 2.1 Number of spokes (more is better, if all spokes are kept tight) a) 28 b) 36 c) 40 d) 48 2.2 Thickness of spokes (thicker is better, but weighs a little more) a) .080 in. (14 gauge) b) .092 in. (13 gauge) c) .105 in. (12 gauge) d) .125 in. (?? gauge) 2.3 Spoking pattern a) 3 cross b) 4 cross c) 3 cross interleaved d) 4 cross interleaved 2.4 Spoke material a) coat hanger :^& b) normal (steel zinc plated) c) stainless steel d) steel chrome plated 3.1 Hub (Various types of heat treating add to the confusion here.) a) cottered shaft, straight flanges b) cottered shaft, dished flanges c) cotterless shaft, straight flanges d) cotterless shaft, dished flanges 4.1 Bearings (More info welcome here.) a) unsealed roller bearings b) unsealed ball bearings c) sealed roller bearings (less prone to damage when jumping) d) sealed ball bearings (jumping may cause flat spots on balls) 5.1 Bearing holders a) bolted on C-bracket (may apply excessive vertical force) b) snap ring (bearing may be minutely loose in all directions) c) pressed in holder (bearing must be pressed in with equal force) d) bolted on pressed in holder (same as c above, except the pressed fit may be looser as bolts keep bearing from moving.) 5.2 Frame type (Which is better is quite controversial.) a) flat pressed fork halves bolted together with seat post b) same as a) with curved sections pressed in for greater rigidity c) tubular one piece frame with rounded fork crown d) tubular one piece frame with square fork crown (to put feet on) 5.3 Frame finish a) amateur spray painted ;^) b) baked-on enamel c) powder coated d) chrome plated 5.4 Seat post clamp Z) A bolt for split forks Z) welded on clamp with single bolt Z) separate BMX type clamp with single allen wrench screw Z) separate BMX type clamp with two allen wrench screws Z) same as c), except one screw clamps top of head tube and the other clamps around the seat post - two inside diameters 6.1 Seat post a) has holes at 1 inch increments for height adjustment b) same as a) with seat tilt adjustment c) straight tube with no holes - very fine height adjustment d) same as c) with seat tilt adjustment (not really needed) 7.1 Seat (style should fit the individual) a) poorly designed - self destructs in 1 month of use b) Schwinn / Semcycle design (does it have bumpers now?) c) Wide Miyata type design without front handle d) Narrow Miyata type design with front handle 7.2 Seat should be broken down further, but the author is getting tired and sleepy [ 8^) -> :^O zzz -> 8^| -> :^O zzz -> 8^( ] 8.1 Crank arms a) solid oak [ :^O -> :^o -> :^O ] author lapses into dream land (be careful, the author seems to be getting cranky too :^) b) steel cottered c) steel cotterless d) alloy cotterless 9.1 Pedals a) rubber block, no spindle adjustment b) plastic, no spindle adjustment c) rattrap with spindle adjustment (eats shins 8^) d) plastic with spindle adjustment Ken Fuchs firstname.lastname@example.org 12. What are the 10 skill levels? Here is the list thanks to Andy Cotter (email@example.com). Comments in parentheses are mine.
GENERAL INFORMATION In order to be eligible to achieve a level, a rider must
have achieved all previous levels. All skills start and end with the rider
riding forward, seated with both feet on the pedals. All mounts end with the
rider riding forward with both feet on the pedals.
PROCEDURE FOR TESTING To achieve a skill level a rider must pass a skill level
exam with an authorized examiner. Examiners must be authorized by the
Unicycling Society of America, the IUF, or by a connected organization. In
order to pass an exam a rider must perform all skills in the level at the
first attempt except for 3 skills maximum which must be performed at the
For some advice on preparing for a level test, check out the level testing hints on the unicycle home page. Level 1 o Mount Unicycle unassisted o Ride 50 meters o Dismount gracefully with unicycle in front Level 2 o Mount with left foot o Mount with right foot o Ride 10 m between two parallel lines 30 cm apart o Ride a figure 8 with circle diameters smaller then 3 m o Ride down a 15 cm vertical drop o Make a sharp 90 degree turn to the left o Make a sharp 90 degree turn to the right Level 3 o Demonstrate 3 types of mounts o Ride a figure 8 with circle diameters smaller than 1.5 m o Come to stop, pedal half a revolution backward and continue forward o Ride with the stomach on the seat for 10 m o Make a sharp 180 degree turn to the left o Make a sharp 180 degree turn to the right o Hop 5 times o Ride over a 10 X 10 cm obstacle Level 4 o Demonstrate 4 types of mounts o Ride backward for 10 m o Ride one footed for 10 m o Idle with left foot down 25 times o Idle with right foot down 25 times o Ride with the seat out in front for 10 m o Ride with the seat out in back for 10 m o Make a sharp 360 degree turn the left o Make a sharp 360 degree turn the right Level 5 o Demonstrate 5 types of mounts o Ride backward in a circle o Ride one footed in a figure eight o Idle one footed with left foot down 25 times o Idle one footed with right foot down 25 times o Ride with the seat out in front in a circle o Ride with the seat out in back in a circle o Ride with the seat on the side in a circle o Hop-twist 90 degrees to the left o Hop-twist 90 degrees to the right o Hop standing on wheel 5 times (IUF) o Walk the wheel for 10 m (USA) (No feet on the pedals, instead you propel the unicycle by walking on the surface of the tire while sitting) Level 6 o Demonstrate 6 types of mounts o Ride backward in a figure 8 o Ride with the seat out in front in a figure eight o Ride with the seat out in back in a figure eight o Ride backward with the seat out in front for 10 m o Walk the wheel for 10 m (IUF) (No feet on the pedals, instead you propel the unicycle by walking on the surface of the tire while sitting) o Ride with seat on the side in a circle to the left o Ride with seat on the side in a circle to the right o Ride one footed with the left foot for 10 m o Ride one footed with the right foot for 10 m o Backspin o Frontspin o Spin o Hop standing on wheel 5 times (USA) Level 7 o Demonstrate 7 types of mounts o Ride backward with seat out in front in a circle o Ride one footed with left foot in a circle o Ride one footed with right foot in a circle o Walk the wheel in a circle o Walk the wheel one footed for 10 m o Hop-twist 180 degrees to the left o Hop-twist 180 degrees to the right o Ride backward with the seat out in back for 10 m o Spin the left o Spin to the right Level 8 o Demonstrate 8 types of mounts o Ride one footed with the left foot in a figure 8 o Ride one footed with the right foot in a figure 8 o Walk the wheel in a figure eight o Walk the wheel one footed in a circle o Ride backward one footed for 10 m o Glide for 10 m (no feet on the pedals, you can use a foot on the surface of the tire as a brake.) o Hand wheel walk for 10 m o Pirouette o Backward spin Level 9 o Demonstrate 9 types of mounts o Walk the wheel one footed in a figure 8 o Ride backward one footed in a circle o Ride backward with the seat out in front in figure 8 o Ride backward with the seat out in back in a circle o Walk the wheel one footed with left foot for 10 m o Walk the wheel one footed with right foot for 10 m o Walk the wheel backward for 10 m o Drag seat in front 10 m o Drag seat in back for 10 m o Ride backward one footed with the left foot 10 m o Ride backward one footed with the right foot 10 m o Ride one footed with the seat out in front for 10 m o Backward pirouette Level 10 o Demonstrate 10 types of mounts o Ride backward with seat out in back in a figure 8 o Ride backward one footed in a figure 8 o Walk the wheel one footed with left foot in circle o Walk the wheel one footed with right foot in circle o Walk the wheel backward in a circle o 180 uni spin o Sideways wheel walk for 10 m o Coast for 10 m o Side ride for 10 m o Walk the wheel one footed backward for 10 m 13. What are some different mounts? Left and right can be switched in the descriptions if you are left footed. Standard Put a foot on the rear pedal and the seat underneath you. Step up onto the unicycle. Side Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand. Move your right foot between your left leg and the unicycle. Swing it around the front of the seat, put the seat underneath you, and your right foot on the pedal. side mount with foot around twice Like the side mount, but your foot makes an extra trip around the seat. side mount with foot around 3X Like the side mount, but your foot makes an extra two trips around the seat. side mount reverse Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand. Move your right foot around the back of the seat, put the seat underneath you, and your right foot on the pedal. side mount reverse, leg around Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand. Move your right foot around the back of the seat, swing your foot 360 degrees around the seat again, put the seat underneath you, and your right foot on the pedal. stepover mount Start on the side holding onto the seat with both hands bring the other foot up over the seat without releasing the seat with either hand. Step over the top of the seat without letting go of the seat. It is not a fun way to crash if you have your foot on the seat, but a good high step and its no more difficult than one of the other side mounts. Reverse Stand in front of the unicycle with the seat underneath you. Put one foot on the lower pedal. Step back and up so that the unicycle is underneath you. The motion will be similar to idling once you are up. Jump Hold the unicycle upright and jump up onto the pedals and the seat. Land with all your weight on the pedals or you will be unhappy. 180 spin mount Hold the unicycle in front of you with the front facing you. Jump into the air, spin the unicycle around 180 degrees, and land on it. 360 spin mount Hold the unicycle in front of you with the front facing away from you. Jump into the air, spin the unicycle around 360 degrees, and land on it. kick up Lay the unicycle on its side. Put your foot on the pedal that is pointing up. Use your other foot to kick the seat up underneath you, and put the free foot on its pedal. rolling mount Roll the unicycle, put your foot on one pedal and get up, without the wheel ever stopping. one foot mount Like a standard mount, but the second foot goes over the pedal and the stays in the air. You can then go backwards or forwards with one foot. one foot reverse mount Like the reverse mount, but the second foot goes over the pedal and the stays in the air. You can then go backwards or forwards with one foot. side mount from standing on wheel side jump mount Start at the side of the unicycle, then jump on the pedals and settle on the seat. free side jump mount Start at the side of the unicycle, let go of the unicycle, then jump on the pedals and settle on the seat. jump mount Stand behind the unicycle, jump up on both pedals simultaneously, and settle on the seat. free jump mount Like a regular jump mount, but the rider lets go of the seat before their feet leave the ground. rolling mount to one foot jump mount to one foot idle kick up to walk the wheel kick up to walk the wheel one footed kick up to spin side jump mount to walk the wheel Like jump mount, but land in the wheel walk position. side mount to seat out in front frog mount rolling jump mount to seat in back jump mount to seat in front Like a jump mount, but you leave the seat out front and ride this way. pick up mount spin mount spin mount to one foot riding kick up with foot wrapped around frame side jump mount to seat at back jump mount with 180 seat spin whilst airborne jump mount with 360 seat spin whilst airborne turn around jump mount The rider turns around 180 degrees before landing on the unicycle. Andy Cotterfirstname.lastname@example.org Beirne Konarskiemail@example.com Doug Borngasserfirstname.lastname@example.org 14. Where can I find a unicycle club or organization? Unicycling Society of America The Unicycling Society of America distributes a quarterly newsletter, sponsors an annual conference/meet, sells all known unicycle literature, and serves as an information clearinghouse. Dues are currently $15 a year. It is well worth the cost. You can reach them at: Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240. The USA also has a 1-800 voice mail number, 1-800-783-2425. There are local clubs in many areas. Detroit, Minneapolis, New York City and Bowling Green OH are three cities with large clubs. The Unicycling Society of America has a clubs registry and will send out club lists for a small cost. They encourage people to register as clubs, even if they are only few or one person. I will need some help in this section for more club information, especially from foreign countries. Unicycling New Zealand This is a new club, founded by Ross Mackintosh, editor of UniNews. 15. What are the different types of unicycles? Standard This is your average unicycle. The cranks connect to the axle. It has a seat above the wheel. Giraffe These are the taller chain-driven unicycles. You can buy them from Semcycle or the Unicycle Factory. The record height is about 100'(31m). Monocycle This is a wheel with the seat inside. These are fairly rare. Ultimate Wheel This is the standard unicycle without forks or a seat. A plywood disk usually replace the spokes, which keeps your ankles from getting beat up. You can buy these from the Unicycle Factory. Impossible Wheel Also called the BC wheel. This is a plain wheel with the axle extended on both sides with posts. You stand on the posts and roll along, assuming you figure out how to propel yourself. 16. What size wheel should I get? In general the smaller the wheel, the easier it is to learn to ride and learn new skills. Larger wheels are better for transportation and speed. 12" and 16" wheels are good for children. 20" wheels are good trick unicycles for adults. 24" wheels still work for a lot of tricks and gives you decent speed. This is the best general-purpose size. Bigger wheels are better for higher speed riding. The Unicycle Factory advertises models up to 40". Check the rules if you are buying a unicycle for competition. Races generally require a specific size, such as 24" for adults. British juggling competitions usually limit you to a 20" model. 17. Why don't you get a unicycle with multiple speeds? Someone has built a unicycle with multiple gearings. Here is an account from Peter Lister (email@example.com): I know Bob Knight who built it. I haven't had the opportunity to have a go on it (I haven't really got the hang of giraffes yet - severe lack of people prepared to lend me theirs to practise on). I can assure you that it's no problem to change gear. Bob can shift up and down happily while going forward or idling, or probably backwards, knowing him. As I understand it, the only requirement is that one reduce the pedal pressure during a shift, but then as anyone (like me) who rides a two-wheeler with a Sturmey hub knows, that applies to normal bikes and isn't a problem unless one is really standing on the pedals. Just in case it isn't clear from the photo(another person brought up this topic when they saw a picture of the unicycle. ed.), this beast uses a fixed Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub *not* a derailleur (it's surprising how many people assume that the derailleur is the only possible cycle gear shift). The hub itself is an antique (early 1950s I think), probably worth more than the rest of the unicycle (which was made by Bob and his dad). The equivalent wheel sizes are 20", 24" and 28". 18. What unicycling events can I attend?
National Unicycle Convention Late July, 1996 Chariton, Iowa 19. Which end is the front? Yes, the unicycle has a front and a back, even when the seat doesn't. The two pedals are threaded in opposite directions and are normally marked 'L' and 'R' on the ends of the shafts. The side designation is from the viewpoint of the rider. Forward riding on either a unicycle or bicycle will tend to tighten the pedals. However, backward riding on a unicycle will tend to loosen the pedals. Also, some tires have a direction on them, due to the tread pattern. Beirne Konarski firstname.lastname@example.org Ken Fuchs email@example.com 20. Where's the other wheel? + In Nanny's room, behind the clock. + It'll be along in a minute. + Where's your originality? + That's the nth time I've heard that one today. + Real men (women) don't need two wheels. + I'm paying for it in installments. + You're kidding, it was there last time I looked (and promptly fall off) + I didn't put enough locks on it. + I loaned the other wheel to a friend. Sit here and make sure he comes by. + I don't need it! + I got the bike on sale, half off...I didn't realize they meant the bike. + It's the economy; can't afford the other wheel. + This is the recession model. + I'm on a time payment plan. + It's this downsizing thing. + It's on the train to Glasgow. It's on an exchange program with another wheel. + It fell behind the fridge. + Two wheels? That's twice as hard! + Don't be daft, where would I put a second wheel? 21. What is a unicycle under the law? Note: These are the opinions of laymen, and should not be considered legal advice. United Kingdom Someone recently posted on uk.rec.cycling implying that it is legal to ride a bicycle on the pavement (US Sidewalk) as long as the wheel size doesn't exceed 20". This got me wondering whether it was true, and if so what the implications might be for unicyclists. So, it was back to the library to look through the law books. The Highway Code goes through the cycling laws and makes it fairly clear that there should be no problem with riding on the road. But forget about The Highway Code, what it *doesn't* give is a legal definition of a cycle. That's what I managed to find: '"Cycle" means a bicycle, tricycle, or cycle having four or more wheels, not being in any case a motor vehicle.' So cycle laws don't cover a unicycle. There is nothing about unicycles anywhere in the road traffic legislation. I'm not going to wade through the whole of English law looking for any reference to unicycling, so if anyone knows of a reference elsewhere I'd be interested. It seems that it is quite legal to ride a unicycle on the pavement in England. Does anyone know what the law says in the rest of the UK? If anyone fancies getting a copy of this definition (you never know when it might be useful), my source is: Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th edn, vol. 40 (Road Traffic), published in 1983 by Butterworths, London. Danny Colyerfirstname.lastname@example.org New Zealand Before starting Unicycling New Zealand back in March 1993, I approached Transit NZ to find out the real truth about unicycling in this country... Several letters between myself and the Minister of Transport brought us both to the following conclusion... A bicycle, by NZ law, must have AT LEAST TWO wheels. ...well, that rules out a standard unicycle instantly! So was it a toy? In the book of NZ road religion, a toy may have a wheel diametre no larger than 355mm (14inches) INCLUDING any tyre. ...rules out the standard uni again! therefore we came to the conclusion that in NZ, the unicycle, fell in to the catagory of a "vehicle" by default. this means it is quite legal to ride the unicycle on the roads, as you would any vehicle in this country, accomodating the laws of hand signals at all times, and lights at night, etc. No helmet is required (as compulsory with a bicycle in this country), no brakes or steering etc. I guess we are lucky as I believe unicycling is not cool with authorities in some states in America... wot a bummer! Ross Mackintosh email@example.com 22. What are some names for unicycles I appreciate everyone's cooparation in building our list of synonyms for unicycle. The time has come to organize the list, and eventually I'll try to make it real "scientific" based on lexicographic principles. Here is a preliminary version. I would be nice if can make a more precise classification, with perhaps info on frequency of use. Anyone want to try? + Lexical Items ("real words") These are more or less established words, albeit some are very limited while others are colloquial. What they have in common is that the are used by unicyclists.
UNICYCLE Standard American
MONOCYCLE Traditional (obsolescent?) British
ONE-WHEELED VEHICLE “Scientific”
ICICLE Colloquial (I know one family who use it)
IKE Colloquial (not sure where from – attested)
YIKE Colloquial (according to Adam Stork)
UNI Colloquial, very common
+ Nonce (uneducated) Words The *nonce* words below are often used by the nonunicycling public, though I've heard unicyclists using numbers 11 and 17 on occasion. (may they dangle from the Tokyo Tower on a 50-foot giraffe!). It is rather difficult to draw the distinction between this classfication, and the one below, but the nonce words here do seem to have a more or less "semilexicalized" existence.
ONE-WHEELER Unattested, but I think I’ve heard it
ONE-WHEEL BICYCLE Unattested, uneducated
BIKE Substandard, uneducated, illiterate, stupid!
ONE-WHEELED BICYCLE Colloquial, uneducated
ONE-WHEELED BIKE Colloquial, uneducated
TRICYCLE Colloquial, uneducated, childish
UNI-BIKE Colloquial, uneducated
ONE TRICYCLE Colloquial, uneducated, childish
BICYCLE Substandard, uneducated, illiterate, stupid!
+ Informal Decsriptions The items below are not word or phrases, they are just *descriptions* by someone who doesn't know the proper word. I suppose they are never used by unicyclists, except in jest.
FUNNY LOOKING BIKE Uneducated nonce word?
FUNNY THING Uneducated, childish nonce word?
FUNNY LOOKING THING Uneducated nonce word?
THAT WEIRD THING
THAT SILLY THING
WHAT THAT FUNN