Frequently Asked Questions on Unicycling
January 7, 1996
*: Means the item is new or recently changed.
Why ride a unicycle?
Who invented the unicycle?
Where can I get more information on unicycling?
Where can I find a unicycle club or organization?
Where’s the other wheel?
What is a unicycle under the law?
What are some names for unicycles?
How do you say unicycle in different languages?
How long does it take to learn?
How do you learn to ride?
Is unicycling dangerous?
How do I learn how to…?
What are the 10 skill levels?
What are some different mounts?
Why do I have to twist to one side to ride straight?
Where can I get a unicycle?
Where can I get parts for my unicycle?
What makes a good unicycle?
What size wheel should I get?
What are the different types of unicycles?
Maintenance and Repair
How do unicycles work?
How much should I inflate the tires?
Why don’t you get a unicycle with multiple speeds?
Which end is the front?
What do I do about the crank arm on my unicycle that keeps coming loose?
31.1 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.
32.2 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.
33.3 Where can I get more information on unicycling?
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”.
From Solipaz Publishing and the Unicycling Society of America, all by Jack
Wiley o 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”. o Novelty Unicycling o The Ultimate Wheel
Book o 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. o Basic Circus Skills o How to Build Unicycles and Artistic
Bicycles o The Whole Unicycle Catalog o Inside the Wheel: The Complete
Guide to Mcotter@skypoint.comonocycles Solipaz Publishing Company
P.O. Box 366 Lodi, CA 95241
From the Unicycling Society of America o Tidbits for Beginners. This
contains a variety of articles from “One One Wheel”, the newsletter of the
Unicycling Society of America. o Complete set of all Unicycling Society of
America Newsletters since 1974 o Official Competition Rulebook o “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.
From Semcycle o 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.
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
From IUF and Miyata o 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
From Dube and probably elsewhere o 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
>From the Unicycling Society of America
- 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
- 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.
- 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 !
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 ftp.mcs.kent.edu in directory pub/Unicycling. The same directory is
available via mosaic at URL ftp://ftp.unicycling.org/pub/Unicycling
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 http://www.unicycling.org 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 http://central.co.nz/~hjarvie/nzuni.html International
Unicycle Federation This page contains the IUF competition rules.
URL: <a href="http://www.winternet.com/~kfuchs/iuf.html">http://www.winternet.com/~kfuchs/iuf.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/homeangl.html">http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/homeangl.html</a> (English) Unicycle Hockey A good general page on Unicycle Hockey. URL: <a href="http://www.science.yorku.ca/cac/people/sander/uni/">http://www.science.yorku.ca/cac/people/sander/uni/</a> Mountain Unicycling Covers the exciting sport of mountain unicycling. <a href="http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/CUCC/muni/munindex.html">http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/CUCC/muni/munindex.html</a> 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:
1.4 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
2.5 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
- It fell behind the fridge.
- Two wheels? That’s twice as hard!
- Don’t be daft, where would I put a second wheel?
1.6 What is a unicycle under the law?
Note: These are the opinions of laymen, and should not be considered
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
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
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
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
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
1.6 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
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
1.unicycle Standard American
2.monocycle Traditional (obsolescent?) British
3.one-wheeled vehicle “Scientific”
4.icicle Colloquial (I know one family who use it)
5.ike Colloquial (not sure where from – attested)
6.yike Colloquial (according to Adam Stork)
7.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”
- one-wheeler Unattested, but I think I’ve heard it
10.one-wheel bicycle Unattested, uneducated
11.bike Substandard, uneducated, illiterate, stupid!
12.one-wheeled bicycle Colloquial, uneducated
13.one-wheeled bike Colloquial, uneducated
14.tricycle Colloquial, uneducated, childish
15.uni-bike Colloquial, uneducated
16.one tricycle Colloquial, uneducated, childish
17.bicycle Substandard, uneducated, illiterate, stupid!
- one-wheeler Unattested, but I think I’ve heard it
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.
18.funny looking bike Uneducated nonce word?
19.funny thing Uneducated, childish nonce word?
20.funny looking thing Uneducated nonce word?
21.that weird thing
22.that silly thing
25.what that funny man’s riding
26.that over there
27.8 How do you say unicycle in different languages?
Dutch: eenwieler English: unicycle French: monocycle German: einrad
Japanese:ichirinsha(preferred), yunisaikuru Spanish: monociclo(preferred),
uniciclo Swedish: enhjuling Finnish: Yksipyora Greek: monopodeloto
29.1 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>
30.2 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
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.
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.
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.
Switch to holding on to your friends’ wrists.
Switch to holding on to one friend’s wrist.
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!
37.3 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.
38.4 How do I learn how to…?
The Unicycling Home Page has information on learning a variety of skills. The
web version of the faq (http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/faq.html) has a
number of references in the 10 skill level section and the mount section. There
are also some references in the Fun Things to do on a Unicycle section of the
39.5 What are the 10 skill levels?
Here is the list thanks to Andy Cotter (firstname.lastname@example.org). Comments in
parentheses are mine.
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 second attempt.
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
40.6 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 Cotteremail@example.com Beirne Konarskifirstname.lastname@example.org Doug
2.7 Why do I have to twist to one side to ride straight?
This could be caused by the left to right pitch or crown on most roads. Does the
problem persist when riding on level ground or a floor?
This could also be caused by riding posture. Consciously try to ride with a
straight back, looking forward with most of one’s weight on the seat. Putting
less weight on the pedals and more weight on the seat really makes riding far
easier. It may take a few weeks to adjust to this better method of riding, so
don’t worry if things don’t instantly get better.
The plane of the wheel may not intersect the seat exactly in half. In other
words the frame may be bend or misaligned to the right or the left. If this is
the case, try bending the frame in the other direction in a vise, protecting the
chrome or paint with blocks of wood. However, the chrome or paint may crack or
rinkle at the stress points of the bend.
Misaligned crankarms may also cause problems.
The seat might be cracked or flex more in one direction or the other.
The tire can be worn more on one side than the other. This occurs most commonly
when the unicycle is used for gliding with predominantly one foot or the other.
Not very likely unless the unicycle is used for gliding.
Worn bearings or other unicycle parts could even be a factor, but really not
likely to cause “twisting to the right” or left.
4.1 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.
E-mail: email@example.com 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
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 Schwinn Schwinn has been out of the unicycle business for several years now, due to problems like near-bankruptcy. They have now reentered the unicycle business, though. They have a 20" and a 24" model. They are of the same general style as the 1980's Schwinns, with some size differences in the axle. 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)
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 5: 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
Matthews Matthews has recently withdrawn from the unicycle market.
Canada Darren Bedford 71 Jasper Ave. Toronto, Ontario M6N 2N2
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.
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 email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
318.2 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.
319.3 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
) 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 :^]
320.1 Type of rim
a) chromed steel
b) chromed tubular steel
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)
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) normal (steel zinc plated)
b) stainless steel
c) 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) baked-on enamel
b) powder coated
c) 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
8.1 Crank arms
a) steel cottered
b) steel cotterless
c) alloy cotterless
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 - email@example.com
3.4 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.
4.5 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.
- Maintenance and Repair
6.1 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
7.2 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
8.3 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".
9.4 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
10.5 What do I do about the crank arm on my unicycle that keeps coming loose?
Use a rubber hammer or regular hammer and a block of wood to pound the
cotterless cranks on firmly. Place the opposite crankarm on a (another) block of
wood on the floor to avoid pounding stress to the spokes and wheel, etc.
However, do not pound real hard or the crankarms and possibly even the axle
could be damaged.
After the above, snug up the nuts real tight. Your should never have to worry
about loose crankarms again, WITHOUT using lock tight. The non-permanent lock
tight couldn’t hurt though, but be sure the crankarms are on very, very tight
before using it!
Ken Fuchs - firstname.lastname@example.org
Beirne Konarskiemail@example.com Copyright © 1996 Beirne Konarski All