I am 56 years old. Learned to ride a unicycle as a child. I have an ancient 20" Sears unicycle … maybe 45 years old. It has a broken pedal and bend pedal shaft. I cleaned it up, replaced the tire, and hopped on to ride … 10 years since the last time I rode!
BUT … I’m thinking I’d like to upgrade to something decent for riding around the neighborhood. Not for tricks. Reasonable price. A comfortable seat! Any recommendations?
I was in the same about the same place as you a couple of years ago. After 50 years of not riding I wanted something for road riding in the neighborhood and an occasional longer road or smooth trail trip. I first got a 36" Coker and have since upgraded to a 36" Nimbus. Road riding has been great fun.
Most modern saddles are way better then the saddles available when I was a kid but still one size/model does not work for all.
Welcome to the forum! Not sure what you mean by tricks. I learned idling, backwards riding, hopping, riding off curbs, seat-in-front…on my 20". I think of them more as techniques, rather than tricks. If you enjoyed learning how to unicycle in the first place, you might enjoy learning those techniques, and for that there is nothing better than a 19/20".
I did a quick search of Facebook Marketplace, and easily found a bunch of 20" options. I picked up a 20" used Sun Flat Top today. Much easier to ride than that old Sears. I figure that’s a good start. I’m going to see how I feel about riding it, and then consider buying a 24" or 29" if I stick with it.
The sad truth is that as a kid, as much as I rode my unicycle around the neighborhood and for school events, I did NOT learn how to ride backwards. I need to work on that.
In answer to some of your questions: My goal here would be to ride paved routes in my neighborhood. I had to stop running this year because of knee issues, and I have realized that unicycling is another low impact alternative!! I also ride an enormous recumbent tandem trike with my disabled son, and I recently acquired my father’s ElliptiGO.
I was a mediocre rider as a kid and riding a 36er was not difficult with just a little time to get used to how a larger wheel behaves. Free mounting normally seems to be the hardest thing on a 36" and that took more time. I normally use a running/rolling mount where may forward travel is converted in to vertical motion to boost me up. I’m about 5’ 11". A shorter person with shorter inseam will have a lower seat but still it will take some effort to get good at mounting.
Yes, your Sears probably came with a curved, rectangular Messenger saddle (or worse), which is pretty primitive by today’s standards. The perfect saddle doesn’t exist (yet), but they’re a lot better, as you may have already learned with your new Sun.
20" wheels are great for learning, and learning tricks/techniques. Like going backward. But for going places, not so great. I would skip the 24" and go straight to 29" to cover some ground.
If you learned how to idle, you have a lot of riding backward covered; you just have to keep going. If not, work on idling first, or at the same time; the two are mutually reinforcing.
I also ride an enormous recumbent tandem trike with my disabled son…
That sounds very cool. I know a guy in the Santa Cruz area who custom built one for his son who’s partially paralyzed. It’s a tank of a bike with the son recumbent in front, and him basically on the back end of a mountain bike. But they can ride it on trails, and I know them from riding with them on the famous Rob’s Ride.
Welcome back to unicycling! I’m also 56, but I started riding regularly 40 years ago, and haven’t stopped…
I know a guy in the Santa Cruz area who custom built one for his son who’s partially paralyzed. It’s a tank of a bike with the son recumbent in front, and him basically on the back end of a mountain bike.
My TerraTrike Tandem Rover is something like 10’ long and at least 70lbs. (I tried to upload a photo and it is TOO MUCH TROUBLE to attach anything to this thread.) Anyway, the person in front controls all the steering and brakes while the “stoker” in back pedals independently. This is a perfect activity for me to do with my son, given all his various physical issues.
If I have an opportunity to get a used Kris Holm 29" MUni – which is more than what I need, but is priced at an affordable $300 and from photos looks to be in good shape – should I take advantage of it?
I did NOT learn to idle, BUT I have found that these days there are plenty of instructive videos to help me along. Wow, it’s easier to learn now than in the days before BetaMax, VHS, DVD, and You Tube!
The 36" is in a class of its own. About 25% faster the a 29" at the same cadence, about 50% more of a challenge to ride/mount and 100% more fun! I picked up a cheap second hand 29" last summer and it is a nice relaxed ride but I still like the 36" better.
Not nearly as many 36ers come up for sale, just have to watch craigslist, Ebay and such. It seems that even used they are not that cheap. New they run from $450 to over $1000. My fist old Coker I bought for $200.
I would not recommend to anyone to go from a 20" to a 36". It’s not practical
to do many things, such as manuever around traffic of pedestrians. But it is good if you’re going long distances without traffic.
I’d suggest a good quality 24" or 26", maybe a NIMBUS.
From what you say, that sounds like a good deal, I would definitely consider it.
I am 5’7”, so about the same height as you, I have a 29” Oracle that I bought second hand on here, it is fine for size. I moved on to it from learning on a 24” Nimbus, so you will probably be fine going to that from your 20”.
If you are set on a bigger wheel, a 32” is also an option, but they are probably even harder to find used. I have one and again it is fine size-wise. I think a 36” would be too big for me to be honest. An option worth considering for 36” is a Nimbus Nightfox — the legs of the frame adjust on it rather than the seat post so it is better for shorter riders (since you maybe can’t get the seat low enough on a conventional 36” frame). Look at YouTube for some videos (eg. Unigeezer has a Nightfox video and unimart rides one in some of his videos as far as recall).
At this stage I would say that stepping up to a 36” (forgive the pun) is probably too much and the 29 KH muni would be a good option, you may be more comfortable going to the 26” you mention though — unfortunately there is no ‘right’ answer.
A 26er is a good wheel size for riding around the neighbourhood with. To be honest, there’s very little difference between a 24 and 26, except 26 is a bit faster and better for a little more distance (distance on smaller wheels gets annoying, though 24" isn’t too bad) and 24 is easier to mount and a touch more maneuverable.
Ps. I’m probably a fraction shorter than you. I’m approx 166cm. (~5’ 5.5"). 36" is definitely NOT my go-to uni, 24" is. For a while 26" was but I currently have to take my uni on 2 trains to get to work with no storage areas. I ride just under a mile (1.3km) to my train station each day in each direction. Either of the 24 or 26 does that job well.
Photos work, but they can’t be over a certain size (though some people seem to unintentionally get around this), which can make it a bigger hassle right there. I just Googled “TerraTrike Tandem” and there it was.
And also a link to a video clip of one inside a minivan! I was quite surprised! The TerraTrike seems less elaborate than some of the other types I’ve seen, that probably require elaborate roof racks, pick-up trucks, etc. to move around. Putting that on in a minivan makes a HUGE difference, at least to us minivan owners! (Note: all full-sized American minivans have about the same interior dimensions. Only detail one might have to worry about is space between the seats) All I would have to do in my Sienna is take out my center console between the front seats, which unlatches easily. Someday my wife and I may be down to riding one of those, hopefully when we’re much older. She rides a recumbent already, but I’m sticking with the unicycle until my body falls apart (or until I can no longer keep up…).
That independent rear pedaling sounds like a key feature for your needs. Regular tandems require you to pedal “in tandem” which could be difficult in your situation.
Used KH 29": Like mentioned above, sounds like a good deal unless it’s one of the older types. If it has a blue, aluminum frame, you’re good to go. Bonus: It’s also fully capable of riding rough terrain, big drops or pretty much anything you might decide to ride it on in the future.
Yup, basically THE INTERNET. All the video cassettes in the world weren’t helpful in those days, since there were almost none on the market for learning the unicycle.
Well… I liked the 26" as far as size, but not entirely impressed with the Raleigh. After further contemplation and research, I ordered a 26" Club from Unicycles.com.
I simply need more practice on a 26" no frills uni to figure out whether I would even want/benefit from a Nimbus.
My impression of the 26" I tried (which could not be properly adjusted to my height) was that it was far more “stable” than the 20". I liked the feel of the larger wheel!
As I wait for my 26" to arrive, I have been practicing on the 20" Sun: a little bit every day, and seeing improvement each time. I’m working on idling.
There are several challenges I can see ahead: I have never learned to do curbs, even with a slope, not a step. There are curbs aplenty in my neighborhood – also the ability to avoid them. I’d like to be able to take them on and not feel I need to avoid them. Additionally, there is a concrete path to a park near my house. It has a culvert with about a 4 ft steep drop and 4 ft steep rise, separated by about 20’. I’d like to be able to eventually ride this. I rode over to it today and made zero progress on it. Will that kind of challenge be EASIER or more DIFFICULT with 26"?
Here are a few dumb questions:
• I never before used protective gear. Now, I have a helmet I use for biking. Would it be wise at my age and considering potential injuries to wear knee pads, etc?
• I have basically no place to “practice.” No mailbox or fence. Does anyone have any brilliant suggestions for where (or how) to practice inclines and downhill?
• I’m reading with interest about handlebars. Would a handlebar give me additional stability to tackle the uphills and downhills? I feel like it would be great just for repositioning!