RE: revs per minute
> I think that many of us are looking for a “perfect” road
> unicycle, but in reality it doesn’t exist. While I am a
> huge unicycling fanatic, we have to realize that a unicycle
> just is not as practical for speed or distance as a bicycle.
I have to agree with Jeff. As long as we’re stuck in a single gear,
unicyclists will be at a disadvantage compared to bicyclists in most
situations. If a unicycle can be designed with gears you can change when
stopped it will be a further step, but until the gears can be changed
on-the-fly it will still be a second-best comparison.
But to me, a unicycle is not supposed to be a road bike (or mountain bike,
or cruiser). We want it to stand out, and enjoy the extra effort required to
balance one, and the extra work required to go distances.
I have always believed that, at lower speeds, a unicycle is safer than a
bike. This is mostly due to the lower speed a unicycle can go, compared to a
bike where hills can get you going real fast, and where you can also
daydream a lot more easily, without constant attention to your balance. But
as you get faster, the unicycle gets more dangerous. The big fat red line of
this is your own personal running speed. If you exceed this, your danger
level jumps up a lot, where on a bike, it hasn’t really changed. The bike is
always going to be far more stable. Though you can bail from a unicycle more
easily, it doesn’t help you much when you’re going faster than you can run.
Especially if it’s from a really high seat.
So to ride above running speed, a unicyclist has to accept a higher level of
risk. This is okay, it’s still less risk (outside of traffic) than what a
motorcyclist faces. Though the unicyclist is likely to crash more often, the
resulting injuries are probably going to be far less life-threatening. So,
like any activity, you choose the level of danger you want to be exposed to.
But gearing up the a unicycle also makes it harder to ride. The Harper
Uni.5, with it’s 1:1.5 ratio, is fairly user-friendly. I think it works so
well and so easily because of the relatively low (sensible) ratio. As you
up the ratio, the difference between the geared uni and the equivalent
direct-drive wheel becomes more obvious. Or maybe it doesn’t. I never rode a
wheel bigger than 63", and that one was really light (and weak). Wheels that
are bigger than what’s allowed by the rider’s leg length are probably not
practical for anything other than visual effect (as opposed to getting to
work). They might not even fit through a door! As the wheel gets bigger, it
not only gets heavier (and weaker), but also gets higher. So now you face
the possibility of not only a faster crash, but one that “lands” you on the
ground at a more disturbing angle.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think the idea of riding long distances,
whether across the country or to work, is supposed to be hard. In addition
to the “hardness” of riding a unicycle, there is also the hard work of
propelling this non-geared vehicle any long distance. If it’s level ground
all the way, it’s easier than hills. But if there’s traffic (which there
usually is), you still need the ability to react quickly with both turns and
The Coker is a great compromise in that it’s still small enough for most
people to fit on, goes easily into the car, and isn’t real heavy. Plus it’s
the cheapest large-wheel unicycle out there. I think air-tire unicycles up
to about 50-55" can still be effective, depending on rider leg length. But
as the wheel gets bigger it’s going to get heavier, harder to fit in the
car, and surely more expensive.
With a geared hub, I think it will stay relatively fun to ride as long as
the ratio isn’t too high. I rode a giraffe with a 1:3 ratio once. It took me
a lot of tries to get it going, and I was still scared to take this 20"
beast beyond about 10mph, because of the much higher likelihood that I would
fall without being able to correct. I also experimented with different gear
ratios on my Schwinn Giraffe many years ago, I settled on a 26:48 ratio, but
it was still real hard to freemount, hard to ride slow, and far more likely
to crash hard than a non-geared one. So I think you need to keep the ratio
fairly low to have a safe and enjoyable ride.
> eligibility of geared unicycles in competition.
The majority of races we do in the IUF and USA are limited by equipment to
put everyone on a level playing field, with equipment that’s commonly
available. You would have to have lots of availability of geared hubs, in
lots of countries, to create a critical mass enough for us to be likely to
create a separate category for it there.
In the unlimited races, (nearly) everything goes. For NAUCC and UNICON 2002,
the unlimited events will be:
>- Cross Country
>- High Jump
>- Long Jump
>- 10k Marathon Unlimited Class
> what about long distance records (such as 100 mile).
The question here is of who is the governing body for such records? If
you’re going for a Guinness record, you have to satisfy Guinness. In the
past, this has been very hit-and-miss because they might arbitrarily change
their requirements, and even worse, arbitrarily add and remove records and
categories from their books.
Last fall I received an email from a gentleman at the Guinness organization
saying they would like to follow the lead of the IUF for future records.
This was an interesting statement, coming as it did after they released the
2002 book in the US with only two unicycling records in it. So the IUF can
be in charge of these sorts of records if we want. We still have to work
When tracking records, it’s possible to keep track of all sorts of
variations. For instance I would definitely consider a “geared” 100 mile
record to be something different from a fixed-wheel one. Whether Guinness
would be interested in listing both would be a separate issue, but we could
at least recommend which one we thought was “best”. To me I guess this would
be the fastest one, if they had to pick only one.
> available. But even so, my opinion is that only standard, 1:1
> unicycles should be accepted. Please let me know how you feel.
I feel like the 100 mile record won’t last another five years. With the
advent of cheap big wheels, some other athlete is going to at least attack
that record. It certainly won’t be easy to break (6:44), but now there is
more of a field to chase it.
If somebody breaks the record on a geared unicycle, I would definitely list
it separately. But both would surely be fully legitimate records. You’re
still taking one wheel 100 miles under your own power, you just pedal less
revolutions. You don’t do less mechanical work.
Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
“If people want to truly understand mountain biking, they have to do two
other things: ride a unicycle, and master the trampoline.” – Joe Breeze,
one of the originators of mountain biking, in a conversation with Tim Bustos