I consider it a very important basic skill. It will get you out of trouble in all sorts of situations, especially on trails or if you ride tall giraffes. So you should be able to back up, at the very least. Usually that is learned along with idling, which is also a very basic, core skill. You don’t need to idle on a 36", but if you ride other sizes it might come in very handy.
As for riding distances backward, or with good steering control, most unicyclists aren’t very good at it. Back in the 80s, in the early days of the IUF, we had a Compulsory event as part of the “artistic” championship. In the Compulsory, it was like doing a pre-set Standard Skill routine (shorter version). You had to ride backwards in circles or figure eights. I was surprised at how sketchy many of the top riders were at these seemingly easy tasks. So most people don’t focus on it that much.
At Unicon IV, we had four different levels of Compulsory competition. In the hardest one, you had to do a figure eight, riding backwards one-footed, once with each foot. Only two people entered that one, but I was one of them and I spent a ton of time teaching my left foot not to suck. I guess I still have those skills, though I’d have to scrape a lot of rust off to be able to do it decently today.
Yeah, I saw something about some crmo cranks by Qu-ax. The other all-steel cranks I saw were home-made. Let’s see what else is out there… Somebody says the Torker DX has steel cranks. I just can’t see why everyone has to use aluminum when it has this problem with it. What about all those artsy freestyle unicyclists, circus people, etc? They constantly ride backwards, no?
If your pedals come loose try using red loctite on them and snug them down tight but not over tight, If you want to remove the pedals just heat the crank arm with a butane torch to soften the loctite they will come right off.
you can try blue loctite and wont need to heat the crankarm to remove, but the red will hold far better. I use red on fixed gear bikes the moment i get them and haven’t had one come loose and strip yet.
I have a pair of the Torkers, which look a lot like the Groovy’s. They’re heavy, and they stick out at the axle and catch your ankles. They’re probably great for flatland tricks, but I didn’t like them for general riding around.
I have them on my 19" I just bought. Hit my ankles on them once or twice in my ~30min of saddle time so far. I’m not too critical, and not much to say about them. They seem fine to me. The unicycle was $250, so totally worth it with cranks that cost $110 separately! Sadly, it went out of stock about 2 days ago.
They look like the cranks on my old Wilder (Profile hub). Same structure, and steel. Only difference is they appear to stick out a lot at the hub. If this isn’t offset by Q-factor, it might be annoying. My Profiles don’t stick out, but because they are wide cranks I’ve occasionally caught my heel on them in bumpy situations.
Alloy cranks are not evil. I have a few pairs of 30-year old IDOL cranks from old Miyatas. Long as you don’t strip them, they seem to go forever. There’s a pair of the 150s on my 29" MUni. I’ve also used them on my old Coker for MUni riding.
If your cranks are coming loose, it might be because you just aren’t getting them good and tight when putting them on. Before I got a pedal wrench, I remember it could be hard to tighten some pedals because “regular” wrenches tend to be too thick. Get a pedal wrench.
That shouldn’t be necessary. The only times I’ve had chronic problems with pedals loosening, it was because the threads were already compromised by riding them with the pedals loose. If you are working on lots of backwards riding, I recommend giving them a little crank with the pedal wrench before (and maybe during) each practice session. I do the same thing before MUni rides on the crank nuts of my old square taper unicycles.
If I want to make a non-rider laugh, I like to get on, ride backwards, then say: “Whoops, wrong gear.”
If you fancy having more than one gear on your yike, learning to use the reverse gear is a lot cheaper then buying a Schlumpf hub.
I agree with everything John wrote about riding backwards. For me, though, it’s a skill that I mostly use for hockey (which, come to think of it, accounts for most of my riding anyway). I find it invaluable for hockey.
After reading many of the numerous discussions of the pedal socket stripping problem for those who ride backwards, I’ve come up with conflicting information and some questions that somebody can hopefully answer:
Can Loctite (red or blue, with or without grease) help salvage mildly stripped cranks?
Are the threads OK on pedals that have stripped a crank? Mine look good.
Is it true that if I screw my low-end Nimbus pedals into lightweight Qu-ax cranks, the steel will eventually form a permanent bond with the aluminum as long as they don’t have any grease or Loctite on them?
Are alloy cranks different as far as how pedals should be attached?
Loctite will not repair stripped cranks. If the threads are still in there you may be able to use something like JB Weld to repair the threads, but I have no experience with that. Red Loctite is probably overkill to prevent pedals unscrewing. If Blue isn’t doing it I would go for the green wick in variety before red. Green is stronger than blue, and it is designed for threads that are already assembled. Be careful not to get this stuff near parts that are supposed to move (pedal bearings). It will get in there and cause the most annoying squeak if you pedal still moves.
Between Al cranks and steel pedals the pedals should win out, and be fine even if the cranks are toast.
Steel and Aluminum will cause a galvanic reaction in the presence of an electrolyte, and that will act something like a chemical weld between the two materials.
AL or Steel you still want to grease the pedal threads before attaching, and tighten snug. If you are riding backwards a lot I would follow John’s suggesting and tighten the pedals before and during the session.
That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing at this point, at least for one set of cranks and pedals. Maybe a dash of salt is all that’s needed.
No, but seriously, this is frustrating because with my learner uni and its cheap steel cranks, on the rare occasion that a pedal did loosen, I could just finger tighten it and keep riding, fixing the problem with a wrench when I got home.
I get where you’re coming from. If I was in your shoes I would use boiled linseed oil on my pedal threads, and let it do it’s thing. It is a lube, and thread locker. I use it as a spoke prep when I build wheels, and it seems like it would be good for this application as well. If I was going to use loctite I would go for the blue. It is plenty strong to resist pedal loosening as long as the pedals are secured well enough to begin with. Waiting for the steel to galvanize with the aluminum would probably not be practical.
Wow, there’s a lot to know about cranks once you give up steel! I just learned that aluminum cranks can’t be switched very often or they strip, even if you do everything right. One guy said he just leaves them on 'til they die. Is alloy any better this way?
Do you recommend boiled linseed oil over Loctite because it’s less toxic?
Both are good, but on fine threads the linseed oil works well, andit lubes the threads to aid in tightening. Blue loctite is a bit stronger, green even stronger, and red is for semi permanent application and only releases with heat.