Round The World on 1 wheel -- why not??

Hello unicyclists & anyone seeking to turn their into dreams reality!

I’m Jai, Some of you might remember me from my unicycle circumnavigation of Ireland back in 2011 (one wheel one island) … Im a keen outdoorsman & unicyclist, and love connecting with the earth & like minded people.

[B]This spring I am going to spontaniously get up and go… on my 29" KH and a rucksack on my back!

I hope to complete the worlds first circumnavigation on One Wheel[/B], although this is only one objective, not the main aim of the trip. I would like to experience cultures & meet great people, showing others as I pedal every rotation of my wheel around the world, that anything is possible.

Building Earth Ovens is also a passion and a skill I love to share… I’ve seen few smiles bigger than when working with mud, its great stuff!
Im also keen to learn structural cob building and am extremely interested in traditional techniques & histories.

Route - Im an over thinker so i’d like to challenge myself to see where the road takes me! Though for Europe I have a rough plan in mind as my dad will be joining me on my touring bicycle & trailer, for the start of his spiritual journey visiting Babaji Ashrams.
Netherlands - Germany - Czech Rep - Austria - Slovenia
on EU cycle routes 2 - 7 - 4 - 9
Does anyone have experience of these routes? Please share!
After Slovenia it will literally be an East or West decision at the time!!

Distances / Realistically -
Ive done abot 2500 miles on my Unicycle so far (, not much in the grand scheme of the world (min 18k RTW officially)!
So I am aware of the tall order I am setting myself, especially self supported, camping & very little money!
Im looking to cover 20-30 miles a day on my KH29er, and rest up wherever needed. Couchsurfing, WWOOFing, and camping along the way.

Are there any long distance riders from Europe / Far East on here who could give advice on road conditions and suitability to 29 /36". I have KH both, and would like to ride the 36 due to speed & smoothness, which I think would be fine for Europe but I have my doubts about raods further East (having read a lot of cycle touring blogs!). I could get one sent out to me but ideally would like to use same Uni for the entire RTW.

I have no money put aside yet and although it sounds absolutely bonkers to most people, I know I’ve just got to get up and go, regardless. Hopefully I can pick up small jobs on the road…

Anyway enough rambling… Im sure you’re all getting pretty sceptical about the realisticness of my plans, but hey, we all ‘left our other wheels at home!’

If you’d like to join me for any of it or will be on the road anyway, get in touch. Unicycles optional, I like 2 wheelers too!

Please also comment any advice & tips if you’ve had experience of this kind of trip, the places I might end up, or have contacts that would like to meet a dreamer turning thoughts into things of reality.

Wow! Big goal, hope you can make it.

That seems like quite an adventure! For that big of a trip I think it would be best on a 36er, I don’t have experience with one but from what I can tell rough dirt roads shouldn’t be a problem.

A 36er is a bad choice for a self-supported world tour; you can’t get parts for it anywhere and it’s a pain to transport. 20-30 miles a day is no problem on a 29er.

Good luck with your planning, it’s an ambitious idea but would be the experience of a lifetime!

Thinking about this more from a bike touring perspective:

You’ll want your equipment to be as standard as it can be, because you may need to replace some of it way out in the middle of nowhere. That eliminates 36" and 24" wheels. You may want to consider a 26" wheel, because those tend to be more common in poor countries, so you’ll be able to get tires and tubes to fit.

But if you do a 29", I would go with a Velocity Dyad rim rather than the KH, because the Dyad will fit almost any 700c tire. The KH is too wide for most tires you’ll find on the road.

I would seriously consider going with square taper hub and cranks; ISIS will be harder to find outside of North America, Europe, and Japan. Unfortunately there are no really bomb-proof square-taper cranks around right now; I’d probably go for the steel United cranks if I chose square-taper. The alternative would be to go ISIS and get the KH Moments, and I’d recommend the 110mm/127mm dual-drill if you’re going with 26" or 29" wheel.

The uni parts which are hard to find in bike stores anywhere are seats, seat posts (unless they’re bicycle rail type), bearings, right crank arms (and any crank arms shorter than 170mm), and frames.

I’d go with a steel frame which you can get fixed anywhere there’s a welder. Similarly with a steel seat post (or a Thompson aluminum), probably bicycle-rail-type so you can replace it if it breaks. Think about a carbon fiber seat base or at least some sort of reinforcement plate. Bring an extra set of bearings, and maybe an extra set of cranks (although that’s a pretty big luggage penalty for a self-supported tour).

Good luck!

@Tholub, I have to disagree. Sure he’s going self supported but that doesn’t mean he can’t have something shipped to him in the case of mechanical failure. Go strong and light!

Have you tried to have something shipped to you in the Congo?

I see what you mean about the 26er but I think that would be a bit small for a world tour, unless you had gears.

Thanks for all the replies & advice folks, hopefully the good wishes will reach me on my travels and bring luck & good weather with them too!

Unicycle tips very much appreciated, although due to funds I am probably going to have to stick with the 29 or 36er, as there is a fare bunch of other lightweight kit im going to need to find before I go, i.e. ultralightweight camping, cycling & living kit… today is my first day weighing every item on electronic scales to see just how heavy the extensive outdoor kit is that I already have horded as an instructor.

Will definately look into the Dyad Rim though, thanks Tholub! It does make sense to be able to pick up new tyres & tubes in remote places, it wouldnt be fare to rely on family to ship things all over the world to me, neither I nor them can afford it!

I like the 29er as its so light & I can comfortably carry a loaded rucksack on it, whereas when I did Ireland on the 36 I had back problems (from a previous injury) due to the bag.
Main problem is I find the 29 so SLOW in comparrison… I guess im just a big wheel rider through and through! I have the 127 - 110 moments on at the moment (haha), but sadly I ruined the 110 hole when stupidly changing the pedals whilst on the phone, forcing the wrong pedal in there! spoken to a few people and re-tapping the thread wont be bomb proof so new cranks needed if I want to speed up…
Been considering a pair of 100 / 90’s… I can generally crank up nearly any hill (didnt walk a hill till 600 miles around Ireland, dont know if any of you have seen how hilly it is there!) so leverage isnt a worry, though maybe control should be for traffic in unknown cities.

I also had knee problems during my last trip (going to the docs on Thurs), dulled by frequent icing, normally with ice lollies! Again, not going to be an option throughout most of the world!
Therefor thinking that smaller cranks = less weight, faster speed & smaller cadence, meaning my knees will be doing less bending?!

Thanks for all the replies, keep them coming!

If your KH29 is geared, I think, it’s the perfect vehicle. If not, it still is better than 36", as with 36" you will get stuck when it comes to cross mountains (the alps for instance).

Then it’s almost impossible to find spare parts (tire, tube, spokes, …) for a 36" unicycle on the road. For 29" you can purchase these things at any bike shop.

How long (months, years, …) do you expect being on the road?

Shorter cranks does not mean lower cadence! But of course your movements become smaller. On the other hand, it increases the force impacting your knees.

Smaller cranks mean smaller movements for your knees, but as the crank arm is shorter you need to put more force on the pedal to push it. When I was trying to ride after my knee crash I found it much easier for my knee to ride on longer cranks. Still probably up to some length.

Up to your route. I was riding Eurovelo 6 from Vienna to Bratislava and partly from Bratislava to Budapest. First part was smooth, even road as is goes on the banks of Danube. It was boring on a bike :wink: The second part got some unexpected dead-ends where one has to go back on the nearby road just to find out that the route continues on the road. The roads are usually small, but this sometimes make them narrow, while the traffic is not always that small. But mostly they are quite calm.
I also travelled some local parts of Krakow-Vienna Greenways ( and I feel that our part is badly marked compared to Austria. Generally I think you need more gut feeling when you get more east.

…and Good Luck!

Hi Yeti & Vookash,

My mistake about cadence I was meaning smaller movements. I’l try to speak to a sports physio to find out the physics behind what is best for the knee. At the end of the day Im going to have to adapt my set up to make my knees last, else I’l not make it, no matter how much fast my average speed is by changing cranks.

Vookash - Your Romanian ride looks like a great challenge too, a shame I havent started earlier else I might have met you on the mountain pass!
If you dont mind me asking what was your Knee Crash?

Yeti - This is going to be a complete lifestyle change for me, at a max (average) of 150mpw and 25000 miles rtw, between 3-4 years. This is only an estimate though as I will hopefully be stopping and working with communities, building cob ovens, saving money for the next leg, avoiding serious winter weather etc.

If I had the time, I would join your adventure right away. Unfortunately I do not. And I will neither quit my job, nor abandon my family. If you pass nearby (I live in south-west Germany), I would appreciate riding with you for some days. And if you happen to ride through Wiesloch (that’s the place where I live), make sure to say hello. I am happy to offer you a meal and a bed.

Just simple small rock on my path stopped my wheel and I felt down and hit another small rock with my knee and it almost hit my bone under the knee. Nothing serious happened like being broken or something, but the hit was so strong that I still feel some results of that crash after more than one year.
So… wear some protection :wink:

Have you considered learning Esperanto before setting off?

There is a worldwide union of Esperantists who are willing to help eachother out in endeavours like this - free lodgings, meals and other assistance is usually available.

From a logistics point of view it makes sense and saves you having to deal with 20 or 30 different languages during the trip - just a thought :wink:

There is also some network for touring cyclists: Much smaller than CS, but it is possible to find somebody that has tools etc.

I’m really excited for you and wish you the best of luck in your travels.

However, I’ve got to admit I have mixed emotions about people’s announcements to undertake these kinds of adventures. You’re basically announcing that you plan to be homeless and live off other people for the next few years, given that you have no funding for your travel plans. As a taxpaying family supporter, I wonder who gets to pay for your health care when something goes wrong? (Answer: other tax payers, and not you).

Maybe consider getting a job and saving up some money to support yourself before you leave?

:thinking: Sounds to me like he’ll be making an effort to try and fund this himself.

The 29er does feel slow, but I think you’ll find it much more flexible in getting around when you have to take a rickshaw, punt, or camel to get to your next riding leg. Also, if your 36er tire fails in a remote area you could be off the yike for weeks.

I don’t know if 100/90 cranks will work, that might not be enough space between the two holes. 105/90 might be a good setup for touring on a 29er.

On your uni parts, I would focus on reliability over shaving ounces, especially for those components not commonly available for bikes. Also for any of your camping gear that you don’t think you’ll be able to find in a small developing-world city. You can cut the handle off your toothbrush but if you get an ultra-light tent and it falls apart in Outer Mongolia you won’t be in good shape.