Safety gear for beginners

Hi all,
New to all of this and wondered what safety gear people tend to use.
Do people tend to get unicycle specific gear or general stuff? For instance, I know you can get unicycle specific shin guards, but do people still use common football shin pads? Asking as i’ll be doing all of this on a budget to start with. Can always upgrade over time, just wanting to keep start up costs to a minimum.
Thoughts and suggestions welcome.
Cheers, mark

In order of importance I would suggest:

Wrist Guards


Shin Guards (particularly when learning to free mount)

If you get into Muni you may want to invest in good shin guards/knee guards. For casual riding on a small wheel I do not bother with protective gear. For fast road riding on a 36", I wear wrist guards, a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.

Some might argue that the most important protective gear is good padded bike shorts. :roll_eyes:


Using what you have is fine. You can use any shin/knee that you have. I also recommend wrist guards and a helmet.

I would use what you already have to begin with as it is cheaper than buying stuff. The most important safety gear in my opinion is wearing clothes- wear pants or shorts or trousers or something- trousers give slightly more shin gaurding qualities than shorts. Next most important is shoes, since when you fall off you will usually land on your feet. Try to avoid dangly laces if possible cos they can create their own hazard, tuck 'em in or get velcro or a drawstring system.

Next most common place to land would be the hands- so wear gloves or wristgaurds if you feel the need. Wristgaurds are more uncomfortable and stiff, but could save you a wrist injury. Gloves are easier to wear and can protect your skin.

Your butt is another place you might land, but I don’t know of many people wearing anything more than clothing to protect that. George Peck suggests stuffing newspaper down your back with some kitty litter but I prefer to land on my feet.

Due to the nature of gravity, unless you are doing extreme riding in extreme conditions, it is extremely unlikely you will land on your head, so a helmet could be worn if you think you will gravitate head first. I prefer not to wear a helmet since the sun shines every day and it can burn you, and it gets cold at night and you can get hypothermia, so a sunhat or a woolen hat is what I prefer to protect me from the elements.

When I started unicycling I went to Dick’s Sporting goods store and bought knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards. They came in a kit for $30. They worked perfectly. (They tend to smell pretty bad in the summer even if you wash them) Best investment I made except for my unicycle. I have been riding for about 6 months now and have discarded the elbow pads. When I started free mounting I bought a couple of shin guards.

Mike Adams

My opinion, as a currently stumbling beginner, in order of importance:

Helmet. I went several weeks thinking I’d never hit my head, then just a few days ago the uni just shot out form underneath me and WHAM, I was flat on my back. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I would have been seeing stars for days, or worse. that’s the only time I’ve hit my head, but that one time convinced me.

Gloves. Better yet, wrist protectors, like everyone else suggests. I have really big wrist protectors that are a PITA to put on, so they are on my “B” list of safety equipment - stuff I like to wear when I’m going for an extended practice or am feeling like I should push things. Gloves, however have proven to be a “must” for me and have protected my hands several times; I tend to nearly always land on my hands and feet.

Those two things I wont ride w/o. Everything else I will compromise on, depending on weather/personal attitude/etc., but I’ve paid the price and have gotten scratched knees, elbows, and banged shins, but nothing that hasn’t healed quickly.

This is what works for me, anyway.


I would recommend the first gear as safety gear.

Thanks for the comments everyone.
I still have some wrist guards from way back when I played street hockey, but they have seen better days. Any recommended ones in the uk?

It very much depends on what I’m trying to do.

If you ride on a road, take a cycling helmet. Not to protect you from falls, but to protect you from inattentive vehicle drivers. Better safe than sorry in this regard.

Most of the impact from my road UPDs, that happen while too fast to run them out, is absorbed by my hands. I don’t like wrist guards, because they let the hands glide, potentially allowing my face to hit the ground. I prefer biking gloves, just to protect the skin from abrasions. They should be full fingered, because if you catch the saddle during a UPD, without gloves, you might rip away a finger nail. Painful and messy.

If I go for speed I also use knee and elbow guards. I never felt a need for shin guards during a road ride.

For street/flat shin guards are most important. If you try new tricks, especially encompassing obstacles, I also wear a skateboard helmet and often back protection. At some point you’ll be sure to fall forward when something goes wrong, which is when this becomes a lot less important.

When I was learning freemounting with pinned pedals, I had a pair of shin guards stuffed down the BACK of my socks to protect my calves as well as a pair to protect the shins. Pedal bites on the calves can be deep and take a long time to heal as well. This was before I invested in a wrap-around leg guards.


I don’t understand your logic at all. If a car with an inattentive driver runs over your head, how is the helmet meant to help? The driver is not paying attention to your helmet. I think high visibility clothing may help but it is mostly up to you to keep yourself safe from cars, giving way and taking safe alternative routes where possible to avoid heavy traffic. Horns mounted to your handlebar are actually a good safety feature in traffic to get peoples attention easily, but is getting towards more advanced safety gear.

A helmet is more useful when you fall on your head of your own accord in my opinion. I was grateful of wearing one while I learned wheel walking, not because I landed on my head but because I felt like I might at any moment and the helmet provided the security of having taken a precaution.

Although wrist gaurds are good, not many people wear them. Just focus on landing on your feet. Unless your hands are so precious- I find my snowboarding wrist gaurds very restrictive and it takes away from my enjoyment of unicycling.

Why would I lie down on the road?

You’ve never been hit by a car, have you? This is not how it works.

I’m new to this and being old and stuborn have managed to learn to ride with minor damage. But as I’m now trying to hop over small obstacles my uni decided to bit me twice and then threw me to the ground and my knee was custioned by a sharp stone “OOOWWWW”. :angry: so this stuborn fellow is now the proud owner of some KH shin and knee protections, I feel a bit like Darkvaders apprentice but the only negative thing so far is the price off a good light sabre. :smiley: So now I’m equipped with leg protection, good leather work gloves and light airated cycling helmet. :slight_smile: It’s boosted my confidence to try things.

Maybe you would lie down on the road due to your kamikaze dive-bomb style riding, also your title is fallen rider- perhaps your brief lie-down is a fall.

Well duh of course I haven’t been hit by a car or I couldn’t speculate about it. I’m not planning on being hit by a car any time soon, which is why I keep riding safely without a helmet. Since you have been hit by a car and know how it works, please explain to the rest of us who haven’t. This guy seems to think helmets are not designed for impacts with cars, and he has been hit while biking.

Another safety mechanism for riding with traffic which is far superior to wearing a helmet, is the light sabre look (life saver look). It is a technique used in cycling where you look over your shoulder first before doing a signal to move out into traffic, then look again after doing your signal for a last “life saver look” before moving out into the lane, just to check that things are still safe.

Had a quick look but couldn’t see what people were talking about when the mentioned back protection. It’s something I’ve never thought about. Do many of you guys use it?

On the helmet issue, I don’t plan to have accidents either but sometimes bad things happen. You don’t look or notice something, a car driver doesn’t look before pulling out in front of you (that’s happened to me biking). Nowadays helmets are cheap and I don’t think my noggin is :smiley:



It’s very simple actually. In a frontal hit your body is folded and your head slams onto the hood or into the window.

The purpose of the helmet is to break - so your head doesn’t.

The most dangerous places are where bike paths cross roads, drive ways and where the bike path ends. In this city (Karlsruhe) a lot of bike paths have been built as a matter of policy without regard for how well you can see and can be seen. You will note that those are low velocity areas (for the cars). This is of course not accidental, road construction is as vital to survival as vehicle design.

Skater helmets are designed completely different, with a plastic shell all around the styrodur. Their purpose is to protect you from impact on rails, stairs i.e. corners. And they reach far lower to protect the back of your head. I use both kinds of helmets for different kinds of riding.

Thanks for the info guys, i’ll have a look around for some stuff.
As a side note, I have been hit by a car. About 8 years ago whilst riding my bike home from work at about 4am. A taxi, obviously thinking there was no one about at that time, decided to go about 70mph in a 30 zone around a long bend. He was going to hit me side on as I crossed a road, which would have pushed my leg into the frame, so at the last second I jumped. Instead I hit the windscreen and went over the top, hitting my head on the way back down. The worst bit was shock with adrenaline. Anyway, as already stated, we dont plan for there things to happen, they just do sometimes. Im a pretty careful rider, but at his speed I just couldn’t get out of the way east enough.

Not arguing with what you’re saying (I don’t personally wear a helmet when on bicycles, unicycles, skis, snowboards or even my skwal) but his research is not very good. Maybe he’s still got concussion :slight_smile:

Bicycle helmets are covered (in europe) by EN1078, which is designed very much with common bicycle accidents in mind. There’s a separate standard for children’s helmets. People will tell you that Snell is a more stringent (and therefore a better) testing standard for bicycle helmets, but (similarly to Snell vs CE on motorcycle helmets) the requirement that a helmet be able to take multiple hard impacts means a Snell-tested helmet may well expose you to more chance of concussion in the more common case.

In any case, a helmet isn’t going to stop you being hit, it’s not going to save you in all conditions, nor is it a replacement for sensible behaviour. Investing in the “lifesaver” should be obligatory.

Oh, and your helmet needs to fit. Not just “go over your noggin and look good”, but actually fit. That means spending hours rather than minutes buying, and probably more rather than less money. If it doesn’t fit you properly, your helmet is as good as worthless, and can actually be more dangerous than riding without.

I totally agree here. I had to pay EUR 80 for my bicycle helmet (USD 110).

This. If you don’t trust the strength of your neck and your reflexes, wear a helmet. I relate having a strong neck to the 6 years of headbanging I did in metal bands through middle and high school. I’ve fallen flat on my back like the above above quote and some how have never hit my head. I imagine if I had, I could have done some serious damage with the force I’ve come down at.