Savage 5' Giraffe with United Seat

Since I just went through the process of buying a 5 foot Savage unicycle, I thought I would share my experience. I am a relative newbie to unicycling and I don’t have much technical knowledge about unicycles. I don’t tear them apart for fun, nor do I know the correct terminology for the parts. Still, some advice is better than none. Hopefully, people with more unicycling expertise will add to this thread so the next person looking to buy a giraffe won’t be working in the total dark like I was.

The FAQ at http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/faq.html has very little advice about giraffes and is out of date. It has nothing on CyclePro, Savage, or Braun giraffes. A good review of giraffes would be helpful (hint, hint!).

First of all I posted to rec.sport.unicycling asking for advice:


I need some advice on on buying a 5’ giraffe.

After 2 months of fooling around with a 20" Torker, I am taken with the notion of riding a taller beast. However, I noticed that most giraffes are more expensive than the loose change I can find between the cushions of my couch.

As an impecunious grad student, I really don’t want to pay US$400 to $500 for something which is going to be my next big “toy”. Not that toys are bad, but I can’t justify spending that much money on something which is just a good study break.

After a search on the internet, I have found three giraffes within my budget:

-------Option 1-------------
Agee’s Bikes offers a CyclePro Action 20" with 5’ Chain Drive Unicycle @ $149.99 + $19.00 Shipping to continental US

picture: http://www.ageebike.com/unicycle.htm

No information is given about the uni, but it looks to be cheap construction, judging from the picture.

--------Option 2------------
BRAUN Giraffe 5-foot Unicycle costing US$152.39

Description:
“This 5 Foot high Giraffe unicycle is a blast to ride. Its direct chain drive cranks give you a good feel and control – But don’t forget your step-ladder. Equipped with a 20 inch wheel and a chrome-plated Hi-Tensile Steel frame with a good quality padded seat. The Braun Giraffe is HIGH on value (and we mean High) and long on fun.”

Picture: http://www.brauns.com/gc/gc_item.ex...f&R=H%2FCatalog %3ABike%20Stuff%3AUnicycles%3ATall&ID=1226135731208171519575

-----Option 3-----------
Savage 5-foot Chain-Driven Unicycle - Standard Model
Price: $149.00

http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/sh...at=Giraffes+( TALL%29

Of the three giraffes which I found, I am inclined to buy the Savage Giraffe, but several of the reviews at unicycle.com say that the normal Savage 20" is not very sturdy. Past posts on this new group have also not been very flattering when describing Savage giraffes. Is the Savage 5’ giraffe made of better construction than the Savage 20"?

Has anyone out there ever used a Braun unicycle? Are they any good? Are they sturdy?

Does anyone know of some other unicycle options in the cheap range (available in the US or Canada)? I looked on ebay and didn’t find anything.

Any advice would be very helpful. Thank you very much.
–Amos
(Continue on to the next reply to see the rest)

Savage 5’ foot(Continued)

To my request for advice, I received the following replies on rec.sport.unicycling:


john_childs replied:

The standard Savage giraffe for $149 has the evil Savage saddle.
<http://www.unicycle.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=88>
Spend $10 or $20 more for an upgraded saddle and you’ve got a fine giraffe unicycle. Get it with the Savage saddle and you’ve got an instrument of torture.

I haven’t ridden or looked closely at a Savage giraffe so I can’t comment on its construction or durability.

harper replied:

I have seen Savage giraffes and they look OK from a construction standpoint. Someone recently complained that they bought a used one from e-bay that had a bent frame. The only thing unacceptable about Savage is their saddle which is trash and must be dowsed with gasoline and burned immediately.

I have not seen the other two makes and know nothing about them. The Agee Cycle pictured looks sturdy but heavy and is made from large diameter steel tubing. That’s OK, giraffes are usually heavy rascals anyway.

I would add some complication to your search. Get a six foot giraffe. The five foot will not seem that tall for that long and a six foot giraffe is not much more expensive than the five foot. They are more difficult to freemount but, hey, what do you expect.

-Greg Harper

ratherbekayaking replied:

I was that guy who bought a 6 foot Savage giraffe on ebay. But the one I bought was new, not used. It came “pre-bent”, or actually the top half of the frame (the part between the pedals and the seat post) was welded not-so-perfectly straight up and down. So the seat was only a 1/2 inch off center to the side but that made it want to continually turn to the left. Then after I over fixed it, to the right, but not as much.

I would recommend finding a local dealer. You can find a list for your state on Unicycle.com. That way if you have a problem with the thing not being perfect you can exchange. Just a suggestion. It might cost a couple dozen dollars more for the same item, but it may be worth it. I don’t know if my problem was a one-in-a-million (I doubt they made that many though) fluke or el-cheap-o quality control at the savage factory.

As far as the savage seat goes, I don’t know the difference so to me it’s fine. But in 3 days the new Kris Holm seat for my Torker will be here. I expect that a day or two after I will know the difference and the savage seat will be: “dowsed with gasoline and burned immediately.” I’ll take pics and share them here.


Memphis Mud replied:

I bought the Savage 5’. Having a blast.

UPGRADE THE SEAT!!! “Torture” is accurate.

I went with the Savage seat because I figured I’d tear it up learning. Not the case. I canabalized a Miyata seat from a different Uni…muuuuuuch nicer.

Wheels replied:

I have a 5’ giraffe from unicycle.com. It is also a savage . I enjoy it. The only problem I had was that the weld on the bottom sproket came unwelded. Well easy fix I just had a friend weld it with a Mig welder. WIRE FEED that is. And off again I was on the UNI.

Savage 5 foot (continued)

After reading all these comments, I found my self very skeptical about the quality of the Savage 5 foot unicycle. At www.unicycle.com, several reviews of the normal Savage unicycle commented that the frame was not very sturdy, although the reviewers of the Savage 5 foot were a little more complementary.

I could not find many options for giraffes. On the cheap end, the options are a CyclePro, Savage, or Braun. For an expensive giraffe, there is Semcycle ($450), Miyata ($395), or a Tom Miller Unicycle Factory special. Since the expensive unicyles were out of my budget, I concentrated on the cheap options. I couldn’t find out anything about the Braun unicycle. My guess is that it is a Tiawanese uni with a Braun sticker on on it. Agees would not give me any information about the CyclePro except that it has cotterless cranks and 5 3/4 inches of adjustment on the seat post. I saw a CyclePro giraffe in a bike store years ago. It did not look particularly sturdy, although I didn’t know what to look for in sturdy construction. I suspect that Savage unicycles are better, if only because unicycle.com and the juggling and yoyoing online stores sell Savages rather than CyclePros. Maybe Savage has better marketing, but it is likely that these people have choosen out the best cheap giraffe to sell. I rode a Savage giraffe several years ago. I recall the horrible seat. The short 7 inch seat post made the Savage impossible to ride. Seven years ago, a good friend of mine bought a Tom Miller giraffe for around $300. The unicycle weighed a ton and was not particularly graceful. It was built with clunky square tubing. But that unicycle was was the strongest thing I have ever seen on wheels. It was built for strength and used all quality parts. My friend weighed over 200lbs and dropped it hard many a time.

Finally I found a Savage 5’ unicycle with a Unitas seat and a 400mm seat post for $138.95 (free shipping included) at www.acesales.net/Unicycles.html (tel: 1-903-794-7481) The same uni would have cost $173.20 (including shipping) from unicycle.com. I decided to buy the Savage from Ace.

My new giraffe arrived within 2 days. Upon assembly, I noticed that the teethed wheel for the chain by the pedals was bent about 30 degrees. It looked like the sort of thing that could have happened when crushed during shipping. I took an adjustable crescent wrench and bent it back so it was reasonably straight again. I was shocked by how easily I was able to bend the metal. A hard fall in the the right place could definitely bend it again. Cheap bikes in Walmart have stronger teethed wheels for the chains. Very cheap in my opinion.

The bolts to hold the forks of the frame to the wheel were not threaded straight so they tightened at a wobbling angle. I had to go and buy new bolts. I was surprised that the bolts didn’t have washers to help secure the forks to the wheel. Even after riding the unicycle, I am still scared that the forks will slip down on th wheel and the chain come loose. I was also irritated to discover that one of the plastic caps covering the end of the bolt holding up the forks was missing.

Finally I noticed that the forks are not welded exactly even. One fork is a mm or two in front of the other fork. Even worse was the fact that the tongues at the end of the forks (which fit over the wheel bolts) were bent at different angles. Again I had to bend them straight.

I should have sent the unicycle back, but instead I put it together and started riding it. It rides OK, although I find that I am twisting my torso slightly when I ride. I’m not sure if the unicycle is the problem, or I am just a bad rider.

I don’t like the United seat. I feel like I am always on the verge of sliding off the front of the of the seat. Also the seat is hard to grab and hold onto when falling. Also, one of the screws on the United seat won’t tighten. Consequently, the plastic bumper on the back of the seat is a little loose. I eventually put on a Torker seat which is smaller, but doesn’t feel like it will slip out from under you.

Despite all the problems, I love riding my Savage. It is a thrill. Nonetheless, I wonder if there is another giraffe out there that is sturdier and constructed with better quality control at the factory. Based on the comments of other people, I don’t think I am the only person out there that has received a shoddy Savage giraffe. Is there another option we should be buying instead. Is the Braun or CyclePro better? Is there another option out there?

–cycle on, Amos Batto

why get a 5 footer that is at eye level when you can get a 6 foot that people look up to and are dumbfound when looking at it. The only real reason I see for a girraffe is to use in preformances. The extra foot adds a big difference to the average crowd.

Chex

Re: Savage 5 foot (continued)

Your “torso twisting” thing sound familier… My 6-foot Savage giraffe rode that way because my seat wasn’t 100% centered over the wheel, it was off to one side.

If you sit straight, hands at your side, do you find that you have to twist to one side, the same side, every time just to keep riding straight? I did. My body had to behave as if I was riding a constant turn to one side just to go straight.

I took the seat off to get a better view of the “Line” on my frame. I would look down the frame toward the wheel, kind of like when you are buying lumber and you hold one end of the 2x4 to your eye and look down the piece to make sure it’s perfectly straight, not like a ski… Yeah, that’s what I did with the giraffe.

I lined up the center of the tire, with the little hole in the center of the cross beam above the tire, then to to the center of the frame where the pedals connect, and low and behold, I discovered the top the frame where the seat post hole is (closest so my eye), it was off to one side. The farme piece it’s self was perfectly straight, but had been welded on at a slight angle. Not by much, only about 1/2 inch at most, but enough to be bad bad bad. I would be curious if you have this same problem.

I was able to “mostly” correct the problem with the use of a vise. and my weight. It’s not pretty, it’s not sellable, but it is ridable and I whip it around the block a couple times every week or so, just because it’s so darn much fun.

One thing is for sure, it can’t be hurt anymore. I’m thinking about taking it to Moab to be used, abused and Muni’d a bit, fun to be had by one and all. That way anyone who has ever wanted to try muni on a giraffe won’t have to worry about breaking theirs. :wink:
Not an off road tire, but the rock should be smooth enough as long as it’s not steep, right? Right!

but I digress…

Yep, the Savage is cheap both in price and quality, but fun. Let me know if you had the same problem as I did. It sounds like it.

Ed Hansen

As far as I can tell, the seat is centered over the wheel. Since I have used both a Torker and a United Seat on the Savage giraffe, I can eliminate the seat as the problem.

I decided to buy a 5 foot giraffe, because I thought it would be a lot easier to free mount than a 6 footer. Since I only seen someone free mount a giraffe once five years ago, I assumed that learning to free mount would be very difficult. The first week proved very frustrating. I kept jumping up on the thing only to come crashing down. Pretty soon I started yelling “timber” because I knew I was coming down and coming down hard. I was trying to put the right foot on the wheel, the left on the lower pedal, then pull the right foot onto the other pedal. Equalize the pedals and finally put my butt on the seat amd start pedaling. As you can guess, I never even got to the pedaling part. Each time I tried, I looked like a flailing octopus for a few brief seconds before I yelled timber and crashed down. Soon, my aching ankle and knee joints refused to keep playing this game. I thought I would never learn to free mount, until I ran into Steve Ragatz at the Indiana U juggling club. (Steve owns a variety of giraffes including an 8 foot Tom Miller special with a step attached to a break on the wheel so it can be free mounted.) Steve took one look at my flailing octopus act and attempted to set me straight. He advised that I needed to go straight up with my back straight when I free mount. Steve stressed that it is easier to balance when the torso is straight and tall. Flailing octopus acts don’t work! He told me to set the right foot on the wheel, then left foot on the lower pedal, then go straight up to put the butt on the seat. Only when situated on the seat, put the right foot on the other pedal and start pedaling. Steve also told me that it is easier to free mount be stepping straight on the lower pedal and skipping the wheel step all together. This trick only works for tall people, but I’m 6 feet tall so I can step directly onto that first pedal.

Today I tried out Steve’s advice. Indiana has just gone through a nasty cold spell with temperatures reaching -6 F, so I have been chafing at the bit to ride my uni again. Finally today the temperature reached 40 F, and I intrepidly ventured forth despite the patches of snow and ice covering the pavement. Steve was right! After a few painful falls, I finally mastered the free mount by skipping the wheel step. Put the left foot on the lower pedal, then step straight up onto the seat. I found that my butt hits the seat at the same time as my right foot hits the higher pedal, but I had to concentrate on landing on the seat and not on the right pedal. I also discovered that it is dangerous to land on a Torker seat. The Torker seat is small, too small and the front end is tad too pointy. I landed on the front of the seat in such a way as to loose all interest in the opposite sex. Grabbing one’s groin and moaning in public as a crowd gathers is not exactly a pleasant experience. Afterwards I switched to a United seat which feels hard as a rock, but is less dangerous because the front of the seat is wider and longer. The United seat isn’t very cushy but it doesn’t emasculate you either! Now I know why unicyclists are willing to pay 100 bucks for a Chris Holm seat. The seat can be the difference between life and sex!

I originally bought a unicycle because I wanted to be able to unicyle while passing clubs. Well, I have never figured out how to idle and juggle at the same time, but I am having a ball nonetheless with just unicycling. There are so many silly things to try out on a unicycle-like riding to class on streets covered in ice! I soon found that that one 20 inch unicycle was not enough. Now that I have learned to ride a 5 footer, now I want a 6 footer! And once I ride that, I am sure I’ll want an 8 footer, then …and then a 10 footer… then … hey, What’s the world record for the tallest unicycle? Man, this hobby is addictive. It’s a good thing I’m a grad student with no loose change rattling around the cushions of my couch. I am restrained from buying that $1000 Chris Holm muni, because it would cost 4 months of rent. How do people with normal jobs restrain themselves? There are just too many toys in the world!
–Amos

My friend savage giraffe came with bmx lollipop style chain tensioners on it so the wheel cannot slide up into the dropouts.
-Isaac

being able to free mount something when you fall off is a hell of a lot cooler. much easier to get down with a 5 footer.

Just wanted to share my thoughts about my Savage giraffe after owning it for over a year. So far I have ridden it quite a bit, including down 6¨ curbs. It has survived lots of falls on the pavement. The only damage has been cracked plastic bumper bars on the seat. All in all, I am fairly pleased with it so far. It has held up much better than I expected.

Now that the Torker giraffe has come out, however, I am not sure that I would recommend buying the Savage giraffe. Although Savage’s chromed frame will probably show less scratches than Torker’s painted frame.

My Savage 6’ has a problem. When too much pressure is applied to pedaling the lower sprocket loses grip and that is an almost certain unplanned dismount.

Any suggestions?