Okay, I have taken a break from unicycling during this winter, but now i am getting back into it, WHAT THE HECK IS THIS GEARED UNI!! I’m looking at the website right now but i dont really understand, i have a few questions.
Whats the purpose, can it make a uni go faster? Or slower for that matter?
How does it shift?
Can you buy it yet?, if so how much? And is it just the hub, or a whole unicycle.
Mr. Schlumpf was here in town recently. He stopped by at one of our club practices, and gave a presentation at a bike shop. He makes several similar gearing systems for the front sprockets of bicycles in both mountain (geared down) and speed (geared up) versions, but the only uni version of his hub, as far as I know, is geared up for speed (a geared-down version for muni might be interesting). He had a complete 24" uni and a demonstrator unit mounted in a small fork on a board, with cutouts in the hub so you could see how it worked. The shifting mechanism involves a shaft which slides laterally within the hub, linking the cranks to the outer hub either directly or through the planetary gearing. You shift by simply pushing a button, actually the end of the shaft, which sticks out through the base of one crank or the other. Depending on how the hub’s innards are arranged at the instant that you shift, there can be up to (I think) about 60 degrees of crank play before the gearing is engaged. It is actually possible for one to do this while riding the uni, by kicking the shifter with the side of one’s heel. Meaning, it was possible for, say, Gilby, or some of our other uni gods to do; I didn’t attempt it myself. Schlumpf had some videos on his laptop of Kris Holm riding the thing; if I remember correctly, Kris shifted by going into a wheel-walk and dropping one foot down to shift. Show-off.
I rode the thing only briefly, taking a few spins around the gym in high gear. It felt pretty tight to me, with only the slightest bit of backlash in the gears, sort of like what you get riding a nice giraffe. It’s an odd ride in high gear, as fast as a Coker but with a much different feel. You get extra quickness in turning with the smaller wheel, but give up the bump-smoothing qualities of the massive Coker.
For the gearing to work, the hub needs to be anchored to the frame, rather in the manner of a bicycle coaster-brake. Schlumpf does this with a lever arm attached by a bolt through a hole drilled in the fork. He told me that the difficulty of doing this in a universally compatible sort of way means that he will be, at least initially, selling only complete unicycles and not the hub separately.
The durability of the mechanism will be determined with time and usage. It is definitely a beautiful piece of machinery though. If you were able to shift on the fly, this thing would reign as the coolest uni available on this planet. I’m thinking that the ideal thing on a long-distance road tour might actually be the opposite setup - a coker wheel with a reduction gear for climbing hills.