..Searching for Jack Halpern?

Hi Jack, are you out there?

…actually, I’m looking for anybody who has ever built a 150 unicycle. or who currently has one. one-and-a-half wheel unicycle. http://www.unicycling.com/garage/multi.htm

…it’s just so awesome…

This may give some leads to track Jack down:

There’s an email address on the bottom of this page, or you can try reaching him through the (more current) CJK.org webisite. I haven’t been in touch with him for quite a few years now.

I did ride the 150, which he brought to the USA National Unicycle Meet in 1982. I had just learned how to ride a “2-wheeler” earlier that year, and was fascinated with how it was not too hard compared with one of those.

What little I know about building a 150:

  • Frame can be borrowed from an existing, manufactured 2-wheeler, or made your own way
  • Pedal position is important. You want to have your dominant foot down when the wheels are in contact.
  • Since I'm referencing the same picture you probably are, which is tiny (when is that guy going to update that site??), I can't see if the cranks are perpendicular to the "midline" of the half wheel, or at some angle
  • Ok, so I just went down into my photo album storage are in my "cave" and found the original. The crank is basically perpendicular to the split in the wheel
  • How do you make half a wheel? In the 80s you could buy these tire inserts that were basically not-super-heavy foam rubber replacements for an innertube and air. They weren't on the market long. I bought one, never used it. So figure out something solid to use inside the half-wheel, that isn't too heavy. Your half-tire keeps some of the tread from the discarded half, which is bolted to the dividing line on the wheel.
  • Otherwise, I think that half wheel was otherwise built like a normal unicycle wheel, with uni hub and half the spokes. The spoke pattern may have been modified around the half part. Then it was a strip of stiff steel across the flat part, with the tire bolted into it.

Before you attempt to ride a 150, I highly recommend you learn to ride a 2-wheeled unicycle comfortably, including idling on it. On the 150, riding can be pretty smooth once you get the hang of it, but in the beginning you’re going to want to make a slight pause while the wheels are touching, to make sure you have enough momentum to get past your coasting half-rotation. Or you can stop and idle!

Jack’s 150 wheel was very solidly built. I know this because, in 1984, he was bringing the “cut down” version of it to Unicon I (which was called the “Interntaional Unicycling Convention” then). Except he didn’t make it to Unicon I due to visa issues. His team of 20 Japanese riders did, however, and one employee of his who knew very little about unicycle conventions. Fun times! And his “Half-wheel” unicycle made it as well. It was the 150, but without the bottom wheel. Call it the 50 if you like.

It was not nearly as elegant as the 150, as you may imagine if you think about riding a wheel like that. Basically you have to give a little jump on each half-revolution. It’s a good work-out, but always the jump is with your feet in the same position. Which was with his left pedal. But I’m right-footed, so I didn’t ride it very well. My point was, however, that the wheel was strong enough to hold up to the abuse of hop-riding.

Good luck with your 150 project. If you manage to make one, I hope you can bring it to a uni convention that I can attend, so I can try one once again. It’s only been 36 years–hope I can still manage it!

omg… everything else aside, it’s almost as if you’re suggesting that riding a half-wheel is possible…

hi john!

Hi John!

…I can’t honestly say I knew what I was expecting when I posted that, but it wasn’t the response I got. -You- -are- -awesome- . You can’t imagine the sequence of thoughts that has raced through my head in the past 10 minutes. or maybe you can. This uni (150) has played peek-a-boo with me from the deepest recesses of my mind since… short-circuit… when I first came across this uni, probably from from the same site I referenced earlier, I just laughed. It’s pleasant to witness glimpses of the next universe, more colourful and lively and interesting than this one. …I’m not sure if when I posted that I actually… yes, I think I did. I did want to get or build one. Just for the sheer insanity of it. I’ve actually been referencing it on and off throughout the years as the symbol of the most ridiculously hard to ride uni I could think of… anyway. You have now very effectively converted a casually passing thought into a directive. Somehow, we will make this happen. no guarantees on timeline, I’ll be careful there. while we’re un-hinged, an even more ludicrous thought passed my mind while I was in the shower. if a 50 can be rid… why not an -inverted- 150? we’re in insanity land already…

I am. We’re unicyclists. Nothing is impossible, just expensive and/or time consuming.

But a half a wheel is not a smooth ride. It’s either jumpy (every revolution) or EXTREMELY bumpy (powering through the flat spot). The 150 turns that into a smooth ride, that most non-unicyclists would not appreciate as they wouldn’t understand what’s involved in riding it. A half wheel they get, but it just doesn’t look as nice, or graceful.

Like I mentioned on the Garage Page, Jack also “invented” what I dubbed the “No Cycle”; a unicycle with no wheel. What’s that? Take an average unicycle and remove the tire, tube, rim and spokes. Ride what’s left. As a unicyclist, I thought it was hilarious. Basically you’re walking one pedal at a time, in half-revolutions. Any non-unicyclist can do it.

Picture it. One pedal stays on the floor while you pull up on the seat and let the other pedal rotate around until it’s on the floor. Then repeat. Then you get silly with it:

  • Backwards: Do it backwards
  • Idling: One pedal stays on the floor; you go back and forth
  • Hopping: Apologise to the floor first; your flanges are going to leave marks!
  • One Foot Idling: You don't need that top foot to be on the pedal...
  • Stillstand; probably easiest to do on this uni than any other!
  • Spins: again, apologize to the floor...
  • Crankflips: even worse for the floor
  • One Foot: It's doable
  • Coasting: Sort of
  • It goes on and on. Unicyclists will think it's funny. Everyone else will walk away shaking their heads.

I disagree. Try a B.C. Wheel on for size; you’ll appreciate the challenge of that! Or if that’s too ordinary, how about a Half Ultimate Wheel? You might need toe clips or something… :smiley:
BTW, I’ve never seen or heard of one of those.

Totally doable, but even less fun than the 50 due to the extra weight. Plus you’re going to want a good amount of friction between the tires, to catch you when you don’t land well. I’m pretty sure you would have to jump; there won’t be any powering through the flat spot on that setup… :sunglasses:

I found him @cjki.org, 2½ year ago, when I traced his unicycle which left the office of the Google founders.

Could/should we credit him “pre-inventing” crankflips?

He probably would, but I’d be a no on that. While thinking up a trick should have some sort of value, actually doing it should get the credit.

But he should definitely be credited for the 150; I never heard of any other examples. The Half-Cycle and No-Cycle probably have predecessors from the vaudeville days, though the No-Cycle is so silly I don’t think any Vaudvillians would have gotten any “mileage” out of using one in a show. :slight_smile:

“Coasting: Sort of” -ok, I got this far before the laughter just spilled out of me, uncontainable…

Originally Posted by mikethe1wheelnut View Post
I’ve actually been referencing it on and off throughout the years as the symbol of the most ridiculously hard to ride uni I could think of…
I disagree. Try a B.C. Wheel on for size; you’ll appreciate the challenge of that! Or if that’s too ordinary, how about a Half Ultimate Wheel? You might need toe clips or something… "

-oh, the pain… a half ultimate wheel with toe-clips? ow… ow…

a bc wheel, I have. first time I tried one, I flipped out, put on all the safety equipment I had. wrist and elbow pads, helmet, I think I even had on shin guards. it’s on the first buuc video. took it all off half an hour later… I’m actually inventing (soon to actually build) a… bc-uni hybrid. foot pedals attached mid-way up the fork. no more being jabbed in the foot by the axle bolt on mounting, no more having your leg rubbed raw by the wheel. extra height for the stilts effect, not as insanely impossible and frustrating as mounting directly into a stand-up coast. and don’t tell me to do it as a transition from ordinary rolling… maybe if I’m in a facility with a harness… or maybe I’m just being a wainker and you could shame or inspire me into trying it at a unicon…

I’ve been held back, lacking the proper experience to imagine these things. I had started to convince myself that for the 150, you could do your half revolution, then do the next half revolution really fast before loosing control, getting back in control. this, of course, once you’ve mastered the 200. the inverted 150… no such luxury. you’re in coast mode half the time, like it or not. I was going to suggest that you’d need a chain on the thing or it was absolutely unrealistic, a figure-8 chain, to be specific, to keep the spirit of the 200, but now realize that we’re talking about a glorified giraffe with extra weight that you have to hop… nope, not what we’re going for. …and now you’re talking casually about issues related to powering through the “flat spot”. groan. :wink:

hi, just getting back to this now, I got so side-tracked by john foss’s post. I suddenly feel shy… tracking down the inventor of an amazing unicycle is one thing… tracking down one of the founders and powerhouses behind unicon is another. wow.