Shoulder protection

When I ride a fast unicycle such as a geared 36", the fear of falling is always in the back of my mind. My speed is limited more by that fear than by what I can physically muster. Having protection helps, so I ride with helmet, knee pads, gloves, and elbow pads. I don’t fall often, and if I do (at a speed too high to run out), I usually do a shoulder roll and come off reasonably unscathed. But sometimes I crash without having it seen coming, and in such cases I don’t have enough time to get into a proper roll. Twice in the last half year, I bumped my shoulder on the pavement. Painful for at least a few days, and complete healing may take months. (That’s the age thing, folks.)

After all this introduction, now to the solution, hopefully. I went to a big motorbike store and bought a pair of shoulder pads. The first two pictures show the inside and outside of one. Using thin cotton from an old bed sheet, I sewed two pockets on each side on the inside of a regular cycling shirt. I put the pad first in the bottom pocket, and then fiddle to get it in the top pocket as well. Initially I wanted to use velcro to close it, but a safety pin works just as well, and since the padding is soft on the inside, you don’t feel it anyways. See pic 3. The finished product looks like in the 4th picture.

I realise that these pads won’t do much to prevent clavicle failure (which is probably the biggest risk of falling on your shoulder). But then again I never broke any bone. I’m sure though they would help against non-bone-failure pain. Unfortunately (or is it?), I haven’t crashed while using these pads, at least not so fast that I needed to roll out. Still I can say they’ve helped me, because they give me more confidence to ride fast.

Any comments?





Lose the safety pin! There’s nothing like getting stabbed with a dull pin in the shoulder to spoil an otherwise nice UPD!
Aside from that, it looks good and should offer protection from the scrapes and burns of a nasty spill.


It looks good. I know falling off and not being able to run it out is one reason I have yet to top out on my 36er. I would concur that using velcro would e better than the pin. Although, I must ask, are the 80’s coming back with the shoulder pads? :smiley:

Yes. That fear is also on my mind when I ride fast. It may look silly, but since I hurt my shoulder last time, about 6 weeks ago, I wear a full protection jacket on my geared uni.
Bill you possibly saw me at the Düsseldorf Marathon:

Initially I expected that it would get very hot inside, but it is not as bad as I thought.

And I can also use it for downhill.


Nice job with implementing the idea. About the safety pin vs. velcro: I wouldn’t be too worried about the safety pin coming undone in a crash, but it might happen. I would be worried about the hard edges of velcro strips irritating my shoulders, and about exposed hooks or loops of the velcro poking and rubbing against my skin (I’ve had some hard velcro loops pierce my skin–ouch!).

Why not just use neither? The way you’ve constructed the pockets make it seem like you don’t need a fastener, especially since (I imagine) you’re not moving your arms about all the time. It’s hard to see how the pads would come out. But maybe you’ve already tested the setup without fasteners, and found the need for them as a result.

I wondered about the heat with those jackets. You do look like a storm trooper, Hugo (from Star Wars)–bringing even more of the eighties back than shoulder pads alone! It may look funny, but I wouldn’t mess with you unless I had a light saber. :stuck_out_tongue: Klaas Bil’s setup, though not as protective, is surprisingly inconspicuous!

I think I’d be even more confident in a full schutzhund suit and full-face helmet. But a schutzhund suit would probably be a bit cumbersome. Perhaps a new unicycling sport is in the making: schutzhund on unicycles. On second thought…

OT: BTW, what’s that thing on the top of your helmet? A microwave to keep your brain warm (a mobile phone):D? Or a camera?

Hmm, that looks more like circus :stuck_out_tongue: :astonished: And as you said: Don’t mess with me! :smiley:

Yes I saw you but we didn’t really meet, and only now on the picture I notice that it is a full protection jacket. Cool.

I have thought about these as well, but the thought of all that heat put me off. If you’ve only used it in the last 6 weeks, wait till it’s really summer. Or just normal temperatures for the time of the year :slight_smile:

Hey, I should try that. I’ve looked at how they are ‘mounted’ in motorbike suits. They have pockets with velcro or thin zippers, so it never occurred to me to have them without anything. The pockets that I made are not as snug a fit as they could possibly be, but like you say, there’s not much action to work the pads out of those pockets in the first place. Thanks for the suggestion.

It’s a GPS, an older model (eTrex Vista) that needs a rather clear view of the sky in order to track my speed etc. But, like you, over 90% of the people I encounter while using this, think it is either a camera or a mobile phone - or at least that’s what they say/ask.

I use the same jacket as hugo for downhill as well as for distance riding. You really don’t have to wear anything else besides it and you still do not look naked. Because of the mesh material I think it is quite well ventilated. If it really gets too hot you can detach the back protection and the ellbow and forearm protection with a zip.

Can any one of you suggest a website for details/prices/etc?

I bought mine here: sells them too

I bought mine at And I did use it at temperatures above 20° C when we had some nice weather 3 or 4 weeks ago - it was still OK.

For the record: today I rode 32 km (20 mi) without fasteners and the protector pads stayed perfectly in place.

Paradoxically, I’ve added safety by removing safety pins.

I’m happy to hear it. Now let’s just hope you don’t have to find out whether they’d stay in place during a crash! :wink:

And the pads make your shoulders look burly and muscular! :smiley:

Point of order: Star Wars would be 70s. 1977 for the movie, '75 or so for the Stormtrooper design.