So there I was riding my giraffe...


Right now I am a level one rider but I can idle very well and ride backwards a little. I’ve avoided hopping and riding off curbs because I have Torker CX uni’s that I don’t want to tear up. (A Nimbus Trials uni will arrive as my Christmas present.)

So there I was riding my giraffe for the 2nd time. I was at a school parking lot and getting much more confident. I idled successfully and took John Foss’s advice to practice dismounting in different directions. So then I felt saucy and set the goal of riding around the school building. To do so meant I first had to navigate a less than perfect approach onto a sidewalk. Then I had to duck and ride under some tree limbs. Never had to do that before! I got past the limbs only to find myself headed off of the curb! Probably wouldn’t be a big deal if I had experience riding off curbs but I don’t and hear I am on my giraffe. So I gave it my best shot (I had no choice) and, you guessed it, did not succeed.

Fortunately the fall was uneventfull but what a moment… It was a classic “Oh Crap!” moment where you see it coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. I did have a glimmer of hope I could ride it out so that kind of added to the excitement.

This reminded me of a great story from John Foss:

"One of my scariest unicycling experiences was on perhaps my second ride on a 12-footer. This was at the USA convention in 1983. I’d ridden it once, and decided to get on it for the parade competition. All the unicycle clubs rode around this indoor field house at the same time. So I’m up there with three clubs, feeling all cool & tall. Until I dropped one. As it fell I thought “Wouldn’t it suck if it lands right in front of the wheel?” Which of course it did. I had about two seconds to make a decision. Not enough room to idle or back up, it was a choice between a dismount (to a rubberized but very flat floor) or try to power over the club. I grabbed the seat and pedaled hard… and bumped over the club! Followed by an adrenaline rush that felt like my head would explode. No more clubs on tall-tall unicycles… "

Man, I wish I had a giraffe unicycle. Probably going to be my next unicycle purchase.
Glad to hear you didn’t get hurt, but I would think even that small curb seemed like a big drop for one so new to giraffes. I’ve rode a few of them here and there, but only on flat surfaces.


I’m surprised that of the over 20 thousand members here, that there are so few postings about giraffe riding. To me riding the giraffe is my favorite type of riding. I like the vantage point from that high up, on my 6’ giraffe (from the Unicycle Factory in ‘91) my eye level is approx 9’ I suppose. I added Profile racing cranks, a Nimbus seat, and recently had Crank Brothers clipless pedals for awhile. The clipless pedals were great, but when I had a upd due to a “headphones in the trees” issue I decided they were too risky. It was fun for awhile though, knowing my feet would stay right where I wanted them, plus the added torque from that pedal connection.
Anyway, I ride my giraffe off curbs, down small sets of stairs, and always try to climb any hill in my way (it doesn’t always work, the hills around here can be pretty formidable). I’m looking forward to learning more tricks on it as well as my 20" muni, but I’m really hoping to get a 36" soon so I can travel much longer distances. My longest trip on my 6’ (with 20" wheel) is about 20 miles, and that was a killer.
I started riding about 30 years ago on a small Schwinn, but have only been riding the giraffe for the past 18 years off and on. I look forward to conversing with all you other unicyclists and hopefully making it one of the conventions next year. :sunglasses:

Coretechs - Yes, when I saw the curb I knew I would be crashing soon. What fun it is though. I loved it immediately but really got excited when I could idle on it. You should get a giraffe. So far I’ve been having a blast. If you decide to buy one, be aware of the risks of track hubs.

TheRhino - I agree about the relative lack of giraffe posts. I view unicycling as a wacky thing to do. Therefore giraffes are the ultimate wacky unicycle to ride. It’s cool to hear about your Tom Miller giraffe. I live 30 minutes away from him and just met him recently. He commented with pride that his giraffe’s would last a long time. How’s yours holding up? You rode 20 miles on your 20" wheeled giraffe?!? Very impressive - and insane! I’d like to hear more about that.

Ditto - I don’t do tricks so maybe there is little reason to have a giraffe. But I too find it fun.

It is also easier, when riding in Parades and charity things, to use the tall one as the speed ofa pageant is far below the comfotable speed of a uni. So I more easily go slow, plus I can more easily navigate through the spaces in our group, circle other grouips and avoid collisions with errant kids cutting across the parade and do figure eights.

Mouning can be pretty hasty though with a drum and pipe band following. LOL.

Yeah, definitely. I’ve been thinking about getting a Torker TX just to ride occasionally. I don’t think I’ll be doing a whole lot of riding with it (at least that’s what I think now). I’m more of a distance and trials rider, but if I got into doing some giraffe stuff, I might consider getting a more sturdy one (one that wont bend to one side) after a while.

The only thing that’s holding me back from getting another unicycle right now is money… College makes you not be able to have so much of that.

Giraffe stories…

Hey let’s keep this going, let’s hear everyone’s giraffe stories, I know there has got to be a lot of giraffe stories out there!

SuperG - My 6’ from The Unicycle Factory (TUF?) is holding up great. It just had it’s 18th birthday and no problems. I replaced the cranks just because I wanted to upgrade it, same goes for the seat. I’ve been thinking that it would be nice to have a little larger wheel on it, maybe a 24", but to accomplish that I would have to do some cutting and welding on it. Maybe there is a reason that I have only seen 20" wheels on giraffes?

When I used to live in Cape Coral, Florida, I used to ride all over Ft Myers Beach, Sanibel, and Cape Coral. There are a lot of bridges in those areas and I made it a point to cross all of them. The Sanibel causeway has three bridges in a row that lead out to the island, and when they opened it up to bicycle traffic I knew that meant unicycles too (I didn’t want to risk being stopped for doing it, so I just did it). Sometimes it’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.

So I paid my 3$ toll in my Tundra, after waiting through three miles of bumper to bumper toll traffic, then had a friend take the wheel so I could hop out with my 6’ and be the first to cross those bridges…
The sea was angry that day my friends, and I could feel the cross-winds trying to defeat me before little progress was made over the terra firma. There was very little shoulder, no sidewalk, and to make matters worse, there were drain holes in the road across each bridge that conspired to try and force my wheel into the concrete embankment along my path. If I fell to the left, I would land directly on or in front of speeding cars (which were numerous), a fall to the right would put me over the low concrete railing into the boat traffic below.
I climbed towards the apex of the first bridge, cognizant of the large draw bridge span that could signal it’s intention to lift at any time. Luckily for me, extended idling would not be necessary at this juncture, so I smiled at the amused lift operator as I continued on my epic journey with the sounds of Def Leppard rocking in my brain.
It’s almost a three mile journey from the start of the first bridge to the end of the third, and by the time I reached the island itself, I was ready for a break. As it turns out, a break was mandatory, because a Lee County Sheriff’s Officer approached behind my bright blue giraffe and signaled me off the road.
After the usual introductions, he blurted out, “What the hell do you think you’re doing!?”
I replied, “I wanted to be the first to cross the causeway on a unicyle, and by the look on your face, maybe I’ll be the last.”
“You know, I ride bikes myself, and I’m concerned that your antics will cause them to prohibit cycling traffic across the bridges.”, he stated.
I acknowledged his concerns, then levity was returned as he smirked, “You know, it was pretty funny seeing you cross that bridge! Just don’t make a habit of it.”
I was then on my way, no ticket, and plans formulating for my next bridge conquest…:stuck_out_tongue: :sunglasses:


That’s a great story! I’d be pretty proud of that one. Since I’m a giraffe rookie I don’t have any other stories. I’ll tell you a little about my Tom Miller visit instead.

I called up Tom in October and asked for a tour of his “factory.” He obliged and it ended up being a long, fun visit. At one point I asked him if I could see him ride a giraffe since I had never seen anyone ride one in person. He said OK and asked what size I’d like to see him ride. I responded, “Whatever you’re into.” So he pulled a 10 footer out of his school bus. (The school bus is full of unicycles of all types.) Obviously this was one he made himself. He told me I’d have to carry the ladder across the street to a basketball court for him to use mounting the uni. We set up the ladder by a basketball goal and he was soon riding high. He made it look easy! He also commented that he hadn’t ridden it in quite a while but that he felt right at home. He idled, and rode in some very tight circles about 2 feet in diameter. I was quite impressed!

He did something else on a regular uni that made me laugh. He started idling, then idled with one foot. Then he did a “CanCan” dance move by kicking the unused foot high up in the air each time the idling foot was in the back position. Very silly looking when done with a smile! Someday I hope to be able to do that.

Let’s hear the “headphones in the trees” story.


Here’s the bottom line with buying a new giraffe. Basically you’ve got Torker and Nimbus. Torker uses track hubs which can come loose. Nimbus used to do that but now uses a safer bolt-on assembly that avoids the problem. Look at the rest of the Nimbus features and you’ll see it’s cleary a better piece. And let’s not forget The Unicycle Factory if you want your giraffe to last 18 years like TheRhino’s giraffe. Tom Miller (The Unicycle Factory) welds his sprockets in place. If any other manufacturer’s are currently selling giraffe’s, I’d like to check them out.

You’ve already done a birdge, so another would be so … ORDINARY.

No, definitely not another bridge. Your next challenge should be a tunnel. We await your report.

lol :slight_smile: