Spring to 40th & back on der Uber... or bust!

Ok… so my daily routine usually takes me to numerous places throughout the City… sometimes near, sometimes far. Today I had to go to 40th Street and 3rd Avenue (I live on Spring Street, near 6th Ave.). Usually, it’s a no-brainer… I just grab my Coker and go (it’s extremely rare that I’ll utilize public transportation). Today, I thought to myself… why not take der Uber? My slow speed and high speed maneuvering has improved pretty nicely, I feel quite stable and comfortable, and I figured If I had to I could always meander through some side streets to get there…. and worse case scenario, I’ll be a lot better by the time I get back (my father used a similar method to teach me how to ski as a kid… he took me to the top of the mountain on my first run and told me I’d be skiing by the time I got to the bottom)! On the way to my destination, I had two UPD’s… neither of them bad, and neither involving my dropping der Uber. The first occurred on Houston Street when I was traveling at a modest speed crossing an intersection before the light was about to change on a rough section of pavement and was no big deal because the UPD occurred after I traveled nearly all the way across the intersection. Somehow, I managed to turn off of Houston onto 1st Ave instead of 3rd, which I didn’t realize til I got to 40th Street. My ride up 1st Avenue was quite fast and at many times I was traveling faster than the cars, which had to be doing 10 – 15 mph. It was pretty bugged out because on my way up 1st Ave, I had 5 separate people say the exact same phrase to me as I went whizzing by. They all said: “That’s Hot!” Three of them were girls and two were guys. I’ve had that phrase said to me a few times while riding my standard Coker, maybe even twice in one day… but never 5 times within 15 minutes! The 2nd UPD occurred when I was headed toward a red light at a relatively slow speed (for der Uber, anyway). I was planning on banking der Uber parallel to the cars crossing the intersection, but the area was way too congested with pedestrians and close passing cars, so I just aborted… I guess it was really sort of a last minute PD, rather than a UPD. The highlight of my ride (other than the “That’s Hot” comments from the girls) was when I was cruising up 1st Ave, one of the cars I passed in the middle of 4 lanes of traffic was a cop car. After I passed him, I made my way to the left shoulder of 1st Avenue to continue my ride uptown (I don’t ride in the middle of traffic when the traffic is clear enough that the cars are free to go much faster than I can go). The cop car pulled into the left lane and drove up next to me with his window down and said: “That’s insane, buddy! You wouldn’t catch me on that thing for the life of me.” I thought to myself… working as a NYC cop is a LOT more insane than riding der Uber in Manhattan… It’s not too likely that I’ll have a gun fired at me (unless Catboy has his way :astonished: ). The cop had a grin on his face and really seemed to get a kick out of how fast I was going. The ride home consisted of a single UPD… or probably more accurately another last minute PD. Similar scenario as the last PD, only this time I put der uber into a nice bank, to ride parallel to the crossing traffic at the intersection… only the road I took downtown (3rd Avenue) has both north-bound and south-bound lanes of traffic in the section I was at. As I was in the bank, the car crossing was turning northbound tighter than the turn I was making, so I made my last minute PD at a decent speed (slow for der Uber) and landed on my feet a couple of inches before the car, generating some gasps from bystanders. I should have been able to lean harder into the turn, bank it around more, and then circle back (the technique I used on der Uber several times on the way uptown… since I can’t idle it, and it is not designed for hopping), but my urban Uber riding has been mostly limited to the bike path up until now, so I’m pretty satisfied with how I did on my first real “Urban Attack” through the streets of NYC on der Uber! Harper is right… it is going to break my heart to have to give der Uber back, but I realize that I have been EXTREMELY fortunate to have had it for as long as I have (actually to have had it at all) and I have a tremendous amount of gratitude and appreciation for being so lucky. I’ll probably cry for a week or so once it’s gone, though! The good news is it’s (theoretically) possible for me to purchase a Schlumpf geared 36er now that they are available on the market. The bad news is that it’s not (realistically) possible for me to purchase a Schlumpf 36er, being that I’m currently poor and in debt! Well, hopefully my hard work will pay off soon and then I’ll be able to afford it. Until, then I can always dream and think back on these “good ole days” with der Uber!

that’s beautiful. I’ve got the temptation to gear up my giraffe more than ever now. I think it’s time to take yet another look into that fascinating world.

I have a geared giraffe that has sprockets on both sides of the hub. The sprockets can be quickly installed and removed on to the hub using two tools, so I can easily play around with different gearing ratios - if I buy more sprockets… which I haven’t done yet because I’ve been ok with the 2 ratios I have. One side is a 31 inch equivalent wheel size and the other side is a 37.5" equivalent wheel size. While I do quite enjoy the geared giraffe, it isn’t nearly as practical a form of transportation as a geared 36er, such as der Uber or the Schlumpf (which is even more practical because you can actually shift gears on the fly). On the geared giraffe, with all that distance between the wheel and where all your weight is located on top of that pole, it’s a completely different feel than a geared 36er. If you wanted to have the ultimate in gear ratio flexibility and have the budget for it, Dave Stockton builds externally geared 36ers that have the same ability like my giraffe to easily swap sprockets in order to change the gear ratio… so you can essentially set it to whatever gear ratios you want. Now if dave could just build some type of derailer to enable that machine to switch (multiple) gears on the fly, unicyclists all over the world would be in heaven! Imagine switching from a geared down gear ratio on the Coker (.5 : 1 ) in order to climb a steep hill, and then once the terrain got flat, upshifting through 3 more gears :D!

Oh by the way… for anyone who’s interested and not familiar with NYC - Spring St. to 40th is about 42 blocks, so I rode approximately 2 miles each way. Not a long distance ride (or a very long ride, timewise, considering my average speed on the thing)… but it was fine for my first decent distance ride off the bike path and in dense NYC traffic on der Uber… with traffic lights, pedestrians, bicyclists, and a sea of cars to contend with.

I think I would ride der Uber even better if I had more power in my legs to push down at those certain times that it’s needed… but sometimes I just can’t pull it off. Anyone have any suggestions regarding good exercises that would help in this regard? I don’t do any weight training for my legs. Do you think squats and/or lunges would help?

I wouldnt think that a geared coker would be the best in the street, I think that I would want more control, and stopping a virtual wheel of that size is very difficult and dangerous in a busy street. Im more curious how you like der Uber on bicycle trails, is it easy to cruise along with? Do you still get the flywheel effect? Or is the large gear only helpful on downhills?

Also for anyone interested… more recent info regarding der Uber Coker (the Kris Holm owned 1.5:1 geared internally 36er, with an AWESOME hub built by Greg Harper and an indestructable Dave Stockton wheel) can be found here:

Unatics meeting October 15, 2005, Grant’s Tomb

There is also a link to some video Harper took of me riding (and ungracefully dismounting :angry: ) der Uber on the page linked above.

Further recent info and/or rider experiences on der Uber can also be found here:

Open letter to Greg Harper

You REALLY need to get your slow and high speed maneuvering down to ride der Uber in the street safely (or at least semi-safely), but I feel pretty comfortable with riding it in the street now.

When I say slow speed maneuvering, I’m referring to still stands (even if they are very brief), pivot turns, and the general ability to ride very slow and controlled. For high speed maneuvering, I am referring to being able to dive that bad boy into a turn if someone or something cuts you off or gets in your way. At top speed, I can’t aggressively dive it into a turn, but at a moderate speed I can hook turns pretty good… so I only go really fast on the streets when I have excellent visibility and I’m willing to take a calculated risk. A brake would probable be nice, but I don’t use them (and der Uber isn’t equipped with one).

Regarding your questions about cruising on the bike path and flywheel effect… der Uber has MAJOR flywheel effect because it has a big, heavy hub in the middle of the wheel and rides great on flat surfaces. I think the Schlumpf has a smaller, lighter weight hub and should thus have less flywheel effect. Accelerating and deccelerating takes the most effort and energy… fly wheel effect makes cruising along at a nice rate of speed on a flat surface quite comfortable and fairly effortless - IF you don’t have to make many corrections (especially decceleration corrections). Keep in mind that slight changes in grade and irregularities on the surface will most likely force you to make some corrections, but if you get accustomed to riding along with a minimal amount of corrections, then you can really move along without expending a lot of energy (assuming you have a nice stretch of level ground). The Schlumpf solves the level ground problem, though, with its ability to change gears on the fly.

Nice write-up, Andrew. Passing cars in traffic at 15mph sounds exhilarating. Passing cops does too. Grant’s Tomb was the only place I haven’t ridden it in the street, but those were all side streets. You went right by the only decent coffee shop I found in Manhattan. It was on the NW corner of 3rd Street and 1st Avenue.

Is the torque arm holding tight? The flywheel effect is dominated by the weight and diameter of the tire followed by the weight and diameter of the rim. The hub itself makes a negligible contribution to the rotational inertia because the diameter is so small. It’s just a ton of extra metal to lug around.

I really do want to try der Uber coker out before you return it, I have to see what day I can go up to NY to try it. I would like to try both der Uber Coker and a schlumpf 29er and compare. That would help me a LOT in deciding between the two.

Thanks a lot, Harper. It definitely was quite exhilirating! I wish you could have been there with me on another equally capable machine (or vice-versa - you on der Uber and me on an equally capable Schlumpf or Stockton geared 36er)… then we could have stopped in for a nice cup of java at the spot you like.

I did my pre-flight and post-flight inspections and the torque arm is holding up just dandily! Thanks for the explanation regarding flywheel effect… so then I suppose the Schlumpf will have essentially the same flywheel effect as long as the rim and tire are the same. The lower weight of the Schlumpf (assuming it is lighter) will be nice, then, as long as the durability is roughly the same. OK… in that case we’ll go with the vice versa scenario - you on der Uber and me on a Schlumpf geared 36er… if you make it back to NY sometime and I’m fortunate enough to own a guni (or as Brian would call it, a geary) by then.

Well if you make it out on a NYUC meeting date (the next one is this Saturday), the chances are pretty high that you could do that. Two members of our club have Schlumpf 29ers. If you came out… that would also give me the motivation to get my geared giraffe back on the road so that you could try it… and then I could demonstrate to you how to free-mount them (I didn’t see you freemount the geared giraffe in your video)… just kidding - you probably already know how to do it!

I hope you can make it. Look forward to meeting you and doing some guni riding.

PS: You better make it, or your gonna kick yourself in the ass and always wonder if you made the right decision!

Anyway, we have a great club with some incredible riders (they are all great people, regardless of skill level in any case)… and a large assortment of very unique unicycles… including UW’s latest acquisition, the crab cycle. You’ll have a great time!