Thoughts on the future of trials

I’ve been wondering for some time … as of now, it looks like trials unicycling, and more specifically, trials unicycling technology, has basically reached a point at which it’s getting extremely tough to improve the quality of the equipment. So far, it looks like minor frame improvements (that will probably come at disporporionately large costs) are the only thing that can shave weight off a trials uni, and the uni as a whole is simple enough that no radical changes or improvements can be made. If we think about a pretty high-end trials uni as having the following equipment:
Profile hub/cranks
Alex DX-32 rim
KH or equivalent frame
Luna tire
Odyssey Jim Cielincki or equivalent pedals
KH seat, maybe carbon-fiber Miyata
standard seatpost, seatpost clamp, spokes, etc.

… then what can be done to make the uni stronger/lighter/easier to use? A lighter frame is definitely possible … but the improvement would probably be relatively small, new weaknesses would be introduced (such as structural strength), and in any case it’s doubtful that such a frame would be cost-effective for the vast majority of trials unicyclists. A hub and crankset as strong or stronger than Profiles would probably not be light enough for the trade-off to be worth it. As for the rest of the parts, any improvement possible would be marginal at best.

Are there any changes we can make, possibly to the fundamental structure of the unicycle, to improve trials technology? I was thinking of making custom super-light super-strong frames that attached directly to the seat, eliminating the seatpost and seatpost clamp (but making adjustment impossible).
The only other thing I can see that would substantially improve the weight of the unicycle without compromising strength is the elimination of the seat altogether, with a simple handle setup of some sort in its place. The resulting uni would theoretically be the lightest and strongest uni possible for hopping, but would probably be near-unusable for drops, rolling hops, and riding skinnies. Perhaps if trials competitions separated the lines into hopping-only and hopping-plus-other-riding-skills, this development would evolve and specialized trials unis would come to be.

Thoughts, anyone?

Arrow or Try-all rim. Better seatpost then basic maybe, GB4? I’ve thought about that handle thing too, it might work but would be horribly impractical.


i amy be ignorant regarding this but Arrow rims are stronger than alexDX since the inner diameter of the rim is smaller. lighter? i donno ask Ryan Atkins he rides one.

perhaps a full CF seatpost and seat assembly though not at all cost effective might help?

perhaps we need to wwork on building a lighter stronger rider?

Re: Thoughts on the future of trials

it has evolved… into competing with the FLYBAR 1200 (pogostick), all you can do is hop. :wink:

The “sticky rubber” Try All" tire is a decided improvement over the Luna, IMHO, and a carbon fiber seat base reduces flex (and lost boost) from a standard KH seat.


Thats perfect right there.


Re: Re: Thoughts on the future of trials

whoo-hoo! hopping-only trials?? i’ll go for that!!! :slight_smile:

I’ve actually heard very good things about the Arrow and Try-All rims. I only mentioned the DX-32 because it seems pretty standard.

However, the Try-All tire has thinner sidewalls (or so I hear). The Maxxis Creepy Crawler does as well. While they may be grippier and lighter tires, I think the thin sidewalls work to their disadvantage … you don’t get as much from snapping down on the tire. I haven’t actually ridden anything but a Luna, so I don’t know this for sure. But thick sidewalls would probably be better for a trials tire than a couple ounces of weight loss.

The carbon fiber seatpost idea is good, but the thing is, you need a rail-type converter to connect one to a uni seat because no uni-specific carbon-fiber seatpost exists (yet). I’d expect the extraneous piece of equipment to negate any weight loss you’d get from the carbon-fiber material.

Maybe … just maybe … if someone decided to go all out … they could somehow create an all-carbon-fiber one-piece frame that connected directly to a seat. It would be very hard to do, I expect, and not cost-efficient in the least, but the frame would be stiff as hell and lighter than anything else anyone has ever made. All you’d need to do is somehow keep the carbon fiber from being damaged.

Ahh, that’s when you get the Wallis design carbon seat base, handle, and rear bumper. It’s made to mate directly to a Thompson seatpost (no rails).

Here are some pics Scot emailed me. I’m not sure how to get his seat base and how much it cost.

Wow, that’s very nice indeed! :sunglasses:

And I’m glad someone’s finally got around to making a direct Thompson attachement to the seat. Rails are unncessary IMHO, since you generally only need angle adjustment on a uni seat.

The improvements in trials equipment is going to be in the increasing of their strength and the decreasing of the weight.
Things that have moved already…

Tyres. Luna is now old hat and there are several newer models out that are up to a third lighter. Some of these tyres like the Sticky finger and Maxxis Creepy Crawler have a slow creep formula on their rubber so offering great grip. But… we know for the Monty lightweight tyre that has now been discontinued, just didn’t work well.

Rims. Alex DX32 is a very poor profile rim, but being a good quality rim this generally compensates. There are again several rims out there that are a lot better profile and at least as good a quality. Not really any difference in weight here though, but definitely a gain strength.

Hubs and cranks… this is where the big improvements are going to be in the future. We are coming onto the second generation of hubs and cranks where we have learnt the lessons from the first. These are lighter and stronger. There are already a third generation of hubs and cranks already on the drawing board… but remember these things do take time.

Frames… there is a saving on weight and strength here and we are seeing this in this years frames. The next generation of frames will be even lighter and more rigid.

Seats and seatposts. There is so much weight that there must some saving in weight and strength. I know that we could all go for carbon bases… but that is not going to happen for the masses, it costs too much. I believe the straight is going to come in using the seatpost and its connection to the seat to offer strength where it is needed like John Foss’s X racing unicycle’s seat.


That is without a doubt the most beautiful unicycle seat I have ever seen. I want one.

I figure since I both ride and build/design custom comoonents, I think there’s some stuff to say.

Firstly, hopping only trials is pointless, as is riding only trials. Going into that mush specialization for the sake of better unicycles is pointless. If you need the weight savings of a handle-only seat badly enough to sacrifice your normal riding ability, then you should re-examine your riding philosophies. Others have thought of handle-only seats, and it has been done. It doesn’t work as well, and most people you ask who have tried it will say that it doesn’t work as well as one would think.

Unicycles honestly don’t need to get any lighter, and strength is not a problem for 99% of the trials unicycling population. Ryan Atkins is riding a relatively heavy uni, yet he’s still insanely good. At a muni weekend you’ll inevtiably see the hardcore riders doing insane trials on 16 pound munis. A good rider has very little to do with their unicycle.

I have the try-all rim, and I’ll be riding it by the end of the week. I’ll post a writeup and pics when I do. It’s worthy of mentioning that it’s the most expensive rim on the market, with the lowest price being around $65. It is around 12-15mm wider than a 32mm DX-32, and is about 60-90 grams lighter. It is also pinned. I’m quite sure it’s weaker, but that’s not a problem is you keep your spokes tensioned correctly. The arrow rim is about 50-100 grams heavier than the DX-32. It is of comparable width. There is also a 38mm dx-32 out there.

Frames won’t neccessarily be getting phrohibitively expensive to those who need them and those who look around. I have designed a trials frame that will weigh about 1.7lbs (for comparison the KH pro frame is 2.24lbs), and I will be making the first one soon. This won’t be for sale, per se, but I won’t be the only one riding it. It will be mostly mostly work, costing me nearly nothing. The materials for it have only cost me about $35 (enough aluminum for more than 8 frames). I am building this frame not out of need, since my current trials uni, with a steel frame, will weigh in somewhere between 11 and 12 lbs if my calculations are correct.

Ben PS and I have discused a little bit about a direct connect frame (no seatpost). I decided that I wouldn’t try making one until I stopped growing. It is worth of mention that at least .5, and as much as 1 pound can be cut from current trials frame weights without much sacrifice in strength.

Seats can quickly be made lighter by losing the padding. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, as long as you are careful. It’s also more comfortable for seat out.

Thomson seatposts, even with rail adapters are still lighter than others, and the strength improvement is well worth it, even if it gets heavier. Ryan Atkins rides a thomsopn without at rail adapter, how I can’t completely explain. Scott Wallis’ seat isn’t for sale yet, as far as I have heard. The price, as of CMW, was said to be around the price of a cf base and rail adapter combined.

Hubs are ripe for weight loss. One of the projects I may undertake in the far future is making a profile hub out of a solid bar of chromoly steel. Cut the general profile of the flanges and axle on a lathe, and then mill (or roll, if I can find the machinery) out the splines. THis would cut around .5-1 pound, and still keep the strength. Aonther method would be to cut splines on most of the axle and then have aluminum flanges that mate to the splines. This would cut a teeny bit of weight over the above design, but it could be weaker, and would be far harder to make.

Cranks seem to be about as light as they’ll get. Profile cranks are plenty adaquate for 99% of the unicyclists out there, and don’t need improvement. If they aren’t strong enough for you, check out danscomp or the profile website, since profile cranks can be found in much stronger (and much more expensive) variations.

I’ll be trying the try-all or creepy crawler tire for my next trie, and I’ll post reviews. If the sidewalls are to thin, you can always get a thicker innertube, which will make up for the weight.

Overall, I think the bottom end weight limit for a good, strong trials unicycle for the average rider is about 10 lbs. My current uni should be approaching that number. The last half pound will be the most work (or costly) to cut. Small savings like mag pedals, drilling out the seatpost, drilling the seatbase, cutting out padding, and drilling out other components can be done, and they will add up after a while. There are spots on lots of stock bike components that can be custom drilled to cut weight. It’s not done in production because it dramatically increases cost with minor savings in weight.

Finally it’s worth of mention that trials uni’s don’t really need to be any lighter. My uni is light because the components I chose for other reasons happened to be light. I chose the try-all rim for its width. I chose the lighter SH hub because it was the only profile hub. I will be using a light aluminum frame because it’s an interesting fabrication project and I may as well make something useful. I am usign a cf base because it’s stronger, and I’ll be using a tthomson seatrpost eventually because it’ll fit the seattube on my frame without a shim. Also, my current miyata seatpost wil eventually break, and a thomson won’t. THe only case when I’ll be getting a component for it’s weight savings is the Jim C mag pedals. But that’s the very bottom of my list. Someday, as an experiment, I’ll try and cut as much weight from my uni as possible, but that day is a long way off.

Jeez, my Summit is 14 pounds, 10 ounces (I got a chance to emasure it a few days ago). Could I buy one of those frames you’re talking about? Or, failing that, could you give me the information I’d need to make my own?

I don’t really want to sell these for some reasons that I have a hard time explaining. Basically, I couldn’t sell these if I wanted, because I at best can make maybe 3 per week (just one of my reasons). More like 3 per month or as bad as 1 per month at the current rate… I’m happy to send anyone who wants them the plans, though. Just as long as you promise not to go out and patent them and screw over fellow unicyclists. The plans are currently in a PDF file, if you want them. It’ll be a week or so before I can have them complete enough to send you, though.

Another thing, I have been corrected, Ryan’s uni is rather light. But another case supporting me is that Kris Holm landed an 86cm jump over a bar on a 16 pound muni.

I’ve no doubt that talent can overcome a unicycle’s weight any day. But every little bit helps, right?

Obviously if you sent me the plans I’d promise not to patent them. It wouldn’t be right at all.

I understand that you can’t exactly mass-produce these frames, but could you do them as custom jobs and the like, on request (with the caveat that any frame request would probably take a good long time to fulfill)? That’s what I was thinking about in the first place in any case. Just … when you think you’ve got the time and resources to make one, PM me and we’ll figure out something. The plans would be nice and all but I don’t know how easy it would be for me to implement them, I wouldn’t know where to start.

OK, that’s enough threadjacking, we’ll continue this via PMs

Back to the evolution of unicycling.

I strongly disagree. Even the best riders have problems with weight, check out what Dan did to his unicycle to save the weight. The weight is there to give strength, not because it is wanted. The vast majority of riders suffer if the weight of a trials unicycle was heavier. The weight saving in the wheel makes the unicycle more agile and weight saving in the unit as a whole makes it better for jumping.

The development in getting trials unicycles lighter is not being done at the detriment of their strength. It is a bonus to make them more functionable.


Nice thread, Joe.

OK I have been thinking about this recently too. In my opinion, there are some things that aren’t going to get much lighter than the commonly used components of today.

You will not be able to remove much weight from the tire, rim and spokes without affecting performance. Try-all rims are lighter and weaker, arrow rims are heavier and stonger (and I don’t think drilling one would work, because of the shape). So that leaves us with the DX-32 (and perhaps the 38mm version) as our middle of the road rims that everyone can use (people who break them can move up to Arrows, and people who won’t break them can move “down” to try-alls). New trials tires seem to sacrifice bounce to reduce weight. Bounce is more important on a unicycle, since we don’t have the mechanical advantages that a bike has. Titanium spokes are an option, but from what I hear they are too “rubbery” and don’t hold tension as well.

Scott’s new seat design will make seats about as light as possible when used with a thomson (I don’t like carbon posts; they are too noisy, and don’t clamp well IMHO). Also, a seat (like mine:D) with all carbon fiber components and a thomson seatpost is virtually unbreakable.

Removing these, we are left with the hub, cranks and frame. The frame seems like it would be an area where a lot of improvement could be made, but I do not feel that this is the case. One of the most common frames today weighs 2.24 lbs. I wouldn’t bank on anyone making 1.24 lb frame without durability issues. A pound is a lot, sure, but to remove a pound we would have to use either aluminum or carbon, both of which have durability issues as far as I know (Aluminum dents, CF can crack and has a shorter life). Also, these would be expensive. SO, IMHO, until someone starts mass producing an inexpensive aluminum frame, we are going to be using steel. Even if (when) someone (KH) starts mass producing an aluminum frame, it will not save much weight.

The hub and cranks are the area with the most room for improvement. This is already in the works, although I am skeptical about the claims that there will be a new miracle crank.

Another option is altering the fundamental idea of a trials unicycle. Obviously, changing trials to a hopping only sport is silly. Making a frame that attaches directly to the seat would be ineffective, too, unless the seat tube would be much lighter than a thomson (although it would eliminate the area where there is both seat post and seat tube, saving that wieght). Making a handle that comes out of the seat post probably wouldn’t do much, since all of the high end components are already very light/strong/stiff. So our unicycle will probably look about the same in 10 years.

Regardless, I think a lighter trials unicycle is something to shoot for, and I have been trying to trim mine. However I don’t feel the need to get completely anal with it. Like Bev said, I have chosen parts that are strong for their strength, with the lightness being an added bonus. I think once we get down to around 11-12 pounds we are doing alright.


Not to speak for anybody, but the last I heard it was still in the testing stages. The handle is for sale, but there is a very long waiting list.

Haha. I disagree…

From what I heard from Dan, he got titanium frames because he had a friend who needed to practice welding titanium, so the friend made him a pair of frames. Also, the angular momentum of a heavier wheel will help launch a heavy rider in a rolling hop better than a light one.

I think that currently the vast amjority of riders don’t really need a lighter uni at all, and they wouldn’t notice much difference between a summit and a KH at all. Weight only becomes an issue once you begin to do serious seat out or rolling hops, when you are lifting the uni very high very quickly. That, and when you are doign precise work where the only way to hop is by lifting the uni, without lifting yourself. In all 3 of those cases, a lighter uni makes things easier, but not by much. The vast majority of riders out there don’t do giant rolling hops or seat out hops. And an even smaller percentage are doing precise jumping where they are on a small enough surface that they can’t spring. If a rider is still doing sidehops seat in, then a lighter uni won’t make much difference. Also, if you go to a muni weekend, and ask the people doing trials if they feel they would be hurt by and extra 1/2 pound on their uni’s, I seriously doubt you’d get very many yes’s. Ask them how much work or money they’d invest to cut 1.2 pound off of their uni’s, and very few people will say more than $50-$100. Also, trials is still, to me (or so I like to think), a sport for fun. So what if a lighter uni will make me jump 36" rather than 32"? Which is more fun, making the uni light enough to jump high, or spending the time riding until I can jump that high?

One other place to cut weight if you happen to be an excellent machinist is the axle. You can cut about 1/4 pound from ther hub by getting a titanium axle. The only problem is that profile doesn’t make titanium uni axles, so you’d have to machine it yourself.

the main thing that I can see fot the improvement of trials unis its the seat/seatpost area. I think that the post I made is a huge improvement, though it adds some weight. However, I’m an ametuer, so I don’t know what could be done if they seatposts like the one I made were easily available, mass produced, etc.

my seatpost: