Two-wheelers, multi-wheelers

To all unics out there, greetings!

(As former IUF president (ten-years), I must bury my head in shame and tell you
that “unic” is new to me. Will someone enlighten me?)

As far as I know, I am the first person to ever build and ride a two- wheel
unicycle. If I am wrong, please correct me. I got the idea from an old USA
newsletter. There was a diagram, but apparently no one had ever built one.

pbennett@lssec.bt.co.uk wrote:

|> > I thought that I would mess up my balance when I returned to a ‘normal’
|> > unicycle.

No, I don’t think so. It just feels a little strange when you switch, but
worry not.
|>
|> Now I don’t know cause I’ve never met the guy, but I get the feeling Andy’s
|> not such a bad unicyclist. So, just how easy are two-wheelers to learn? (Yes
|> I’ve almost made up my mind to get one, only I want to hear anyway.)

I learned in 1979/1980, I think it was was. It was very difficult, but in
those days in Japan riding one-foot was considered difficult and walking the
wheel an act of magic. I was accused by my friends that the reason I can do
these stunts was because I am “different” – that I know doubt “eat meteors for
breakfast” was the expressions they used (:->…

When you practice, you must concentrate on moving your upper body forward along
with the frame as you pedal backwards. It feels extremly weird at first, but
once you get the hang of it it will almost feel natural.

|>
|> Another thought: would it be possible to build (or buy) and “extendible”
|> multi-wheeler, that starts of as a normal uni, but can be extended by bolting
|> extra wheels on underneath? That way if I never got the hang of the
|> two-wheeler, I could extend it to a three-wheeling mean giraffe. I guess the
|> main problem with this would be the make robust joints so that the extended
|> frame was nearly as strong as a solid pole.

It is possible indeed. I have a two-wheeler that I can extend to a three wheeler
and to a four-wheeler. The frame is solid and heavy, but if you use good
materials it need not be. Anyway, its ridable. I rode the fourwheeler at the
opening ceremenies of a Japanese national meet. I normally use it as twowheeler
and it works just fine.

|> So, who builds these things? DM? Siegmon? Sem? Where’s my best bet? Does
|> anyone have one? Has anyone ridden one? Does it really hot-up your backwards
|> pedalling as Andy suggested? Advice?

These are of course all hand made. Try Tom Miller in the US and perhaps David
Mariner in the UK? In Japan its Tsukahara in Nagoya.

The best twowheel riders are probably in Japan, though Ken Fuchs is highly
skilled. Here are some skills that I can do or have seen done on two- wheelers.

1.  Riding forward 6. Free-mounting (two or three ways)
2.  Riding backwards 7. Switching from riding to idling
3.  Idling 8. Switching from idling to riding
4.  Idling one-foot 9. Hopping
5.  Spinning 10. One-foot forward

I’m sure there is much more not in the above list. BTW, probably the greatest
multiwheeler builder in the world is Tsukahara from Nagoya Japan. I have seen or
ridden his two-, three-, four-,five-, six-, seven- and eight-wheelers, and have
ridden Hayashi’s (also Nagoya) 13-wheeler. All but the last have the wheels in
vertical arrangment. The 13-wheeler is more or less pentagon shaped (I think
there is a picture of me riding in an old issue of OOW).

You may be interested to know that Tsukahara has also built me a one-and- a-half
wheeler that converts to a half-wheeler, both of which I demonstrated in UNICONs
and NUMs. He also built me a two-and-a-half wheeler, which after a couple of
hours practice we dismantled. It could be pretty dangerous because we used 20"
wheels and that made it pretty tall. When you practice on 1.5 and 2.5 wheelers
and lose your balance during the coasting part, you come down very fast and
very hard. Perhaps John should this to his list of what not to do on a uni…

BTW, I ended my adventures with multiwheelers by buiding and riding the silliest
uni ever invented – the zero-cycle. Yes, no wheel – just a hub, cranks and
pedals. The reason I no longer do it is because I can’t think of new ideas. That
is, I’m trying to figure out how to build a -1-wheeled (yes, minus one)
unicycle! The ultimate twowheeler I discussed in a previous posting is something
I should do one day, but it’s very difficult and expensive to build…

I know that Ken Fuchs once wanted to start a special-interest group on
two-wheelers. I’ll let him take over from here, if there are to be follow-up
discussions, as I am busy on my third dicitonary this year…

John Foss, if you’re reading this, you may want to use some of it as a basis of
an article on multiwheelers? I think the mailinglist has tons of stuff that can
be reedited into articles…

Stay on top,

Jack Halpern IUF Vice President

Kanji Dictionary Publishing Society 1-3-502 3-Chome Niiza Niiza-shi, Saitama 352
JAPAN Voice: +81-048-481-3103 Fax: +81-048-479-1323

Re: Two-wheelers, multi-wheelers

Very impressive post on Two wheelers, Jack!

I’ll just add a few comments.

Jack Halpern <jhalpern@cc.win.or.jp> writes:

>As far as I know, I am the first person to ever build and ride a two- wheel
>unicycle. If I am wrong, please correct me. I got the idea from an old USA
>newsletter. There was a diagram, but apparently no one had ever built one.

I was very impressed seeing Jack ride his two wheeler back in 1980!

>pbennett@lssec.bt.co.uk wrote:
>
>|> > I thought that I would mess up my balance when I returned to a ‘normal’
>|> > unicycle.
>
>No, I don’t think so. It just feels a little strange when you switch, but
>worry not.

It will just take a little time to get used to it. With enough practice one can
switch without any problems. For example, Constance Cotter has switched
(mounted) from a standard to two wheeler in mid air in two of her three world
champion freestyle routines! That is she rides the standard, picks the two
wheeler off the floor, positions it for a mount and mounts it all without
touching the floor. There aren’t many unicyclists that can even mount a giraffe
from a standard.

>|> Now I don’t know cause I’ve never met the guy, but I get the feeling Andy’s
>|> not such a bad unicyclist. So, just how easy are two-wheelers to learn? (Yes
>|> I’ve almost made up my mind to get one, only I want to hear anyway.)

Andy is an excellent unicyclist! I sure he has decided to spend his time on
other skills. Riding a two wheeler appears to be just as easy as riding a
standard, although it is far more difficult. Riding a two wheeler is not a good
investment of time for performance value, unless the audience appreciates the
difficulty of riding one.

>I learned in 1979/1980, I think it was was. It was very difficult, but in
>those days in Japan riding one-foot was considered difficult and walking the
>wheel an act of magic. I was accused by my friends that the reason I can do
>these stunts was because I am “different” – that I know doubt "eat meteors for
>breakfast" was the expressions they used (:->…

Learning to ride a two wheeler, clearly without knowledge of anyone having done
it before, must have been a real test of character!

>When you practice, you must concentrate on moving your upper body forward along
>with the frame as you pedal backwards. It feels extremely weird at first, but
>once you get the hang of it it will almost feel natural.

It’s best to put almost all of one’s weight on the seat when riding a two
wheeler. Also, while riding, one’s balance reactions on the two wheeler must be
exactly the opposite of one’s balance reactions on a standard (This is half of
the difficulty). The other half relates to how riding a standard is like normal
walking. Riding a two wheeler is like walking in an inverted gravity field; to
avoid a fall forward, one’s feet must be moved backward (rather than forward)
and visa versa! (It’s not as simple as pedaling forward to go backward!)

>|> Another thought: would it be possible to build (or buy) and “extendible”
>|> multi-wheeler, that starts of as a normal uni, but can be extended by
>|> bolting extra wheels on underneath? That way if I never got the hang of the
>|> two-wheeler, I could extend it to a three-wheeling mean giraffe. I guess the
>|> main problem with this would be the make robust joints so that the extended
>|> frame was nearly as strong as a solid pole.

>|> So, who builds these things? DM? Siegmon? Sem? Where’s my best bet? Does
>|> anyone have one? Has anyone ridden one? Does it really hot-up your backwards
>|> pedaling as Andy suggested? Advice?

Semcycle sells an two wheeler extension for their (tubular framed) LX standard.
(It may be intended more for someone to inexpensively try out a two wheeler. For
example, riding with the seat in front may put too much stress on the frame.)

What does “hot-up your backwards pedaling” means? I’m convinced that two wheel
riding is a skill that complements standard riding. Effort divided between these
two cycles will result in overall improvement greater than if all effort were
concentrated on one cycle or the other. (You’ll get a better return on your
investment if you diversify!)

>The best two wheel riders are probably in Japan, though Ken Fuchs is highly
>skilled. Here are some skills that I can do or have seen done on two- wheelers.
>
> 1. Riding forward 6. Free-mounting (two or three ways)
> 2. Riding backwards 7. Switching from riding to idling
> 3. Idling 8. Switching from idling to riding
> 4. Idling one-foot 9. Hopping
> 5. Spinning 10. One-foot forward
>
>I’m sure there is much more not in the above list.

Try: seat in front, seat in front backwards, seat in back, seat at side, wheel
walk forward, wheel walk backward. There are many others!

I don’t know much about Japanese two wheel riders, but I’m certain, Constance
Cotter is the best female rider and quite possibly the best two wheel rider of
all time! Who can walk the wheel backwards on a two wheeler?

>I know that Ken Fuchs once wanted to start a special-interest group on
>two-wheelers. I’ll let him take over from here, if there are to be follow-up
>discussions, as I am busy on my third dictionary this year…

If anyone is interested, I’m willing to discuss two wheelers with you!

Stay on Top,

Ken Fuchs <kfuchs@winternet.com