ultimate and BC wheels

Is it your feeling that the size of the BC wheel (16", 20", 24") might effect
the ease of riding? In other words, might a 24 inch wheel be easier than a 16
inch, or vice versa?

G’day everyone,

after enjoying being a silent user of this group since it started I finally feel
as though I might have some useful input. Recently on rec.juggling there has
been some talk of ultimate and BC wheels. Being a user of both I thought I might
put in my two bobs worth.

Firstly, ultimate wheels: I beleive the easiest type to ride are the ones made
for the job. ie. those which have a solid wheel (in place of spokes) and have
the peddals screwed directly onto the solid plane a little way in from the rim.
I however, use my unicycle wheel (20"). I don’t believe that anyone would make a
unicycle that cannot have the wheel easily removed from the frame. I may be
wrong here. Being from Tasmania (that’s the little island sitting just off the
southern coast of Australia) I haven’t come into contact with many unicycles.
But if the wheel doesn’t come off how would you change a tyre?. Anyway, on my
uni it takes me under a minute to convert it to an ultimate wheel (you can
imagine therefore how I almost cried when Christopher Majka wrote on
rec.juggling “As for cost, why don’t you just get a hacksaw and cut the forks
off your unicycle …”) I hope he was joking. Anyway again, since the pedals are
attached some way from the plane of the wheel riding is a little more difficult.
If you want to learn just bare with me while I tell the story of how I learned.
It has all the major ingredients neccessary.

I first thought of trying it a few years ago (before I had heard of anyone doing
it. This is a good start. Makes you feel inventive and breaking new ground. Too
late for anyone reading this I guess). It was before I had heard of skill levels
and such and I was running out of tricks to try on my unicycle. So getting
desperate I pulled off the wheel and toyed with that for a while. My flat mate
at the time (and here is another factor contributing to my learning of the
wheel) told me that it would be impossible to ride. That was it! I was
determined to learn! We made a bet right there on the spot. He gave me a month
from that day, after which, if I could convince him that I could ride it (rather
subjective I thought but went along with it never-the-less) he would give me ten
dollars (not a lot but i’d have done it simply for the pleasure of proving him
wrong, and riding the wheel). If I was not convincing enough I would have to
give him ten dollars (a standard bet). I was lucky enough to live in a house
with a narrow coridoor (another factor in my favour) so I started out in the
coridoor hanging onto the walls on either side and trying to balance on the
wheel at avery stage of its rotation. I would often just let fly and go for it
but all this gained was bruised shins. The next useful step in my quest for $10
was to put the wheel back on my uni and try riding down the hall with the seat
dragging on the floor behind. I figured this would offer some extra stability in
one plane thus leaving me with less to work on. Now of course I find that this
skill is listed in the skill levels (a few levels past the one I could claim to
be at) Once I could do this for a few meters I went back to the wheel alone and
just plugged away at it. After a month I took the ultimate whell and my flat
mate (and a few others) down to the university tenis courts and convinced
everyone that I could ride it. I managed a full circle around half the court.
That was the hardest $10 I have ever earned.

Major Hint: use almost equal weight on both pedals at all times.

BC wheel: At a circus festival in the north of the state (Tasmania) I saw a
group of BMX trick bikers. One of them had a BC wheel. The festival was held on
a cricket ground out in the bush so the only flat smooth surface around was the
cricket pitch. This guy could ride the BC wheel the full length of the pitch and
look in good control the whole way. I had a few goes at it and also managed to
get the full length, sometimes. Well once or twice. When I got home I looked
into getting one built. Mine is a little different to the one described by
gcohen@mailer.acns.fsu.edu (Gregory Cohen) who writes:
> On the thread of Ultimate wheels, has anyone seen a BC wheel. I believe Steven
> Mills had one in Baltimore. It was just a wheel with in place of pedals,
> spinning shafts, hung just below the center of the axle. The wheel was reved
> up by hand and thrown in front of the rider. As it rolled away the rider ran
> after it, jumped and landed on the pedals. He was able to coast for several
> hundred feet, crouched in a position just like seen in a BC comic.

Mine is just an ordinary 20" bicycle back wheel with the cluster taken off and
pegs screwed onto the axle. This would be a little harder to ride than having
the pegs (pedals) just below the axle, but possible all the same. This cost me
$50 (Australian) from an ordinary every day local bicycle shop. So if you are
willing to put in a little extra work to learning the BC wheel this is somewhat
cheaper than the $80 (American) quoted by Tom Miller.

I haven’t had my BC wheel for very long but can cruise around in circles on a
flat smooth surface. As yet I haven’t tried anything to keep the momentum going
but ski poles sound like a decent enough idea. It would be good to just bend
down and push with the hands. I always ride very upright though. I must
experiment. My mounting method is (and always has been) to rev the wheel up and
let it loose in front of me. Take a few steps to catch up and jump on. This is
prety scary to begin with (you have to be good at dismounting at just the right
time, not only for your own personal health but also to prevent the wheel from
shooting off on its own. That means long chases and danger for anyone or
anything else around), but you get used it quickly enough.

Hints: Try starting the wheel off fairly slowly at first, until you get used to
jumping on and staying on for more than a fraction of a second. Then gradually
build up your starting speed for longer runs.

Make sure you land on the wheel with both feet at the same time and as evenly
spaced as possible.

Try to land while you are moving at the same speed as the wheel. That means that
relative to the wheel you should hit the pegs from directly above.

Wear long, thick socks. The insides of your calves are likely to get skid
marks and tyre burns. And wear shoes to save your toes from getting caught up
in the spokes.

Sorry if I ramble. That’s all.

Happy riding everone!

Mark Sands E-mail M.R.Sands@iasos.utas.edu.au o IASOS/CRC Ph: +61 20 2941 Fax:
+61 20 2973 o ------------------------------------------------ o Institute of
Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies o CRC for Antarctic and Southern Ocean
Environment o o O —|---\o X / \ _/ _

Re: ultimate and BC wheels

Arthur Chandler <arthurc@sfsuvax1.sfsu.edu> wrote:

>Is it your feeling that the size of the BC wheel (16", 20", 24") might effect
>the ease of riding? In other words, might a 24 inch wheel be easier than a 16
>inch, or vice versa?
Before I say anything else I have to say that I have only ever tried a 20" BC
wheel, so whatever I come up with in answer to this question is purely a result
of an intricate thought process and has little basis in physical learning.

Instinct tells my that 16" would be easier than 24". I can’t think of any
physical reason why (I’m no physicist) except that the bigger the wheel the
higher you have to jump to mount it so the more accurate your take off
would have to be. Also the bigger the wheel the longer the socks you would
have to wear.

Another point comes to mind. When riding the BC wheel it is possible to tilt the
wheel a certain angle (or rather you are given a little freedom before you have
to recover a tilt) before the wheel rubs your leg. The bigger the wheel the
smaller this angle, for two reasons. 1) your legs get closer together the higher
up you go (mine do anyway) and 2) the section of the tyre between your legs is
further form the pivot point. Therefore the bigger the wheel the smaller
allowable wobble or or tilt.

The mind ticks on: If you were interested in increasing your momentum by
using hands against the ground… well, I’ll leave it to your imagination to
decide the effect of larger wheel size. My voice increases an octave just
thinking about it.

OK try this one out (remember I’m no physicist). When riding a unicycle or
balancing a pencil on your nose the mechanism for maintaining the balance is
effected at or below the point of contact of the object and the substrate.
Taller is easier. When riding a BC wheel the mechanism for maintaining the
balance is ABOVE the point of contact. Perhaps then taller is harder??

What do others think?


PS. (to Andy cotter) Thanks!

Mark Sands E-mail M.R.Sands@iasos.utas.edu.au o IASOS/CRC Ph: +61 20 2941 Fax:
+61 20 2973 o ------------------------------------------------ o Institute of
Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies o CRC for Antarctic and Southern Ocean
Environment o o @ —|---\o
** **_