I’ll back up Samstoney and song on this. At this risk of over-generalizing, it might be that more agile and acrobatic people are put off by the slow speed of a 20" wheel; while those of us who are somewhat older, larger, and/or less physically gifted appreciate being closer to the ground and being able to walk away from our mistakes more easily. I started learning on a 20" Avenir DLX from Amazon.com about a year ago, but found a used 24" Sun Classic for sale locally not long afterward. Having both, I’ve found that the 20" size is easier and less tiring to practice on. I’m around six feet tall and I had to raise the seat all the way up on it, but I got by.
You can spend a long time pondering it–and it’s the nature of Internet forums to encourage you to do that–but you’re really looking at something that costs about as much as an average pair of shoes. If things go as well as possible and you keep riding and decide you love it, you’ll want to buy another unicycle (or two or three!) before long, because it’s a pretty cheap hobby and having the right unicycle for what you’re doing is way more fun than making do with a Jack of all trades.
For perspective: Two week ago, I joined up with about a dozen forum members for a weekend of mountain unicycling at a state park in Virginia. I rode the trails on a 26" mountain unicycle that I started riding after a few months on the Avenir, but I brought along the Avenir too and practiced low-speed skills on it inside the campground. And I spent more on my campsite rental and the tank of gas to get there and back than I did on that Avenir.
Regarding seats: The Avenir DLX and Sun Classic both have the same model of saddle on them, which looks a lot like the Viscount based on the pictures I’ve seen. I might just have an iron butt since I haven’t minded any saddle I’ve ridden on but they’ve worked fine for me.
I’ve got my eye on a Torker DX 20" on ebay and if that ends up falling through without something similar coming available in the mean time I’ll probably start contacting the people with the Sun’s on CL. My bottom is definitely not made of iron, but it’s got enough padding that it may supplement what’s in the seat!! I’ll gladly spend the $50-$75 I’m seeing the Sun’s go for but dropping $250-ish for the Torker DX or Nimbus II is out of my range as a start. Odds are that if I end up with the Sun and use it enough to realize I really enjoy it I’ll be able to re-sell it for a similar amount to go towards a better one down the road. I’m loving all the support out here for this and I’m looking forward to getting started soon. Not just for the health benefits (anything is healthier than sitting on said padded bottom!) but also just because the more I’ve read about unicycling the last couple days the more excited I’m getting about trying it!
I hadn’t seen that one before. ISIS hub is a good thing, and that looks like a pretty fat tire which can help if the surface where you want to practice isn’t perfectly smooth. It doesn’t have a quick-release seat clamp, and that’s good because the ones on entry-level unicycles never clamp tight enough, and you have to unclamp and straighten the seat every time it hits the ground–which it will be doing a lot.
Sunlite is a common name in aftermarket bike parts, no clue if it’s any way related to Sun unicycles, Sunrace, Sun Ringle, etc. No doubt it’s made for them in a Far East factory that makes a dozen other brands too. You’d be taking a bit of a chance if no one here can vouch for that one, but life is full of risks I suppose. Keep in mind that it’s $45 more than a 20" Club from unicycle.com, which is a known item from a company that will be there to support you. (But that’s not ISIS and not free shipping unless someone knows of a discount code that’s still good.)
From what I’ve gathered by initial comments I’ll be best served with ISIS hubs given my weight. Even though I don’t plan on going any further off-road than my front yard I’ll be abusing any uni I ride until that weight starts flying off from all the riding I’ll be doing!
Sure, all else being equal, as the saying goes… I’d guess that ISIS hubs aren’t all equally good and square-taper aren’t all equally weak (saskatchewanian’s point above) and I haven’t managed to break any of them yet. But it’s your call to make. That’s what makes a horse race as someone said. I think that Sunlite is pretty cool too.
There are reviews here and here for fairly recent models of the uni you’re thinking about getting. A lot of unis are good once you put a decent seat on them. The new Torker LX has ISIS cranks… Oh well, whatever you do, search these forums for reviews before buying anything.
We’ve had a few friends well into the Clydesdale range (over 200lbs) learn to ride with us. One was a mountain biker close to 300. He has broken high end bike frames riding XC. He put the hurt on a couple of the lesser unis in the fleet by just learning to ride. You may be able to get by with a cheap uni, but it may break. Wheels and cranks take quite a beating.
One other consideration for sure is seat comfort. Cheap unis often have cheap uncomfortable seats.
I wouldn’t rule out finding some older higher end unis at reasonable prices. I’ve scored a DX 24 for $75, a DX 20 for $50 (from the forums), and 2 1st gen KH unis (one 24 and one 20) for $125 a piece shipped (also found on the forums). Of course, patience is key. If you’re in a hurry to get on one, you may not deem it worth the wait.
I’ve also got a cheap Sun uni with a single wall rim that is essentially junk because heavier adults learned to ride on it and in spite of my best efforts at maintenance, due to normal in the gym UPDs and poor materials the rim is shot. It’s not worth the expense to rebuild it either.
If you buy a quality uni, you may be able to resell it later. A broken cheap uni is destined for recycling.
I’m still watching the Trading Post on this forum, CL, and Ebay for other deals but would like to move on something soon.
The Sun Flat Top Extreme DX is pretty much at the top of my price range. I know that a Club 20" was mentioned before because it’s a known good name but the Sun has a few nicer features assuming they’re not cheapest possible options for those features. I’m open to that still if the general consensus is brand over features.
You do know that unicycle.com is in Marietta and has a public showroom, right? Seems like it might not be a bad thing to stop by if you could and say hi and see some things in person, whether you bought there or not. I sure would if it was a little bit closer to me.
I’ve been to their website but didn’t notice they were in Marietta! I’ll definitely go there before I do anything. I called a couple of LBS near me but the ones that carried uni’s only had child sized ones. Thanks for the tip.
The one on Amazon looks decent. I think it is a better choice than a Club as it appears to have a proper adult sized saddle as well as the ISIS hub/cranks. There may be no need to upgrade in the future.
If you really want strong it’ll cost you more cash, spend less than 100 it might be new but the axle might snap when you bunny hop, the weakest uni you could get away with is a torker lx, a dx has isis hub and is around 300 bucks starting point, if you find a cheap 50 dollar used uni on craigslist sure you can buy it, but it will be as disposable as a bic lighter.
for 300 or above you can probably find a better high end uni than torker, and if you stick with unicycling after learning you will probably be upgrading to something better anyway, but really any uni you can get your hands on to learn the basic riding will work,
also consider tire strength, I have popped a 20 in kenda tire that came stock on my torker lx, a uni has all the weight on 1 tire so blowouts happen when you push the limits, so far i have used some decent bmx tires meant for hard landings and haven’t had issues for a while, but that kenda tire split the sidewall pretty bad and made a loud bang like a small caliber firearm. and kenda usually makes better tires than most companys out there.
I also weigh around 200lbs a little more if i eat too many chinese buffets and have the ice cream for desert.
For only $25 more I definitely like that Torker LX Pro you mentioned. The only problem is it doesn’t qualify for shipping!! I would have to find someone I trust who lives in that area to pick it up for me and then ship it to me. I actually know someone in the Las Vegas area but it would then cost a lot more to ship it. A $25 upgrade then becomes a $75 or more upgrade (not sure what shipping would be on a unicycle by private party, but I’ve seen at least $50 or more on Ebay listings.) It’s probably worth it in the long run for Torker vs Sun but it puts it above my price range unless the wife goes cheap when she picks her Mother’s Day/Anniversary gift.
Looks like I’ll be going the longer patient route after all. We have a chance at a trip to the FL Keys and that will likely use both her Mom’s Day/Anniversary and my unicycle money!
I just want to thank everyone again for their insights and tips. Even though I’ll not be joining the unicyclist ranks soon hopefully this will help inspire someone else like me who worried they were too heavy for it!