Unicycle.com and Unicycles in General are Expensive.

I’m a regular ish customer to UDC. When In the UK I brought a few bits and bobs from them, Frames, tires, cranks, seats, seat posts and in the US I have also made a few small purchases of spares and accessories.

However, I’m now starting to think that UDC prices are getting a little on the expensive side and this is starting to be prohibitive.

Why do cranks even cheap ones cost $65? Bike Crank sets including the cogs are no way near as expensive. I can buy a quite respectable a front and back 26" MTB wheel set for less than I can buy one unbuilt wheelset from UDC. If UDC machined all of this stuff themselves I could understand the large cost. However, the stuff (like most things) is made overseas and shipped in by boat. Probably in the same factory that makes bike parts for other manufacturers.

Dont get my wrong some things are good value, like say a whole Nimbus II Unicycle, or the light weight eclipse, but check this out. To build something near the cost of a Nimbus 2 is about $425.

$65 Rim
$65 Hub
$55 Spokes and Nipples
$65 Cranks
$25 Tire
$20 Pedals
$20 Post
$7 Clamp
$30 Saddle
$12 Bearings
$65 Nimbus II Frame

Just an average UDC wheel set alone would then be $250 and I’d have to build it myself. A fully assembled Nimbus 2 costs that much. For me at least it really puts the breaks on the notion of upgrading my unicycle.

I know what some might be thinking, how much would your car cost if you built it from spares. I get that, but still Unicycle pars are far more expensive then the much more complex car parts on say a Ford Mondeo. I tend to believe that many unicycle parts are much simpler than their Byclicle counterparts. I do appreciate they may make and sell less, but still given the parts a made overseas, probably in a factory that produces bike parts I can’t see why.

I do appreciate that people who are in to biking proper pay silly money for their stuff too. However, there is still plenty of good quality spares and upgrades to be had a sensible prices. Why do unicycles and UDC differ? Is it that UDC can be thought of as the unicycle equivalent of a luxury car dealership?

As another example a Coker 36" is very expensive, when you consider it’s not made for jumping or tricks, and meerly has a larger rim, frame, tire and more spokes. Surely the cost of producing that can’t be 3x the cost of a normal uni. Disk brakes are silly money too, and when you consider even lower cost bikes can now afford them, a disk brake set up for a uni costs more than a whole bike with disk brakes.

I love uni cycling and this is not an angry rant, rather i intend to provoke a discussion on why things are the way they are and if everyone is entirely satisfied with the status quo. Could lowering the cost of good unicycling make it more of a widespread hobby like Skateboarding?

UDC may seem a bit pricey because unicycling is a nich market and it’s harder to take advantage of huge production volumes like bikes can.

There are only 4 items on your list that are unicycle specific, and no one is keeping you from getting parts from somewhere else.

When I’ve gone to my LBS, most of those items are about the same price or more. Aluminum platform pedels started at $34, Schimano xtr cranks go for 300-400 a set. Considering that, $65 for cranks sounds cheap.

UDC’s pricing seems to be fair to me, but even if it was a bit high, I’d gladly pay a bit more for good customer survice, which I’ve always had from them.

Edit: things like the 36er costing so much more is probably having much more to do with specialty parts than requiring more material. Hardly anyone buys penny-farthings anymore, and I bet Coker sells way fewer unis than a KH trials 24", 26" or 29", all which share tire, rim, spokes, and pedals with bikes.

Wrong. The Cheap (ISIS) ones cost 24$ but were out of stock. You could even get quare taper ones for 15$. Bike crank sets are a bit less expensive because theyre produced 100 times more.

Assembled wheels were allway chaeper than unassembled ones, even in the bike world. Maybe you can get two bike rims for the price of one KH rim, but theyre not half as wide! I was searching for months for an alternative to the muni rims from the bike world. Everything that is even only near equal costs double the price. Thats why so many bikers built their wheels with KH rims. And you can not compare a strong unicycle wheel to a bike wheel that costs not half the price. A uni wheel has to be much stronger, cause it has to handle double the forces. and for bike wheels as strong as the muni wheel of Nimbus or KH you’ll definitely not pay less.

Pleasy try that experiment in the bike world. Take a bike thats frame is available separately and calculate the price for building the bike on your own, buying every part separately. At the end, the bike will cost twice the price of the ready assembled one.

My dad works at a car company and had the chance to compare the price you pay at the garage for the spare part and the price, the car company pays for the exact same part when they first built up the cars. Its factor 10! If I take the prices of the components you listed and divide them by ten, I get prices for which they would never be producible.

Unicycling is a niche market and that’s why some parts are more expensive than comparable bike parts. You’ll get other costs per part if you’d produce 100.000 pieces instead of 5.000. But who should buy them?

And: Please don’t compare the prices of high-end unicycle parts to cheap bike parts!


No, I was comparing mid range uni and bike parts. A Nimbus 2 is a mid range unicycle. The 25 dollar cranks, you can see why they are out of stock, the other stuff’s expensive or an odd size and cheap only due to lack of interest.

So if we want to compare non cheap parts then compare these bike parts with the cheaper of UDC’s mid range unicycle cranks at $65

Mid Range Cranksets from Bikes:

Mod Range Wheels for Mountain Bikes:

If I was UDC I’d give the youth who start with club unicycles an affordable upgrade path. Right now, it seems a lot of that kit can only be afforded by those lucky enough to have an expendable income. Sew the seeds. reap a lifetime of interest. It’s just cheaper to buy a whole uni from them than it is to replace the wheel set on mine.

I will support UDC because they are to some extend positively keeping the momentum of unicycling going, I just with the parts were not so marked up.

I asked basically the same thing a couple of years ago about the general high price of unicycles considering the lack of material needed to make one. Like you I got lots of polite but seemed to me as “Defensive” feedback. I have spent some money on uni’s. I have an Oregon with a Lou, KH 29, 48" Replica uni. and a couple nimbus’s and a Torker giraffe. I buy from UDC and in the UNI WORLD they seem fair priced and very fast. That being said, I agree with you that uni’s are very overpriced. There is no cheapies that are worth a dang either. I have given up on the logic and excepted the set pricing. Reminds me of my youth working in an auto wrecking yard. Ford Galaxy PS pump $25, Ford 4x4 PU PS pump $45, Lincoln PS pump $65. They all used the same PS pump. The Lincoln guy “knew” it would cost more and was willing to pay it.

Again, like Eric said probably ~ 100 times as many of those bike cranks are made than comparable uni cranks.

You could put any ISIS cranks on a isis uni hub, but you’d have extra metal sticking out for the sprockets unless you grind them off.

For the record I’m not after an argument here. I am after a useful and interesting discussion on the cost of unicycle parts. I am interested in the opinions of others, to find out if I’m alone in my feeling and to understand more about why unicycle parts appear to cost so much.

KOXX unicycles were one company I remember being nice but at over 600-700 dollars per unicycle (at their original prices) it’s no wonder they bit the dust. I suppose it was not mass-market enough and were too niche. To be a niche market in a niche hobby has got to be hard, Kris Holm has done very well.

Funny you say that, I seem to remember that someone worked out that building a KH from scratch is (was? as it was before the disc brake models) cheaper than buying the whole thing ready assembled.

But yep, that’s the beauty of being in a niche market. Cheaper wouldn’t make it more popular because it takes too much time to learn it - let alone being really good at it. Kids (since you mentioned skateboard) and people in general are more after some instant gratification.

If you want a really good price/performance ratio, I’d recommend Qu-Ax.

I remember Kris Holm writing that he was not able to amortize the high tooling costs of the one piece forged parts to have them selled at the same prize like the old ones, due to the lack of enough production quantity. So I belive, that if we were 10 times as many unicyclists, we could get our parts cheaper.

But so it is. We are only few. The only way to get the price down, is to produce and sell more parts.
But we don’t only want cheap parts, we also want selection, we want a wide variety of possibilities. And thats the problem.
These two demands are contradicting. The more different parts you have, the less pieces will be sold from a specific part.
Let’s say, we are 50.000 unicyclists that buy professional parts (don’t know how many we are). If there was only one crank model, it would be produced and sold maybe 150.000 times or so. Now there are at least 10 different crank models (or even more) and each one is available in 4 different sizes or so. Makes 40 different cranks! Now, you only sell 3.750 cranksets of each. Thats the problem.
Kris once said, there will be no colour choices for the Zero saddle, because the market is to small and it would rise the price of the product to do so.

So that’s the quandary we’re in: Do we want cheaper unicycles or more choice of parts? We can’t get both!

coming from someone who has built a touring bicycle from the frame up… I can tell you that unicycling is on par, not more expensive for the same quality parts. Unicycles tend to use higher end parts for a “decent” because they get more wear and tear.

My touring bike with a steel frame, XT components, friction shifters and basic V brakes still cost around $1500-2000 depending on whether you count bags/racks/fenders/lights/etc.

The wheelset alone was around $500 of that. I could have bought the whole bike for around $1000 and gotten something that is only marginally worse off.

Unicycle parts are more expensive, but not by some huge margin.

I just realized today that I used to think $80 for a 36er tire was crazy, then I went and looked at what bike tires cost now… a single fatty tire can run $100-150. In a market that’s much larger than 36ers.

I’ll be the first to agree that the prices are ludacris. You can easily spend $5000 on a nice bicycle, or you could buy a used car with that money. It’s kinda crazy, but even the bike industry suffers from not enough market. I had a phone interview with specialized for their engineering team, and really, it’s not as many people as you may think, and their profit margin is not that large. A team of no more than 5-10 people design the whole line of specialized bikes! A single frame may only have 1 or 2 engineers working on it. They are not money grabbing, in fact quite the opposite. They struggle to meet the demands of the industry with what little they have, and they love what they do. I don’t know the economics behind where all the money goes, but I’m not mad at the biking industry for being slightly cheaper.

Would love to see a breakdown of why parts do cost that much, and where the money goes.

From that list
are the ones I’d describe as mid-range. Given that’s an Amazon price your’e not comparing like with like in the distribution chain - doubtless the cheaper ones there are grey market, bought in bulk by bike manufacturers, a market which doesn’t exist for uni parts, for a fair comparison you need to look at the RRP for bike parts.

I agree with most of the others on here - there’s actually not much wrong with the price of unicycle parts all things considered. I’m guessing that unlike many of us you weren’t into higher end mountain bikes before you got into unis. Personally I reckon £80 for a set of KH crank arms isn’t that bad a deal given they’re top of the range uni parts and I paid twice that for a high end bike crankset over 10 years ago. The prices of rims and hubs are actually pretty comparable with similar level bike parts if you look at the RRPs. When I’ve discussed the price of my uni with mountain bikers they don’t seem at all shocked at my suggestion of £500, but then they’re on £2500 bikes.

(in a parallel universe Roger and Kris are swanning around in Ferraris from all the money they’re skimming off you lot).

I ride 9 speed Dura-Ace, and I view that as low-mid end.

You could build a high end trials wheel for maybe $400.

Very high end bike componets


You could buy a whole uni for the price of that crank

er, no


UDC has some good sales in December, but in general, yes, unicycles are expensive. It’s because they are rare, but for that same reason, they are not very negotiable, so the second-hand ones often go for a lot less money. Of course, to recognize a good deal on a used one, you pretty much have to be a unicyclist already, or have a friend who is, or at least check this forum!

I don’t think you are familiar with the unicycle market. Nimbus (in general) is in the high range. Not quite the top, but almost. A Club unicycle is mid range. They are very good for the price. UDC doesn’t sell unicycles below mid range, but there are tons of them out there. They’re cheap, and they’re not very good. But even those are 100 times better than the unicycle I started out with in the 70s. Everything UDC sells is “the good stuff”.

It does come out sounding that way. But I think mostly people are trying to explain the reality of the situation. This is why it costs more (because it does cost more).

The two main components of why unicycle parts are so expensive are:

  • Economies of scale
  • Lack of competition
The market is tiny. It is a speck compared to bicycles. We are lucky to have several high end manufactures making cool unicycles we want. This is a relatively new thing. Bicycle parts are made by the hundred-thousands, if not millions. Unicycle parts are often made in batches of a few hundred to maybe a thousand. Your per-unit price is VERY different at those quantities. That is the main fact behind the higher price.

And because the market is so small, to have even a few competing companies making good unicycles is nice, but not enough to do much toward pushing the price down. Without the volume of large-scale sales, stuff will tend to stay pricey.

Many people agree with you. They aren’t cheap! But think of it this way. At least they exist. I come from a time when you couldn’t do unicycle Trials. You just couldn’t, because you’d have to buy a new unicycle every week (if you were lucky). A time when you might have to wait 6 months for a new axle to replace your broken one. To have choices is great! But not so cheap. The Miyata axles I speak of were probably $30-40. But you couldn’t do sustained Trials with them either.

Indeed he has! I think this is because of a combination of his uncompromising insistence on quality, his expertise at figuring out how to make things better year after year, and mostly because he’s Kris, a man of rare qualities himself. We sure are lucky to have him! :slight_smile:

Back in the day, unicycles were a lot more “democratic” in terms of being affordable. If you couldn’t afford the $250 high-end Miyata, you could still get a Schwinn or other solid unicycle for about $150. But anything outside the 16/20/24" range was custom built, if it even existed, and cost 2-4 times as much. And generally wasn’t as good, because it didn’t have all the research and experience behind it.

I think you hit the nail right on the head there. Yes, Nimbus unis are ‘expensive’, as are KH’s, QX’s and Tritons. That’s because they are TOP of the range. You literally can’t get anything better than these unis (take your pick from the 4 which one is the absolute best), so they are the ‘high end’, not ‘mid-range’. What’s the most expensive uni you could buy right now? A Triton G36? Even that’s what, £2k maximum, with all the trimmings?

Go out wth £2k and see what bike you can get. It’ll be an AMAZING bike, no doubt about that, but it certainly won’t be the best you can get (And not even close to the most expensive).

Now, look at the low/mid-range unis. You can get a 24" eBay special for like £40-50. Sure, it won’t be built like a tank (I speak from experience) but it’ll work and it’ll be just fine if all you do is ride on the pavement. I put these on the same sort of level as WalMart/ASDA-price bikes, with the forks put on backwards and the gear shifters that don’t work - the cheapest I’ve seen was £70. So there, a uni is £30 cheaper! :smiley:

Go up a notch, you’ve got Clubs and the ‘UDC’ brand (Like the Titan/Trainers). These are, apparently (I wouldn’t know, never tried one) absolutely fine unis, and for the price are probably the most cost-effective in terms of buying as cheap as possible and still getting something usable. A bike of this level is usually about £250-300, and even at that price it’ll have problems such as cheap crappy brakes, grip-shifters that don’t work great, and cheap tyres.

Up another notch… You’ve got your Qu-Ax’s (Not the QX) and the cheaper Nimbus. These are around the £200-250 mark, which is still cheaper than the above, and you’re going up a fair bit in terms of quality (You’ll get well-built wheels, ISIS, great tyres). What’s a bike of this sort of level? Probably a hell of a lot more than £250.

So yeah… Unis might sound expensive as they’re ‘just a wheel and a seat’, but they are still FAR cheaper than bikes of a similar level - and that’s even with the tiny niche market and lack of manufacturers doing their manufacturing in huge amounts. AND that’s buying from UDC, which is usually slightly more expensive than buying from other sites, though obviously you can’t put a price on their great service!

TL;DR: uni’s are expensive because we buy expensive unis. Cheap unis are cheap, and are just as good/bad as cheap bikes.

Well said, P.M. You explained that very well indeed.:slight_smile:

HELA Cheap, in the sense that $1500 for a couple wheels that was able to encourage me to get out of my flabby self, and regaining my six packs without doing a single sit up, not to mention a dozen other remedies of which I was borderline of. I say “screw” the cheap stuff if you decide to have unicycling intergated as part of your lifestyle;)

I am learning on a 20" Chinese unicycle, available on Ebay for £30 ($47)
Knowing I would be moving up a size very soon, I briefly considered buying the same model in 24" for a bargain price of £35.

I would need a £35 cycle, plus the following upgrades:
£8 UDC cranks when the soft ones disintegrate and the pedals fall out (again).
£15 UDC saddle - the Chinese base flexes too much (again).
£5 UDC seat post to mount the new saddle.
£3 Nimbus clamp.
£15 Tyre of some sort, the standard one will be pants.

Total = £81 (+ postage), and I would end up with a cheap looking frame, with a creaky hub which was ready to break at any time.
Cheap doesn’t guarantee value for money.

Instead I decided to get the 24" club in Orange from UDC.
It was on special offer at end of Feb 2015.
Total cost = £79 (+ postage)

My only gripe is the postage costs.
But I need to remember that someone needs to go out and select the gear from the warehouse. buy in the packaging, wrap it up, print the invoice, label the parcel, liaise with the courier, and send it on it’s way.

The advice I have had from the team has been invaluable when I have called in to pick stuff up in person.

Think Bigger

I find it helpful to think bigger picture.

Unicycling is a sport that for $350 I can buy equipment of a sufficient quality that I was able to take it to Moab, Utah – home of some of the toughtest riding in the world – and had no fear of equipment failure. For WELL under a thousand bucks I can have the finest machine the sport offers. Try that in ANY other sport.