Unicycle history and technology

For anyone who is interested in such things…

After many hours [days actually] I have finally finished [up to a point anyway] “scraping” the USPTO http://www.uspto.gov web site for unicycle related patents.

They are contained in a single zip file:


22mb!!! [sorry]

They are hires tiff images of patents carefully named and structured [remember to make sure you unzipper supports long filenames and “retain the folder structure”]

Interesting points I’ve noticed so far:

*somewhere along the line “monocycle” and “unicycle” [in the USA anyway] “swapped” meanings.

*most patents are for childrens toys rather than “clowns”

*motorised unicycles are COOL!!!

If you have problems with tif files try:

it’s very cool [and free]
[windows only sorry]

Hope this brings someone as much pleasure as it has me. Now we just need someone to publish the book!


Re: Unicycle history and technology

bonehead.5e3qm@timelimit.unicyclist.com (bonehead) wrote in


Thanks - good stuff

Those are cool, Richard. You did alot of research and put in alot of work to get those. Thanks for making them available and in a convenient format with titled folders.

Thanks for thanking… I’m toying with idea of putting it online in some sort of simple format, maybe a little like this:


I really reccomend

as a tiff viewer plug-in - much nicer than quicktime


Ace! Thanks for sharing your research. One of these thumbnail formats would be really cool. Also, if you could sort by diagram/schematics vs text that would be swell. At the moment I’m more interested in the pics.

Thanks again for sharing your work…download took a little over a minute…cable good…dial up aol-bad…I’ll never go back, you can’t make me!

Re: Unicycle history and technology

What is the date of the earlies patent you collected?

A fellow by the name of Charles Meinert (cwmcycle@nycap.rr.com) wrote an article in the Wheelmen, Nov 95 titled “One Wheeled Wonders” based on a collection of U.S. patents on monocycles/one wheel velocipedes/unicycles from 1869 - 1912. Nick Clayton followed up with an article called “European One Wheeled Wonders” based on patents from Europe (mostly England).

Coincidentally, I just got these articles in the mail yesterday. In the U.S, at least, the majority of the early patents were for monocycles with a center position, i.e. the rider sitting inside the wheel. Seems that the early thinking was that these would be the most rideable. On even came with an attachment for fitting an umbrella.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

Re: Re: Unicycle history and technology

2nd march 1869 pat#87355 appears to be the earliest reference to one wheeled fun in the USPTO.

It does seem that monocycles were more patented, but I wouldn’t say that this proves that they were more popular. To patent something [afaik] requires it to be unique in some way - hence you won’t find a “normal” unicycle in this collection. There are lots of almost normal ones tho’ :slight_smile: The closest one to a simple unicycle is the original patent for what appears to be an early Schwinn design [1963 pat#3083036] but once again this is “novel” in it’s approach.

My interest is in the “one wheeled approach”, I think it’s encourages a certain whimsy while challenging the designer to devise a really innovative solution - I think it’s great that I can ride a simple unicycle down the street while someone else may be designing a “unicycle for operation in water” [pat#5509831]…

What is lacking here is the “chance invention” of breaking one’s “pennyfathing” so as to “invent” the unicycle [more like an ultimate wheel with handle-bars really] this was not patented [afaik]…

The latest in the collection is for “It” or “Ginger” or “Segway” or whatever you like to call it [March 2002 pat#6367817] and although it is more of a Dicycle [the one that’s in production anyway] it’s very intersting to note the illustration on page 14:

http://tinyurl.com/8bt for the thumbs

yeehaa I’d like to try that!!!

I’m still going through this stuff but if anyone has any more observations I’m certainly keen to hear them.