Unicycle Rickshaw Co.

Ever seen those bicycle taxis? Ever seen a unicycle one? I was thinking about trying to build something to tow behind my unicycle and charge people to ride. I live in historic Charleston, so tourists are everywhere. I was thinking about trying to get a job with a local rickshaw company. But why not start my own unicycle rickshaw business? I’d pocket what little I made certainly more than minimum wage. I was thinking something like a wheelbarrow towed behind my unicycle. I’d probably have to build something. I would probably also have to get some sort of business license too. Any ideas? Has anyone tried this? How could I start it up? Ideas for the trailer/seat? This would just be to supplement what little I make as a student over the summers.

I just wanted to weigh in and say that this is very doable. I tie a rope to the frame of my 36er and pull friends on skateboards behind me up and down the board walk here (2 maybe 3 miles). I use 115s and it works great on level ground, but start to run out of torque on moderate hills.

I like the idea and look forward to hearing what kinda rickshaw idea you come up with!

Make sure you provide seating for at lest two (fat) people. Four would be better, but then you’re going beyond the basic pedicab idea…

What about slowing down?

I know there’s not too many hills in Chaleston, but keep in mind that starting up a rickshaw with people in the back is one thing, but slowing down a small carriage with 2 people in it, plus your own momentum and weight will be a significant challenge to your idea. You’ll need a good set of brakes :slight_smile: A bit of Self promotion for a Mountainuni Disc.

There used to be lots of runner rickshaws, with 42 in wheels

My friend Bounce showed me a 42 " unicycle with an air tire he said he bought in Japan in about 1980. I did a lot of internet searches, looking for a site that still sold those tires. Zilch. It seems the flintstone drive system reached it’s peak a while ago, and has been replaced, worldwide, with pedi trikes using 26 ".

The “uni cab” seems to have advertising value in it’s novelty. Pulling 2 Americans uphill would require a stout chain and a 12" wheel. Asians love novelty though, and are small. They don’t tip well (just charge a lot up front). Try Hawaii, there is lot’s of Japanese tourists there, and they love volcanoes. You can rest a lot when they want to stop and take pictures. These niche business start up ideas need to consider location carefully.

I know that unicycle! And a few other people who had unicycles made from the same type of wheel. Very heavy, ultra durable. That’s what Takayuki Koike rode for the 100 mile record in 1987. Sem Abarahams had one, and a guy named Guy from Canada. But yes, tires were an issue even then, as far as availability and cost (and probably wait time).

I did see a guy with a rickshaw in Japan, using similar wheels, back in 2004. So somebody may still be making them; the hard part is finding a supplier in the right company. At this point they may be coming from China too. Or you could use 36" wheels and tires, but bigger is definitely better. People will be attracted by the look of the vehicle in part. 36" would also be cheaper, but your rickshaw tires will probably last several seasons of hand-pulling. They don’t turn as hard as unicycle wheels so less wear & tear.

(In that same online album, great picture of Gilby and “You Don’t Know Jack” in front of Ultra Man and other fun stuff)

FTL is right about location, and the demographics of your tourists. Pedicabs are found where you have a concentration of tourists, and pretty or interesting stuff to see, all in the same area. Doesn’t matter where you want to do it, you won’t make money unless it’s the right type of area. Interestingly, I don’t remember seeing any pedicabs in steep San Francisco… :slight_smile:

For the trailer, I would use something like a Kettwiesel.
Look at this setup. The fork of the rear trike goes to a hitch that emulates the axis of a 100mm front wheel.
You could put that fork over the wheel of a uni, so that the dropouts are accepted on both sides of the hub (or rather something like 10 centimetres behind it, for you still want to be able to tilt to the backside a bit - a uni has to stay upright, also when going downhill).
The only change you would have to make to the trailer is that its front boom that goes to the fork must be able to rotate around the longside axis, to compensate for sideward tilting of the unicycle.

Braking: For this construciton, I would rather brake the trailer than the unicycle. Because of the aforementioned limited backwards tilting.

Edit: the other option for a trailer would of course be to attach it like a Bob Yak.
Pro/Con in comparison to the Kettwiesel solution:

  • lower attachment, less danger of being pushed off to the front
  • the turning axis is farther on the rear, more danger of being turned inwards in corners
    (these effects may be compensated by the right use of a brake that effects the trailer)

Yes, definitely put the brakes on the trailer. It occurs to me that traction might also be a factor in a unicycle-drawn rickshaw. Though I imagine it’s normal to balance the rickshaw above its axle, this may lead to wheel slip on the uni, especially in anything downhill, wet conditions, leaves, etc. But moving the axle rearward might have odd effects on the unicycle. It may take some experimentation.

Needless to say, the vehicle will have to be developed and tested before the business side can get going. Also to get approval for a business from the local authorities you might have to demonstrate handling and safety of the thing, so you can avoid careless drivers, make quick turns and stops, etc. These are things you will want more than them anyway, since it’ll be you out front and most at risk.