Walter Nilsson sold me my first unicyle

When I first came to this board I mentioned the unicycle that my Dad got for me back in about 1961 when I was 10. It was a nice unicycle with a pneumatiic tire that was about 12 inches in diameter, but it had a pretty fat tire.

I knew that the man who sold it to us had ridden across the country on a tall unicycle because he told me about it when I met him and he also said he had built a one wheel motorcycle. He was pretty old at the time and had pictures of the motorcycle (you sat inside the wheel) and other places he had been (pyramids, tops of buildings etc). We lived in LA at the time and he lived nearby somewhere in the basin.

After searching around on the internet recently, I found some information and was reminded that his name was Walter Nilsson. The unicycle he sold us was a pretty high quality one for the time and I rode it for many years. It disappeared when I left home and my parents moved. Wish I still had it–way too small to be of much use to me today, but what a piece of history.


Cool, Google brings him up quite a bit for his trans-continental unicycle ride:

And his 1935 monocycle:

I’ll bet when you rode it everbody was talkin’, but you didn’t hear a word they were sayin’, only the echos of your mind. And did people stop and stare, but you couldn’t see their faces, only the shadows of their eyes?

Cool. :wink:

thats AWSOME.

ive seen that monocycle on tv like 50 times before


This is great!
Thanks so much for posting this history! It’s great that these youngriders on the fora can make a connection with some of the early one-wheeled visionaries!

Are you riding there days, Carey?


Skippin’ over the ocean, like a stone…" :sunglasses:

Yep, that’s him. He had a workshop that was filled with gadgets and junk–pretty dark and a bit scary to a 10 year old, but I was with my Dad.

Yes, I am riding today. After laying off for 35 years I got a Torker LX 24" a few years ago. Then, I decided I had a need for speed and I got a KH29XC…which I plan to take to Durango in two weeks for the Iron horse. I hope to ride the first 15 miles to Hermosa on it–if going from sea level to 7000ft doesn’t kill me.

Ref the Midnight Cowboy song (that was the movie I remember it being in)…I think it was written about 15 years after I learned to ride. :slight_smile: I turn 55 this year.

He was a neat old man, reminisced about the old days, his most famous riding days were during the Depression. Some of his pictures showed him riding around the edge of some tall buildings and things like that. Sure impressed me. I am pretty sure he was THE MAN in unicycling back then.


Walter Nilsson

Hi, I guess I ended up with those old photographs of Walter and His uni. Email me and I’ll send you some copies. HistoryDave.


Thanks for the fun post. I can relate about beloved lost possessions. I lost track of many a cool toy when I was a kid. But my first unicycle, oh yeah, I still have it. I’m 44 now but I was 15 when I bought my first one. It was used at the time and I spent $15 dollars on it at an auction. It was and is a piece of crap but the sentimental value is huge.

I plan on disassembling it sometime and repainting it orange like I did when I was a kid. It currently hangs on my wall of uni’s like its in the hall of fame.