I’m looking at a QU-AX 24” muni for winter and a QU-AX 20” muni/trials uni for tricks and more durability than my Torker LX. I couldn’t ride for many years but recently got back into it and I picked up right where I left off.
I’d also really like a new giraffe since my old Torker giraffe has rust on the chain and the sprocket slips backwards. Anyone have any luck with QU-AX? I’ve heard good things but before I shell out $600 I’d really like more input. I don’t plan on jumping or hopping, just learning to ride backwards (15’ is my current limit).
Is a giraffe worth it? I have a ladder I can use but I’d like to free mount eventually. How long does it generally take to learn? Also, how often do you ride your giraffe? Thank you all very much in advance!!!
I’ve got a quax rgb 27.5. By and large, I’m happy with it. The quax crank setup is lighter than ISIS, but a bit more limited in choices. Quax makes medium to short zero q cranks and nothing else. If you want a bit of a q factor or longer cranks you’re stuck trying to order shimano ebike cranks. The pedals that come with it are cheap plastic, but except for lacking metal pins are identical to those on udc unicycles. I prefer the curved saddle of the quax to the flat saddles of udc. At first I found it crushed my anatomy, but I soon learned how to settle my weight so as not to do that and once I got that sorted out I didn’t mind it. The one real gripe I’ve got with it is that the spokes were terribly tensioned on it. It always squeaked when i mounted or pedaled it right from day one. At first I tightened the spokes about half a turn each. Then I went around squeezing them looking for play and tightening those that seemed loose slightly. Finally I bought a tensiometer and discovered that there was no uniformity whatsoever to the spoke tensioning on either side of the wheel.
I would prefer ISIS based on the crank choice, but I think quax cranks are slightly better. They are lighter, strong and less prone to damage when being changed repeatedly. I haven’t had any issues with ISIS cranks being damaged from changing them however.
Also, I don’t think badly tensioned spokes are something limited to quax. I hear some spoke creaking from my nightfox as well. My M41 trials has no spoke creak, but that may be due to the much smaller wheel. My tensiometer wasn’t expensive. I believe I paid about $25 for it. I have no idea how accurate it’s readings are, but they do appear to be very repeatable. When I put it on the same spoke, (without riding it or adjusting other spokes), it gives me the same reading every time.
The problem with spokes and spoke tension is that you ideally set it up for the riders weight, riding style and preference. Looser spokes can provide more damping and more flex while tighter spoken can do the opposite.
For a trial uni I’d want as little flex as possible, whereas for a muni or commuting uni you could consider adding some more flex.
For each of my wheels built by either QX or M41 I had to adjust them to my preference (and weight).
The bigger the wheel is, the harder it is to make these adjustments without a trueing stand.
A spoke tension meter can help a lot, but the trueing stand is definitely more important for a good wheel built.
You could use the frame as well to true the wheel, but that will be less accurate than a proper stand.
I bought one from Parktool a while back, and since I have it I have saved over 500 euro on trueing / wheel building costs.
But I have it for my bikes and now for my uni’s as well. It’s a well worth investment for me
What I have used, absent a truing stand, are zip ties. Fix them to either side of your frame, or fork on a bicycle, and then measure and snip them so that they line up as close to the edge of the rim and equidistant from the frame as possible. With the zip ties in place you can observe minute differences up and down and right and left in your wheels rotation and you can rotate or adjust their position up or down as you go.
Lower spoke tension doesn’t really affect flex unless the spoke loses tension completely (a bad thing). Spokes are like springs - they stretch a given amount for a given change in force, no matter the initial tension. That’s why they call that amount the spring constant .
Thinner spokes, or fewer spokes, or longer spokes, make for a more flexible wheel, but not looser spokes. My 19" trials wheel is 40 short, heavier gauge spokes. Super stiff! My 26" muni wheel is 32 longer, lighter gauge spokes. More flex! But not enough that I really notice. Compared to the tire squishing, it’s a very small effect.
Have you ever tried feeling the flex of a spoke on different tensions with your fingers?
I agree that on a 19" trial it’s pretty useless, but you definitely feel the difference on bigger wheels (rim stiffness also comes into play of course).
Obviously I’m not talking about loosening them so that they rattle, but there is a range of tension which you can use to setup your ideal wheel.
And yes, tire dampng on high volume tires is great, but there’s more available then only high volume tires.
I’ve been riding street trial (bike) before I started riding uni’s.
My back wheel was a 24x2.4" or 26x2.4" tire with a Rimpact tire insert and at least 40psi of pressure. This makes the tire damping a lot less.
And since it’s a fully rigid bike, while doing drops you definitely notice the difference in spoke tension up to the degree that you can manipulate it to your preference.
If you buy any wheel with spokes, you have to check it after the first few rides. When you buy a bike in a store that is one of the main reasons you are supposed to come back for an inspection very soon after buying.
It’s a common “issue” across all brands that you need to check the spokes once they are bedded in, and part of the very little “regular maintenance” one needs to do on a unicycle. Mad4one/URC is the only brand I haven’t seen a badly tensioned wheel from more recently, they build their wheels in Italy (or at least they used to).
Calling it an “issue” is perhaps a little misleading.
All wheels should have their tensions checked once they’ve been ridden a bit. If you buy a totally hand-built bike, they’ll still recommend that you go back after a few hundred miles to have the wheels checked and trued as required.
There are a few things I’d like to see companies selling unicycles improve on regarding provided information about maintenance and after-care, and checking wheels is right up there near the top of the list, especially for the high end models which are more likely to be ridden hard and often.
But we don’t even have torque specs for anything yet, which for some unicycle parts (Qu-Ax filigree clamp as an example) really should be provided.
There is a range of spoke tensions that you can use within the spec of the components you’re using.
However unless your spokes go slack, or you push them past the point of plastic deformation, there will be no difference in feel between a tighter and looser spoked wheel (within that acceptable range).
If you wish to change how your wheel feels, use different components. Don’t start loosening off your spokes expecting to find the wheel feel different, as it won’t be until you get to the point of excessive component stress and likely damage.
That’s a different thing - you’re bending the spoke in the middle, and the spoke tension tries to pull it back to straight. But when you’re riding, the spokes don’t bend, they just stretch like springs.
If you Google spoke tension vs. wheel stiffness, you’ll get lots of hits. Here’s one, where somebody measured wheel stiffness vs. tension:
Some believe that a wheel built with tighter spokes is stiffer. It is not. Wheel stiffness does not vary significantly with spoke tension unless a spoke becomes totally slack.
I measured the deflection of Wheel #2 while gradually loosening the spokes in quarter turn increments. The wheel did not display any significant change in stiffness until the spokes were so loose some became totally slack.
To add to Qu-Ax RGB comments, I had some issues with mine (My Qu-Ax RGB - Build quality and design concerns), but spoke tensions were not one of them. I don’t think I’ve actually checked the tensions with a tension meter, but I remember giving them a squeeze and deciding they were fine.
Ignoring that thread for a moment, it has however been just fine to own and ride.
Back a bit more on topic, I’d suggest looking at larger wheels than the 24" due to tyre availability if nothing else, but also modern 26" and 27.5" unicycles are lighter than 24" of old, and ride pretty similar.
Whether a new giraffe is worth it is going to be something you need to decide for yourself. I own one (although not a Qu-Ax one) but I wouldn’t have purchased one at full price as I couldn’t justify it for how much I ride it.
If you got your current one fixed would that satisfy your requirements?
I can freemount a 5’ giraffe maybe 1 in every 4, but I learnt that 10 years ago when I was somewhat younger, and I picked it up in one club session. No idea how long it normally takes people…
I don’t know, when is a unicycle worth it…? In all seriousness though, apart from performers, I see very few people that regularily use a giraffe. I personally find them fun when someone has them at a convention and I can ride it around and try some tricks on them for half an hour, but I have no desire to own one.
I have a ladder I can use but I’d like to free mount eventually. How long does it generally take to learn?
It depends - if you can hop and idle well, you can learn freemounting a giraffe relatively quickly in my experience. 2 hours maybe? A lot longer if you can’t hop or idle well to correct yourself, when using the “stepping up on the tire” method I use, it’s hard to arrive in the saddle in perfect balance, so the better you are at general unicycle control, the easier it is to still stay on.
Also, how often do you ride your giraffe?
I’ve never technically owned a giraffe, but I had one that was parked in my garage for a few years and that I could have used - I never rode it in that time.
I think one other thing to keep in mind about giraffes is that when you crash or upd your chances of injury are somewhat higher than on a normal uni. For someone who’s young and fit this might not be important. Being an old geezer myself, I’m not going to risk my knees on one.