What was your most game-changing equipment upgrade?

I recently purchased a pair of mountain biking “flat” shoes after having ridden muni pretty intensely for about 6 months in regular sneakers. The difference was immediate and significant! On my first ride wearing them I had more control in my riding and hopping, more power, and - notably - more confidence overall. I should have done it long ago just for the added ankle protection, but I just didn’t know, ya know? So I’m interested to know what other improvements or enhancements might result in similar leaps in performance. I am still riding without a brake, but that is next up for me, and I’m hoping that might be another ‘game-changer’. Thanks, Uni-verse! -David

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OK, thought I’d never say this. If just the shoes help that much, try them with clips. I use 5/10’s with clips off road for climbing and outrageous downhills. So go and add that brake and try clips.

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@lobbybopster, I hate you. You were faster than I :stuck_out_tongue:
Clips are really amazing and were a real game-changer. But I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. They could be dangerous.

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You are so right, they can be dangerous to for some. (All) but they give me a big advantage of control.
They keep my feet where they need to be.

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Brake is probably the biggest complete game changer, once you learn to use it properly (although I’ve never owned a Muni without one). It really transforms how steep of a trail you are able to ride down, how long you can ride downhill for, massive difference.
Shoes and pedals are good too, but not a game changer for me, unless what you used before was terrible.
Tire is also a big one, I think it’s the component that changes how the unicycle itself behaves the most.

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Expensive padded bicycle shorts (Castelli Endurance 3)
4 times the price of my old shorts, but 10 times better
They came on sale a couple of weeks after i got them, so poor timing

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I don’t know if this quite fits the topic, but nothing else comes close as an equipment game-changer for me. Which was… wait for it… a 1970s Schwinn 24" unicycle!

Okay, I see all the blank expressions (which come in two flavors: 1) How could that possibly be an upgrade, and 2) What’s a Schwinn unicycle?). Here’s the story, for those that haven’t heard it. This was 1976. I was interested in learning how to ride a unicycle, and my nextdoor neighbor said I could “borrow” his (later I learned he didn’t want it back). It was a Troxel, with a 16" solid plastic tire, nylon bushings for bearings, tricycle pedals and cranks (think really short cranks and really wide Q-factor), and a major design flaw. The one good thing about this particular Troxel was that the seat could be raised impressively high; to a decent level for a 14-year old to learn on.

But otherwise, the unicycle was a POS (piece of you-know-what). The weight of a skinny 14-year old on those nylon bushings made the wheel reluctant to turn. The short, wide cranks didn’t help matters. I gave up many, many times but kept coming back to it This was over a period of maybe 6-12 weeks, at the end of which, I had graduated from the basement to our driveway. I could go straight, but the end of the driveway turned into a patch of rough pavement followed by the un-pavement of my dirt street. So I needed to learn to make U-turns. That Troxel with all of its problems was not going to be any good on any kind of bumps! Trying to make turns was too much for the bearing holders, which were each fastened to the frame with a single bolt. They would twist around the bolt, the wheel would tilt to the side, and the plastic tire would come to an abrupt stop against the fork. I was unable to get those bolts tight enough to prevent that, and I didn’t have any welding equipment, etc. so that was it.

Sometime during that learning period, a neighbor down the street had acquired a Schwinn 24" and a group of kids were taking turns trying it, most just falling like normal people. When my turn came, I sailed away on the thing. I rode what seemed like at least 100 meters without any problem, my dismount only happened when I tried to make a right turn off the narrow sidewalk. Wow! My life started to change at that moment. I never rode that particular unicycle again (separate story), and it was three years before I again had access to a “proper” unicycle. That one was a Schwinn Giraffe, but that’s another story for another time.

Another game-changing upgrade I can think of was the transition from a 24" Muni with 1.75" tire (a Miyata Deluxe from the 80s) to a 26" Muni with a 2.4" tire. That was the DM ATU (All Terrain Unicycle), the first one on the market with a splined axle. The wider tire made hard trails easy, and impossible trails possible. That was in 1999. :slight_smile:

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In terms of “historic” game changing, more comfortable seats which actually had bumpers and didn’t twist on the stem or produce sharp metal seat frame edges after a fall were a game changer. (e.g. in 1980 replacing a unicycle seat with a heavy wooden homemade seat, with a bit of padding, bolted onto a plate that was welded onto the seat post was, unbelievably, a major improvement!).

On resuming unicycling in 2017, a nimbus 24 mountain unicycle with 3.00 tire was definitely a whole new ball game.

BTW, do any handle users (or triers) think that a handle was a game changer (or not)?

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I found my current handle setup (short asymmetric T-bar for muni) an improvement over the stock plastic handle, but probably not a “game changer” for what I do.

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I would like to preorder your book on unicycling, unicycles, and unicyclists history.

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Put me on the list too!

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The schlumpf hub of course!

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I thought I was the only one that did that. The thought was that even though the wood is hard (with a little padding), the shape could be made exactly as needed. It did not work for me.

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Yep, handlebar for me. Massive increase in control and comfort.

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Not immediately. I got my first handle when I purchased a M4O Handle Saddle and I was still only able to hold on to the regular plastic handle for short periods of time…

Today I cannot imagine riding without a handle or a brake with an easy to reach brake lever. Both adds comfort and control. And riding with both hands on the handle just feels great.

For me the most game-changing equipment upgrade was when I changed from cheap plastic-pin pedals to some nice pedals with metal pins. That gave a sudden boost in control.

I was going to say handle for me, but the tiny-asymmetrical ones (like the ones I sell eh, not trying to push anyone :sweat_smile: ). The difference in grip and control is impressive, I tried alot of different confirgurations before I ended with this particular setup, and before I ended with something I truly liked and did not feel like it needed more adjustement. The grip is much much better than plastic handles, the feel of the brake is also better and the hand stays in its position with less force involved. Overall, more control, more stable and more comfy (for me at least).

I’d totally say the brake if I didn’t make those handles though. It felt like cheating the first times. And once you can control it and be confident with it, you can ride things you’d never expect and go faster!

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My wooden saddle is way cruder than yours, Jim…

you can’t really see the block of carved wood sitting on the brown steel very well.
It is covered by a lot of cheap foam.
And now needs tape to keep it together, the wood has split at the back.
It has a 22in wheel and has seen quite a few kilometers in the early 80’s.
And the seat has been re-covered a couple of times.

Out of curiosity, I took it down from a hook in the garage about an hour ago (wow it is a heavy little thing - the frame must weigh a bit too!), pumped up the tire and went for a little ride - it is still comfy, but the seat would now fall apart if it was dropped. Almost made me want to fix it properly out of nostalgia. (But I guess I will set up my 29er with a cut down shadow handle as a higher priority - maybe a game changer?).

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36 Brauss CF rim makes it like a 29, really impressive improvement compared to my 1st Coker ride with a steel rim about 15 years ago

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That’s what I’d say too: “modern” unicycle seats.
Unfortunately I’m not able to source any photo of the unicycle I learned on nor any similar design. It was a banana-shaped 1" tube welded to the seatpost (that had no seatpost clamp bun many holes that allowed adjustment in 5 cm (2") steps but also around 5° twist). It was wrapped in a layer of around 3 cm of very firm felt and a thin layer of hard leather that was sewed on the bottom side. Front and back were open. Our stage routines at this time were around 3 to 4 minutes which was abaout hte maximum time i could sit on this thing without a break.
The viscount seat (the ones with the steel base) were then a huge improvement. But it was still a hard way to the seats i own now that allow multiple hour tours or training sessions.

The brake, of course, was a game changer too. Especially after participating in Salzkammergut Trophy (22 km muni race in the alps with 600 m up an down) without any brake the first year.

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:scream: I don’t actually believe anyone unicycles with clip-ins. It’s just a way for the experienced riders to have a laugh at the newbies’ expense, “Oh yeah, it’s totally great, try it! [huh-huh…]” Honestly, I can’t imagine a really sudden UPD - which are all too common in my case - not ending in a painful crash, or worse! But, hats off to you wild people and your clips!