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Quick question:

I just broke a spoke, for no apparent reason.
I then checked the others (which I had never done since I bought the uni) and it’s a bit of a joke. About a third of the nipples were completely loose (by several turns) and the rest very eneven, with barely any tension.

Can I retrue the wheel with one less spoke (while waiting for new spokes to arrive) or is it just going to mess up the rim?
This is for normal beginner activities, so no big drops or other demanding strains.

Bonus Q: How do I measure a spoke (from where to where, to make sure I order the right size)?

After I broke my first spoke, I had it replaced. Not long after, another spoke broke. After a third spoke broke, I had the wheel re-built. That was on my muni. Same chain of events happened on my trials uni. The cause was threefold, I think: 1. I was not educated about spoke adjustment (it still scares me). 2. I have been told the quality of spokes on some out-of-the-box unicycles are less than premium. 3. I was starting to use techniques putting a lot of tension on the spokes, such as hopping and steep hill climbing.

That chain of events is exactly what I had in mind.

Me too, but since the wheel was seriously twisted with the tire rubbing hard on the frame, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. Good time to actually try.
I bared the rim, used the frame as a stand and 20 minutes later the wheel was fine both radially and laterally.

I’ll see what happens after next practice.

Probably next practice they all come loose at the same time. :smiley:

So far the only probs I had were that one of the bolts that keep the frame connected to the hub had snapped off and from another uni a flange of the hub had broken off. I have no idea how that had happened. I’m too chicken to do any serious muni-ing and ride mostly just relaxed XC;

Yeah and also since you can go bigger distances with a municycle, riding on uneven sandy roads you also get a good feel of what the balance area is. When I ride in my forest I can sometimes semi hop over some protruding roots and lately I’ve been focusing more on riding through very soft sand. It is quite a challenge and often I find out that the uni is more capable of traversing it than I imagine in my mind.
Also sandy roads with many holes can be quite tricky. As soon as the uni starts bouncing I tumble off.

All new unicycles need their spokes tightened after a few weeks or months. There is a 3x3 method for tightening them described here that is safe and effective for a wheel that is not out of true.

I once had a spoke breaking every couple of weeks. It was on a wheel that I had just rebuilt, and I eventually figured out that what had caused the problem was that I had re-used the original spokes without paying attention to which ones had been trailing spokes and which ones had been leading spokes in their previous lives. I kept replacing individual spokes, which my local bike shop did not always cut to exactly the right length, and more spokes kept breaking, so finally I ordered a set of 40 identical spokes from Ebay and rebuilt my wheel again. That was several years ago, and not a single spoke has broken since then. I have barely even had to true it or re-tighten it. Some people would say that once spokes start breaking, it’s better to just throw them all out and rebuild, and that is what I ended up doing, but Garp probably doesn’t need to resort to such a drastic measure. Replacing a spoke, truing his wheel, bringing it up to tension, and truing it one last time should be enough.

Spoke length is measured from the “elbow” of the spoke to the end. There are also various online spoke length calculators. I think UDC even has its own. I definitely would not true my wheel until it’s got all of its spokes, though.

That sucks. Yes, it’s a good idea to check and retighten spokes on a new wheel after a few rides. But there are also thousands of people that don’t do that, and don’t get issues, so I’d say it’s a combination of you being unlucky, and whoever build that wheel making a mistake.

Yes. One less spoke is generally fine, as long as the rest of them are reasonably tight. As song said, I wouldn’t spend much time truing it with one spoke missing, just get them reasonably even and true-ish, and do a proper job once I have all spokes.

Inside of the bend, to end of spoke. If in doubt (or between two sizes) , 1mm less tends to be better than 1mm longer.

On my 19" unicycles, which after a few years always seem to have bent rims (ride enough street or trials, and that’ll just happen, unless you check and tighten spokes after every single jump), I try to find a compromise between a wheel that’s running true, and even spoke tension. If you pull the wheel straight with a bent rim, your spoke tension won’t be even, and spokes will break/losen faster. If your wheel is too wobbly, it gets annoying too. Never really easy to find a decent middleground.

Thanks for all the tips, people :slight_smile:

I did go for some middleground between truing and getting even (enough) tension throughout. It’s been 4 or 5 days now, 4 hrs a day and the wheel has stayed true, though I’ll have another pass tomorrow since some spokes feel a bit ‘soft’.

When the spoke broke, the wheel went immediately sideways, rubbing hard against the frame. It’s as if that one spoke was holding the wheel all by itself. No wonder it broke!

Anyway, I haven’t ordered the new spokes already since the shipping price from UDC (either UK or Germany) is a bit ridiculous.

edit: forgot to say thanks for how to measure the spoke.

Try a few local bike stores, I’ve succesfully got spokes the right length for a 19" once at one. If theres any BMX specific stores around you, I’d try those first.

Yeah, spokes are not unicycle-specific. Some weird ones do exist, mostly for racing bikes, but those would be the wrong length anyway. As long as spokes are the right length and thickness (usually 14 gauge), they should be fine for your unicycle, and you can order them from any website that sells that kind of stuff. If you have a good BMX store in your area, you are lucky!

I can idle! (360 hrs)

Not consistently yet but repeatedly 20 to 30 cycles on either side.

It’s not exactly elegant and I move and rotate way too much. So I’m not done yet.
But the first thing I’m going to work on is putting more of my weight back on the seat (again) since the burn in my thigh is now the limiting factor in the number of swings.

It did take about 5 or 6 times longer to learn than riding.

Thanks again guys for all the info about the spokes.
I’ll look online since there are no shops at all (bmx or else) around here.

I’m guessing this is how most people learn to idle. Unless you rotate “too much”, you’re not going to stay on.

Not sure what you mean by “move” way too much. Do you mean you’re flailing your arms a lot, or that your tire rotates a lot during the idle? There was some discussion on another thread about small vs. large idles. I personally never found small idles to be comfortable. Reversing the wheel direction at such quick intervals made me feel stress in my knees. I prefer idling slow, half-revs between the 3:00/9:00 and 9:00/3:00 position…with momentary still-stands between each idle.

Congratulations, Garp! Sounds like you’re breaking through. Before long, you’ll be able to idle until you get bored!

Thanks :slight_smile:

By ‘move’ I meant translate sideways.
It’s weird, btw. Even though I don’t feel one side being easier than the other, it’s like I use two different styles. On the right side, after 20 or 30 idles I’m still facing the same direction but I can end up almost a meter away (usually to the right) from where I started. On the left, I stay pretty much on the same spot but sometimes I’ve rotated almost half a turn. Funny.

On the right foot, if you’re able to move your contact patch a meter away during 30 idles, that suggests to me you are pivoting both clockwise and counter-clockwise while idling, which takes some control. With the left foot, when you rotate, is it generally in one direction (either clockwise or counterclockwise)? My guess is that your right foot is your “dominant” one. Kudos for practicing idling on both sides, Garp! Idling is a skill, IMHO, that should be practiced on both sides.

Shouldn’t they all?
It’s something I decided to do with unicycling since day one: get equally comfortable on both sides, with whatever I’m learning.
My usual approach is to set an easy goal and try it on one side until it’s attained, then repeat on the other side, over and over, aiming higher over time. Obviously, this makes me practice more on the weaker side, which forces it to catch up.
It has worked nicely so far.

After learning to idle on one side, I learned to idle one-footed on that same side before going on to learn both kinds of idling on the other side. Making every skill both-sided as soon as possible is not what I did, but it’s obviously a better habit. I can hop to either side, but if I am going up the stairs, to the right is way easier for me, and I think almost every unicyclist has a preferred side for hopping.

Follow-up on the spoke thing.

I awkwardly fell on the uni and five more spokes went ‘pling’.
No more riding until thursday. Then my first wheel building.

Wow, I never even had two spokes snap at once, let alone five! I hope your rim isn’t too far gone.

My successful wheelbuild was my second attempt, and it happened when I followed the tutorial posted on this thread. You might want to read through the whole thread before starting, as it includes a lot of helpful discussion. Order 40 spokes of the same length (assuming your hub has 36 holes), get a spoke wrench and some grease or chain oil and you should be ready to go. That’s all I used, anyway. Some people put all kinds of weird stuff on their spokes to stop them from unscrewing, but I have found that if you tighten them properly, they almost never come loose.

Good luck!

Well, that sucks. Two good pieces of news though:

1. You can soon join the “I built my own wheel”-club.

2. Whatever you do, you can’t do a much worse job then what the factory did.

Depends on your goals, I guess. For idling, I absolutely agree, you should practice both sides. But for jumps as an example, I’m much happier about jumping up to 90 cm with my right foot forward, and (Rough guess) 50cm with my left foot forward, than I’d be with a max height of let’s say 70 cm in both stances.

Thanks for the link.
I’m not particularly worried about building my wheel. I find that all the various decisions (I can think of) have a simple rationale.
Plus, how hard can it be? After all, I can ride a unicycle! :stuck_out_tongue:

I wasn’t too serious about the two-sides thing. It’s just that: a thing.
There is some intellectual - possibly misguided - satisfaction to it and also I’d like to see how far I can push it, but I’m not convinced that it brings any significant advantage.
From the videos I’ve seen, most urban riders have a favorite (exclusive?) side for just about everything. They seem to do just fine without any ambidextrosity (is that a word?).