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Old 10-23-07, 11:53 AM   #1
StephenH
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Unicycle questions

So I see the unicycle and think "That looks like fun!"- but I've never tried it. Any riders out there?

First off, how hard is this? As a kid, I used stilts, rode bikes, etc., so I guess my sense of balance and all is about par, but not exceptional, either. Is this something anybody can do?

Secondly, supposing you fall off, can you generally just step off in one direction or another or do you periodically make an earth-shaking THWACK as you land flat on your back?

Thirdly, how long did it take you to learn?

Thanks for the input. I'll either have myself some fun or feel like I've dodged a bullet here.
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Old 10-23-07, 01:55 PM   #2
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Falling is expected but I only ate it hard once. And I was drunk. And the unicycle is 5.5 feet tall. On a typical size unicycle, you just put a foot down and you get back on. I can't remember even falling to the ground from it. If you're falling straight backwards and falling on your back, give up.

Yes, anyone can do it. It looks harder than it really is. One thing people don't understand about them is how tiring they are. Very good work out.

I learned when I was 8. I'm 25 now. It took me about 2 weeks to get away from the wall. Adults should be able to learn it in a couple days I'd assume. Good luck.
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Old 10-25-07, 11:04 AM   #3
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I bought one last year. Didn't try it much this year but the best I got was about 30 feet.

But, I'm also in my mid 40's. All that keeps going through my mind is the phrase "old dog, new tricks."
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Old 10-25-07, 11:23 AM   #4
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It's harder than it looks to learn - you need to commit a couple of weeks to it, longer to really feel comfortable.

But, falling is really not an issue, especailly if you learn with a small wheel (lower speed). The unicycle zips right out from under you so fast, you don't really have time to fall. You're just walking all of a sudden.

Follow links from unicycle.com for lots of info and stories:

http://www.unicycle.com/links.asp
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Old 10-25-07, 01:32 PM   #5
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Learning IS hard. I started out with hands on a chain-link fence and graduated on to holding a friend's hand walking next to me. Falling doesn't hurt, though, since the uni just falls over to the front or back.

Definitely stay under 24" for the first one, and get good gloves with full finger coverage because you'll be grabbing everything you can to stay up when you're starting. I also like to wear shin guards because I had the tendency to give myself a hard whack with the pedals in the shin. They aren't necessary, but they were cheaper than a ripped set of pants and I feel a lot more confident when I have them on. I have soft ones from Six-Six-One.
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Old 10-28-07, 07:33 PM   #6
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I've never tried it, but a couple of weekends ago, I did the Hilly Hundred and there were four young guys doing all 100 hilly miles on one wheel!
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Old 10-28-07, 07:40 PM   #7
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I learned when I was 38. I learned it in the shop riding down a three foot lane with bikes and racks on either side. If your balance is good, you should have not problems. I prefer the 24", it lets me pedal a little slower. I tried a 36", it was way to fast, even pedaling slow it freaked me out enough that it was hard to concentrate on staying up.
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Old 10-28-07, 08:46 PM   #8
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I've been checking around a bit on unicycles. One thing I'm running into is that apparently some of the cheap unicycles are made such that the smaller wheel sizes (20" for example) also just aren't tall enough for a normal adult- so they recommened 26" wheel size for somebody 6' or so. However, I've found one site that has longer/shorter seat tubes and should be able to get a 20" to fit me with no problem, so I'm checking into that.

One guy with the 20" models that are short made the statement, "You need 26" to get any speed!" and I'm thinking, "Yeah, I'm hoping to go in circles in the driveway! Who needs speed?" Actually, I wouldn't mind at some point trying to cover some distance, but it for sure won't be 100 miles, and I've got to walk before I run, so to speak).

I did find a number of interesting unicycle sites, including such finds as a recumbent unicycle and a tandem unicycle (not for sale, but found they had been made). Found they have actually put brakes on unicycles specfically for hills- seems using your legs to keep speed down can kill your knees after a while.

Thanks for the input guys, I'll see where it leads me now.
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Old 10-28-07, 09:37 PM   #9
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You can get a long BMX seat post to fit your uni if you want a 20" but need more post for leg length. I used one on on my 24".
To start a Summit uni will be fine, $100-120. The crap parts on it are the super short seat post and the seat post clamp is pretty weak as well. Both of these can be replaced with decent BMX bits pretty cheap. If you buy a high end uni, right off the bat you will spend several hundred dollars and it will get a bashing while you learn to ride.
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Old 12-16-07, 10:55 PM   #10
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Update- 12/16/07 or so-
I got my unicycle in the day before Thanksgiving (in US). Thanks for all the responses above!

I wound up getting a new Torker LX 20" off Ebay. This has a fairly heavy wheel (I'm on the beefy side), and was available with a 20" wheel AND with a longer seat post. I got it with the "long" seatpost, and with the seat all the way down, it is about right. It can be adjusted another 6" or so up, I'm 6'-1-1/2", so it ought to fit somebody nearly 7' tall at the high end. This has plastic bumpers on the front and back of the seat, and they have taken a beating.

As to learning- I'm getting there. It's not just a matter of suddenly getting the hang of it and then riding all over. I started out in the hall here at the house, going up and down it. Then discovered that a local bridge with a bike path offered a good place to ride across holding on to the handrail as required. Now, I'm riding on the street in front of the house. I have to hold on to something (like my car) to get started but have ridden a hundred yards or so thereafter. I still need to work on turns- I can dodge around stuff, but can't just ride in a circle. I haven't been practicing every day due to doing other stuff- probably been on it 10 or 15 days in the time I've had it. Learning is an odd experience. It's sort of like learning to ride a bicycle. Not necessarily making conscious decisions that keep you upright, but getting your subconscious used to making the little movements that keep you upright.

As to falling off- generally no problem. I fell down once on my hands when first starting, and fell down on my hands yesterday when trying to mount without any other support. Otherwise, it's been mostly a matter of stepping off or in some cases having the thing shoot out from under me.

All in all, it's been fun. My 20-year-old son is also learning to ride, and having fun as well (using the same unicycle). He's actually a bit better than me at the moment, plus looks a bit more stylish on a unicycle as he's on the thin side.
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Old 12-17-07, 10:30 AM   #11
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Some schools pride themselves with unicyclists. I'm thinking of one of the Claremont colleges, Harvey-Mudd which is a science and engineering type school. They even have a nick name for them...Mudders.

Not sure of the other So Calif school...Cal Tech in Pasadena. Same type of students.
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Old 12-18-07, 11:00 AM   #12
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My 12yo daughter just got a unicycle. She is still struggling getting up and going. I found out the hard way to not stand directly behind her while helping her get going. My shin still hurts.
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Old 12-18-07, 01:10 PM   #13
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There are a bunch of mtb unicyclists in the UK doing the Polaris (orienteering on a bike) series
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Old 12-18-07, 09:41 PM   #14
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"I found out the hard way to not stand directly behind her while helping her get going. My shin still hurts."

One time out front, the unicycle shot out in front of me, the tire hit the curb and bounced about 3' in the air. But that's not typical. Have the girl try going up and down a hall.

I don't think I'll get into the mountain unicycling, any more than I've gotten in mountain biking with my bicycle.

A video- unexceptional, but sort of shows progress to date:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O73a0AP86Us

I did manage to do a 360 degree loop this evening while practicing, and I think that's the main thing to work on at the moment.

One Christmas thought: Don't buy one of these for anyone that's marginally interested. Unless you just happen to be very talented, there is a good bit of work involved in learning to ride- so if the person doesn't really care, they're going to try it for 30 minutes and give up forever.
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Old 12-18-07, 11:29 PM   #15
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Sounds like you're making good progress! Now that you've got the hang of straight runs, you can work on "idling" - staying within a small area while pedaling the uni back and forward about a half wheel rotation. This will help you learn turning and transition to traveling backwards. It's also nice to be able to stop in place without dismounting.
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Old 11-21-08, 11:43 PM   #16
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I'm thinking about trying this; what about the unicycles on ebay, like a 16" ?

I'm 5'7", about 160 lbs.



http://cgi.ebay.com/Brand-New-In-Out...3A1|240%3A1318
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Old 11-22-08, 12:22 AM   #17
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Go for the 20"- figure anything smaller is basically kid-oriented. I would suggest the Torker LX as being about the best value.

I've bought 2 unicycles from an "I Sell Low" or something like that on Ebay.
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Old 11-22-08, 12:28 AM   #18
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I was thinking of bidding on this...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=320318232984

you think an 18" is too small?
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Old 11-22-08, 03:00 AM   #19
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Takes about a month to learn, during which you're mostly just using a wall for support and such. After that, it's easy. Unless you have SPD's or similar, you just step off. I started with a 24", personally, and went up to a 36" once I had that down. A 20" is fine if you're more interested in tricks and such, but I wanted a bit of speed. 20" paces similar to a pedestrian, and speed is based on wheel size. 24" will give you a bit of speed to zip around the neighborhood, 26" will give you a bit more. Don't try to learn on anything bigger than a 26". 29" is popular for a lot of purposes, and 36" is a common racer/touring uni size.
DON'T SKIMP! Poor quality is a much bigger issue with a uni than on a bike. A walmart bike will ride but not very well, but a walmart unicycle won't even ride worth a damn - might add five months to your time to learn if you use a cheapo uni, for instance.
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Old 12-26-08, 08:14 AM   #20
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So I got a 20" unicycle off of CL. The seat post is way too short and after looking on Google shopping it seems that the common size seat post is 22.2mm.

I measured my seat post when I was home for xmas and found at the smallest it was 20.7mm.

Now what?
I needs a new seat post.
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Old 12-26-08, 09:11 AM   #21
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Check at www.unicycle.com and see if you can figure out what size/length/type you need.
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