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rec.sport.unicycling Frequently Asked Questions


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Posted-By: auto-faq 3.1.1.2
Archive-name: sports/unicycling-faq
Posting-Frequency: posted on the 7th of each month

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Frequently Asked Questions on Unicycling

June 7, 1997

*: Means the item is new or recently changed.

1. General

  1. Why ride a unicycle?
  2. How did unicycling begin?
  3. Where can I get more information on unicycling?
  4. Where can I find a unicycle club or organization?
  5. Where's the other wheel?
  6. What is a unicycle under the law?
  7. How do you say unicycle in different languages?

2. Learning

  1. How long does it take to learn?
  2. How do you learn to ride?
  3. Is unicycling dangerous?
  4. How do I learn how to...?
  5. What are the 10 skill levels?
  6. What are some different mounts?
  7. Why do I have to twist to one side to ride straight?

3. Buying

  1. *Where can I get a unicycle?
  2. Where can I get parts for my unicycle?
  3. *What should I get for my first unicycle?
  4. What makes a good unicycle?
  5. What size wheel should I get?
  6. What are the different types of unicycles?

4. Maintenance and Repair

  1. How do unicycles work?
  2. How much should I inflate the tires?
  3. Why don't you get a unicycle with multiple speeds?
  4. Which end is the front?
  5. How high should the seat be?
  6. What do I do about the crank arm on my unicycle that keeps coming
     loose?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. General

1.1 Why ride a unicycle?

The first and most important reason is that it is fun. It's neat being up on
one wheel, in control. There are other good reasons, though:

Exercise
     You are always pedaling a unicycle, so riding is a good workout. Riding
     is a low-impact activity, so it is good for people like me with legs
     wrecked by jogging.
Transportation
     Cruising speed is 8-9 miles an hour on a standard 24" unicycle, fast
     enough to use an alternative to a car for local trips. I have commuted
     3 miles to work up to 5 days a week, and I use it to run errands. I am
     not going to pick on bicycles, but I feel safer commuting with the
     unicycle than with a bike. I can ride the unicycle on the sidewalk, out
     of the way of traffic, without affecting my speed.
Challenges
     You never run out of unicycling challenges. After you learn to ride
     forward, you can learn to ride backwards. When you have done that you
     can learn to ride one-footed. You can enjoy what you know, but you can
     always learn more.

1.2 How did unicycling begin?

The accepted view is that the unicycle came from the penny-farthing bicycle,
which had a large front wheel and a small rear wheel. The penny-farthing had
cranks directly connected to the front axle. If a rider stopped quickly, the
rear wheel would go up in the air as the rider moved forward a bit. Some
riders no doubt found that they could ride a bit with the rear wheel up, and
then decided to see how far they could go. Pictures of unicycles from the
late 1800's show big-wheeled unicycles, which would support the idea that
the first unicycles came from penny-farthing bicycles.

The Quebec Unicycle Association has a page in French discussing the origin
of the unicycle which describes the same view (I think). The URL is
http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/homeangl.html.

1.3 Where can I get more information on unicycling?

Books

I only know of one book that has been available outside of unicycling
circles, and that is "The Unicycle Book" by Jack Wiley. Fortunately many
libraries bought it; I discovered it at my high school library in the
Dominican Republic. Even though the book was written in the early 70's most
of the information is still current. It tells how the unicycle works, how to
learn to ride (the author has since promoted simpler methods), how to do
some tricks, organize a club, build a unicycle, and includes other features
as well. The book also features a variety of unicyclists, many of whom you
can meet at the National Unicycle Meet today. This book is out of print and
replaced by "The Complete Book of Unicycling".

   * From Solipaz Publishing and the Unicycling Society of America, all by
     Jack Wiley
        o How to Ride a Unicycle: This book covers unicycle physics, how to
          ride, and how to do some basic tricks. Its method is simpler than
          that of "The Unicycle Book". It is basically several chapters
          extracted from "The Complete Book of Unicycling".
        o Novelty Unicycling
        o The Ultimate Wheel Book
        o The Complete Book of Unicycling: This book replaces "The Unicycle
          Book". Much of the content will look familiar if you have seen
          "The Unicycle Book", but it goes into a lot more detail on tricks
          and history. The book is slightly out of date but it is still
          worth getting, because you will find more unicycling information
          here than anywhere else. It covers solo tricks, group tricks,
          clubs, history, records, and props, among other things.
        o Basic Circus Skills
        o How to Build Unicycles and Artistic Bicycles
        o The Whole Unicycle Catalog
        o Inside the Wheel: The Complete Guide to Monocycles
     Solipaz Publishing Company
     P.O. Box 366
     Lodi, CA 95241

   * From the Unicycling Society of America
        o Tidbits for Beginners. This contains a variety of articles from
          "One One Wheel", the newsletter of the Unicycling Society of
          America.
        o Complete set of all Unicycling Society of America Newsletters
          since 1974
        o Official Competition Rulebook
        o "On One Wheel" is the newsletter of the Unicycling Society of
          America. You need to be a member to receive it but it is worth the
          price.
     Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240.

   * From Semcycle
        o Learning to Ride by Teresa and Sem Abrahams

          This is really a pamphlet rather than a book. It has no big
          secrets, but it does contain a good method for learning to ride.
   * From the New Zealand Juggling Association & Unicycling New Zealand

     Uni News is the newsletter for NZ unicyclists. It is published in
     conjunction with the Flying Kiwi the magazine produced quarterly by the
     NZ Juggling Association. Uni News provides information on the National
     and International scene, featuring articles on technique, construction
     and events. Road tests, Buy, sell & Swap. etc.

     For subscription information call, fax or write the Unicycle Hotline

     Phone: +64 (07) 839 9005 or 025 761 141

     Fax: +64 (07) 839 9006

     PO Box 776 Hamilton New Zealand

   * From IUF and Miyata
        o Anyone Can Ride a Unicycle by Jack Halpern

          For the material it covers this is the best book on unicycling. In
          particular, book tells how to learn to ride, as well as a variety
          of beginning and intermediate skills. It also covers practical
          issues like unicycling attire, adjusting the unicycle, and theory.

          The book is based on what are considered the most effective ways
          of learning. John Foss helped a lot with reviewing the manuscript
          and by providing excellent photographs. Much credit is also due to
          Bill Jenack,the founder of modern unicycling, who has developed
          most of the techniques introduced in the book.

          The book comes with Miyata unicycles, and you can also get it from
          Jack Halpern while supplies last. Miyata is out of stock at the
          moment, and has no definite plans at this time to reprint it. In
          the meantime, he will be glad to send you photocopies for $15,
          including airmail.

          The amount you send need not be $15 exactly if you send it in
          another currency. You should send this in cash form, not a check,
          since it is very difficult to cash a check in dollars in Japan.
          Supplies are short, so you may want to send e-mail to Jack before
          sending cash to verify availability. His address is:

                                  Jack Halpern
                                  1-3-502 3-Chome Niiza
                                  Niiza-shi
                                  Saitama 352 JAPAN

                                  E-mail: jhalpern@super.win.or.jp

          Beirne Konarski beirne@ald.net

   * From Dube or the Unicycling Society of America
        o Unicycling From Beginner to Expert by Sebastian Hoeher

          I think Mr. Hoehr's book is pretty good. It's a translation from
          German, with some resultant oddities, but on the whole I think it
          is comprehensive, and provides good learning progressions. The
          book covers learning steps, and some more advanced riding. It also
          has sections on specialty cycles (mainly giraffes), and a brief
          history section. I think that this is now one of the better books
          out on the subject, but could still be improved upon.

          Jasan Catan CATANZ47@snycorva.cortland.edu

   * "Die Kunst des Einradfahrens" (The Art of Unicycling) is a practical
     guide for beginners who want to learn unicycling, but it also describes
     some more advanced tricks and gives hints on how to use the Unicycle in
     a show. 100 pages, German language.

     Angela Lahm (106647.1305@compuserve.com)

Videos

From the Unicycling Society of America

   * I.U.F. Achievement Skill Levels. This is the easiest way for most
     people to see what the 10 skill levels look like. It was filmed at a
     past National Unicycle Meet and has a different person do each skill
     level, and then give some hints.
   * Rough Terrain Unicycling by George Peck. This is a good tape to get
     even if you don't want to ride over boulders or picnic tables, as
     George does in this tape. It is good to see even if you just want to do
     better on rough roads, trails, and curbs.

Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240.

If you live in the UK be careful when ordering Video's from the states (or
anywhere abroad), as the NTSC video system used there is not compatible with
your UK PAL video. If you do order specify a PAL version of the tape, which
they may or may not be able to provide !

A good video specialist could convert an NTSC video to PAL format, but this
is going to cost you !

The Internet

Newsgroup
     There is a newsgroup, rec.sport.unicycling, for discussing all aspects
     of unicycling.
Mailing list
     The mailing list is a bi-directional mirror of the group
     rec.sport.unicycling. You can subscribe to the Unicycling mailing list
     by sending the message "subscribe unicycling" to
     majordomo@winternet.com. You can un-subscribe to the same address by
     sending the message "unsubscribe unicycling".
IUF Mailing List
     This list is for discussing issues regarding the International
     Unicycling Federation. All who are interested are welcome to join. Send
     the message "subscribe iuf-discuss" to majordomo@winternet.com to
     subscribe, and "unsubscribe iuf-discuss" to quit.

World Wide Web
     Unicycling Home Page
          This is the original unicycling page. It has hypertext access to
          various unicycling topics, and includes two movies. The URL is
          http://www.unicycling.org
     Unicycling NZ
          This covers unicycling in New Zealand, the home of unigrid, and
          includes lots of material of general interest as well. The URL is
          http://central.co.nz/~hjarvie/nzuni.html
     International Unicycle Federation
          This page contains the IUF competition rules.

          URL: http://www.winternet.com/~kfuchs/iuf.html
     Quebec Unicycle Association
          This page covers various topics, including unicycle history,
          unicycle basketball, and the health benefits of unicycling.

          URLS: http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/ (French)
          http://www.gel.ulaval.ca/~stpier02/amq/homeangl.html (English)
     Unicycle Hockey
          A good general page on Unicycle Hockey.

          URL: http://www.science.yorku.ca/cac/people/sander/uni/
     Mountain Unicycling
          Covers the exciting sport of mountain unicycling.

          http://www.msm.cam.ac.uk/CUCC/muni/munindex.html
     The German Unicycle Hockey League
          This page contains information on unicycle hockey in Germany. Most
          of it is in English, some of it is in German.

          URL:
          http://www.dbis.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/~lauteman/unicycling/index_e.html

1.4 Where can I find a unicycle club or organization?

Unicycling Society of America
     The Unicycling Society of America distributes a quarterly newsletter,
     sponsors an annual conference/meet, sells all known unicycle
     literature, and serves as an information clearinghouse. Dues are
     currently $15 a year. It is well worth the cost. You can reach them at:
     Unicycling Society of America, P.O. Box 40534, Redford, MI 48240. There
     are local clubs in many areas. Detroit, Minneapolis, and Bowling Green
     OH are three cities with large clubs. The Unicycling Society of America
     has a clubs registry and will send out club lists for a small cost.
     They encourage people to register as clubs, even if they are only few
     or one person.

     I will need some help in this section for more club information,
     especially from foreign countries.

Unicycling New Zealand
     This is a new club, founded by Ross Mackintosh, editor of UniNews.

1.5 Where's the other wheel?

   * In Nanny's room, behind the clock.
   * It'll be along in a minute.
   * Where's your originality?
   * That's the nth time I've heard that one today.
   * Real men (women) don't need two wheels.
   * I'm paying for it in installments.
   * You're kidding, it was there last time I looked (and promptly fall off)
   * I didn't put enough locks on it.
   * I loaned the other wheel to a friend. Sit here and make sure he comes
     by.
   * I don't need it!
   * I got the bike on sale, half off...I didn't realize they meant the
     bike.
   * It's the economy; can't afford the other wheel.
   * This is the recession model.
   * I'm on a time payment plan.
   * It's this downsizing thing.
   * It's on the train to Glasgow. It's on an exchange program with another
     wheel.
   * It fell behind the fridge.
   * Two wheels? That's twice as hard!
   * Don't be daft, where would I put a second wheel?
   * My other wheel? Why, I don't need a training wheel anymore!
   * It's having a rest, it'll be along on the next cycle.
   * My Grandma is riding on it
   * Corporate downsizing
   * It's on back order.

1.6 What is a unicycle under the law?

Note: These are the opinions of laymen, and should not be considered legal
advice.

United Kingdom

Someone recently posted on uk.rec.cycling implying that it is legal to ride
a bicycle on the pavement (US Sidewalk) as long as the wheel size doesn't
exceed 20". This got me wondering whether it was true, and if so what the
implications might be for unicyclists. So, it was back to the library to
look through the law books.

The Highway Code goes through the cycling laws and makes it fairly clear
that there should be no problem with riding on the road. But forget about
The Highway Code, what it *doesn't* give is a legal definition of a cycle.
That's what I managed to find:

'"Cycle" means a bicycle, tricycle, or cycle having four or more wheels, not
being in any case a motor vehicle.'

So cycle laws don't cover a unicycle. There is nothing about unicycles
anywhere in the road traffic legislation. I'm not going to wade through the
whole of English law looking for any reference to unicycling, so if anyone
knows of a reference elsewhere I'd be interested. It seems that it is quite
legal to ride a unicycle on the pavement in England. Does anyone know what
the law says in the rest of the UK?

If anyone fancies getting a copy of this definition (you never know when it
might be useful), my source is:

Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th edn, vol. 40 (Road Traffic), published in
1983 by Butterworths, London.
Danny Colyer/bs1dwc@bath.ac.uk

New Zealand

Before starting Unicycling New Zealand back in March 1993, I approached
Transit NZ to find out the real truth about unicycling in this country...
Several letters between myself and the Minister of Transport brought us both
to the following conclusion...

A bicycle, by NZ law, must have AT LEAST TWO wheels. ...well, that rules out
a standard unicycle instantly!

So was it a toy? In the book of NZ road religion, a toy may have a wheel
diametre no larger than 355mm (14inches) INCLUDING any tyre. ...rules out
the standard uni again!

therefore we came to the conclusion that in NZ, the unicycle, fell in to the
category of a "vehicle" by default. this means it is quite legal to ride the
unicycle on the roads, as you would any vehicle in this country,
accommodating the laws of hand signals at all times, and lights at night,
etc. No helmet is required (as compulsory with a bicycle in this country),
no brakes or steering etc.

I guess we are lucky as I believe unicycling is not cool with authorities in
some states in America... wot a bummer!
Ross Mackintosh romack@hn.planet.gen.nz

California

In California a bicycle can have one wheel, but it must also have gears, a
belt, or a chain, which means that a standard unicycle is not a bicycle.

From the "Words and Phrases Defined" division of the California Vehicle Code
(http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.html/veh_table_of_contents.html):

231.  A bicycle is a device upon which any person may ride,
propelled exclusively by human power through a belt, chain, or gears,
and having one or more wheels.  Persons riding bicycles are subject
to the provisions of this code specified in Sections 21200 and
21200.5.

This definition does include giraffe unicycles, however, which is
unfortunate because elsewhere the law requires that bicycles be able to
leave skid marks when braking. Whether multi-wheel unicycles (in which only
one wheel touches the ground, but the wheels turn against each other to
propel the bottom wheel) are bicycles is an open issue.

A rider on a standard unicycle appears to be a pedestrian. Here is the
definition of a pedestrian in California, again from the California Vehicle
Code:

467.  (a) A "pedestrian" is any person who is afoot or who is using
a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

   (b) "Pedestrian" includes any person who is operating a
self-propelled wheelchair, invalid tricycle, or motorized quadricycle
and, by reason of physical disability, is otherwise unable to move
about as a pedestrian, as specified in subdivision (a).

Several years ago the Gonzo Unicycle Madness club at Harvey Mudd College
(Claremont, CA) put the legal definitions of the bicycle and pedestrian on
their club shirts, with the title "Unicycling is not a Crime".

Beirne Konarski
Jennie Hango
Craig Rogers

1.8 How do you say unicycle in different languages?

 Dutch:   eenwieler
 English: unicycle
 French:  monocycle
 German:  einrad
 Japanese:ichirinsha(preferred), yunisaikuru
 Spanish: monociclo(preferred), uniciclo
 Swedish: enhjuling
 Finnish: Yksipyora
 Greek:   monopodeloto

2. Learning

2.1 How long does it take to learn?

There is a wide variation in athletic fitness, balance perception, and
reaction time among those learning to ride a unicycle. So it is difficult to
predict roughly how many hours it will take to learn certain unicycling
skills. An experienced unicycling instructor may be able to make a good
guess after watching someone ride, but it is impossible without first seeing
the rider in action.

It has taken people as short as 15 min. and as long as 6 months to learn to
ride. However, it generally takes 2-6 weeks of regular practice to learn to
ride and a few more weeks to learn to do turns.

Ken Fuchs - kfuchs@winternet.com

A good rule of thumb is that it will take about one week for every day it
took you to learn to ride a bike.
Ed Falk<Ed.Falk@Eng.Sun.COM>

2.2 How do you learn to ride?

This comes from a posting by Robert Bernstein(rbernstein@igc.apc.org):

I am a big proponent of the getting friends to help. I do not like falling
down!

I learned by the MIT Unicycle Club method:

  1. Get two friends to stand on either side of you and get up on the
     unicycle with your arms around their shoulders.

  2. Sit up straight; look straight ahead; weight on seat, not on pedals.
     Rock the pedals to get a sense of balance. Get the pedals level; this
     is when you are in control.

  3. Pedal half turns then stop. Then full turns, two turns, etc. Doing
     multiples of half turns (from pedals level to pedals level again) is
     harder than continuously pedaling, but keeps you in control.

  4. Switch to holding on to your friends' wrists.

  5. Switch to holding on to one friend's wrist.

  6. Go off and use a wall instead of your one friend. (If you can't find a
     wall and a flat surface to ride on then continue with one friend, but
     let go as much as you can. Ed.)

Steps 1-5 should not take more than an hour (perhaps in 10 minute sessions).
The thing I liked about learning this way is that I never hurt myself in the
process. I have used this technique to teach a couple of dozen people.

For some people, the get on, fall off do-it-yourself cycle works best. It's
a matter of personality!

2.3 Is unicycling dangerous?

As dangerous as you want it to be. The vast majority of falls leave the
rider on their feet, as dismounting is a skill learned while learning to
ride. Most falls occur for just a few reasons: excessive speed, exhaustion,
lack of attention to the road, and learning new tricks. The rider can
control all of these factors to their desired comfort and safety level.

2.4 How do I learn how to...?

The Unicycling Home Page has information on learning a variety of skills.
The web version of the faq (http://www.unicycling.org/unicycling/faq.html)
has a number of references in the 10 skill level section and the mount
section. There are also some references in the Fun Things to do on a
Unicycle section of the Unicycling page.

2.5 What are the 10 skill levels?

Here is the list thanks to Andy Cotter (cotter@skypoint.com). Comments in
parentheses are mine.

GENERAL INFORMATION

In order to be eligible to achieve a level, a rider must have achieved all
previous levels. All skills start and end with the rider riding forward,
seated with both feet on the pedals. All mounts end with the rider riding
forward with both feet on the pedals.

PROCEDURE FOR TESTING

To achieve a skill level a rider must pass a skill level exam with an
authorized examiner. Examiners must be authorized by the Unicycling Society
of America, the IUF, or by a connected organization. In order to pass an
exam a rider must perform all skills in the level at the first attempt
except for 3 skills maximum which must be performed at the second attempt.

For some advice on preparing for a level test, check out the level testing
hints on the unicycle home page.

Level 1
        o Mount Unicycle unassisted
        o Ride 50 meters
        o Dismount gracefully with unicycle in front
Level 2
        o Mount with left foot
        o Mount with right foot
        o Ride 10 m between two parallel lines 30 cm apart
        o Ride a figure 8 with circle diameters smaller then 3 m
        o Ride down a 15 cm vertical drop
        o Make a sharp 90 degree turn to the left
        o Make a sharp 90 degree turn to the right
Level 3
        o Demonstrate 3 types of mounts
        o Ride a figure 8 with circle diameters smaller than 1.5 m
        o Come to stop, pedal half a revolution backward and continue
          forward
        o Ride with the stomach on the seat for 10 m
        o Make a sharp 180 degree turn to the left
        o Make a sharp 180 degree turn to the right
        o Hop 5 times
        o Ride over a 10 X 10 cm obstacle
Level 4
        o Demonstrate 4 types of mounts
        o Ride backward for 10 m
        o Ride one footed for 10 m
        o Idle with left foot down 25 times
        o Idle with right foot down 25 times
        o Ride with the seat out in front for 10 m
        o Ride with the seat out in back for 10 m
        o Make a sharp 360 degree turn the left
        o Make a sharp 360 degree turn the right
Level 5
        o Demonstrate 5 types of mounts
        o Ride backward in a circle
        o Ride one footed in a figure eight
        o Idle one footed with left foot down 25 times
        o Idle one footed with right foot down 25 times
        o Ride with the seat out in front in a circle
        o Ride with the seat out in back in a circle
        o Ride with the seat on the side in a circle
        o Hop-twist 90 degrees to the left
        o Hop-twist 90 degrees to the right
        o Hop standing on wheel 5 times (IUF)
        o Walk the wheel for 10 m (USA) (No feet on the pedals, instead you
          propel the unicycle by walking on the surface of the tire while
          sitting)
Level 6
        o Demonstrate 6 types of mounts
        o Ride backward in a figure 8
        o Ride with the seat out in front in a figure eight
        o Ride with the seat out in back in a figure eight
        o Ride backward with the seat out in front for 10 m
        o Walk the wheel for 10 m (IUF) (No feet on the pedals, instead you
          propel the unicycle by walking on the surface of the tire while
          sitting)
        o Ride with seat on the side in a circle to the left
        o Ride with seat on the side in a circle to the right
        o Ride one footed with the left foot for 10 m
        o Ride one footed with the right foot for 10 m
        o Backspin
        o Frontspin
        o Spin
        o Hop standing on wheel 5 times (USA)
Level 7
        o Demonstrate 7 types of mounts
        o Ride backward with seat out in front in a circle
        o Ride one footed with left foot in a circle
        o Ride one footed with right foot in a circle
        o Walk the wheel in a circle
        o Walk the wheel one footed for 10 m
        o Hop-twist 180 degrees to the left
        o Hop-twist 180 degrees to the right
        o Ride backward with the seat out in back for 10 m
        o Spin the left
        o Spin to the right
Level 8
        o Demonstrate 8 types of mounts
        o Ride one footed with the left foot in a figure 8
        o Ride one footed with the right foot in a figure 8
        o Walk the wheel in a figure eight
        o Walk the wheel one footed in a circle
        o Ride backward one footed for 10 m
        o Glide for 10 m (no feet on the pedals, you can use a foot on the
          surface of the tire as a brake.)
        o Hand wheel walk for 10 m
        o Pirouette
        o Backward spin
Level 9
        o Demonstrate 9 types of mounts
        o Walk the wheel one footed in a figure 8
        o Ride backward one footed in a circle
        o Ride backward with the seat out in front in figure 8
        o Ride backward with the seat out in back in a circle
        o Walk the wheel one footed with left foot for 10 m
        o Walk the wheel one footed with right foot for 10 m
        o Walk the wheel backward for 10 m
        o Drag seat in front 10 m
        o Drag seat in back for 10 m
        o Ride backward one footed with the left foot 10 m
        o Ride backward one footed with the right foot 10 m
        o Ride one footed with the seat out in front for 10 m
        o Backward pirouette
Level 10
        o Demonstrate 10 types of mounts
        o Ride backward with seat out in back in a figure 8
        o Ride backward one footed in a figure 8
        o Walk the wheel one footed with left foot in circle
        o Walk the wheel one footed with right foot in circle
        o Walk the wheel backward in a circle
        o 180 uni spin
        o Sideways wheel walk for 10 m
        o Coast for 10 m
        o Side ride for 10 m
        o Walk the wheel one footed backward for 10 m

2.6 What are some different mounts?

Left and right can be switched in the descriptions if you are left footed.

Standard
     Put a foot on the rear pedal and the seat underneath you. Step up onto
     the unicycle.
Side
     Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand.
     Move your right foot between your left leg and the unicycle. Swing it
     around the front of the seat, put the seat underneath you, and your
     right foot on the pedal.
side mount with foot around twice
     Like the side mount, but your foot makes an extra trip around the seat.
side mount with foot around 3X
     Like the side mount, but your foot makes an extra two trips around the
     seat.
side mount reverse
     Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand.
     Move your right foot around the back of the seat, put the seat
     underneath you, and your right foot on the pedal.
side mount reverse, leg around
     Put your left foot on the left pedal and hold the seat in your hand.
     Move your right foot around the back of the seat, swing your foot 360
     degrees around the seat again, put the seat underneath you, and your
     right foot on the pedal.
stepover mount
     Start on the side holding onto the seat with both hands bring the other
     foot up over the seat without releasing the seat with either hand. Step
     over the top of the seat without letting go of the seat. It is not a
     fun way to crash if you have your foot on the seat, but a good high
     step and its no more difficult than one of the other side mounts.
Reverse
     Stand in front of the unicycle with the seat underneath you. Put one
     foot on the lower pedal. Step back and up so that the unicycle is
     underneath you. The motion will be similar to idling once you are up.
Jump
     Hold the unicycle upright and jump up onto the pedals and the seat.
     Land with all your weight on the pedals or you will be unhappy.
180 spin mount
     Hold the unicycle in front of you with the front facing you. Jump into
     the air, spin the unicycle around 180 degrees, and land on it.
360 spin mount
     Hold the unicycle in front of you with the front facing away from you.
     Jump into the air, spin the unicycle around 360 degrees, and land on
     it.
kick up
     Lay the unicycle on its side. Put your foot on the pedal that is
     pointing up. Use your other foot to kick the seat up underneath you,
     and put the free foot on its pedal.
rolling mount
     Roll the unicycle, put your foot on one pedal and get up, without the
     wheel ever stopping.

one foot mount
     Like a standard mount, but the second foot goes over the pedal and the
     stays in the air. You can then go backwards or forwards with one foot.
one foot reverse mount
     Like the reverse mount, but the second foot goes over the pedal and the
     stays in the air. You can then go backwards or forwards with one foot.
side mount from standing on wheel
side jump mount
     Start at the side of the unicycle, then jump on the pedals and settle
     on the seat.
free side jump mount
     Start at the side of the unicycle, let go of the unicycle, then jump on
     the pedals and settle on the seat.
jump mount
Stand behind the unicycle, jump up on both pedals simultaneously, and settle
on the seat.
free jump mount
     Like a regular jump mount, but the rider lets go of the seat before
     their feet leave the ground.
rolling mount to one foot
jump mount to one foot idle
kick up to walk the wheel
kick up to walk the wheel one footed
kick up to spin
side jump mount to walk the wheel
     Like jump mount, but land in the wheel walk position.
side mount to seat out in front
frog mount
rolling jump mount to seat in back
jump mount to seat in front
     Like a jump mount, but you leave the seat out front and ride this way.
pick up mount
spin mount
spin mount to one foot riding
kick up with foot wrapped around frame
side jump mount to seat at back
jump mount with 180 seat spin whilst airborne
jump mount with 360 seat spin whilst airborne
turn around jump mount
     The rider turns around 180 degrees before landing on the unicycle.

Andy Cotter/cotter@skypoint.com
Beirne Konarski/beirne@ald.net
Doug Borngasser/dborngas@sdcc3.ucsd.edu

2.7 Why do I have to twist to one side to ride straight?

This could be caused by the left to right pitch or crown on most roads. Does
the problem persist when riding on level ground or a floor?

This could also be caused by riding posture. Consciously try to ride with a
straight back, looking forward with most of one's weight on the seat.
Putting less weight on the pedals and more weight on the seat really makes
riding far easier. It may take a few weeks to adjust to this better method
of riding, so don't worry if things don't instantly get better.

The plane of the wheel may not intersect the seat exactly in half. In other
words the frame may be bend or misaligned to the right or the left. If this
is the case, try bending the frame in the other direction in a vise,
protecting the chrome or paint with blocks of wood. However, the chrome or
paint may crack or rinkle at the stress points of the bend.

Misaligned crankarms may also cause problems.

The seat might be cracked or flex more in one direction or the other.

The tire can be worn more on one side than the other. This occurs most
commonly when the unicycle is used for gliding with predominantly one foot
or the other. Not very likely unless the unicycle is used for gliding.

Worn bearings or other unicycle parts could even be a factor, but really not
likely to cause "twisting to the right" or left.

3. Buying

3.1 Where can I get a unicycle?

The reviews of manufacturers and retailers that follow are written by
individuals who are not associated with the companies they review. Please do
not write to the reviewers asking for product information. Instead contact
the companies themselves or dealers selling their products.

Manufacturers

Miyata
     This is a popular Japanese brand that recently quit selling in the US
     due to the cheap dollar. You may be able to find some leftover in the
     retail channels in the US. You may also be able to get them in Canada,
     and you can of course get them in Japan. There are rumors that they
     will be imported into the US from Canada. I don't know about
     availability in countries other than Japan.

     The Standard and Deluxe Miyata both have an extremely loyal following,
     and have been used by nearly every world champion unicyclist thus far.
     They also make a 5' blue painted giraffe unicycle.

Semcycle
     Run by Sem and Theresa Abrahams, who were actually married on
     unicycles. There are two regular models, and a giraffe. The Semcycle,
     though relatively expensive, has extremely strong axle and crank arms,
     and is intended for heavy use by the most demanding of riders. The XL
     models are much less expensive, and built more along the lines of many
     other brands of Taiwanese origin, but with an above-average saddle.
     Both regular wheel models come in 26" wheel size, as well as the usual
     24" and 20". The 6' giraffe is a chrome A-frame, available with either
     one or two chains.

     For more information write to semcycle@aol.com or go to
     http://members.aol.com/semcycle/

     The Semcycle reviewer is John Foss (unifoss@calweb.com).

Siegmono-Cycle
     Siegmono-Cycle
     D. & G. Siegmon
     Schreberweg 4
     D - 24119 Kronshagen b. Kiel

     Tel: +49 431 541441
     Fax: +49 431 549099
     E-mail: gsiegmon@kernphysik.uni-kiel.d400.de

     We produce our own brand SIEGMONO. The idea of our unicycle production
     is to distinguish between three kinds of components: a) crucial, b) not
     so crucial and c) individual. As a result the SIEGMONOs consist of a
     strong wheel (strong axle and crank arms), a relatively cheap fork
     (Taiwanese) and one of three saddles (a contoured one which is
     completely resilient to hitting the street, a symmetric Pashley like
     model with bumpers and a saddle similar to the Semcycle).

     Written by Georg Siegmon of Siegmono-Cycle.

DM
     DMs are very sturdy and look good. The contour saddles are matched only
     by Semcycles for comfort, though DM straight saddles are an instrument
     of torture (some people apparently prefer them, it takes all sorts...).
     DM contour saddles also have front and back grab rails which do duty
     for holding on to, wheeling, catching while dismounting, but mostly
     taking all the knocks when dropped; my saddle is unscathed after a
     year's abuse, though there's no chrome left on the grab rails.

     DM's giraffes are works of art with twin chains for real durability and
     no twist. The only complaint is that they're a bit heavy, but they're
     built to last. DM's classic design is the 5' to 8' convertible, where
     the frame has a 3' extension tube and a long set of chains.

     Review written by Peter Lister(p.lister@cranfield.ac.uk). For sales
     information contact DM engineering by snail mail, or a retailer.

Unicycle Factory
     The Unicycle Factory is your one stop source for custom cycles, parts,
     and expert information about unicycles. If you can't find it anywhere
     else, it's because Tom Miller has it. Some of his custom models are big
     wheels (up to 56"), multi-wheels, tennis shoe wheels, ultimate wheel
     kits, giraffes up to 24', basketball-wheeled unicycles, etc.

     Review written by John Foss (unifoss@calweb.com). For further
     information call Tom Miller at (317) 452-2692.

Pashley
     Pashley is a British unicycle that has gone from making junky
     beginner's unicycles to be the first company to make production
     mountain unicycles.

     The older Pashley's have one screw holding each bearing to the fork.
     Once these get stripped (it won't take long), you are out of luck.

     The new mountain Pashley is sold by the Ugly Juggling Co, of Newcastle
     on Tyne, UK. It was built by Pashley, to Ugly's design they say.
     Pashley have been actively involved in developing a specific machine
     for mountain unicycling. Their products are the most cost effective way
     of riding uni's off-road and new products are in the pipeline. The
     bearings are double bolted into the forks, and show no trace of
     looseness. The saddle is contoured, completely resilient to hitting the
     concrete (still looks like new), and comfortable. The weight is about
     6Kg, which is not excessively heavy. After a year of use (by Chris
     Hughes) the whole thing is like new except for tyre wear and bashed
     pedals.

     Review written by: Chris Hughes cdh@wg.icl.co.uk
     Duncan Castling c/o Roger.Davies@octacon.co.uk
     Beirne Konarski beirne@ald.net

     For further information contact Pashley directly.
Rideable Bicycle Replicas
     They specialize in making antique bicycles, including the penny
     farthing, the ancestor of the unicycle. They also make big wheel
     unicycles, 38" to 52".
Schwinn
     Schwinn has been out of the unicycle business for several years now,
     due to problems like near-bankruptcy. They have now reentered the
     unicycle business, though. They have a 20" and a 24" model. They are of
     the same general style as the 1980's Schwinns, with some size
     differences in the axle.
Cyclepro
     Another decent value for the price. Made in Taiwan, steel fork with
     bearing holders as described in Pashley/Absolute. Different colors.
     Taiwan steel contour seat with chrome bumpers. Available in 20", 24",
     and sometimes 16". Review written by John Foss (unifoss@calweb.com).

     For more information contact Cyclepro or a dealer.
Bogglefingers
     Butterfingers and Boggle, juggling shops based in Bristol and Bath
     respectively import these. Can't really comment on the quality, but
     they look a better "budget" option than Pashley, for those people who
     can't afford DMs or Sems.

     Review written by Peter Lister(p.lister@cranfield.ac.uk). For sales
     information contact Bogglefingers by snail mail, or a retailer.

Oddcycle
     Oddball's own uni, built by Sem, looks much like a rebadged Sem
     trainer.
Cycle Design
     Cycle Design is a part of a company named "Ridgeway Products" that
     sells bike parts (not whole bikes). They also carry both a 24" and a
     20" uni. I have heard the name "Zephyr" when referring to these unis --
     I don't know if that came from the company or is a Muddism.

     The unis are medium quality: they are definitely superior to the
     generic kind that probably all come from the same factory in Taiwan.
     They have a tubular fork with a sloping face where the Miatas have a
     flat one. The fork is very lightweight, but very strong. It is chromed
     from top to bottom.

     The seat is (in my opinion) very comfortable. It is made out of a hard
     plastic frame with black foam molded around it. It is very easy to
     catch when dismounting either forwards or backwards. This is a good
     thing, since there is NO protection for the seat (like a metal bar, or
     a plastic piece). The first damage that happens to them is that the
     foam cracks in the front as a result of falling on the ground. The seat
     uses a standard Schwinn seat mount (the curved piece of metal with four
     oval holes) so you can easily replace the seat. Seats that fit this
     mounting style are easy to come by.

     The seat post connects to the frame by a standard seat clamp. People
     have a lot of trouble keeping these tight enough to resist rotation
     during tricks. One solution is to put a machine screw through the fork
     and post just to hold the alignment and keep the clamp to transfer the
     rider's weight. The metal is almost definitely too thin to handle
     system like Schwinn unis use.

     There's not much to be said about the wheel. It's got a chromed rim and
     some spokes. It seems to be well built. It comes with a black tire that
     looks sharp with the black pedals and seat. The biggest problem in the
     design is in the axle. The axles of the unis belonging to our two most
     demanding riders (hopping, curbs, jump mounts, etc.) have been sheared
     off at the connection between the crank arm and the axle. This does not
     bode well for long-term reliability. These unis were less than six
     months old when they broke. The bike shop has been very friendly about
     getting them repaired, though.

     The bearing mounts are also only rank 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. They are
     mounted directly at the end of the fork, providing a good metal to
     metal fit. From the bottom, though, four small bolts hold a piece of
     metal over them to keep them connected to the fork. This looks like an
     accident waiting to happen, since the bolts are very small, but we have
     had no problems with it. I suppose I am spoiled by what I consider a
     10: the Schwinn method of surrounding the bearing with 1/4 inch steel.

     The pedals are standard bicycle types of some sort. They have
     reflectors and little pegs to help keep your foot on. They work ok, but
     this is another place where there is room for modification. The cranks
     connect to the axle just like a Schwinn -- no bolts to forever be
     tightening here! They are 180mm long, from end to end (155mm from
     center to center).

     All in all, I'd say that for the $100 we paid (I think we got a slight
     bulk discount) these unis are good beginner models. If you buy one, and
     really get into the sport, don't expect it to last much more than a
     year or two. Use it to learn on, then buy a real uni, like a Semcycle
     or a Miyata.

     The company can be reached at (US only, sorry) 800-869-9866. They only
     sell to dealers, but they can probably find you a dealer in your area.
     The bike shop we (the HMC uni club) does business with is Mulrooney's
     Sea Schwinn in Newport Beach. Their number is (714) 646-7706.

     Review written by Jeff R. Allen jeff@hmc.edu

     For more information contact Cycle Designs or a dealer.

Retailers

   * Australia Gemini Bicycle Centres
     PTY Limited
     PO BOX 156
     Summer Hill
     NSW 2130
     Australia

     (+61) 2797 8028 telephone
     (+61) 2797 9932 fax

     Sells Pashley mountain unicycles.
   * Canada
     Darren Bedford
          71 Jasper Ave.
          Toronto, Ontario
          M6N 2N2
          (416) 767-6074

          Sells Miyatas (while available) and Semcycles.
     Braun's Online
          Braun's Online
          BRAUNS ONLINE
          27 Scott St.
          Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
          N2H 1P8
          Voice: 1 519 579-2453
          WWW: http://brauns.com/
          E-mail: online@brauns.com

          Sells 20" and 24" unicycles, as well as 5-foot giraffes.
   * France
     Unicycle
          3 Impass Jules Dalou
          9100 Evry
          France
          phone number is: (33-1)60 77 37 36
          fax number : (33-1)60 78 09 88

          Sells Miyatas and Semcycles, including giraffes and models with
          wheels of 26", 28", and 30".
   * Germany
     Siegmono-Cycle
          Siegmono-Cycle
          D. & G. Siegmon
          Schreberweg 4
          D - 24119 Kronshagen b. Kiel

          Tel: +49 431 541441
          Fax: +49 431 549099
          E-mail: gsiegmon@kernphysik.uni-kiel.d400.de

          They sell lots of parts for Uni's and Giraffe, and 20 to 26" (28"
          perhaps) Unicycles including a 48 spoke 26" one. They also sell
          Miyatas.
   * Holland
     Semcycle
          Box 1675
          3600 Br Maarssen
          Holland
          Tel: 03465-7 05 63
          Fax: 03465-7 60 07
          E-mail: semcyclenl@aol.com

     Showtime
          'Showtime' - Fa van der Wel
          P.O.Box 10024
          3505 AA Utrecht
          the Netherlands
          Voice: 31 346 551562
          Fax: 31 346 552076
          E-mail: wel@tip.nl
          WWW: http://www1.tip.nl/users/t973594/wel.htm

   * New Zealand
     Ross Mackintosh
          Ross sells Taiwanese unicycles. They have fully welded frames, 36
          spokes, cotterless cranks and seats with crash bars

          Ross Mackintosh
          romack@hn.planet.gen.nz
          * Phone: (07) 839 9005 * Shoe: (025) 761 141
          * Fax: (07) 839 9006
          * Snail mail: Box 776, Hamilton, New Zealand

     David Whittam
          David Whittam
          Cycle supplies
          PO Box 33051
          Christchurch

          Tel: +64 3 338 6803

          Sells Pashley unicycles and parts.

   * United Kingdom
     DM Unicycles
          DM Unicycles
          59 Fairmile Rd, Christchurch,
          Dorset, BH23 2LA
          Tel: 0202 471943

     Butterfingers
          Butterfingers
          Unit 10, Burnett Business Park
          Gypsy Lane
          Burnett
          Keynsham
          Bristol BS18 2ED
          England

          Tel +44 117 986 6680
          fax +44 117 986 6690

          They do mail order, and offer a complete range of circus
          equipment, including unicycles. They are, are far as I know, still
          run by Pippa Tee and Charlie Dancey. Charlie is the author of two
          standard works on juggling.

          Review written by Tim Sheppard. Contact Butterfingers directly for
          more information.

     The Ugly Juggling Company
          For anyone who wants to know (or for the FAQ), the address of Ugly
          Juggling for callers and mail order is

                                  The Ugly Juggling Company
                                  73 Westgate Road
                                  Newcastle Upon Tyne
                                  NE1 1SG
                                  UK

          Phone: +44 191 232 0297

          They also have a callers-only shop at

                                  Durham Indoor Market
                                  Market Place
                                  Durham
                                  UK

          They sell both their own unis (made by Pashley) and DM ones, as
          well as a wide variety of other circus kit, books, etc. The 1995
          catalogue (free, I think) lists the Ugly 20" mountain uni (mk 3)
          mentioned in previous emails by Duncan (95 gbp), plus a 5' giraffe
          (195 gbp); it also says that 24" and 28" 1994 (mk 2) models
          (narrow wheel) are still available while stocks last (85-90gbp)
          (has anyone tried either of these? I'm tempted by a 28", then I
          might be able to keep up with the kids on bikes ...). The 95
          catalogue also lists DMs from 12" to 28" (95-128 gbp), chrome DMs
          with square frame (up to 175 gbp) and DM giraffes (265-449 gbp).
          They don't keep all of these in stock all the time, however.

          Review written by Chris Hughs. For more information contact The
          Ugly Juggling Company directly.

     Zero G Juggling Co.
          Zero G Juggling Co.
          The Victoria Centre
          Mostyn Street
          Llandudno
          Gwnedd
          Tel: 0492-514039

     The Boggle Juggling Shop
          The Boggle Juggling Shop
          9 Broad Street
          Bath BA1 5LJ
          England
          Tel +44 1225 446685

     The Brighton Juggling Store
          The Brighton Juggling Store
          24 Kensongton Gardens
          Brighton, East Sussex
          England
          Tel +44 1273 696068

          Stocks Semcycle, D.M., Pashley

     Jugglemania
          Jugglemania
          119 Children Drive
          Surbiton
          KT5 8LS
          England

          Tel +44 181 390 6855

     Mushy Pea
          Mushy Pea
          23 Brown Street
          Manchester
          England
          Tel +44 161 834 6195

     Oddballs (Camden)
          Oddballs (Camden)
          2 Camden Lock Place
          London
          England
          Tel +44 171 254 5660

     Oddballs (Basement warehouse)
          Oddballs (Basement warehouse)
          31-35 Pitfield St
          London N1 6HB
          England
          Tel +44 171 250 1333
          Fax +44 171 250 3999
          WWW: http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/oddballs/index.html

     Oddballs (Oxford)
          Oddballs (Oxford)
          34 Cowley Road
          Oxford
          England
          Tel +44 1865 200678

   * United States
     Compleat Gamester
          Compleat Gamester
          350 MOODY ST
          WALTHAM MA 02154 USA
          Voice: 1-800-698-9505 or (617)893-9505
          WWW: http://world.std.com/~gamester
          E-mail: gamester@world.std.com

          Sells standard and XL Semcycles.

     Dekker Service, Inc.
          Dekker Service Inc.
          5433 116th Ave. SE
          Bellevue, WA 98006-3317
          Voice: (206) 641-9639
          Fax: (206) 641-0151
          Email: mdekker@eskimo.com
          WWW: http://www.eskimo.com/~mdekker/index.html

          They are actually a wholesaler, and do not do retail business.
          They do import the Pashley mountain unicycle, though. They
          encourage you to have your local bike shop contact them for prices
          and product availability.

     Osell's Bicycle/Unicycle Shop
          Osell's Bicycle/Unicycle Shop
          Minnesota
          Voice: 612-788-5200

          This company sells Miyatas as well as other brands.
     Rideable Bicycle Replicas
          They sell their own unicycles, which are big wheels from 38" to
          52".

          Rideable Bicycle Replicas
          2329 Eagle Avenue
          Alameda, CA 94501

          Phone: 510-523-9938
          Fax: 510-521-7145

     Semcycle
          Semcycle
          P.O. Box 40353
          Redford, MI 48240
          (313) 537-8175

          WWW: http://members.aol.com/semcycle/
          E-mail: SEMCYCLE@aol.com

     The Unicycle Factory
          The Unicycle Factory
          2711 N. Apperson
          Kokomo, IN 46901
          (317) 452-2692

          Tom Miller sells custom built unicycles and resells some other
          brands, such as Semcycles, Zephyrs and Miyatas. You should call
          with inquiries rather than writing. He does not have business
          hours per-se, since he works out of his house. His waking hours
          are between 9am and 1am Eastern time.

3.2 Where can I get parts for my unicycle?

Depending on what you are looking for, you might find the parts at a bike
shop. If not, though, Tom Miller at the Unicycle Factory probably has it.
You can call him in Indiana at (317) 452-2692 to place your order.

3.3 What should I get for my first unicycle?

The first unicycle you buy should be a quality one. It will survive the
learning process fine, then you will have a unicycle to keep. In selecting a
quality unicycle, keep the following in mind:

Do not under any circumstances buy a unicycle in a department store or from
a catalog that doesn't let you see how it's constructed. Even for $10 at a
garage sale, these shoddy unicycles are three times harder to ride and
probably do more damage to our sport than anything else.

What I am describing is any unicycle that either does not have an air tire,
or that does not have wheel bearings. Any (non-giraffe) unicycle that has a
one piece crank with pedals that are just kind of stuck on the ends of the
crank (tricycle technology) was not actually designed with the intention
that it would be ridden. Under the weight of a rider (any rider) the wheel
is very resistant to turning, and the short crank arms compound the problem.
I learned to ride on a unicycle like this, and it took a month!

Outside of that, the price ranges from around $90 to $250. In the U.S. and
Canada, you can get Schwinns and the many variations of Taiwanese unicycles
at local bike shops. Look for the kind that has a seat that's soft foam
rubber all around. These seats bounce quietly when dropped, and take a
tremendous amount of drops, on pavement, with scarcely any mark. After that,
try for hard plastic bumpers on the seat. This is what Schwinn has. By all
means try to avoid seats with metal rails at front and rear. This is older
technology that usually is mounted on a seat that's too wide in front, and
can't stand being dropped.

Other brands like Semcycle, Schwinn, Miyata and DM are more durable than the
Taiwanese models, and will last longer, especially for riders that weigh
more.

Also, try for cotterless cranks. Most brands are these days, but there are
still some of the cottered types out there. Cotterless are easier to take
care of.

So your basic choices in North America are:

   * Taiwan types for $90 or so
   * Semcycle XL (Taiwan type with good parts) (313) 537-8175 for about $150
   * Schwinn (very strong and heavy) for around $160.
   * Miyata (best engineering but expensive and hard to get) for around
     $250.

Being North Americans, we don't have complete advice for other parts of the
world, so if you would like to add advice for your part of the planet send
it to Beirne Konarski (beirne@ald.net). Also, neither of us sell unicycles.
You can get more information on retailers elsewhere in the FAQ.

John Foss (unifoss@calweb.com)
Beirne Konarski (beirne@ald.net)

3.4 What makes a good unicycle?

Each set of part types [a-d] are listed in increasing order of quality or
beauty [chrome types]. Anyone in a bike shop should be able to explain the
following terminology.

0) Type of tire - One can always buy a better tire, although quality
unicycle should come with a unicycle tire (round cross-section; relatively
flat or smooth tread for flat surfaces [mountain unicycles should come with
knobbies :^]

1.1 Type of rim
a) chromed steel
b) chromed tubular steel
c) alloy
d) chromed alloy

1.2 Type of spoke holes in rim
a) simple straight radial hole
b) simple straight radial hole with recess for spoke's nipple
c) angle of holes matches angle of spokes
d) angle of holes matches angle of spokes; recess for nipple

2.1 Number of spokes (more is better, if all spokes are kept tight)
a) 28
b) 36
c) 40
d) 48

2.2 Thickness of spokes (thicker is better, but weighs a little more)
a) .080 in. (14 gauge)
b) .092 in. (13 gauge)
c) .105 in. (12 gauge)
d) .125 in. (?? gauge)

2.3 Spoking pattern
a) 3 cross
b) 4 cross
c) 3 cross interleaved
d) 4 cross interleaved

2.4 Spoke material
a) normal (steel zinc plated)
b) stainless steel
c) steel chrome plated

3.1 Hub (Various types of heat treating add to the confusion here.)
a) cottered shaft, straight flanges
b) cottered shaft, dished flanges
c) cotterless shaft, straight flanges
d) cotterless shaft, dished flanges

4.1 Bearings (More info welcome here.)
a) unsealed roller bearings
b) unsealed ball bearings
c) sealed roller bearings (less prone to damage when jumping)
d) sealed ball bearings (jumping may cause flat spots on balls)

5.1 Bearing holders
a) bolted on C-bracket (may apply excessive vertical force)
b) snap ring (bearing may be minutely loose in all directions)
c) pressed in holder (bearing must be pressed in with equal force)
d) bolted on pressed in holder (same as c above, except the
pressed fit may be looser as bolts keep bearing from moving.)

5.2 Frame type (Which is better is quite controversial.)
a) flat pressed fork halves bolted together with seat post
b) same as a) with curved sections pressed in for greater rigidity
c) tubular one piece frame with rounded fork crown
d) tubular one piece frame with square fork crown (to put feet on)

5.3 Frame finish
a) baked-on enamel
b) powder coated
c) chrome plated

5.4 Seat post clamp
Z) A bolt for split forks
a) welded on clamp with single bolt
b) separate BMX type clamp with single allen wrench screw
c) separate BMX type clamp with two allen wrench screws
d) same as c), except one screw clamps top of head tube and the
other clamps around the seat post - two inside diameters

6.1 Seat post
a) has holes at 1 inch increments for height adjustment
b) same as a) with seat tilt adjustment
c) straight tube with no holes - very fine height adjustment
d) same as c) with seat tilt adjustment (not really needed)

7.1 Seat (style should fit the individual)
a) poorly designed - self destructs in 1 month of use
b) Schwinn / Semcycle design (does it have bumpers now?)
c) Wide Miyata type design without front handle
d) Narrow Miyata type design with front handle

8.1 Crank arms
a) steel cottered
b) steel cotterless
c) alloy cotterless

9.1 Pedals
a) rubber block, no spindle adjustment
b) plastic, no spindle adjustment
c) rattrap with spindle adjustment (eats shins 8^)
d) plastic with spindle adjustment

Ken Fuchs - kfuchs@winternet.com

3.5 What size wheel should I get?

In general the smaller the wheel, the easier it is to learn to ride and
learn new skills. Larger wheels are better for transportation and speed. 12"
and 16" wheels are good for children. 20" wheels are good unicycles for
adults who want to acquire new skills. 24" wheels still work for a lot of
tricks and give you decent speed. This is the best general-purpose size.
Bigger wheels are better for higher speed riding. The Unicycle Factory
advertises models up to 40".

Check the rules if you are buying a unicycle for competition. Races
generally require a specific size, such as 24" for adults. British juggling
competitions usually limit you to a 20" model.

3.6 What are the different types of unicycles?

Standard
     This is your average unicycle. The cranks connect to the axle. It has a
     seat above the wheel.
Giraffe
     These are the taller chain-driven unicycles. You can buy them from
     Semcycle or the Unicycle Factory. The record height is about 100'(31m).
Monocycle
     This is a wheel with the seat inside. These are fairly rare.
 Ultimate Wheel
     This is the standard unicycle without forks or a seat. A plywood disk
     usually replace the spokes, which keeps your ankles from getting beat
     up. You can buy kits for these from the Unicycle Factory.
Impossible Wheel
     Also called the BC wheel. This is a plain wheel with the axle extended
     on both sides with posts. You stand on the posts and roll along,
     assuming you figure out how to propel yourself.

4. Maintenance and Repair

4.1 How do unicycles work?

The key is to keep the center of gravity over the axle. If you start to fall
forward, you will pedal faster, bringing the wheel back under the seat. If
you start to fall backward you will slow down, allowing the seat to catch up
with the wheel.

4.2 How much should I inflate the tires?

Generally, unicyclists overinflate their tires by as much as 50% and
sometimes even more. However, if one is learning to ride on a slippery
surface (gym floor) and wheel twisting becomes difficult to control, the
tires can be underinflated to increase the tire area that comes in contact
with the floor. This will make wheel twisting easier to control. Once one
has learned to ride, the tire should be inflated to at least the recommended
pressure.

Try to get 40-50 psi or more rated tires and you may overinflate these as
well if you like. However, a 32psi tire will work fine, too.

Ken Fuchs - kfuchs@winternet.com

4.3 Why don't you get a unicycle with multiple speeds?

Someone has built a unicycle with multiple gearings. Here is an account from
Peter Lister (p.lister@cranfield.ac.uk):

I know Bob Knight who built it. I haven't had the opportunity to have a go
on it (I haven't really got the hang of giraffes yet - severe lack of people
prepared to lend me theirs to practise on).

I can assure you that it's no problem to change gear. Bob can shift up and
down happily while going forward or idling, or probably backwards, knowing
him. As I understand it, the only requirement is that one reduce the pedal
pressure during a shift, but then as anyone (like me) who rides a
two-wheeler with a Sturmey hub knows, that applies to normal bikes and isn't
a problem unless one is really standing on the pedals.

Just in case it isn't clear from the photo(another person brought up this
topic when they saw a picture of the unicycle. ed.), this beast uses a fixed
Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub *not* a derailleur (it's surprising how many
people assume that the derailleur is the only possible cycle gear shift).
The hub itself is an antique (early 1950s I think), probably worth more than
the rest of the unicycle (which was made by Bob and his dad). The equivalent
wheel sizes are 20", 24" and 28".

4.4 Which end is the front?

Yes, the unicycle has a front and a back, even when the seat doesn't. The
two pedals are threaded in opposite directions and are normally marked 'L'
and 'R' on the ends of the shafts. The side designation is from the
viewpoint of the rider. Forward riding on either a unicycle or bicycle will
tend to tighten the pedals. However, backward riding on a unicycle will tend
to loosen the pedals.

Also, some tires have a direction on them, due to the tread pattern.

Beirne Konarski beirne@ald.net
Ken Fuchs - kfuchs@winternet.com

4.5 How high should the seat be?

The most important adjustment on the unicycle is saddle height. Mount the
unicycle while holding on to a support and place your heel on the pedal in
the down position (perpendicular to the ground). You should be able to reach
the pedal in this position without leaning your body or stretching your leg.
That is, your leg should be extended straight but without any strain. Next,
put the ball of your foot on the down pedal. In this position, your knee
should be slightly bent.

To adjust the saddle, loosen the saddle post clamp, bring the saddle pillar
to the desired position, then tighten the bolt securely. A loose saddle post
clamp will cause the saddle to move out of position while riding.

It is also important to adjust the saddle so that it is properly aligned
with the wheel. If it is even slightly misaligned to the left or right,
riding becomes difficult. Tighten the bolt firmly so that the saddle does
not twist out of alignment.

From Anyone Can Ride a Unicycle by Jack Halpern. Used with permission.

4.6 What do I do about the crank arm on my unicycle that keeps coming loose?

Use a rubber hammer or regular hammer and a block of wood to pound the
cotterless cranks on firmly. Place the opposite crankarm on a (another)
block of wood on the floor to avoid pounding stress to the spokes and wheel,
etc. However, do not pound real hard or the crankarms and possibly even the
axle could be damaged.

After the above, snug up the nuts real tight. Your should never have to
worry about loose crankarms again, WITHOUT using lock tight. The
non-permanent lock tight couldn't hurt though, but be sure the crankarms are
on very, very tight before using it!

Ken Fuchs - kfuchs@winternet.com

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