Where to get my unicycle
Unicycles may be purchased or ordered from your local bicycle store, although this is usually hit or miss. They may also be purchased online at:
- Bedford Unicycles
- Sun Bicycles
- Miyata's Website
- Kris Holm
- The Unicycle Shop
What kind of Unicycle?
There are hundreds of unicycles to choose from. Consider what you want to do. The best way in many unicyclists' opinion is to get a beginner unicycle that is anywhere from 16" to 24" depending on your height and inseam length. A cheap or a used unicycle can be found on eBay and other online sellers for anywhere from $50 USD to $100 USD. The reason most unicyclists advise buying a cheap unicycle with around a 20" wheel is because it is much easier to learn the basics(forward, backwards, idle etc.), and then decide what you really want to do be it Freestyle, Muni, Trials, long distance, racing, B.C. wheel, or Ultimate wheel or anything else. All of these non-beginner unicycles are typically not as easy to learn on, and are more specialized and thus more expensive.
- For freestyle the wheel should be 20" and the tire 2 - 2.25 inches thick. 24 inch is OK but not the best for the serious freestyle unicyclist. Freestyle is often done indoors so you may want a tire that does not mark floors easily. Square forks are preferred since it makes it easy to prop your foot on for 1-foot skills. Nimbus is now making frames that the seat adjustment is right below the seat. This is nice when doing tricks where your legs are close to your seat post although it is not a must. A fairly thin saddle with a handle on the front is preferred.
- For muni, the wheel is typically 24/26 inches with around a 2.3-3 inches wide tire. The tire will have treads very similar to a mountain bike to allow for maximum traction on non-pavement surfaces. The cranks should be fairly long for to provide more leverage when climbing hills. The durability of the spokes and frame should be high because while the strain to the unicycle isn't as severe in trials unicycling, a standard beginner frame simply won't hold up taking drops and tackling other obstacles on trails.
- Trials unicycles normally have a big 20x2.5" tire (this is often referred to as a 19" tire as it doesn't fit a standard 20" rim) for absorbing drops and to give plenty of bounce for jumping. Trials unicycles need strong hub and cranks to cope with the abuse they get, splined cranks are good. Then it is a trade off between price versus weight versus strength. There are several manufacturers making trials unicycles, Kris Holm are agreed to be the best, there is also Torker (heavy but cheap), Qu-Ax (not as heavy as Torker but reasonably priced), Koxx (lots of street cred. and choice of colours), Onza and Nimbus. There are Taiwanese unicycles that look like trials unicycles with Luna tires and DX rims - don't buy these as they have really weak hubs that aren't suitable for trials unicycling. Most trials unicycles have saddles with a handle at the front.
- Long Distance
- For long distance you want a big wheel i.e. 28", 29" or 36" and a comfortable saddle. Sun 28" are very cheap but not very strong, Torker 29 are reasonably priced, Nimbus 29 are pretty good . The Coker 36 and QU-AX 36 are ok but you will need to upgrade the saddle ad probably more, the Nimbus 36 is best 36" available especially with the T7 handle and Aluminum rim.
- If you intend to race you will need to check the IUF Rules for the current wheel size and crank length allowed. Depending what race you are entering, you will probably want the lightest unicycle possible.
- B.C. Wheel
- A B.C. wheel (also known as an impossible wheel) is one where you balance on an extended axle of the wheel, for learning purposes people often first learn to balance on plates hung below the axle. It is best to use a wheel with a strong axle (at least 14mm). The two most popular B.C. wheel makes are the Bedford Impossible Wheel and the Nimbus Impossible Wheel.
- Ultimate Wheel
- For an ultimate wheel get at least a 24 inch or larger wheel. You can make your own ultimate wheel by fitting a sheet of wood into a bicycle wheel and attaching pedals to it. You can buy steel spoked ultimate wheels made by Semcycle or Aluminium Spoked ultimate wheels made by Nimbus Unicycles.
Which brands are best
In USA Torker makes good strong cheap unicycles. If you live in Canada you should check out Bedford Unicycles. If you live in Europe you should check out the local unicycle.com shops in UK, Germany, Denmark (unisalg.dk) and Sweden.
Good beginner unicycles are cheap and should have 20" or 24" tires. QU-AX, Torker and Sun are best known for their beginner unicycles.
Good freestyle unicycles have short cranks, 20" tires that are thin and smooth, and long necks. Miyata, Nimbus and Semcycle make the best freestyle unicycles.
The bigger the wheel, the faster your unicycle will go. For unicycles with very big wheels meant for long distance riding, you should check out Coker, Nimbus and Qu-Ax.
For trials, street and Muni , a strong unicycle is needed. These unicycles should have shorter necks and longer cranks, and should have strong parts such as splined hubs. Splined are special types of cranks and hubs which are hooked together with a bunch of notches rather than a square taper, which is not as strong. Splined setups are much more expensive than square taper, but will last much longer. Examples of splined cranks and hubs are Kris Holm/Onza, Kris Holm ISIS, Onza ISIS, Profile, Nimbus ISIS and Koxx-One. For trials and street most people use a 20" rear trials wheel setup, but for Muni you will need a wheel size of 24" or larger.
Another important thing to consider when buying a unicycle is the seat. Many seats that come with cheap unicycles are uncomfortable. Consider a Koxx-One, Nimbus, Kris Holm or Miyata seat.