What is a Unicycle
As a small kid, what was your opinion on a circus? Maybe, you were amazed by equilibrists on the rope, breathtaking somersaults under the dome or trained wild animals obediently jumping over the obstacles. Or maybe, you have found clowns performances the best. Anyway, the unicycles were closely associated with acrobats at circuses and carnivals. But step by step, it is slowly changing into an awesome tool for recreational activities. Now, you can often meet people in parks riding this mono-wheeled vehicle.
A unicycle consists of one wheel, 2 pedals, a seat and a fork-type frame that connects them all together. You ride it by keeping a balance and cycling pedals forward or backward. Unlike bicycles, standard unicycles don't have a handlebar or brakes. You change the direction by shifting your weight from side to side. In order to stop, you either hold the pedals still with your feet or simply jump off it. Of course, you can buy an additional hand brake module where the handle is placed right below the seat.
For this review, we've studied what features a unicycle does have to offer and tried to compile the results in an unfussy guide with the best picks for those who have just started or are yet to learn the astonishing skills of unicycling.
We strongly advise buying a helmet and elbow pads to make the learning process safer. So, don't forget to check out our review on the Best Bike Helmets as well.
What Features to Compare
First of all, look at a unicycle's Type. This characteristic has a lot in common with bicycles. The standard models have a direct drive - it has no chain between the pedal cranks and a wheel's axis. That's the starter type and we advise you start with direct drive models. Here are the most categories with direct drive control:
- Freestyle unicycles are designed for riding on flat surfaces like roads, pavements, etc. They come with a slick or semi-slick tire.
- Trial models are usually more durable than the others. They need to withstand a rider's weight while he performs stunts like jumping over obstacles, for example. They have pretty wide tires to help balance in one place.
- Mountain unicycles, just like mountain bikes, feature a wide tire with knobs and have been designed for off-roads racing.
- Torque models are for covering large distances. As a rule, the diameter of their wheel is larger than 26".
If you want to learn the basics of riding then choose any bike with 16" - 24"wheel diameter. However, the riding style may vary in accordance with the Wheel Size. In general, the smaller diameters with thinner tires are more maneuverable, while larger wheels provide greater speed. For average-sized people, the 16" to 20" wheels will be just right. For kids, you might grab a vehicle with 12" - 16" wheels. But if you have long legs, you might want to get a model with a wheel bigger than 20". The easiest way to choose the right unicycle's height is to measure your inseam leg length and compare the result with the wheel and seat parameters. Remember, your leg should be almost straight when positioned on the bottom pedal while you are sitting on it.
Unicycle's Weight is crucial for the trial unicycles, as you have to jump high with it. But for other types - not so much, because when you have to carry it around, you can just tow it by the seat. Choose the frame strictly according to the Maximum Load. Some models may withstand more weight than showed in their datasheets, but better safe than sorry. Always grab the uni with the maximum load bigger than your weight if you want to perform tricks on it.
Don't forget about the Frame Shape. The top part of the fork that goes around the wheel is called the crown. Riders use it to put a leg on while performing some stunts. Its shape may be rounded or flat.
Finally, there are many smaller features, including, but not necessarily limited to, the frame and rim materials, crank attachment types, the way of fastening the seat post to the frame, pedals or seat shape, etc. However, these parameters are not so imperative for the starters.
We've picked up 5 great looking models that have all the things needed for new users to get into unicycling or for a little more advanced riders to push their skills to the limit. Sit back, relax and enjoy our review of the following products.
Fun Chrome 20"
Fun Chrome 20"
For Expert Riders
As you might have guessed, this Fun unicycle features a 20" wheel with a 1.95" tire, that will be a great choice for beginners. It is designed for roads and you can even try racing on it. At 11.6 lbs. weight, we can also recommend it for children, but adults may ride this model as well - simply adjust the seat post to your height and hop on. We also liked the look of this unicycle: chromed steel is a perfect match with a black seat and gray plastic bumpers. BMX-style pedals are wide enough to rest feet on them comfortably. Simply put, it has all the necessary features to learn the basics of unicycling without worrying about safety.
Fun 20" unicycle boasts the tire by world-renowned Taiwan company Kenda Tires. It has a slick tread pattern that makes it suitable for riding a road or indoors if you are going to perform on a stage. The Kenda company has been manufacturing rubber products for more than half a century, creating tires for cars, bicycles, motorbikes and ATVs. Its factories are based in China, Vietnam and, of course, Taiwan. It is a sponsor of several racing cycling teams. Therefore, with this product you are getting an up-market quality rubber tire at a pretty reasonable price.
Did You Know?
Riding a unicycle is actually safer than a bike. What happens, when the front wheel of a bicycle drops in a thank-you-ma'am at a great speed? That's right, the rider is hurled over the handlebar and the bike flies in its wake. In the same situation, the one-wheeler just turns over, while the driver hops off the seat, makes a few steps by its own momentum, and then just stops. Moreover, you don't have to obtain special skills to do so, as the walking comes off naturally because you are riding a unicycle half-standing.
That's why, statistically, a number of serious injuries on a unicycle is a lot rarer than on a bike.
Ride Like Professional!
AW unicycle is designed for the riders who aim for more. Besides learning the basics of riding, you can also master the freestyle tricks or even mountain riding. Buy this model if you want to amuse your friends and family with extreme stunts in the future. The fork has a flat top crown to place a foot on. Moreover, it has the special bright-colored bumper with two positions to grab - excellent for performing a jump or hold onto while going on a bumpy road.
By the way, AW unicycle is available in a variety of colors - choose the one that is best suitable to your personality.
The key feature here is the tire. Its butyl tube can withstand up to 6 times higher pressure when compared with the same-sized common rubber tubes. This signifies that you will have to reinflate less frequently as well. Typically, it takes more time to wear out such tube too. That's why we can generally recommend this model and the butyl tires for multi-seasonal riding.
The 2.125" wide knobby tire is perfect for snowy roads or cross-country. You can find the same pattern on mountain bikes too. Therefore, you can easily turn off the road into a forest or go downhill on it.
This unicycle will be a great start to extreme unicycle riding and for learning the tricks and stunts on the road.
Cycling is a great way to stay fit. With a mono-wheeler, you train almost every major muscle in your body and improve concentration. Also, riding a unicycle trains your back. That's why riders usually have such a nice posture. Just like any other cardio, you burn calories, reduce the risk of a heart disease and overall increase endurance simply by riding it.
Stable and Manoeuvrable
Lots of users noticed the advanced stability of the Fantasycart 16" on the road and during fancy riding. Some even reported the feeling that the unicycle grabs onto the roadway with its 2.125" wide semi-slick tire. The rustproof upper tube and the fork are made to last forever. The two-walled lightweight aluminum rim gives the feeling of a floating when you are cruising on it. Such rim is more enduring than one-walled type too.
Overall, this 16" unicycle proved to be more agile, easier to navigate than the models with larger wheels. Although this one is recommended for beginners, we are sure that more proficient freestylers may find it suitable for their needs too.
For Big and Small
Some might think, that unicycles with smaller wheels are designed for kids, just like the bicycles. Turned out, the unicycle's wheel size has little to do with a rider's age. Anyone can use a unicycle with different wheel sizes as long as the vehicle can hold their weight and has the appropriate distance from seat to pedal.
This Fantasycart has 16" wheel but can hold up to 180 lbs. An awesome result for a baby-size, right? It's pretty durable, so you can safely use this model to learn how to ride. What's more, even pros may find it suitable for them, because it can totally withstand basic and advanced tricks, jumping as well.
Advice for Beginners
Despite one-wheel design, anyone can learn to ride a unicycle, provided that they’ve got time and longing to do that. It does happen sometimes that one can start pedaling after a few minutes in a seat, but more often than not, confident riding requires some practice. So, if you’ve made your mind learn to ride, practice each day for at least half an hour during a week. Here are some tips how to make training more efficient:
- Adjust the post according to your height. You need to be able to sit in the seat with your legs straight.
- Place a unicycle in front of you. Hold it by the front part of the seat.
- Adjust the pedals in a way that the one closer to you should be closer to the ground, too. Move the seat between your thighs.
- Holding onto something for support, place one leg on the pedal that is close to you and shift your weight. Don't forget to hold the seat with the other hand.
- When you step on the pedal, the seat should move upward while the wheel rolls right under you and literally self-mounts you on itself.
- With the help of the support try cycling the pedals. You may ask a friend to lend you a hand or ride along a wall or a fence.
Keep training and be patient. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. A 15-30 minutes session is enough. In a week or two, you will surely see noticeable results.
Adjusting Personal Comfort
Without a doubt, riding a monocycle requires particular skills, like balancing and extra awareness on the road. Moreover, a unicycle is supposed to have a comfy seat in order to be easy to ride and control. Avenir Deluxe features exactly such conveniences. It has a soft-padded seat that can be adjusted both up-down and forward-backward. Obviously, this allows this unicycle to be used by people of different height and constitution. You wouldn't believe how often it fell on the ground during the training sessions, and one might think that the unicycle wouldn't survive such experience. Yet, most of the times it safely lands on the durable plastic bumpers in front or rear part of the seat. Therefore, we can readily recommend it for beginners. Those plastic bumpers are also designed to hold onto when you perform special tricks or simply ride on the road. Turned out, holding onto them with one hand adds more confidence, as it helps in controlling the direction and balancing on it. Try it yourself, and you'll understand what we mean.
Anyhow, on a picnic or any other similar event, everyone is encouraged to try out riding a unicycle at least once. Therefore, you will most probably have to adjust the seat height almost every time someone new tries it. Yet, this nuisance is resolved by having a small wrench. We want to add, that the screw clamp is believed to be one of the most secure ways of fastening the seat to the frame because you can't suddenly swipe it with a leg.
Want to Perform Tricks? No Problem!
Any experienced rider wants to show a trick, flip or spin when he gets on a bike. Despite being designed for beginners, this unicycle can withstand basic jumps over small obstacles, like when you have to jump from the road on the pavement. It has a strong frame, durable wheel-to-frame conjunction, and a sealed waterproof bearing. The Avenir unicycle is designed for people of up to 160 lbs in weight and features pedals with non-slip small knobs to prevent feet from sliding off. That's why it is an ultimate vehicle for beginners who want to master a unicycle riding and also learn some tricks to amuse their friends later on.
Avenir is a brand that specializes in the bicycle products and accessories. What's interesting, it belongs to the Raleigh company, that was founded in 1885, USA, and is one of the oldest bikes manufacturers in the world.
That is why riding this unicycle on a sunny day, you will surely catch the eye of people around you with its classic look and sparkling chrome finish.
Go to Extremes
When going downhill riding a unicycle on a mountain-like rugged terrain, you get all fired up. Endorphin and serotonin to the max! That awesome feeling of excitement that is so typical for extreme sports can be fully obtained with the Generic unicycle. Its knobby tire is designed for outdoor riding on and off roads. We were gratified with how fast you can reach a great speed with its 24" wheel. Moreover, you can quickly change the moving direction on it with its comparatively thin 1.75" tire, gaining additional mobility right where you need it.
Will It Bend?
This model suits both teens and adults with up to 33" of inseam legs measurements. The fork crown is flat - handy for performing tricks and stunts. The frame itself is made of mangalloy, also known as a manganese steel, that is considered to be a pretty durable material. For instance, you can't simply bend it or cut. It requires special, hardened tools with a diamond coating or extremely sturdy drill to even make a hole in it. Therefore, manganese steel is used in a mining industry, but can also be found in mountain bike frames as well.
Let's be honest, the first thought people get when they hear the word Unicycle is a circus. But nowadays you can meet people with unicycles at skateparks training and performing stunts along with roller skaters and skateboarders. An aggressive trial unicycling is gradually becoming more popular. In the trials, you have to pass the obstacle course in an urban territory. However, unicycling is still a nice way to stay fit and spend a relaxing day in the park, drawing the attention of people passing by with the uncommon sight. Choose whatever activity you like, but know that you can do almost any of those, on this Generic unicycle.
Let's see: a knobbed tire for rugged terrain, a large wheel for speeding up and racing, a thin tire for quick turnaround, a flat crown top and sturdy bumpers with a stiffening rib at the front bumper that also serves as an additional handle. What's more to ask?
Only one thing is left to point out: this Generic unicycle is recommended for tall people. Check out, if your inseams fit. If yes, then you can readily grab it and start cycling.
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