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Frequently Asked Questions

Unicyclist are frequently asked a number of legitimate questions by those that are genuinely curious about unicycles and unicycling.  Answers to some of the more common questions can be found here.  If  you have a question about unicycling or about the NYUC, do not hesitate to ask. Visit our contact page for further information.

Is that hard to ride/learn?

We have witnessed teenagers that have learned in as little as 10 minutes, and we have seen adults still learning after dozens of combined hours of practice. On average, it probably takes the average person about 5-6 total hours of practice. Fearlessness helps (which is why most kids learn so much faster than adults), but even more important are related skills like yoga, ballet, skiing, and Pilates. Anything that works your core muscles and involves coordination will be really helpful.

Can you teach me to do that?

Given time almost anyone can learn to ride a unicycle. Adults in general take longer to learn than teenagers and preteens. Seasoned unicyclist are able to provide tips and adjustments to your riding attempts that will facilitate your learning process.

How do you learn to do that?

The best way to learn is to have two helpers, one on either side, walking alongside you. Another great way is to learn with a stroller (weighted down with sandbags!) or a shopping cart. One member's daughter is learning using a wheelbarrow! Our founder learned by riding along a wall or construction overhang (the kind you see on city sidewalks where people are working above). Since he had no help, no advice, and a seat post that was too short, it may have taken him a bit longer to learn: 9 hours or so, over three days.

How much do those cost and where do you buy one of those?

You can still get unicycles cheaply! On eBay, Unicycle.com or, from Torker.com, there are inexpensive unicycles to be had for about $100 or more with shipping. On the high end, there are unicycles with specialized parts that add to their strength, speed, and size. Some off-road unicycles can cost $2,000, and a geared Schlumpf unicycle can easily cost the same.

What size unicycle should I buy?

Generally it is recommended that you purchase a unicycle with 20 inch or 24 inch wheel with a tire tread that is not too knobby for learning. Once you know how to ride you should purchase a unicycle based upon how  and where you intend ride.  Check out this Wikipedia page for definitions of unicycle types.

Is that like riding a bicycle?

Unicycling basically has almost nothing in common with bicycle riding. In fact, two young club members learned to unicycle before they could even ride a bike. Even the best trials bike riders find unicycling quite challenging. Though a truly talented freestyle bike rider may have an easier time learning to ride.

Am I too old to learn?

David Stone the  founder of  NYUC has a friend that happens to run a unicycle club out West said that he had a unicycle club member learn to ride at the age of 92. The fellow spent a solid year simply going back and forth in a small area with rails on both sides. Eventually he built up the skill and confidence to ride on his own.

Does that hurt to ride?

There's not much pain associated with unicycling. Wearing padded cycling shorts helps in remaining pain free even on longer rides. People who've learned as adults find long rides quite tiring at first. Obviously this is because they're overusing certain muscles; with practice, their balance, strength, and endurance improve. This  is basically a non-issue for unicycle rides lasting under 30 minutes or so.

Can you ride far on that?

David Stone the founder of  NYUC would think nothing of riding 10 miles -- in fact, he used to commute 13.5 miles each way to work on his 36" unicycle. There are organized rides where people travel by unicycle across several hundred miles over several weeks. David's brother, John, has ridden the Alps, the Pyrenees, and along the fjords of Norway, among his longer rides! During the summer of 2008, 104 unicyclist participated in a race across Nova Scotia that involved each person riding a total of about 35-45 miles a day at top speed.

You don't have brakes! How do you stop?

You just lean back a bit and resist the forward motion of the pedals then just step down backward. You can step down forward just as easy.

How fast can you go on that?

David Stone, founder of the NYUC, fastest speed came while riding his geared 29" uni on a gentle downhill over a dirt road: 23.5 mph. The top reported speed is just under 30 mph. Ken Looi rode 18 miles in one hour on a geared 36". It all depends on rider ability, wheel size, and gear ratios (a Schlumpf hub gears up to 1.5:1). The speed that you can attain and maintain pedaling a unicycle basically depends upon the combination of  wheel size, crank length and one's cadence. Wikipedia provides the following chart as a reference.
Wheel Size Avgerage High
20" 4 mph (6.4 km/h) 8 mph (13 km/h)
24" 5 mph (8.0 km/h) 10 mph (16 km/h)
29" 7 mph (11 km/h) 14 mph (23 km/h)
36" 11 mph (18 km/h) 22 mph (35 km/h)

Links to Unicycle FAQs on other websites


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