Unicycle Care & Maintenance
Unicycles are relatively easy to maintain. As with any mechanical equipment you own, it is advisable to keep your unicycle clean and in good working order. With the exception of geared unicycles and giraffes, unicycles have few complex parts.
Maintaining your unicycle:
In general unicycles do take a beating from falls and drops. In recognition of this, every few months you may want to make certain that your unicycle parts are properly tightened and secured. This includes the all bolts, nuts, cranks, pedals and the saddle attachments. Seat post clamps, especially the quick release type, should be inspected as well.
Unicycle tires, pedals, saddles, cranks and, the seat post clamp are all wearable parts that may need replacement due to damage or wear.
If you are particularly rough on your unicycle you want to make certain that the wheel continues to remain true by turning the unicycle up side down and spinning the wheel and checking for a wobble. A significant wobble indicates a wheel that requires truing and the tightening of loose spokes. A spoke wrench is an inexpensive tool. However, if you are not mechanically inclined it maybe advisable to seek professional service locally to re-true the wheel.
The unicycle tire will usually wear in an uneven fashion. To combat this, you should periodically inspect the tread. You may notice a single area of wear or two areas opposite to each other. One partial remedy is to let out the air and shift the tire one quarter turn. Meaning if the area showing wear is at the 12 o'clock position, you want to shift the tire only to the 3 o'clock position relative to the spokes on the wheel that were also at the 12 o'clock position. When reinstalling the wheel after replacing a tire remember that cranks and pedals are marked left and right to assist you.
Since tires lose air pressure in a relative short period of time it is recommended that you purchase an air pump, preferably a floor pump with a pressure gauge, to keep your tires properly inflated to about the maximum recommended tire pressure on the sidewall for on road riding and commuting. Unicyclist participating in trials, street, flat and, muni style riding often under inflate their tires to provide more bounce and/or suspension. For additional wheel care consider investing in tire levers and a patch kit. To assist in avoiding punctures both on and off road, you may also want to invest in a tire liner like Mr Tuffy. You can also consider a thorn proof inner tube particularly if you ride off road.
Frame and Seat Post:
If you are really rough on your unicycle, performing drops, hops and uni spins. It is important that you periodically inspect your frame and seat post for damage loose bolts or nuts and, small cracks that can lead to catastrophic failure. In some cases cracks can be locally repaired though I would recommend that a damaged seat post be replaced.
As with the frame and seat post, cranks really take on major stress forces with many extreme unicycle riding styles. Steel cranks can bend. Alloy cranks could crack and break. Check to to make certain the cranks are free of any movement. Hold the wheel, grab the crank and feel for movement in any direction and tighten if necessary. Crank replacement, because it requires a specialized tool(s) that can easily cost as much as inexpensive replacement cranks, it is another part you may consider seeking professional local service for replacement. However if you are into extreme unicycling it is worth the investment for the tools necessary to replace your cranks. Cranks are should be labeled left and right and install on the hub accordingly.
Seat Post Clamp:
If you are performing extreme unicycling, you should have a strong clamp properly fitted for your size frame. However, many unicyclist use a quick release seat post clamp or quick release bolt and frequently adjust the post height. In such cases the clamp mechanism should be periodically inspected to make certain it is in sound condition.
Pedals can are manufactured using a number of materials and come in a number of styles and shapes. Many of the materials pedals are made from can crack and break under stress. Unicyclist that do a lot of hopping and drops will often bend the center axle of the pedal. You should periodically inspect and if necessary replace pedals that show cracks and whose axle becomes bent. Check to be certain that the pedals are screwed in tight. Tight enough that your are using some muscle but, not so much that you are straining. You want to avoid the pedals coming loose from riding particularly if you do a lot of backward riding and idling. A loose pedal can easily strip the threads of the crank arm. To aide in keeping the pedals secure, you can clean the threads and add a couple of drops of temporary thread-locking fluid such as Loctite Threadlocker Blue. Pedals are labeled left and right in accordance with the cranks. The left pedal screws into the crank counter clockwise. A good way to remember this is with the unicycle facing forward you turn the wrench forward to fasten and rearward to remove each pedal.
Though mechanical parts can fail without warning, periodic safety inspections can sometimes head off a catastrophic failure that could possibly leave a unicyclist seriously injured.
Crank removal tool (cotterless or ISIS)
8 and 10mm Hex key for crank bolts.
Floor model air pump
Hex Y wrench (includes 4, 5, 6 mm sizes) or a full hex wrench set.
Open end wrench set or adjustable wrench (10mm and 7/16 are common)
14mm and 15 mm socket wrench
15mm open end pedal wrench or adjustable wrench