Robert Couse-Baker Flickr Unicycle

Unicycling – maybe?

To spice things up a bit, today we have The Sticky Bidon’s first guest post. The plan is for this to continue, so as to offer up a variety of topics and from a range of perspectives different from my usually sarcastic and snide version, with a few reoccurring features to enhance your cycling endeavors. Enjoy.

Graeme

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Unicycling is like juggling– it’s kind of cool, but mostly not (maybe that’s why they’re so often seen together). One has to conclude that the time taken to develop these skills could obviously have been applied doing something useful. Well, not so fast. If you can think of a better way to simultaneously keep three or more objects in the air using nothing but your hands I’d like to hear it. Wait, this is about unicycles… well they’re useful too. Sure, they’re not as fast or versatile as bikes, but they have their utilitarian uses. Unicycles are cheaper than bikes, lighter than bikes, and unlike bikes they fit comfortably in a broom closet or the trunk of a small car. Of all the vehicles in the world, I think unicycles might be the lowest maintenance – even my feet get washed every day or two, I can’t think of the last time I washed by unicycle, and most mechanical problems can be solved with a stern look.

When it comes to commuting, no one NEEDS a unicycle, but they can be nice to have. Admittedly, the only times I’ve ever ridden my unicycle from home to work were when my bike was up on the stand with a broken chain or flat tire. I have however coupled car travel and unicycle travel plenty of times. Some places are just too far to cycle (and/or involve travel on the freeway). If you still have to park a ways away from your final destination, the unicycle Is often the best way to get from the car/train/bus to point B. Speedwise, unicycles are about the same as skateboards, but unlike skateboards, unicycles don’t need hard well-groomed surfaces to ride over – they can go over pretty much anything a bike can, just not quite as fast. So, that’s pretty much the appeal – they’re faster than walking and you can take them anywhere.

If you already have a unicycle, you probably know all of this. If you don’t have one but are intrigued, I can tell you they’re a fun way to pass some time and maybe improve your balance a bit, plus they do have the occasional practical use. Like bikes, unicycles come in all shapes and sizes for trick riding, road riding and off-roading. If you want one for a diversion and maybe getting from the train to your dentist appointment, I’d go with a regular 24” wheel model. Many large bike shops will either stock them or will be able to get them in. Don’t go for a cheap department store unicycle – decent unicycles are already inexpensive and they won’t fall apart (remember what I said about being super easy to maintain). I think I paid around CAD$200 for mine about ten years ago, and knowing what I do about the state of the current economy and the laws of supply and demand,  I’m sure the current prices haven’t changed much.

Other than that, you just need to take few hours (probably eight to twelve for most people) to learn, but you can spread that over days or weeks. Once you can ride it will all fall into place. Anyone who can ride a bike can learn to ride a unicycle pretty comfortably and make their way up or down a curb. The unicycle will never replace the bicycle for long trips, but for short trips it’s usually my first choice.

Header image: source (cropped to fit)