by John Foss
These unicycles are meant for distance riding. Unicycles are inherently slow due to their lack of gearing. Each turn of the pedals only gets you as far as one turn of the wheel. When you want to cover more ground, make the wheel bigger. Back before unicycles, when bikes didn’t have gears either, bicycle manufacturers did the same thing with front wheels up to 60” diameter and tiny little rear wheels!
A unicycle with a large wheel still isn’t going to be as fast or efficient as a bike, but you’ll enjoy a better workout per mile due to all the extra pedaling. You’ll work a larger number of lower body muscles also, and the entertainment value is way up there!
The biggest-wheeled unicycles move gracefully and attract lots of attention. Anything 36” and larger will always be a head-turner as you cruise on by, or as you make swooping turns. How difficult is it to ride a bigger wheel? Not difficult at all. Just takes a little practice getting used to the larger, heavier wheel. If you can already ride a unicycle, you’ll be cruising on a bigger wheel within minutes. It’s like riding on a flywheel. At first, you must remember not to make the same sudden motions you can make with a smaller, lighter wheel. Once you get used to this, you’ll be comfortable, efficient, and fast!
Can I learn to ride on one of these?
Yes, but it’s quite a bit easier to learn on a 20” or 24” wheel for best results. A 26” wheel should work also, though not quite as well, as long as you are tall enough to comfortably reach the pedals.
How far can I go on one of these?
As far as you want. Twenty unicyclists rode across Minnesota from the southern border to the northern border during the summer of 2000, a distance of 479 miles. During the summer of 2001, ten unicyclists rode approximately 1600km (1,000 miles) across Europe. Many other unicycle tours followed.
Pastor Lars Clausen rode his 36" unicycle across the United States in 2002, and when he reached New York City, he turned and headed south! When he got to Florida he made a right, and eventually ended up pedaling in all 50 states, raising money for his charity.
As for ordinary people, there are many out there who ride or commute on their unicycles to work or school each day. It’s a great way to stay in shape! Others enjoy their touring machines simply because they like putting in lots of miles.
There are accessories available to enhance your trip, such as brakes, touring handles or even a cycle computer.